Weekend Walk: When Grace Is Enough

Last Saturday, I bravely went where I as a mom had never gone before.

We hosted our very first sleepover.

My girls struggled with sleeping days ahead of time.  One of my daughters complained that it was so hard to pay attention in school when all she could think about was having a friend over to stay the night.  After all, how can you sit still for math timed tests and spelling questions when a friend is coming over to your house?

They had plans.  Big plans.

All this remains a mystery to me.  I was never a fan of sleepovers and still struggle when I have to stay in a hotel away from home for even one night.  I like my space, my bed, my pillow, my routine.  I’m a homebody and an introvert.  Even as a girl, sleepovers were more nerve-racking than fun.

But I yielded to my friend-focused daughters and their pleading blue eyes and allowed them to invite over their friend.

Then we did the sleepover thing.  We made cookies, played dress-up, ate pizza, watched a movie, and painted fingers and toes.  The girls whispered and giggled in their room after the lights went out and squealed a bit at the thunderstorm booming outside.

And when it was over, I sank into the sofa in satisfaction.  I did it.  I, Mom to Three Daughters, had survived a sleepover.

That, I felt, should cover me for a while.  Maybe at least I would be free of pestering for three or four months.  A season of peace.  It sounded heavenly and was worth the effort.

I was wrong, of course.

On the way home from church the very next day, the girls started begging for another play date and sleepover.  Every day this week, I’ve been nagged and whined at.  They exchanged phone numbers with friends at school.  At Back to School Night, the girls spent 50% of the time showing me their classrooms and 50% of the time telling me that they had invited various friends to come home with them the next day.

One child snuck a note into her backpack to the school office: “Olivia will be riding home with Lauren King after school today.”

When I went to have lunch with my daughters at school, I had to ban conversation about play dates after ten minutes of being bombarded with, “When can she come over?” questions.

Now, having friends over really is fun and truly I love giving my daughters the opportunity to build into friendship and develop gifts of hospitality and people-focused lives. They are continually teaching me the value of relationship over tasks and to-do lists.

But surely, I felt, I deserved one week of “thanks, Mom!” before hearing “Please, Mom, can I have some more?”

Maybe God feels that same disappointment with us at times.  He saves us, redeems us, calls us His own, draws us in close to Him in companionship and friendship—in adoption!  He meets our needs and delivers us from circumstances and the Enemy.

And if we’re really holy perhaps we’ll toss a hurried “thanks” over our shoulders before running full speed ahead to the next crisis of need.

Of course, He’s so gracious to deliver us time after time and invites us into the kind of open and honest relationship where we can always tell Him how we really feel, what we lack, and what has us frightened and worried.

But perhaps we could learn to pause longer in gratitude and settle down in joy at His deliverance, knowing He takes care of us, knowing that He has it all under control and that we don’t need to run fretting back to the throne hour after anxious hour.

This week, I’ll be meditating on one verse every day that reminds me that God has already delivered me and for that I linger in thanks and praise:

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust”
Psa
lm 91:1-2

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

When I Fell In Love

I can’t say exactly when I fell in love with this man.

He was on stage the first time I saw him, portraying Mr. Elton in a production of Jane Austen’s Emma (my favorite), and I was an audience member.   He delivered the first line of the whole play while pretending to read from a book:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Immediately, I laughed aloud, until I realized that no one else seemed to get the joke.  More than a little uncomfortable, I slumped down in my chair.

(The first line of Pride and Prejudice was ‘read’ by a character in Emma.  There now, aren’t you laughing?  This is the kind of thing that strikes me as hilariously funny.)

I actually met him a week later after a college worship service.  Someone in the crowd pointed to the guy up front with the guitar.  “See that guy,” he said, “You just saw him on stage last week.”  I think I even confessed to being the girl who laughed at the first line of the play all by my lonesome self.

Unbeknownst to me, this young guy who led worship and the drama ministry and acted on stage in productions based on my favorite literature had just prayed a daring prayer two weeks before.

He told God he wasn’t looking for a relationship any more.  He was content to be single until God hit him over the head with a 2 x 4 and told him “Thou shalt marry this girl.”

There I was two weeks later being introduced to him.

And a week after that, I was the new pianist on his praise team (and he’s still my worship leader nearly 15 years later).

I fell in love with the way he used his gifts and talents for God’s glory.

There was his calmness, too.  I loved my dad, but life with him wasn’t calm; it was loud much of the time and sometimes downright volatile.  This man, though, measured his words with wisdom and careful thoughtfulness.

And the first time he dropped the word “obsequious” into a sentence effortlessly, I think I experienced whiplash. (I’m a sucker for SAT words).

Add to that his quick and witty humor that kept me giggling endlessly in the corner of the praise team section, and I realized that he was smarter than me and that was okay.

We’ve never been an opposites-attract kind of couple.  We’re probably two of the most alike people who God matched together.

Except for the fact that he only cares about doing what’s right and not whether it pleases anyone else while I’m a people-pleaser.

And the fact that he can rest and take time (perhaps . . . dare I say it . . .procrastinate) and I’m neurotically pushed to do and do and do relentlessly, first, fastest, and rest when you die.

I can’t say when it happened, but at some point I fell in love.

I can’t speak for him and say exactly why he fell in love with me.  Nor can I say exactly why God loves any of us either, surely not my awkward, nervous, uptight, worrying self.

Amazingly, though, this isn’t a “fall in love” kind of love at all.  God doesn’t grow to love any of us over time or awaken one morning and realize how much He cares.

He loves us.

It really is the beginning and the end of our story.

Like the first time I saw my daughters, I loved them in an instant.  I didn’t slowly grow to appreciate their character or develop feelings for them over time.

In Jeremiah, God declares, “before I formed you in the womb I knew you”  and David similarly prayed, “you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 139:13).

God loved you before you squinted your eyes at the first burst of light, screamed out and got cleaned off, bundled up and handed to your mom.

He loves you when you feel loved and when you feel overlooked, when you received a blessing and when you endured a trial.  This love of his doesn’t wax or wane, change or alter or depend on us and what we do or say or feel or think.

We’ve never been good enough, pure enough, beautiful enough, or wise enough to earn it.

But even though we’re unworthy, even when we’ve strayed, even when we’ve felt that seemingly incurable distance from Him or poured out in painful honesty what’s troubling us…

Still He loves.

He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3).

And what can we do with this everlasting and unfailing love, so amazing and confusing because it’s far more than we deserve?

“We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

How can you respond to God’s love today?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Weekend Rerun: I’m Not A Boy!

I’m not a boy.
I’m not a good dancer.  I’m not easily offended.  I’m not a blonde or a red-head.
I’m not tall.
I’m not artistic.  I’m not quick to cry.
I’m not usually a fan of “chick flicks.”
I’m not much of a TV watcher.
I’m not from a small family.
I’m not a quick decision maker.
I’m not an extrovert.  I’m not athletic.  I’m not fond of “outside.”

We all define ourselves by lists of “I ams” and “I am nots.”

“Are you a Christian?”
I am.

“Are you fond of sports?”
I am not.

Is it any wonder that God has a list, too?  His “ams” and “am nots” through Scripture establish His character and give us reliable assurances in times of trouble.

We rest in safety because we know He is “I AM.”

It’s the most powerful declaration of God’s identity in Scripture, when He tells Moses His name: “I AM WHO I AM . . .This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation” (Exodus 3:14, 15).

My Bible notes that His name could also be read as: “I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE.”

He is I AM and I WILL BE.  He is eternal.  He has existed before our human history began and He has walked through the entirety of our time on this planet and will still remain forever.

So, we can trust Him.  We can place in His capable hands all that frightens us because He knows where we have come from and where we are headed.

It’s more than that.  He tells us:

  • “I AM with you” (Genesis 26:24).
  • “I AM God Almighty” (Genesis 35:11).
  • “I AM the LORD, who heals you” (Exodus 15:26).
  • “I AM the LORD your God” (Exodus 16:12).
  • “I, the LORD your God, am holy” (Leviticus 19:2).
  • “For I AM the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:3).
  • “I AM the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God” (Isaiah 45:5).
  • “I AM the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” (Isaiah 48:17).
  • “I AM the LORD your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the Lord Almighty is His name” (Isaiah 51:15).

Can you read through this list of what God says about Himself, His “I ams” and not be in awe, not be filled with the desire to worship, not be comforted?

He is with you, there in the places of hurt and despair.  He heals you.  He is holy.  He is your Savior, pulling you out of the pit and redeeming you through the blood of His Son.  He is the only God.  He directs our steps.  He is Lord Almighty, in control of all creation, including the circumstances you find yourself in.

Praise God!

He doesn’t stop there, though.  He also has “am nots.”  Just as powerful, these are declarations of His dominion over all the fake gods that vie for our worship.

In Daniel 2:11, the magicians and advisers of King Nebuchadnezzar whine that no one can possibly tell the king what he dreamt except the gods, and “they do not live among humans.”

Not our God.  He made His dwelling among His people, directing them to “make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8).  He abandoned the glories of heaven and “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).

He can say, “I am not distant from you.”

In Psalm 135:15-18, the Psalmist writes:

The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by the hands of men.  They have mouths, but cannot speak; eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear nor is the breath in their mouths.

Not our God.

Our God is the Shepherd who speaks to His sheep (John 10:27).  He is the God who sees us (Genesis 16:13) and hears our voices when we call to Him (Psalm 5:3).

He can say, “I am not ignorant of your need .”

And our God “is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19).

Colin Urquhart wrote, “God is the God of promise.  He keeps His word even when that seems impossible.”

He can say, “I am not a promise-breaker.”

It may feel difficult at times to believe in God’s nearness, responsiveness, concern, love and faithfulness because we are immersed in a pit of circumstances that blocks our view of Him.  And yet, He tells us all the things He is and all the things He is not and it is that Scriptural assurance of His character to which we cling.

We can rest in safety knowing that He is I AM.  We can rest in safety knowing all that He is not.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Weekend Walk: Baking Cookies/Reading the Bible

Bake cookies.

It was on the official to-do list.  Sometimes we pull down the flour and sugar canisters and pull out the measuring cups and spoons because of a sweet tooth or just the fun of baking together.

Today, though, it was a must instead of a can, a have to instead of a get to, a duty and not a pleasure.

Bake sales, after all, require baked goods and cookies were to be our offering.

So the mission began, emptying cabinets of cookie cutters and dragging out the flour and rolling pin.  Looking up from the recipe, though, I saw this cutie pie rolling herself out like a cookie and giggling hysterically.

Suddenly, there was joy just in being together, in the pure delight of presence.  We took turns rolling out the dough and cutting out cookie shapes of hearts and flowers, butterflies, pumpkins and fall leaves.

Time in the kitchen so easily becomes a chore, cooking for necessity and baking on a deadline.

But moments together need to be rescued from task lists and enjoyed: Giggling over ourselves covered in flour.  Teaching how to push the rolling pin across the dough.  Recalling shared stories.  Kissing tiny noses dotted in sugar.  Admiring our goodies fresh from the oven and then sampling them as they cool.

So, when I pull down my Bible from the shelf and open my study book onto my kitchen table (still dusted with flour), it’s tempting to read to get it done, to check it off for the day and set it aside again until tomorrow.

“Devotions” is on my to-do list also.

Time in God’s presence, though, should be our joy and delight and the very life-breath to our suffocating souls.  Never just a task on a to-do list waiting for the line crossing it out, time with our Lord should beckon us and fill us with longing for more.

Our verse for the week reminds us to delight in His Word and center our lives around this relationship with our God rather than relegating it to the outskirts of our time and hearts:

 But they delight in the law of the Lord,
    meditating on it day and night.
 They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
    bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
    and they prosper in all they do (Psalm 1:2-3 NLT).

Take pleasure in His presence.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Weekend Rerun: How to Handle a Mean Girl

Originally posted on September 26, 2011

Mean girls strike fear into the hearts of moms everywhere.  They certainly make this momma drop to her knees.

So when my daughter announced that she was choosing not to play with a girl at her school table, I pounced with mom questions.

“Well,” my daughter said, “when other people don’t do things the way she wants, she always says, ‘You can’t be my friend anymore.’  So, I told her that’s okay if she doesn’t want to be friends with me.”

Wow!  I was afraid of permanent devastation wrought at the hands of other children, and yet my daughter handled herself with quiet confidence.  It was the kind of answer I’ve been praying my daughter is able to give.

Praise God that He answers our prayers for our children.

But, it’s not just our kids who need to make decisions about friends, nay-sayers, judgers, and mockers.

In her book, Stumbling Into Grace, Lisa Harper writes:

“I want to recognize the dangerous, potentially biting characters in my story; the people who create constant emotional debris with their destructive personalities or who refuse to shed the skin of deception, the ones who threaten the God-with-me peace in my life.  I’m learning to keep my distance and to  pray for snakes, but not make a habit of getting down in the dirt to play with them” (p. 47).

In our lives, we’ll face some biting personalities and snakes in the grass ourselves–even when we are simply pursuing righteousness, just like Hannah in 1 Samuel.

Hannah was a Godly woman.  Religious law dictated that men must travel to the tabernacle three times a year to worship and sacrifice, but we see in 1 Samuel 1:7 that “year by year, she went up to the house of the Lord.”  She committed to going above and beyond the minimum requirements in order to worship God with her whole heart.

But his Godly woman had a personal pain that cut deep: She was childless while her husband’s second wife, Peninnah, was a bunny rabbit of a breeder.  Scripture doesn’t even count all her kids; it just says, “Peninnah . . and  . . . all her sons and daughters” (1 Samuel 1:4).  Sounds like quite a brood.

The worst part of it is that Peninnah gloated.  She boasted and preened.  She set herself up as Hannah’s rival and “provoked her severely, to make her miserable”  (1 Samuel 1:6).

Peninnah was a mean girl.

Sure, Hannah’s husband, Elkanah, loved her and was sad about her distress.  Still, there’s something kind of clueless about his compassion.

He said, “Hannah, why do you weep?  Why do you not eat?  And why is your heart grieved?  Am I not better to you than ten sons?” (1 Samuel 1:8).

Seriously?  He didn’t tell Peninnah to knock off the nastiness.  Instead, he told Hannah just to get over it. Be happy with the fact that she shared a home and husband with a woman who had annual baby showers.  Just shrug off Peninnah’s provoking ways and be content with her husband’s love.

Elkanah was an unhelpful friend.  He didn’t stand up for Hannah, didn’t have her back, and didn’t understand her pain.

Then there was Eli, the priest who watched Hannah’s impassioned prayer at the altar.  He pounced on her in a second, saying, “How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!” (1 Samuel 1:14).

Eli was the judgmental onlooker.  The one with all the opinions who doesn’t even take time to fully understand the situation, just makes accusations and spews forth a diatribe of assumptions and personal attacks.

Beset on every side by those close to her and those in spiritual authority over her, Hannah nevertheless responded with grace.

She spoke “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). She didn’t rebel against Eli, speak badly about him behind his back, or cause a ruckus in the spiritual community, despite the fact that he hurt her.  Instead, she answered calmly, “No, my lord.  I am a woman of sorrowful spirit.  I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:15).

She trusted God to take care of her.  Hannah “was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish” (1 Samuel 1:10).  She took all of her pain to the altar and poured her soul out before God and left it in His hands.

After she held the baby boy God gave her, after she nursed him and weaned him and presented him to the tabernacle, she declared, “For the Lord is the God of knowledge; And by Him actions are weighed” (1 Samuel 1:3).

By Him actions are weighed.  God saw the mocking cruelty of Peninnah, the cluelessness of Elkanah, and the pompousness of Eli.  And he saw Hannah’s brokenness and blessed her.

We likewise can trust God to help us when we face mean girls, unhelpful friends, and those who judge us.  He will show us how to love our enemies and pray for those who hurt us and He will tell us how to avoid the venomous bites of the snakes in the grass.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

How Barbie Ruined My Day (Almost)

Yesterday was Tuesday.

This hardly seems like a revelation, I know.  And yet it has a special sort of meaning for us this year.

Tuesday is our “rush from school to ballet to Bible study without stopping at home for dinner, come home later than bedtime with kids too wired to sleep, and pack school lunches at 10:00 at night” kind of day.

Maybe you have a Tuesday, too.  Maybe your “Tuesday” is on Wednesday or Thursday or both or all of the above.

Since Tuesday was our “Tuesday,” that makes Wednesday our “Wednesday”—-the I wish I could sleep in bed late, lounge in pajamas, read a good book and sip tea without any other commitments but I can’t —-day.   That’s because Wednesday is only slightly less busy than Tuesday.

So, we shuffled out of bed this morning.  I asked my one daughter five times if she was ready for breakfast, but she was “too tired.”  Finally, she just nodded her head “yes” and waited for the cereal bowl to appear.

The girls fought over the television, so I led my preschooler by the hand to the back room, laid her out with her pillow and blanket and let her choose a movie to watch while we rushed through the morning routine.

She picked Barbie.

I quietly slid it into the DVD player, hoping no older children would hear Barbie’s voice.

I failed.

They heard.

The older girls followed the sounds of Barbie and planted themselves in front of the television.  Since she was still noshing on cereal, one girl even brought her bowl and spoon along and set up a makeshift table.

I caught her there, eating in slow motion, too distracted by the movie to chew.  I don’t know how long it should take to mash a piece of Cinnamon Toast Crunch so it’s soft enough to swallow, but I’m pretty sure the cereal was disintegrating in her mouth.

I flicked the TV off and pointed one child to the bathroom to brush her teeth and the other to her socks and shoes.

Then I sent my older girls out to the school bus while I put shoes on the little one, who was now screaming for her sisters not to leave without her.

It’s tradition for us.  Every morning, my older girls hug and kiss their younger sister before getting on the bus.  Today, we had just enough time for a quick kiss, but not for a full-out hug before the bus pulled up.

So, for the next 15 minutes I sat on the couch trying to comfort the now-hysterical un-hugged baby sister.

And I thought, “Thanks a lot, Barbie.”

Thanks for ruining my day.

It’s easy to feel like one stressed morning, one forgotten item, one mistake, one misspoken word can destroy the opportunity and promise of a day.

But I’m thinking I should have a choice in the matter.

When Jesus called out to some fishermen and a tax collector to “Come, follow me,” they had to make a once-for-all, life-altering, totally revolutionary decision to toss aside nets and a ledger and follow an itinerant preacher around the Galilean countryside (Matthew 4:19).

Yet, surely the choice to follow had to be daily and it had to be deliberate.

They had to choose to keep walking alongside Jesus, even when mobs pressed in and they moved from town to town, day after busy, tiring day.

They chose to follow Jesus even into foreign and uncomfortable towns like Samaria.

They chose to follow when religious leaders criticized their every movement, complaining when they gathered wheat because they were hungry on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1).

When Jesus said, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest,” they chose to leave the excitement and buzz of successful ministry and walk away for some time with Jesus (Mark 6:31).

They had to choose to follow Christ into Jerusalem even after He told them that arrest, persecution and death awaited Him there.

Whether the command to follow was easy or hard, uncomfortable or downright scary, the decision was theirs to make, not once, but every single day.

Do I follow Jesus when He calls?

Do I set aside my own agenda and allow Him to direct my day?

Do I allow circumstances, a stressful schedule, a rotten morning, a mistake, an annoyance, an unexpected event, or even outright tragedy determine my attitude and actions?  Or do I choose to follow Jesus despite it all?

In her book, Choose Joy, Kay Warren wrote:

If we are going to experience joy in this lifetime, there is only one possible way: we will have to choose it.

So, I make a choice today to have joy despite Barbie.

I make a choice to follow Christ wherever He chooses to take me.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Sandals in the Grass: Time for a Change

“It is well for us that, amidst all the variableness of life, there is One whom change cannot affect; One whose heart can never alter, and on whose brow mutability can make no furrows.” ~ Charles Spurgeon

The weather changed in the night.

I mistakenly threw on sandals in our mad rush out the door on Sunday morning, not expecting frigid droplets to seep over onto my feet from the damp grass.  Climbing into the mini-van, I tucked my feet under me and pulled my arms through my “sanctuary sweater.”

My heart has always done cartwheels at the first signs of fall.  As a school girl walking home from the bus stop, I’d pass neighborhood porch displays of scare crows, pumpkins and bales of straw.  The lawns would be dotted and then covered with leaves turned gold and red.  The breeze carried the scent of fireplaces lit, perhaps for the first time of the season.

It’s the oddest thing about fall.  Even as everything moves inevitably toward the frozen death of winter, it feels like all is alive and fresh and new and wildly open to possibilities.

Maybe it’s the student in me, who still sees fall as a time of beginnings rather than of harvest.  Maybe it’s just that I hibernate in the summer when the heat of the day is suffocating.  In the fall, it feels like you can breathe in deep for the first time in months.

And that’s not the only oddity about the season.  How can I, someone who resists all change and dreads it as much as a boogeyman in the closet, revel in a season that is all about change?

It just doesn’t make sense.

Yet, there it is.  I love fall.  But I’ve also tossed and turned these past few weeks over my kids getting new teachers (I liked the old ones); about their new lunch schedule (I liked the old one); about my new weekly calendar with kids’ activities, and church meetings, and the like (the old one seemed to work so well.)

Maybe if I had sought these changes out, if I had felt stuck and needed rescue, if I had been languishing and needed new life, then I’d be celebrating instead of whining.

But as it is, I’m feeling like I was kinda happy back there and this change, well I just wasn’t ready for it:  No more ready than I was on Sunday morning when my feet froze in my sandals.

Life forces change on us, though.  God’s goal of transforming us into His Son’s likeness, of making us new and new again, requires constant life-revolutions and world adjustments.

In his book, The Seasons of God, Richard Blackaby wrote:

“Newness is God’s specialty, a trademark of the abundant gifts He gives us—and as we traverse the unique succession of seasons He’s designed for us, we’ll find our way marked by fresh adventures, surprising encounters, and unprecedented fulfillment.”

So, it should be no more surprising than the cooling of the weather in September that God shakes things up in my life.  Yes, change is one thing in our lives that’s constant.

Unlike Blackaby, though, I’m less inclined to call that an “adventure” or look forward to “unprecedented fulfillment.”  I’m more likely to worry all along the way about what’s new and different and therefore out of my control.

Why is that?

I was reading this morning in 1 Corinthians 13 and noticing perhaps for the first time that love “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:7).

Always.

I may adore my daughters and love my husband, but I can’t say my love for them always does anything.  Sometimes I lose my temper or forget or say the wrong thing or see the negative instead of the beauty.

But God’s love, that agape, holy and pure, tried-and-true, never-changing love of His is an Always kind of love.

Even the rays of the sun filter through my window in different ways on different days at different times, but God “does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).

So all this fearful anxiety over the newness of it all is foolishness really, because even when every tiny thing in my life changes:

God does not. 

His love does not.

So, I pulled on one of my favorite sweaters this morning and opened the windows of the house to enjoy the breeze.  I’ve lit my pumpkin spice candle and readied my recipe file of Crock-pot soups and stews.  I’ve taken down the marriage prayer plaque and replaced it with my sign: “Bless This Harvest.”

I’ve settled in to enjoy the fall and maybe, just maybe, the change it brings.

What do you love about the fall?  How do you feel about change? 

You can read more devotionals about this here:

Christian Writers Blog ChainToday’s post is part of the September topic ‘Change’ by the ChristianWriters.com Blog Chain. You can click on the links on the right side of this page to read more articles in this series.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Weekend Walk: Adding that personal touch

Whenever I give my daughters a birthday card to sign, I never know what might end up written on the inside.

At some point, they generally remember to scratch out their names, but along the way they’ll do things like:

sign it from every other member of the family also—-even when it’s a card for a school friend who doesn’t know any of us.

sign their entire first, middle and last names, even on a card for their dad, who most likely picked out their names in the first place.

declare themselves “your best friend with love” and sound more like Anne of Green Gables with all her poetic flare instead of a first grader.

sketch pictures of themselves and their friend, hearts, their family, puppy dogs, rainbows, cats, birds, flowers, their houses, and more.

In the end, the card is signed, but never in the expected, conventional way.  Sometimes that’s a little frightening as I look over their shoulders and wonder if they’ll ever venture into the truly outrageous.

When I notice they’re writing and writing and writing when a simple “Love Lauren” or “From Victoria” would suffice, I start asking nervously, “What are you putting in there?  What are you writing next?  What are you saying?”

Ultimately, though, it’s fun to see their personal style and unique touch.

I’ve been thinking today about the way God rescues us from trouble: How it’s so rarely in the expected, conventional way from planned sources and anticipated possibilities.  It doesn’t often happen according to our own plans.  He is, after all, a creative God, able to do far more than we expect or imagine.

I’m meditating on a verse all this week that reminds me that God is able to save us, but He’ll do so with His own personal touch and divine fingerprint.  Unlike us, He isn’t confined by physical resources or limited in imagination, talent, scope or skill.  He’ll choose a method of rescue not because it’s the only one He can manage, but because it brings glory to His name.  And nothing can stand in the way of that.

“Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few”
1 Samuel 14:6

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Whining and Throwing Tantrums

I was in crisis.

Days before the start of the new school year, my daughter complained that her throat hurt, and then there was the fever, and the vomiting.  I wanted God to heal her overnight, pronto, ASAP, immediately, snap-to-it—Amen!

He didn’t.

‘Twas the night before school started and all through the house,
A fever was stirring–that dreaded louse.
The backpacks were placed on the counter with care
In hopes that the school year soon would be there.

The girls were all tucked in, warm in their beds
With dreams of pencils and crayons in their heads.
Except for one daughter whose throat hurt a lot
And whose forehead and body and feet were too hot.

So I began to throw a “holy tantrum,” which is anything but holy.  It involves a little bit of stomping, some harumphing, and a whole lot of whining.

“Lord, seriously?  Why is she going to miss the first days of school?   Now I have to take her to the doctor and get a Strep test on an already busy day.  She hates the antibiotic and always spits it out  . . .whine, whine, whine, whine, whine.”

Yes, it’s my go-to flesh reaction to life’s annoyances and there I was once again at 5 a.m. throwing a tantrum.

And I threw another tantrum when, after a doctor’s appointment, a visit to the pharmacist, and a fight with my daughter over the antibiotic, my husband noticed that my toddler had hurt her ear.  “She needs to go to the doctor.”

My fatigue was moving around my soul like a spotlight, ushering the weakest and ugliest cast members of my heart onto the stage for all to see.

I whined to myself: “I was just at the doctor’s.  This is not the week to move into the medical office building.  Why couldn’t we have noticed this the day before, God?  Don’t You understand the power of multi-tasking and appropriate calendar management?”

Of course it’s no surprise that when I myself began to struggle when swallowing, I whined yet again.

This week has been one topsy-turvy event after another.  Nothing going as planned.  No day’s schedule left untouched.  No moment when we are all well.

But when you’ve whined for days to God . . . eventually you grow quiet.  You’ve plead your case.  There’s a moment when you’ve said all you had to say and you expect God to answer for Himself.

He prompted my heart:

Is it really worth all this, Heather?  When she’s 40 years old, will Lauren’s life be destroyed because she missed the first few days of first grade?

Is it really so terrible if your days don’t go as expected?  Aren’t I always in control?

What about the moms whose children are chronically ill? You are whining over Strep throat.  Some moms cry in the night over cancer.

You are sick in the short-term.  For a few days, it’s hard to care for your family, but a few doses of antibiotics will restore you.  What about the moms who face chemo treatments week after week, or who have MS or fibromyalgia and endure chronic pain and fatigue? 

When I declare “It’s dinner time,” and my kids are in the middle of a game or I turn off the TV so they can finish homework or practice piano, sometimes my children whine. (I wonder where they get that from!)  It’s one of my mom-speeches, quoting at them “do everything without complaining and arguing” (Phil. 2:14 NLT).

Don’t just obey; obey with a cheerful heart.  Trust your mom.  Be grateful for what you have and compassionate for those who have not.

Can’t God say the same to me?

Multiple trips to the doctor’s office?  Convincing children to take yucky pink medicine?  Becoming a “frequent flyer” at the pharmacy counter?  Trading in productivity and accomplishment for a cup of hot tea and oatmeal that feels too thick to swallow?

It all may seem like a crisis in the moment, and maybe we deal with our burdens begrudgingly.

But God is far more interested in our heart condition than in the accomplishments of our day or the success of our plans.

Are you obeying with the right attitude—without grumbling about it? (Philippians 2:14)
Are you not just a giver, but a cheerful one? (2 Corinthians 9:7)
Are you doing more than enduring; are you rejoicing in all things?  (Philippians 4:4)
Are you going through the motions of loving others, or are you really loving them?  (Romans 12:9)

This is God’s concern.  We can do what He asks of us and still get it all wrong.  We can take care of our families and work hard at our jobs and tend to every ministry need and still miss it completely.

He wants us to follow, serve, and obey with a trusting, cheerful, peaceful, loving, rejoicing heart.  He wants us to have a heart like His.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Weekend Walk: Back-to-School lessons and a verse

I have a chatty daughter and a not-so-chatty daughter.

The first year my oldest attended preschool, she would climb into the car at the end of the day and I would ask, “How was your day?”

She would then jabber on for fifteen minutes or so about she-said’s, he-said’s, activities, games, and lessons.

When my next daughter attended preschool, she hopped into the car at the end of the day and I asked her the tried-and-true question, “How was your day?” expecting a full report.

She answered, “Fine.”

I paused and waited.  Silence.

“What did you learn?”

“I don’t remember.”

It took time for me to learn to ask better questions:

“What did Sam bring for show-and-tell?”
“What did you eat for snack?”
“What book did you read at Story Time?”
“What craft or project did you make?”

Better questions merited better answers from her. That is, until this introvert daughter of mine finally announced, “Mom, I don’t want to talk anymore.  Please stop asking me questions!”

At the start of the new school year, I’m thinking about asking God better questions: prayers not so much of need-fulfillment and wishlists, but requests for closeness with Him.

Will You impress on my heart each day where to go, what to do, what words to speak?

How may I abide in You more fully? 

How can my self be so entwined with Yourself that our hearts are united with the same purposes and desires?

Our back-to-school verse for the week is:

He wakens me morning by morning,
    wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed
Isaiah 50:4b

Let’s enter this season of fall, of changes, new beginnings and fresh starts, with the daily prayer to wake morning by morning as a better student of God and His Word with a softened heart, an engaged mind, and a teachable spirit.

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I’ve been sharing prayers for our schools this past week on my Facebook page.  You can join me there by liking the page in order to pray along with me.  Or, you can visit this link to see the prayers and even print a version to keep in your Bible, prayer journal or on your fridge.  Let’s cover our kids, our teachers, our schools in prayer.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.