The Top 10 Best Things About Hotels

The Top 10 Best Things About Hotels

10.  When there’s a problem, someone else has to fix it!  No breaking out the tools when something is wrong. One word to a hotel staff member and within five minutes the handyman shows up with his own tool box.

9. How excited your kids get about every little thing:  There’s a tiny refrigerator!!  And a microwave!!!  And a TV!!!!  And a couch with a pull-out bed!!!  There’s a closet!!!  And a bathroom!!!  Everything is more exciting in a hotel room. Add in some luxuries like a hotel swimming pool, electronic key cards, and elevators with buttons to push, and you have kid-paradise.

8. Styrofoam cups with lids:  Our hotel had a little hospitality bar in the lobby with packets of tea, hot cocoa, creamer, sugar and more.  One night after swimming in the pool, I grabbed some hot chocolate packets as a treat for the girls.  The best part?  The cups they supplied came with plastic lids.  Hot cocoa at home ALWAYS involves huge messes and near-industrial-sized spill clean-up.  Why didn’t I think of travel mugs with lids long ago?

7. Heavenly showers: Our shower at home maxes out at a slow trickle and a few drips at a time, so a few days with a hot water massage-like shower was indulgent.

6. Short-Order Cook Breakfasts:  At home, I sometimes feel like I should snap my hair into a bun, tuck a pencil behind my ear, don an apron and take down breakfast orders in a tiny notebook.  At the hotel, we had buffet-style breakfasts where everyone found something yummy—well, except my three-year-old, who prefers breakfast at home with her favorite cereal every . . . . single . . . . day.

5. Someone else washes all the towels and sheets.

4. Someone else vacuums the floor.

3. Someone else washes the dishes. 

2. Someone else scrubs the toilets.  Sensing a trend here?  I sure did.  We’ve tried stay-cations before, but do you know what I still have to do then?  That’s right—laundry, dishes, cooking, and general clean up.  For a few days in the hotel, I picked up mess but never once pulled out the bleach or loaded a dishwasher or washing machine.  Of course, we carried home a trash bag full of laundry that I washed the night we got home, but I had a few days of respite.

1. Being together: Our house is pretty small, so it’s not like we spread out and never see each other when we’re home.  Still, there’s something special about experiencing time together without my husband heading off to work, propping up our feet and watching a movie together, making plans for the day, and sharing in a nighttime snack.

School starts for us in just a few days.  So does ballet, choir, Awana and more.  Two birthday parties are already on the agenda for September.

When life gets packed so full, it’s so hard to appreciate every little thing—like escalators and the electronic keys in hotels and cocoa cups with spill-proof lids.  We lose child-like wonder and excitement about the little things

Almost eight years ago, I held my first baby girl in a hospital room and now, after what seems like a blink of the eyes, we stood in her second grade classroom to meet her new teacher.

How does it all happen so fast?  How do we miss so much?

In her book, A Sudden Glory, Sharon Jaynes says, “The travesty is that we allow the busyness of life to crowd out the Source of life.  As the Psalmist wrote, ‘We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing’ (Psalm 39:6 NLT).”

Moses prayed: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

We can pray the same.

Lord, help us to number our days.  Help us to make each one count.  Don’t let a single one slip by us unnoticed and unappreciated.

Don’t let us ever miss or skip time—One, two . . . twenty . . .fifty–and not be able to account for the days in between.

Don’t let us get so wrapped up in doing laundry and dishes that we forget to thank you for the clothes and food you’ve given us.

Help us not to get so focused on the minutiae of everyday worries and stressors that we forget to have joy.

Show us how to slow down each day, rest, pay attention—yes, notice Your grace, Your beauty, and the gifts You’ve placed in our lives.

To sit with our children a moment longer.  Linger over a cup of tea.  Breathe in the scent of a garden.  Notice the beauty.  Enjoy deep down the laughter of our children.


Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for 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.

Remembering or Not Forgetting

The first time I ever voted was in a presidential election just a few months after my eighteenth birthday.  At the time, my polling place was my old elementary school, which I hadn’t visited in about seven years.

In the grand scheme of life, seven years isn’t a long time to wait before returning to an old haunting place.  I was young, though, and those seven years were nearly half my life at the time, so I waxed a little nostalgic when I remembered “the old days.”

I walked through the once-confusing halls where we used to form lines only on the blue square tiles and never on the white.

Then I stepped into the cafeteria where I had once been utterly overwhelmed by long lunch lines that never went fast enough.  There was always so much noise and chaos and teachers flickering the lights to signal us to quiet down.

That gym was also the frightening place where I had failed at rope-climbing and gymnastics and kickball.

My memories of elementary school were of general bewilderment.

Not really knowing where I was going.

Missing the bus once because I’d gotten lost walking to my brother’s classroom to pick up his homework.

Navigating tricky relationships with girls who were cooler than me and who all, unlike me, had a favorite singer in New Kids on the Block.  They even had boy band buttons and sweaters, notebooks, and necklaces.

When I returned as a voting adult, it all seemed so much smaller than I had remembered.  The halls and rooms that had loomed so large weren’t so big after all.

Not just that, but I had some emotional re-sizing to do.  All of the elementary school crises that had stressed me out in fourth and fifth grade were put in perspective.

Did it matter that I was the only girl (yes, the only one!) who hadn’t rocked out to New Kids on the Block tunes at my friends’ birthday parties?

Had I been stunted and set for a life of failure all because of my elementary P.E. hopelessness?

I suppose the biggest lesson for me that day was that memory is a faulty thing, rarely accurate, mostly relative and generally a slave to the emotional filter we’re using at the time.

After all, the size of that school building hadn’t changed an inch.  I had grown.  I had changed.  Now I saw that same campus differently.

We have a way sometimes of relying on our own memories too much.  We think, “God gave me this miracle!  I’ll never forget it!”

Yet, within a month we’re stressing out over another need, totally forgetting that God has delivered us before and He could do it again.

We look back on the past and think, “Things were so much better then!  If only I could get back to such happiness, such simplicity, such ease!”

That’s when we sound most like the Israelites on their way out of Egypt, who turned 400 years of slavery into their own version of “Those Good Old Days.”

They whined (weren’t they always whining?):

 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic (Numbers 11:5).

At no cost?  It seems to me their fish and salad diet came at a great cost, the loss of freedom and harsh labor conditions, the murder of their sons, and restrictions on their worship.

In that moment, though, wandering in the wilderness, facing opposition and obstacles, they were willing to trade their freedom for the old salad bars of Egypt.  Why?  Not because they remembered.

It was because they forgot.

And that’s what we do so much of the time.  We forget what God has done for us.  We forget where we came from and all that He’s brought us through.  We forget what it was really like.

Remembering the truth—that takes work—and the telling and re-telling of our life stories.

God tells us when we drink the cup and eat the bread and Scripture says, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

We tell ourselves when we write out prayer journals and gratitude lists to remember what God has done.

We tell each other when, like Paul, we proclaim “the testimony about God” (1 Corinthians 2:1).

We tell our children by talking “about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:7).

Through telling, we remember, maybe not perfectly, maybe not flawlessly.  But at least we don’t forget.

How do you remember what God has done for you?

You can read more about this topic here:

Today’s post is part of the August topic ‘Memory’ by the 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 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

Packing a Bag for the Homeless

He shuffled over to the line of women waiting to enter the arena for the first night of Women of Faith in Washington, DC.

He asked us for food.  I rifled through my bag because I had fully intended to pack snacks for just such an occasion.

I had nothing.

He asked for money.  I had none to give.homelessbag

He walked away.

I was angry at myself, frustrated that I had failed to prepare for compassion and service.  I had good intentions and no follow-through.

Hadn’t I just read a book I had discovered on the shelves of our church library called Under the Overpass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America?

A young college student chronicled the six months he and a friend lived as homeless men on the streets of America’s cities.  They played their guitars to earn money for food and went days without a single meal and weeks without a shower.  They had no access to running water or even a bathroom at night.  People avoided them and glared at them and they felt shame and knew they were unwanted.

Hadn’t I just finished Kelly Minter’s study, Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break and been reminded continually that “the Lord always has the poor on His mind, often paired with the widow, alien, and fatherless in Scripture’s pages”?  She wrote that “tangibly involving ourselves for the sake of justice is a biblical command” (p. 69).

After all, Isaiah 1:17 says:

Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow.

It can’t get much clearer than that.

And before I studied Nehemiah, hadn’t I completed Beth Moore’s study: James: Mercy Triumphs? If ever there was a Biblical writer who echoed Christ’s heart for the poor and oppressed it was his half-brother James.

James asked:

Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? (James 2:15-16).

James summed our faith up this way:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world (James 1:27).

God cares passionately about the poor, the homeless, the oppressed, the overlooked, the widow, the orphan, the lost and the lonely.

He expects us to do the same.

I knew it.  I had read about it in book after book, study after study all year long.  I meant to bring food for the homeless to the streets of Washington, DC .

I forgot.

So the homeless man in faded clothes and a dusty face shuffled past me to another woman in line and another.

The day after I arrived home, I took my oldest daughter to the dollar store and we tossed soap and wash cloths into the cart.  We grabbed a box of small bottled waters, two packs of peanut butter crackers, and some canned peaches.

We packed our bags for a family vacation.  Then I packed some bags for the homeless.  I didn’t know if anyone else would shuffle over to me and ask for food, but I wanted to be ready.

I carried those Ziplock bags in a backpack all through our family vacation and it seemed like unnecessary weight.  We didn’t hand out a single one.

Until we were driving home, that is.  We stopped at a traffic light and I was busy thinking about the end of our vacation and the drive home and what happens next.  My husband saw the man with the sign:  “Homeless.  Please help.”

He grabbed one of our bags, motioned the man over and handed it out through the window.

The best part is that I now have a tangible reminder to pray for one particular man in need.

I have a lot to learn still.  My prayer is that God will open my eyes (clearly I need His vision) and prod my heart to prepare for ministry to “the least of these.”

Do you have ideas on how to minister to the poor and needy?

What I Want to Do Differently Next Time:

I had this brainstorm for the bags for the homeless and put it together based on ideas we picked up at the dollar store.  Then, I read a book that week called Cleaning House about a mom who lives in Dallas and encounters the homeless regularly while driving her kids around town.  She makes up bags of care items for the homeless, too!  I felt so excited that we had the same idea.

I loved some of the other items she adds, though.  Based on her thoughts and some of the ideas in the book Under the Overpass, my new care packages would look like this:

  • Wash cloth
  • Bar of Soap
  • Peanut Butter Crackers
  • Bottled Water
  • Other nonperishable food item
  • $5 gift card to a place like Subway, Wendy’s, McDonald’s or even an area grocery store
  • Pocket Bible or maybe a personal note with a Scripture verse
  • Information on a local homeless ministry

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for 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 Rerun: The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Moms

In just over a week, all three of my kids will be heading back to school.  Yes, all three!  My baby girl is starting preschool this year. 

So, in the days ahead, I’ll be sharing some new thoughts and re-running some of my past posts about school and life and all the lessons therein.  I hope you enjoy!

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Moms

Originally posted on September 1, 2011

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Luke 22:42

I’m a mom who likes to think she knows best for her kids.  So, with all my “Mom-Knows-Best” skills, I signed up my middle girl for our church’s private kindergarten the week that registration opened.

For months I prayed the kindergarten class would reach the necessary enrollment.  I stressed and worried and spilled over all my freaked out mother concern to anyone with a listening ear about how my daughter’s life would be destroyed at five years old if they cancelled the class.

Slowly, I transformed my prayers.  I whispered what started as an uncertain and half-hearted, “Not my will, but yours be done.”  Over time, I began to actually mean what I prayed.  It was a radical shift for me and not a holy place I often reach in this always-in-control life of mine.

Then I picked up the ringing phone and heard the official news. No kindergarten due to low enrollment.

Off I sped to the local public school and registered my little girl in a building and system that seemed too big and unknown.

And I prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

Then began the stress over her teacher.

I prayed for that one special teacher who would connect with my daughter and make her first year of elementary school as exciting and engaging as possible and who would expertly work with her strengths and weaknesses.

We walked into the classroom on open house.  I wasn’t sure what to think and my child did what I had feared all along—she fell back into herself and shut down in an instant.  (Followup note: We ended up loving this teacher.  God answered my every prayer for Lauren).

In that moment, I was ready to do anything—unregister her, ask for a move to a different class.  Right away, I prepared to step in and assume control from a God who seemed to be messing this all up.

Then I asked myself–-Had I not prayed all along for the best possible teacher and environment for my daughter?  Could I trust my God to know what is best for my precious girl? Could I place her in His hands?

I whispered in my daughter’s ear as we sat in that kindergarten classroom, “Lauren, I have prayed for you every day that God would give you the right school and the right teacher.  He has brought you here so we will trust it’s going to be perfect and wonderful.”

And I silently prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

We so often model our prayers on The Lord’s Prayer, the “our Father who art in heaven” that Jesus taught to the disciples.  And so we should.

That prayer with its “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” echoes Jesus’ own words.  We can thus imitate the very prayer of our Savior Himself as He bowed low in Gethsemane, submitting His own desires to the perfect plan of the Father.  “Not my will, but yours be done,” He prayed that night.

It’s unlikely that you are struggling with the same issue as me.  Maybe your kids are grown and married.  Maybe you’re single.  Maybe you’re still rocking an infant at night.

Even so, perhaps you and I are in the same place.  We, with all our knowledge and expertise, think we have formed a perfect plan and then God intervenes.  He declines to give us what we want.

He tells us “no.”

Maybe you, like me, are less likely to react with the submission of Jesus and instead throw temper tantrums like Jonah.

The prophet Jonah had a plan, too.  He had a successful prophetic ministry to the Hebrew people.  Yes, Jonah had a good thing going and his plans for his life probably included retiring after a fulfilling career as the voice of good news to his own nation.

Then God commissioned him to be an evangelist to a pagan nation that had long been the brutal enemy of the Hebrews.

You likely know the story.  He ran away from God, spent three days in a fish’s belly, and then after being vomited up on shore, finally obeyed God.

To a pagan nation, he preached coming judgment and they repented.  Even the king donned sackcloth and ashes.  It was one of the largest revivals in history—a whole nation turning to God in the course of one day.

Did Jonah rejoice?  Did he give praise?

Jonah 4:1 says, “but it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry.”

We could get angry, you and I, when things don’t go our way.  We could stomp away from God’s plan and cross our arms in defiance.  We could run, fast and hard, jumping onto the first ship out of this place.  We could obey, but with an attitude.

Or we could pray, “Not my will, but yours be done,” and trust that our Heavenly Father knows best.  We could remember His promise to work “for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).


Live in my area and want to pray for your kids’ school year?  Everyone is invited to are invited to Newington Baptist Church on Tuesday, September 4th at 10:30 a.m. for First Pray–a time of encouragement and prayer for our kids, their teachers, principals, and school staff.  Won’t you join us? 

For working moms, you can email me your child’s name, grade, school and homeroom teacher and we’ll pray for them, as well:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for 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.

Weekend Walk: A Wayward Cat

We have a wayward cat.

He started dashing out the door for periodic jaunts around the neighborhood long ago.  Whenever we found him crouched in the woods with his bright eyes shining back at us, he’d run into the house and hide for an hour or two under the bed.

Those experiences in the wild scared him to pieces.

Still, he ran away again.  And again.  Today’s adventure is the longest he’s had.  Escaping this afternoon, he’s still not home and it’s long past his bedtime as I write this.

We can never understand why he leaves.  He’s clearly terrified of whatever is out there in the wild.  He’s clearly spoiled here in our home.

And yet he runs.

A man once told me that once a cat experiences the smallest bit of life in the wild, you can never successfully keep him indoors again.

It made me wonder if the prodigal ever thought about running away again after he’d returned to life on the farm and celebrated his homecoming.

When Jesus told the woman, “Go and sin no more,” I wonder if it was as simple as that (John 8:11).  Did her memory of extravagant grace sustain her?  Was it as simple as walking away or did she have to fight for change, falter, repent, and run to Christ again and again?

Paul described exactly this struggle in Romans 7.  He did what he didn’t want to do.  He didn’t do what he knew he should do.  This is the continual battle with our flesh.

Like the hymn writer said, we’re “prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.”

Why do we wander?  Why do we dash out the door at the slightest opportunity and leave the safety and provision of God’s care?  Why risk treacherous territory rather than rest in His love?

After all, as soon as our cat did return home (at 4:00 a.m.) he ran in from the rain to our dry house and was greeted with a can of tuna fish.  You’d think he would understand that home is a better place to be than gallivanting around the woods in the rain sans tuna.

Paul made our choice clear in this same way and that’s my verse to meditate on this week:

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).

You’d think given the choice between death on the one hand and life and peace on the other, this decision would be a no-brainer.  Unfortunately, though, we slip into flesh-thinking so easily—-choosing to dwell on worry and anxiety, jealousy, fear, anger, bitterness, selfishness, greed, and more—everything that leads to death.

This week, let’s focus on having a Spirit-governed mind.  We must choose not to let our thoughts run wild into flesh territory.  We must choose if we want life and peace.

How do you take control of your thought-life?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for 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.

Remembering: I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up

Hi all!  I’m still enjoying time away with my family and am just logging on to share an old post with you about prayer initially and fervently about all things—without worrying and fretting first.  Enjoy!


I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!

Originally posted on August 19, 2011

“Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before” (Daniel 6:10)

Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump.
Sniffle, sniffle, sniffle.
Mom!  Mom mom!!

With my genes, my girls didn’t have much of a chance at grace and my baby girl is no different. So these are the sounds heard in my home multiple times any given day.

It’s the immediate reaction of any child to trouble, the crying out to mom and the running to her side to tell her all about the tragedy and pain.

There’s little I can do most of the time to fix the problem.  My baby’s fallen and hurt (maybe even angry) and while I can’t change the fact of her fall and no Band-Aid is going to alleviate the temporary soreness, I can kiss her, cuddle her close and tell her I love her. And so I do.

Then I fall down, tripping over my own sin, or another person who invaded my space, or an obstacle I didn’t foresee, or an unexpected pit in my road.

To whom do I run?  What is my immediate response, my instantaneous reaction to pain?  What is yours?

For some, it’s to hold our bruises close for a while and to snap at any bystanders who offer to help us stand back to our feet.  Maybe even hide our heads in embarrassment for the spectacle of the fall in the first place.

For some, it’s to call out for help from those nearby, asking them to both hoist us up and even bear the burden of our weight for a while as we wobble around on a weakened leg.

For some, it’s to haul out our own first aid kit and apply ice and bandages to our own wounds and refuse the expert care so readily available.

For some, it’s to sit without moving, paralyzed by fear.  What if our leg is broken?  What if we never walk again?  What if . . . what if . . . what if . . . ?

In Beth Moore’s study, Daniel, she notes how his immediate response to the king’s edict prohibiting prayer was to go “to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before” (Daniel 6:10).

He didn’t worry first and then pray.  He didn’t try to fix the situation through his political abilities and then pray. He didn’t even concede defeat and stop his public prayer habits, choosing instead to silently petition God at night while others slept.

Daniel prayed.  It was his initial reaction; it was his only solution.

Then there’s the matter of what he prayed.  Sure, some of us have indeed trained ourselves to “take it to the Lord in prayer” without hesitation.  We run to his side and bury our noses in the hem of His robe, sniffling out our requests to Him.  But are we giving thanks amidst those tears?

Daniel was.  Scripture says he “got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to God” (Daniel 6:10).  When I’m smarting from an injury, I’m more likely to complain about the pain than sing hymns of thankful praise.

Not Daniel. Political enemies, a manipulated king, a dangerous edict, his faith attacked, his life on the line—still Daniel gave thanks.

Paul made the same connection when he wrote,

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

Peace in the midst of pain is there for the taking sometimes, and yet we choose anxiety instead.  We opt for fear by trying to control our own problems rather than running to God’s side and dumping them at His feet.  We allow worry to reign in our hearts and minds by refusing to pray with thanksgiving at all times and in every situation.

I confess I’m a rebel at times.  Even though I know I should shove aside my grumbling and choose to be thankful—even when it takes struggling and squinting to see that sparkle of light in a dark place– still I decline.

I dusted off my thankfulness journal this morning after two weeks of shoving it aside. I didn’t want to be thankful.  I wanted to feel wronged.  I didn’t want some secret formula to maintaining joy in trials; I wanted no more trials!  I wanted God to feel pity for me and feel sorry for letting me be hurt.  Perhaps what I wanted was an apology from Him.

It’s like emotional manipulation of the Almighty God.  “I’m not going to praise You or worship You or give You thanks or hand over my fears to You until You rescue me in the way I desire.”

It’s handing God a sheet and pillow and pointing to the couch.
It’s ignoring His phone calls and giving Him the silent treatment at the dinner table.
It’s holding my breath until he gives me what I want.

And it’s just about as effective as all those tactics.  So when my tantrum is done, I pray and I give thanks.  Reluctantly at first, perhaps, and yet I try.  Maybe the next time I trip and fall, I pray with thanksgiving immediately because I have learned that gratitude shifts my focus off my need and onto the face of my Deliverer.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for 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: Fireplace, Meet My Toe

Last week, I walked into the fireplace.

This usually happens because I am:

a.) Doing too much too quickly.
b.) Distracted.
c.) A general klutz.
d.) All of the above.

The correct answer here is D.

Congratulations to you lucky winners!

At first, my injuries seemed slight, but over time I began to hurt every time I put my left foot to the floor.  It wasn’t my whole foot that was sore, just my pinky toe.

So, I adjusted, putting more and more weight on the other side of my foot.  This made walking look clumsy and more than a little bit ridiculous.

In fact, by the next day I was flat-out limping along, all because of one tiny little tender toe.

That night, I climbed into bed only to find that my big toe now had a blister.  This meant I had two toes out of commission.

It got worse.  The following day my entire leg was sore from limping in an effort to avoid both my pinky toe and my big toe.

The lesson here is simple.

Pay attention and don’t walk into fireplaces.

And value each member of the body, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant.

Just hurting one tiny, seemingly insignificant toe–the smallest toe I have–made life difficult as other parts of me struggled to compensate.

It’s true in the church body, of course, as well.  One small (perhaps seemingly insignificant) member of the body who isn’t obeying God in ministry throws us all off balance, stresses others out, and leaves us limping and ineffective.

Here’s a Scripture verse for the week all about being a healthy, whole, non-limping body of Christ:

 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work
(1 Corinthians 12:4-6).

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for 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.

Orange Makeup/White Shirt

“I’m so grateful we never have to stand at a distance from Christ. Not only is He incapable of catching our ‘disease,’ but also He is never reluctant to embrace us”
(Beth Moore, Jesus: the One and Only, p. 242)

I love my kids.  Normally, I’m eager to accept their hugs and I’ll wrap them up in my arms at the slightest whim.

The other night, though, my daughter was fully decked out in her costume as an Oompa Loompa in a production of Willy Wonka, Jr, complete with thick, bright orange makeup all the way to her hairline and down to her neck.

…And she wanted to hug me.

…While I was wearing a white shirt.

…A really, really white shirt.

Did I mention she was orange?  Really, really orange.  In fact, I think Crayola should consider naming a new color “Oompa Loompa Orange” in her honor.

So, I hugged her at first with an intricately choreographed dance, making sure her orange head never made contact with my clothing. She bobbed; I weaved.

Then, I stood still for a moment and tilted her face to the side so that only the top of her head touched me.  (Her hair, thankfully, wasn’t orange!)   I gave her what I’ve decided to call “the sideways head hug.”

My goal here was a kind of sterile affection: Showing love without staining my clothes.

I’ve learned this dance over years of practice as a mom.  Kids, after all, come at me every day with Oreos on their hands and spaghetti sauce oozing from their fingers. More paint makes it onto them than every makes it onto paper and then they reach out and touch me to get my attention.

In fact, most of my clothes bear the marks of their hands on my thighs (where they could reach when standing up as toddlers) and on my shoulders (from the times I picked those little ones up).

When I read through the Gospels, I’m amazed at how Jesus essentially wore a white shirt and yet never failed to hug, squeeze, lift up, and cherish all those who came to him—even when they were covered in stains of sin, death, and all that was unclean.

He never dodged them in attempts to escape the messiness of their lives.

When the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years braved the disapproving crowd in order to reach Jesus, she was unclean.  Continual bleeding meant continually being cut-off from public worship and physical contact with others.

One brush of her skin against your arm and you’d be unclean, as well.

Yet, she touched Jesus and He didn’t flinch or condemn her.  He didn’t sidestep her presence.  He healed her and set her free.

When Jesus saw the coffin of a widow’s only son pass by surrounded by wailing mourners and his mother in despair, Jesus could have slipped away and ignored it all.  Touching a dead body was a guaranteed mess, making you unclean by the law’s religious standards.

Jesus did it anyway, though, telling the dead boy to arise and then watching this only son embrace his mother again.

Jesus ate with the rabble, touched the eyes of the blind, and laid hands on the demon-possessed.  His was a physical affection, the real and true fingerprints of God placed on undeserving lives and unclean situations.

Yet, instead of being tainted or stained Himself, He brought purity to others.

Paul put it this way:

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Too often we miss the significance of this fact: Jesus did what was unclean and yet nothing could penetrate the purity of the Son of God.

He was sinless, blameless, totally righteous before God, but He didn’t use that as an excuse to separate Himself from others.  Instead, it was His joy to absorb their stains of sin, now bleached white when laid at the feet of the Messiah.

It’s what He did on the streets of Galilee and Judea and Samaria.

It’s what He did on the cross.

It’s what He does even now when we let Him get involved in the dirtiest, muckiest, and most sin-plagued aspects of our lives.

That’s what John assures us when he writes: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

This means we don’t need to hide away or shun his society.  We don’t need to pretend the unclean blots on our lives don’t exist.

It also means that we can follow his example by no longer worrying about our clean white shirts and start doling out affection without restraint, not avoiding the mess of others when it makes us uncomfortable.  Like Jesus, we “walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us” (Ephesians 5:2).

Sometimes real love means getting messy, maybe even orange.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for 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.

How is a Christian like an Oompa Loompa?

The curtain rose and fell for the last time.  The makeup went on and the makeup came off (mostly–there are still streaks of orange along my daughter’s hairline).  Costumes were handed in and tucked away for future shows. A crew of folks broke down the set and put the pieces into storage.

My kids finished their summer-long project yesterday, an all-youth production of Willy Wonka Jr. sponsored by our local community theater group.  They auditioned the Sunday after school ended, rehearsed every week, and performed this weekend.

Now it’s time to kick back and enjoy a few weeks of rehearsal-free summer before school starts again.

Each night before the show, we arrived two hours early so the kids could climb into costumes and sit still for makeup.  This was a particularly involved process because my middle girl was an Oompa Loompa.

The Oompa Loompas are Willy Wonka’s devoted candy factory workers.  Refugees from a horrible land, they’ve come to live and work in his factory as loyal servants of their eccentric chocolate-making master.

Transforming into an Oompa Loompa is quite a task.  It’s more than just colorful shirts, socks and some overalls with curiously expansive hips.

There’s also a bright green wig covered in curls.

And there’s orange makeup–bright orange.

For these six through nine-year-olds, this was a matter of acting, putting on the outward appearance of another.

In the tradition of Lewis Carroll-like riddles, though, I’ve been wondering: How is a Christian like an Oompa Loompa? (Yes, I know Lewis Carroll wrote Alice in Wonderland, not Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  What can I say?  I’ve got children’s fantasy on the brain . . . )

Peter wrote this description to the church:

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9 NLT).

The Oompa Loompas are peculiar.  They are “strange creatures,” unmistakably different from the kids and parents who visit Willy Wonka’s factory.

We also are supposed to be “not like that,” not like the world, not able to blend in with the crowd. God has changed us from the inside-out and people should notice the unique qualities of God’s love and righteousness about us.

I never once saw an Oompa Loompa hit the gym for an exercise routine targeted at reducing his hip-size.  They didn’t climb onto stilts to increase their height.  None of them hid in the bathroom for an hour to dye their hair and they didn’t even try to pass their orange skin off as suntan.

They were comfortable being weird.

Sometimes we’re not.  We’re too often trying to hide, transform, pretend, and deny the presence of Christ in us.

There’s freedom, though, in unashamedly being who God called us to be, in raising our hands in worship with abandon, in standing up for what is right with conviction, and not fearing the disapproving looks of those around us.

We’re supposed to be weird, too.

The Oompa Loompas were also refugees.  Willy Wonka had pulled them out of a land of fear and disaster and offered them a place of peace.

We’ve similarly been lifted up out of pits and carried to safety.  We are God’s “chosen people” and His “very own possession,” who no longer inhabit a hopeless world, facing inevitable death without the promise of a future.  He has “called us out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”

So, we respond as the Oompa Loompas did; we cheerfully and faithfully serve our Master.

He has saved us!  We are rescued and redeemed!

It’s a little thing, then, to show gratitude and loyalty and to obey Him in every little thing.  We work, we love, we give, we minister, we sacrifice, we share, we worship because we are refugees brought to safety by a Savior who loves us.

The Oompa Loompas are also message-bearers.  As each Golden Ticket winner inevitably fails, falling to the temptations of  immediate satisfaction, selfishness, and greed, the Oompa Loompas take the stage. They clean up the mess.  They solve the problem.

They sing their song.

We also “show others the goodness of God,” sometimes by fixing problems and tending to needs, silently ministering grace.

Sometimes we “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), reminding others that God has a plan, purpose, and design.  We speak truth and wisdom in a world that desperately needs both, but we do it with love, covered over with grace, never out of judgment or pompous self-righteousness.

The Christian life is a call to be different, to be saved, to be devoted, to be messengers of God’s goodness, all without having to wear a green wig or apply orange makeup.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for 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