Please join me over at (in)courage today!

WILL YOU JOIN ME?

Today I’m posting in an amazing community for women called ‘(in)courage’  to remind us of this:

Here at the start of a new year, may our prayers be simple and true: “Your will this year, not mine, Lord. Your will, not mine.”

Then, we open our hands to God, allowing Him to exchange His best plans for our faulty ones. We hold lightly to our own hopes, goals, plans, resolutions, and dreams for the year, and we hold tightly to the God who loves us so much He chose the cross.

I’m thrilled and honored to be sharing this message with the (in)courage community and I hope you’ll take a few minutes to click this link and join me over there today.  It would be a true joy to ‘see some familiar faces!’

You can click here to read the whole post over on the (in)courage page.  I’d be truly blessed if you’d leave me a comment on their site!  I’ll be popping in throughout the day to reply.

If you love the (in)courage site as much as I do, you can also sign up here to receive free daily encouragement from the writers of (in)courage, right in your inbox!

While I’d love for you to visit me over at (in)courage today, I ask for your prayers above all. May God be glorified and His people be encouraged by this message of hope in His faithfulness!

Thanks so much for the prayers and the help in sharing this message with others!

The Great Human Struggle Right There in the Middle of the Kitchen

He freezes in the kitchen with one hand hanging mid-air.

psalm84

Picture courtesy of Steve Janacek, PicJumbo

He was headed into “The Forbidden Territory”—AKA the laundry room—just as fast as he could crawl when he heard me say, “No.”

And this tiny baby boy engaged in the great human struggle right there in the middle of my kitchen floor.

Do I do what I want to do?  Even if I know it’s wrong?  Even if mom says, ‘no?’

Or do I obey and turn to enjoy something else, something approved and acceptable?

He tilts his head up so he can see me, still sticking his hand right out into the air, paralyzed as he decides where to slap that hand down on the linoleum floor.  Place the hand here to move forward to the “No Zone of the laundry room.”  Place the hand there to turn and obey.

His muscles actually twitch under the strain of the decision.  He grunts and growls.  He looks at me with the brightest blue eyes all filled to the brim with tears.

Because he wants what he wants.

And yet, still crying, still upset, still disappointed, slowly he lowers that hand down and shifts his body.

He turns.

He crawls full speed ahead to my legs and throws himself at me.

Sometimes obedience is hard.  So I reward him with cheers and kisses on his cheeks and an elaborate hug.

He’s not even old enough for me to lay it all out for him all psychological and explanatory.  How sometimes Mom says ‘no’ because she loves you and she doesn’t want you to end up in the laundry room with a mouthful of cat poop because you found the litter box.

How sometimes the things we think we want the very most are the very worst for us.

So, it’s my Mom-job to tell him “no,” not to be mean or arbitrary, but for protection and because I have something better in mind than cat litter (promise!).

Does God give whisper this to us also?

Dearest One, I love you.  I know that your heart is hurting because I’ve said, “no,” but please trust me and trust my heart for you.  I’m not out to harm you or withhold blessings or good things from you.  I’m here to protect you.  Wait for the moment when I say, “Yes” and it’s perfect.  It’s worth waiting for.  Love, Abba

The Psalmist said it:

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
  Psalm 84:11 ESV

He is our light.  He is our protection.  And He doesn’t withhold good things for us.

But we have to let Him define what is ‘good.’

Paul pursued what seemed like a noble Gospel-sharing goal—to preach in Asia–and yet, the Holy Spirit stopped him with a clear, ‘no.’

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. (Acts 16:6-7 NIV).

It’s a ‘no’ that doesn’t seem to make a bit of sense.  Surely Paul’s itinerary seemed ‘good.’

Yet, even when it seems hopeless and crazy, utterly insane, or like all the doors are closed and everything is over and you should just give up already and go home, if God tells you ‘no’ and asks you to wait….then wait.  If He asks you to turn, then turn.

Linda Evans Shepherd in The Stress Cure writes:

Living in God’s will means always saying yes to God (p. 138).

You want me to stop?  Yes, Lord.
You want me to wait?  Yes, Lord.
You want me to change direction?  Yes, Lord.

That’s what He did for Paul.  He redirected Paul’s steps to Macedonia and to a Gospel mission to Europe:

 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them (Acts 16:9-10).

Maybe I would have pushed and shoved right out of God’s presence and His will and right on into Asia.

Yet, Paul turned.  He accepted the ‘no’ and said ‘yes’ to God’s mission and agenda instead of his own seemingly noble one.

Do I want what I want?  Even if I know it’s wrong?  Even if God says no?

Or do I want to be where God is, satisfied and content in His presence and trusting in His love?

May we always choose the “yes” of His presence.

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me this month as I Learn When to Say, ‘Yes?’

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 book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

Devotionals for Christmas: How to answer when your preschooler asks, “Why?”

She asks me:  Why?

Why was the serpent bad in that garden?

Why did Eve give the fruit to Adam, too?

Why did God choose Mary to be Jesus’ mom?

Why did the people shout to kill Jesus when He didn’t do anything wrong?

Why did they slam that crown of thorns down on Jesus’ head and why did they lash His back again and again and again?

Why did He die on that wooden cross?

Why did the women put burial spices on His body and why did they wrap Jesus in those cloths?

Why did Jesus walk on out of that grave?

I try to break it all down, this Gospel, and explain it in the language of a four-year-old.  But I stumble and trip, throw in words she doesn’t understand and then toss them out again.

Start, stop, start over.  That’s how it goes.

I answer.

But she asks again.

Why?

In the minivan, at the dinner table, as we turn the pages of her children’s Bible, as she holds my hand and walks out the door, she asks.  Over and over we walk through the Gospel, letting it sink down deep into her heart and mind, and I pray that the seed sewn and watered will sprout faith, strong and true.

We adults tend to complicate this Good News, fumbling to unwrap the beautiful simplicity with our overgrown paws.

There is, after all, depth here.  No matter how down deep we dig into God’s Word, there is rich truth to uncover.

Paul exclaimed:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!  (Romans 11:33 NIV).

Wasn’t that part of the trouble for the Pharisees, though?  They piled on laws, rules, legalism and judgment, tripping people up with their obstacle-ridden path to redemption.  They took something simple and made it so difficult.

And yet, how capable our God is at breaking down the difficult and complex, making it simple so we, His own precious children can understand.

In the same way, we can tangle the Christmas story in details and asides, but God unravels the mess and says it clear:

 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Matthew 1:18

In the Women of Christmas, Liz Curtis Higgs writes, “He summarized the main characters and their plight in a single sentence.”Wreath of Snow_cvr.indd

That’s what we need.  We need our God to free us from complicated explanations and tricky religious routines.  We need Him to be clear.  We need Him to break it down.

Because when salvation gets complicated, we lose sight of grace.  It becomes about us instead of all about Him.

We know what a disaster that is.

Paul tells us what we bring to this salvation table:

Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient.  We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures.  Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other.  (Titus 3:3 NLT).

What a mess we make.  Foolish, disobedient, mistaken, slaves to sin, evil, envious, and filled with hate—that’s what we are without God.

“But…”

That’s what Paul writes next.  One three-letter word of hope and freedom for all of us chained to sin.

But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.”  (Titus 3:4-7 NLT)

We bring mess.titus3

He brings mercy.

It’s as simple as that.

All of those “Why’s” my preschooler asks and all of the “why’s” I myself ask when life seems complicated and confusing find their answer here:  “because of his mercy.”

And Christmas, oh how we can tangle it right up with confusion and busyness, but here is the clear and simple truth:

It was at Christmas that God revealed His kindness and love, mercifully, generously, with a Savior we didn’t deserve and a sacrifice we didn’t merit.

Why did God send a Savior?

Why did He come as a baby?

Why did He take that crown of thorns, endure that lashing of the whip, die there on that cross?

Why did He walk out of that tomb, alive anew?

Because of His mercy.

Yes, because of His grace.

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 book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

My Favorite Teacher Gifts and Why This Matters…

For ten years, it sat on my desk.

And I’m not a “stuff” person really.  I have kids.  Things break.  It’s a reality, not a nightmare.

Yet, this I mourned a little, when I sat down at my desk and saw what a child-who-shall-remain-nameless broke this week.

Ten years ago, in my pre-Mom days when I was still teaching in the classroom, parents and students gave this simple picture frame to me.  Each teacher in the school received one with a card inside displaying their name along with the fruit of the spirit or character trait the students said that teacher most represented.

Sometimes you need an outsider’s perspective.  Sometimes you think you know who you are, but it takes someone else to say, “I see this in you…” and you haven’t ever seen that before so you know exactly what that means.

It’s proof that God’s been working in you.  He’s been transforming you and changing  you all up from the inside.  Maybe you’ve missed the yellow “Caution: God At Work” sign and maybe you didn’t even see the grand unveiling of the new and Holy Spirit-improved you.

But someone else saw.  They noticed.  And they took time to say….Jesus is glorified in you.

So, I opened up that teacher’s gift ten years ago and just marveled at God because what the kids saw in me was “Joy.”

I never would have guessed that.  Didn’t see it.  Didn’t know it.  Can’t even tell you now how exactly the Holy Spirit chiseled, scraped, sanded, and carved that out of a misshapen rock like me.

But I knew one thing for sure.  That was God’s hand, His glory, an artistic endeavor that only a Master Creator would undertake and accomplish.042

That little picture frame gift never was just about remembering students or recalling the old days when I commuted and dressed like a professional instead of donning jeans, a t-shirt and canvas sneakers to head out for a full day of Mom-life.

No, it was about so much grace.

And more.

This world condones, encourages, evokes, and just pulls right out the selfishness in us.  It tells us: Focus within.  Look out for #1.  Fight to get ahead.  Don’t let anyone stand in your way.  Help yourself.  Take what’s yours.

God, though, didn’t just tell us to stoop down low, to reach out, to humby pull out the cloth and the basin and wash another’s feet.

He did it Himself.

And then He asked us to do it for others.

Hebrews 10:24 says:

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works” (NLT).

One little teacher gift for me was Hebrews 10:24 wrapped up with tissue paper and handed out during teacher appreciation week in 2003.

Now, I’m the mom with the young kids and they have the incredible teachers.  This, again, is grace.  The way God blesses us and pours into us.  Then He asks us to pour ourselves right on out for others so they can be blessed and filled to overflowing.

And so it goes, a perpetual fountain of grace-giving that only stops when we break the chain and stagnate the flow until we’re all swamp-stinky and covered in a grime of selfishness.001

Maybe your days of classroom teachers are long over.  But we all have those special ones who give so much and if we’ll just take one moment to look at them instead of at ourselves, we’ll marvel at the creativity, the thoughtfulness, the gentleness, the devotion, the commitment, the faithfulness, the care and the compassion.

And we’ll want to say, “Thanks.”  We’ll want to tell them—“I see this beauty in you.”

For those looking for ways to bless a teacher or other special servant, here are some ideas as we end this school year or even thoughts to give you a head-start for the fall.  We’ve collected these ideas from Pinterest, the Internet, and from other moms.  I’m hardly creative enough to come up with these on my own!

To see my whole Pinterest board of Cute Gift Ideas, click here!

Of course, gift cards are great, too.

Most importantly, though, is a genuine, heartfelt note of appreciation and encouragement.  That’s something we can all give to another this week.

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 © 2013 Heather King

Complicating Grace

We had given them instructions.

While I was away all day at a conference in Richmond, Dad was on duty for swim lessons and a friend’s birthday party and everything in between.

So, I prepped my daughters in advance with specific instructions because you have to go through the bathrooms at the gym in order to reach the pool.  One dad…three daughters….suddenly this whole 003job becomes more complicated.

“Now, you can’t change at the pool after swim lessons,” I told them.  “You just need to slip your cover-up on over your swimsuits and quickly move through the bathroom to the other side where Dad will be waiting for you. He’ll take you home where you can change.”

He told them the same thing.

So, 20 minutes after he sent them through the bathroom after swim lessons, they finally emerged.

Fully dressed.

Mostly.

Because we had planned this all out, I hadn’t packed them underwear to change into after swim class.  They were, after all, supposed to wear their swim suits home.

I can only imagine what every other woman in the gym bathroom witnessed as these three girls tried to change into clothes and discovered a lack of undergarments.

Oh my.

Fortunately, a mom we know had pity on my youngest and at least gave her a plastic bag for her wet swimsuit.  This is what my daughter told me as soon as I arrived home that night.

“How were swim lessons?” I asked.

“Good.  Natalie’s mom gave me a plastic bag.”

Okay….

They must have struggled through wet clothes and changing in a public bathroom and searching frantically through the clothes for the things they needed and then had to makeshift a solution when they found their resources were lacking.

But if they had listened to us, yes, if they had just listened and obeyed the simple instructions we’d given, they would have had everything they needed.  It would have been so simple.

And I take this to heart.

Yes, if I just listen to my God—all-knowing, all-powerful, so gracious and loving—then perhaps I wouldn’t struggle with so much insufficiency and lack, perhaps the situations that threaten to drown me in frantic worry and desperate searching would be simplified and peace-filled.

Yet, sometimes I’m just not listening.

And sometimes I’m listening; I’m just not obeying.

Either way, I create havoc.

I’m not alone in this, I know.  God granted Solomon supernatural wisdom, and yet the vast kingdom he inherited from his father, King David, disintegrated when Solomon died.

All because he didn’t listen.

God gave such clear instructions for the kings of Israel:

However, he (the king) must not acquire many horses for himself or send the people back to Egypt to acquire many horses, for the Lord has told you, ‘You are never to go back that way again.’ He must not acquire many wives for himself so that his heart won’t go astray. He must not acquire very large amounts of silver and gold for himself (Deuteronomy 17:16-17).

Three simple commands:

1. Don’t have too many horses (especially ones you get from Egypt, where you were once enslaved).

2. Don’t have many wives (especially those who will lead your heart astray).

3. Don’t build up extreme personal wealth.

Perhaps the rules seemed so arbitrary, even unfair, and certainly not fun.  All the other kings, I’m sure, married for political alliances, acquired wealth and then showed it off, and maintained stables with pride.

Why not Solomon and the kings of Israel?

The Bible Knowledge Commentary notes that “All three prohibitions, then, were designed to reduce the king to the status of a servant totally dependent on His Master, the Lord.”

God planned for his king’s heart to be humbled, for him to remember Who would deliver him in battle and Who would provide for his needs.

Sadly, Solomon doesn’t have a reputation for wisdom alone.  No, he’s known for opulence, and his 700 wives (plus 300 concubines), who led him to worship foreign gods and stone idols.

And his horses.

We’re told: “Solomon had 4,000 stalls for his chariot horses, and he had 12,000 horses” (1 Kings 4:26).  Not only that, but Solomon’s horses came from Egypt (2 Chronicles 1:16).

Lisa Harper writes:

grace can masquerade as difficulty and discipline”(Malachi).

So it was for malachiSolomon.  This was grace in disguise and he missed it, missed seeing through the mask of rules and restrictions to know that God was at work here.

And me, when I’m rushing and not listening, or listening and not heeding, how can I see grace for the grace it is?

Instead, I’m begging, “Mercy,” and this mercy He’s already given.

I still my heart to listen.

I steel my heart to obey.

And grace is what I see.

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 © 2013 Heather King

It Got Ugly

This is going to get ugly.

That’s what this momma was thinking when my oldest daughter was picked for a Sunday morning sermon illustration…and my middle girl wasn’t.

And it was ugly.  I prayed for most of the Sunday while she hunched in the pew, unresponsive to touch or kisses or comforting words.  And I prayed while she shuffled slowly with slumped shoulders down the hall to Children’s Church.  And I prayed as she stretched out on the floor face down while the other kids sang the songs and listened to the lesson.

What else to do but pray?

We’ve had these discussions relentlessly, trying to love on this girl and pull those roots of bitterness plain old out of her heart’s soil.

Telling her that she’s loved, totally loved, for who she is and how God made her.  How she doesn’t have to be like her sister or compete with her sister, not in any way, not in what she wins or earns or the recognition she receives or the hobbies she pursues.

Sending her out for time alone with her Daddy, giving her that attention and that feeling of special, unique and beloved.

Praising her for moments of triumph and leaning in close to look in those blue eyes so deep and say, “I love you.  I am proud of you.”

But it always comes down to absolutes with her.  She cries that her sister “always” and she “never.”  She keeps tallies and totals, and ongoing score sheets, and how does she remember all this anyway?

How many gift cards Victoria has received: A Million!!!!
How many gift cards I have received: Two.

How Victoria earned first place.
How I failed and lost….(translation: won second place). 

How unfair it is that Victoria got a trophy AND a medal
How I only got a trophy.

We try to reason it out, reminding her of truth and shutting down the lies, and so much of it is just lies Satan is dumping like refuse down on her heart and mind.  Trash load after trash load of lies.

So, we do our best, of course we do, loving, encouraging, speaking truth, building up.

How beautiful, though, that God loves our children with a heart bigger than ours and wisdom much greater.  Despite all I can give even when I am giving my all, still He gives more; He gives exactly right.

A few days after the Sunday morning disaster, it was my middle girl they called up to receive a prize at Awana for best behavior in her club that night–a gift card, of all things, more coveted than any 006trophy or medal.

And she beamed.

And I gasped, absolutely lost my breath sitting there on that wooden bench watching her run up for that prize.  I was all teary-eyed and I could have fallen down right there on that dirty gymnasium floor and lifted hands to God and just cried at His feet in thanks.

Didn’t He know best that she needed a moment to shine?

And didn’t He give her exactly what she needed, something I couldn’t really give on my own, something as a mom I desperately needed Him and only Him to do?

Yes, He worked in her heart that night.  But He also worked in mine.

He reminded me right there that He hears the prayers for my children and they are so safe in His hands.

And so am I.

Because I may not be a middle child, but surely I can act out with all that bitterness and envy and self-pity too much of the time.

Middle-child faith.  That’s what I have sometimes.

We all have things we covet: Someone else’s marriage, ministry, looks, relationships, money, possessions, whatever.  I surely have mine.

And when I’m all wrapped up in what someone else has or does, so focused on keeping some kind of tally or score, then I’m missing out on God’s goodness to me.

That’s what Harold Coffin said:

Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.

The Psalmist, Asaph, wrote:

No doubt about it! God is good— good to good people, good to the good-hearted.
But I nearly missed it,
missed seeing his goodness.
I was looking the other way,
looking up to the people at the top,
envying the wicked who have it made,
Who have nothing to worry about,
not a care in the whole wide world.  Psalm 73:1-5 MSG

No doubt about it: God is good.  Good to our children.  Good to us.

No doubt about it: I don’t want to miss seeing His goodness by looking the other way, looking at others and not at Him.

No doubt about it: I can trust Him to care for my family and for me.

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 November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Not the Other Mom

Her Other Mom cooks yummy pancakes.

Her Other Mom bought all of her clothes (although I clearly remember shopping myself).012

Her Other Mom has a big house with a pink toilet in it.

Her Other Mom owns a dog.

Her Other Mom tells her when to eat, when she can have a snack, when she can go outside to play, what shows to watch on television, and whether or not it’s bedtime.

Her Other Mom has that book, that Kindle app, that game, that movie, and every toy that’s ever been advertised on television…ever.

We’re not exactly sure when it happened or how, but at some point my three-year-old transitioned from a mini-van full of fairly typical imaginary friends to an imaginary “Other Mom.”

Eventually the Other Mom had an Other Dad and Other Sisters and even Brothers, and she chats about this entire Other Family all day long.

We laugh most of the time (quietly to ourselves, of course) and let her chatter on about this pretend family.

Once I mistakenly corrected her, reminding her at dinner that it wasn’t the cape-wearing superhero Other Mom who gave her a birthday gift, but it was in fact me.

She cried.

So, I mostly leave it be and certainly don’t use the words “pretend” or “imaginary,” “not real” or “fake” whenever she launches into one of her Other Mom fairy tales.

But the other day, I leaned in close to my little one and whispered, “Who loves you?”

Without a second’s breath, she blurted out “My Other Mo……” and then she stopped.  She put down the crayon she was coloring with and let it roll on the table, concentrating on my question.  She pushed back the flyaway hairs escaping from her ponytail.

Then she looked right into my eyes and said, “You!” and giggled at me like we had just shared the best knock-knock joke ever heard by a preschooler.

“And who else loves you?” I asked her, pressing in on the moment.

“My cats….and Lauren and Victoria and my Dad.”

Not her Other Dad, not those Other Sisters, or the Brothers or the imaginary dog…

We love her, this real family who takes care of her real needs and buys her real clothes and cooks her real food.

It’s innocent, of course, this imagination of hers.  Most days, I try to marvel at it rather than question too much whether deficiencies in me gave her reason to create an Other Mom (I don’t, after all, have a pink toilet in my home).

But then there’s God and then there’s us and it really isn’t innocent much of the time, forgetful, yes…apathetic at times…generally oblivious in some moments.

Like Israel just a short hike from Egypt, not long enough for a generation to develop spiritual amnesia about their miraculous deliverance out of slavery, still they were forgetful beings.  Moses delayed on the mountain with the Lord, so Aaron threw some gold into the fire and pulled out a golden cow.

The people looked at that man-made object and declared, “Israel, this is your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!” (Exodus 32:4).

And they did it again generations later.  King Jeroboam decided it was too difficult for the people to trek to Jerusalem to worship in the temple.  It required too much sacrifice, too much effort.

So, “he made two golden calves, and he said to the people, ‘Going to Jerusalem is too difficult for you. Israel, here is your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt.'” (1 Kings 12:28).

How?

How could they give any fake god or false idol the credit for miraculous salvation?

How could worship be so fickle?

How could they forget who God is and what He had done?

How could we?

We’re not three-year-olds with active imaginations.  We’re His children who forget to thank Him, forget to worship Him, forget to give Him glory for what He’s done, forget today what miracle He did for us yesterday, forget to look for Him in the middle of our everyday lives.

We too often just accept the gifts without pausing to see, really see, the way they drip with grace.

Praising Him one day; forgetting the next; overlooking His goodness; blaming Him for what is wrong and not thanking Him for what is good….so we fall and so we fail, and so we end up worshiping golden calves of our own making.

But God reminded His people: “I am the Lord your God, who brought your out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery” (Exodus 20:2).

Yes, He is the God worthy of our praise.  He is the God who rescued us.  He is the God who loves us.

Yes, He is God and God alone.

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 © 2013 Heather King

Weekend Rerun: When You’ve Become the Diaper

Originally posted on March 5, 2012

I’d been a mom for just under two years when I got pooped on for the first time.

It turns out new babies can’t quite tell when the diaper is on and when Momma has removed it for bath time.

This is one of those things you just never anticipate happening to you.   You go to college, study hard, earn a degree.  Go back to school and earn a Master’s degree.  Teach a classroom of highly intelligent senior high students.

Then two years later you’re cleaning yourself up after being mistaken for a diaper.

Every mom has Kodak moments of familial perfection.  For a few minutes, it’s domestic tranquility.  Kids are healthy.  They used their manners at the dinner table.  The homework is done.  The laundry is put away.  You cooked a delicious and healthy dinner in your Crock Pot, made homemade bread, and no one complained about it at the dinner table.  Your chore chart and behavior reward system are working.

You are, in fact, Super Mom.  You are June Cleaver, Betty Crocker, and even maybe Mr. Clean in one grand super hero package.

Until noses start running and children start fighting when you have a headache.  A stomach virus shoots through your family.  You realize that “dressing up” now means wearing the jeans without the worn knees and Sharpie stains from your child’s experiments with permanent marker.

Are you less of a Super Mom now?

Partway through last week when the stomach virus hit my home, the cleaning up of bodily fluids was beginning to wear me down.  It was like being pooped on . . . all day . . . every day.

I needed a good cry, a scented bubble bath, a cup of hot tea, some rich chocolate—maybe hot fudge on an ice cream sundae, a hair cut, some time to myself, someone to tell me I looked beautiful even on a day it couldn’t possibly be true.

As it was, I prayed the only prayer I was feeling at the moment, “Can you help a girl out, God?  It’s pretty hard to feel like the yucky humiliation and selflessness of this job has any eternal significance.  Do you even know what it’s like to put other people first all the time?”

I forgot who I was talking to.

Oh, sure, Jesus was the Savior of mankind.  He had the power of divinity at His fingertips.  He could multiply the bread instead of having to knead it by hand and let it rise on the stove.  He could command the fish into the nets instead of pushing a cart around Wal-Mart with a shopping list, a budget, coupons, and a toddler.

And yet.

When we over-romanticize the life of our Savior, we forget the utter humility and selflessness of Jesus, who:

“though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” Philippians 2:5-8 (ESV).

Jesus emptied Himself for us.  He took the form of a servant for our sake.  Stepping down from a heavenly throne, for a little while He “was made lower than the angels” all because He loved us (Hebrews 2:9).

The writer of Hebrews emphasizes that Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t just that He died on the cross, although that is more than enough.  The sacrifice began the moment He confined Himself to flesh and submitted Himself to a life of hunger, fatigue, and pain.

He suffered in this way so that He could understand our suffering:

“Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted”  (Hebrews 2:14-18, ESV).

and

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15, ESV).

Jesus sympathizes with us on our hardest days.  He loves on us and showers mercy down on our lives when He sees how we struggle.  Christ bends Himself low to wash our feet and heal our hurts.

This is never more true than when we’re covered in mess because we’ve been serving someone else.

This means that the most beautiful moments of my motherhood to God aren’t the ones when the family is clean, happy, eating perfect food, at peace with one another and I look like a fashion model.

Instead, it’s when I’m serving even though I’m tired or sick myself.  It’s getting up early even when you were up in the middle of the night.  It’s cleaning up messes and assuring sick children that it’s all okay.

This isn’t just for moms either.  God has called us all to a ministry of self-emptying, of inconvenience and mess, so that we all can share His love with others.

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 November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Transforming the To-Do List

Maybe it’s March, but I still felt a little sadness when my first and second grader stepped onto the school bus this morning. 007

It makes sense how I cried that first time my “babies” went off for a whole day of school or even how I miss them that first day after summer break.

But it’s three-quarters of the way through the year and still it hits me: how tall they are and how beautiful, how the school year is almost over and they are learning so much (“Mom, do you know some deserts receive as little as 1 inch of rainfall?”).

I’m so blessed by their school, so thankful that the teachers and staff bring out the best in them.  It’s just that time with these girls is so precious; sometimes I forget, today I remember.

Maybe it’s on my mind this morning because on Sunday I sat in a darkened auditorium, snuggled up to my daughters (this one in my arms, that one resting against my shoulder, another by my side).  We watched my husband portray a Confederate officer in 1860’s Virginia on the stage.

The actors told a story of a family in a war, men writing to mothers and wives, women writing to husbands and sons, and they were lonely, scared, confident, and worried about household things and the end of life as they knew it.

Somehow it was a story about a War that was really more about a family.

Then at the end of it all, in a southern drawl, my husband said: “May we never again take for granted all the blessings God has given us: the love of family and friends; the beauty of the work around us; the sanctity of life; and the endless opportunities we have each day to make things right” (When Peace Again Shall Smile, by Catherine Witty, adapted from letters from the Taliaferro family of Gloucester Virginia).

You learn these lessons when life is tragic and hard and you might lose everything.

But today, in the middle of the mundane and ordinary, I’m thinking about to-do lists and how they always tell us what we’re doing, but not who we’re doing it for. 

I’m thinking indeed about that love of family and friends, the beauty of the work, the holiness of the life.

I sweep through my house, scrubbing down the sinks, emptying trash cans, rinsing out cereal bowls and filling the dishwasher, stripping down the sheets for washing day.

And I think, “Oh, I need to clean that…” not “let me wash this for my daughters” or “this is a way to bless my husband.”

That’s never how a to-do list sounds, after all.  It would take all day just to write out a list like that.

Besides, what never makes it on the to-do list at all are sometimes the most important things.  Like a three-year-old running through the house scared in the early hours of the morning and snuggling up close for safety….or conversations on the ride home from school….or connect-the-dot-pages….or listening to piano practice.

Our to-do lists might be necessary beasts, helping us at least accomplish something and keeping ourselves slightly sane in the midst of it all.

Yet, today I’m thinking “off book,” and that maybe if I thought more about who I’m serving instead of just what I have to do, it’d keep all this life in perspective.

I do this in love.  These acts are showing I care.  This I wash, this I fold, this I pick up because I love and because I am loved.  I show grace because I just need so heaping much of it.

Didn’t God always keep the people in mind and not just the task?

He didn’t make the list: “Send a spokesperson to Pharaoh.  End slavery.  Lead nation across Red Sea.”

No, God, told Moses:

I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians….So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:7&10).

And Jesus, our Savior, didn’t come because theology made His to-d0 list, not doctrine, or the need to check off a box on a divine agenda.

He said it to the disciples crowded around a Passover table:

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me (Luke 22:19 NIV).

It was for them….it was for us.

This day remember all that you do is done for another—for a friend, for family, for others, for a Savior who gave so much to you.

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 November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Weekend Rerun: Taste and See

Originally posted February 22, 2012

If you heard the rumblings of the apocalypse at around 6:00 p.m. last Saturday night . . . that was me.

To be more accurate, it emanated from my home after I did something shocking.

I cooked two new recipes for dinner.  Not one experimental dish, but two.  In the same day.  For the same meal.

How did the world not end?

My oldest daughter has been getting better about trying new dishes and tasting before judging.  Even she, though, poked at the baked potato casserole with her fork like it was an animal on the side of the road and she didn’t know if it was dead or not.

“This looks gross.”  (It didn’t).

“It smells gross.”  (It didn’t.)

“I don’t like it.”

In true mom fashion, I answered, “How do you know if you haven’t tried it?”

I knew better than to serve up the potato side dish to my middle girl who never ceases to yell out, “I HATE potatoes” any time a spud threatens to come near the dinner table.  It’s as if after almost six years with the child I still need the constant reminder that potatoes on her plate cause the allergic reaction of a total meltdown.

Instead, I served up the barbecued chicken I’d made in my Crock Pot.  “I don’t like chicken.”  (She does).  “I don’t like barbecue.”  (She does.)

Eventually, I held up the tiniest shred of chicken on a fork and instead of biting it, she flicked out her tongue like a snake and licked the edge.  Then she grimaced and, in order to be truly dramatic, she actually shivered a little like it sent chills down her spine.

Because obviously that one drive-by licking was enough to judge the meal’s quality.

After the initial posturing of resistance, finally we ate and by the end of the meal, we decided despite the protests, that it was good.

Are you willing to experience God?  To do more than flick out your tongue for a Bible verse or two, a prayer in the night, a few Sundays in a pew, or a feeling of holiness during Lent?

Are you willing to give Him the chance to display His goodness through a season of difficulty and not give up on Him?

The Psalmist, filled with joy in knowing God, urged everyone around him to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).

It’s like he passed around a decadent piece of chocolate cake, so wonderful, so incredibly delicious, he simply couldn’t keep it to himself.

In this Psalm, though, David was encouraging more than just licking a little bit of God off the edge of a sample fork.  That’s the key to his testimony.

He wrote:

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!  Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:4-8).

Tasting God means seeking the Lord, looking to Him, even when we are full of fears, poor, facing troubles, and in need of deliverance.

We can’t give up, shrug Him off, avoid Him, halfheartedly try Him out, or put Him in a box of limitations and expectations.  We have to let God be God.  Then we’ll see how good He is.

Peter wrote:

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good (1 Peter 2:2-3, NIV). 

Tasting His goodness stirs up our God appetite. The more you read God’s Word, the more you’ll hunger and thirst for His Word.  The more you worship Him, the more you’ll long to worship Him.

Then, knowing how good God is, we just can’t keep Him to ourselves.  Just like the Psalmist, we’ll want to pass around the chocolate cake!  It will be our great testimony, even to skeptics and doubters. “Look what God did for me!  He is so good.  You have to taste and see.”

That’s exactly what Philip said to Nathaniel after discovering Jesus, the man he thought was the long-awaited Messiah.  Philip ran to Nathaniel and exclaimed, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45).

Nathaniel was dubious and asked the skeptic’s question, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth.”

Philip’s answer was simple: “Come and see” (John 1:46).

If you’ve been refusing to really taste God’s goodness and reluctant to really try a relationship with Him,  please seek Him.

If you’ve sunk your teeth into a relationship with Him and discovered His goodness, don’t push Him aside when difficulties arise.  Allow Him to display His goodness at all times.

If you’ve grown to love the goodness of God in your life, then feed the appetite for His presence and His Word.

Then, pass the cake to another.  Live your life so that others will want to experience a relationship with Him and taste His goodness for themselves.

Recipe Links:

As much as my kids balked at first, these recipes really were delicious and the chicken was super easy to make in my Crock Pot! Here are the links:

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 © 2013 Heather King