There’s No Surprising Him #Advent

When my older girls were preschoolers, we’d keep every activity a secret until the last possible second.

If I planned to take them to the zoo, they’d find out that morning at 8:30 when I put on their sneakers and packed the cooler.

If Grandma was coming for a visit, they found out when she pulled in the driveway.  Maybe, just maybe, I’d be generous enough to clue them in a few hours before she arrived.  But that was it.  No more advance notice than that.

This parental strategy was for several reasons.

  1. Sometimes plans change, so I kept things secret so no promises were broken or kids felt disappointed.
  2. My children would pester me every hour of every day if they knew something exciting was going to happen.  “How much longer?  How many days?  How many hours…minutes….seconds?”

One year, I kept the secret that Grandma was coming right up until the night before her visit when some unforeseen event dragged the news out of me at bedtime.

Disaster ensued.  Huge childhood drama.

My oldest daughter wailed, grumped, and grew outrageously angry at me for keeping the secret.

I had not given her acceptable planning time.  She informed me, “Had I known Grandma was coming, I would have made her a project.  I had time to make a project today. Tomorrow will be too busy and I will not have time.  You should have told me!”

Oh sweet daughter, I understand.

I do truly hate surprises.  I love my planning and processing time. Springing anything on me is just asking for a meltdown and a whole lot of trouble.

Surprises rock our world a bit, even good ones.  We’re thrown off balance and take time to adjust.

And isn’t Christmas all about surprises?

Zechariah was simply performing his priestly duties when an angel appeared unexpectedly and delivered the news that he and his wife would be parents.

Gabriel arrived in the middle of an average, ordinary day and announced to a young girl named Mary that she would be the mother of the Messiah.

Joseph was sleeping when the angel told him the news in a dream.

Shepherds gathered on the hills outside of Bethlehem to watch over the sheep just as they did every single night.  But on this night, the angels declared their Savior had come.

A people who had spent hundreds of years praying for the Messiah, searching for the Messiah, waiting and longing for the Messiah were completely surprised when the Messiah came.

It’s altogether an astonishing tale.  Everyone waking up on an average day, going about their average ways, and then the most extraordinary happens: An encounter with an angel.  A miraculous sign.

God at work in their midst.

There’s only one member of this entire Christmas account who isn’t stunned and surprised by the Messiah’s birth.

God Himself.

And this brings me great comfort.


Not our need for a Savior. Not the timing.  Not that He’d send His Son to be born of a virgin in a tiny town.  Not that His Son would die on a cross to save His people from their sins.

He knew all of it.

The very first Christmas verse I can find in the Bible isn’t in the Gospels at all.  It’s in Genesis.

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
    and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15 ESV). 

The moment Adam and Eve sinned, God declared the plan of salvation, the war with Satan, and Christ’s ultimate victory.

Sometimes surprises can send me into a mad scramble.  Life takes unexpected turns.  An average ordinary day can catapult me into a crisis with a single phone call.

It feels precarious and frightening to teeter-totter every moment, never knowing when my perfect plan will be bumped into.

But this is what I know:

Even when I don’t have a plan, God does.

Nothing sends Him into a frantic search for a Plan B.  Nothing stresses Him out or tosses Him into crisis mode because He didn’t see that coming.

God knew we’d need a Savior all along and He knew exactly how to save us.

God always knows what we’re going through and what we need.  Even when we’re surprised, He is not.

So we can rest from our vigil of anxiety and loosen our tight-fisted grip on control.

Christmas reminds us that we can trust Him with today and again with tomorrow.

He has perfect plans and perfect timing and we are perfectly cared for by a God who rescues and saves.

Originally published 12/7/2016

Book Review | 5 Minutes with Jesus

5 Minutes with Jesus: Peace for Today 
by Sheila Walsh

Peace for Today is the second book in the 5 Minutes with Jesus series, written by bestselling author, Sheila Walsh.  I have loved both of the books in the series so much, I’ve begun giving them as gifts to friends. They are encouraging and perfect for busy women on the go.  The books themselves are also absolutely beautiful.  The size, feel, color and style of the binding and cover are definitely worthy of a gift!!peace for today

I started reading the first book on January 1st of this year and I loved it, so I was excited to read Sheila’s second book in the same format.  The devotions are quick and easy to read, definitely the “5 minutes” the book promises! The stories are funny, heartfelt, tender, and interesting, ranging from personal anecdotes to Biblical accounts to historical events.  She ties each story to a lesson for the day and then concludes with several Scriptures for you to read that go with the theme.

These little devotionals could be the first thing you read each day, the quick time with Jesus you need during your lunch break or while waiting in a carpool line to pick up your kids, or the last thing you read each night before you go to sleep.  There are lessons here for new Christians, women struggling in a difficult season, or seasoned believers who are looking to be refreshed.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Disclaimer:   Heather King is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Book Review: Be The Message Devotional

Be the Message Devotional: A 30-day Adventure in Changing the World Around You
by Kerry and Chris Shook

Most devotionals follow a fairly standard, tried-and-true format and most focus on the intimacy of your one-on-one relationship with God.  Kerry and Chris Shook’s new 30-day devotional, Be the Message, helps readers make the transition from personal faith to faith-applied.  This follows through with their theme in the book, Be The Message, about how the gospel is not so much about what we say, but about how we live.

Each day’s reading is short and to-the-point.  The daily reading includes sections called:  Open Yourself to a dynamic encounter with God, Open God’s Word to hear God’s message, Open Your Mind to understand God’s message here and now, Open Your Heart to the divine whisper, Open Your Life to God’s transforming power, Open Your Arms to a world that needs to receive God’s incarnate message through you.

Most of the lessons about the Scripture are fairly standard, inspirational, but not particularly surprising, eye-opening or fresh.  However, this devotional would be great for someone who wants to learn about loving others, serving others, and living out the Gospel through service, compassion, and practical acts of mercy.  This is what sets this devotional apart.


I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: The One Year Hearing His Voice Devotional

The One Year Hearing His Voice Devotional: 365 Days of Intimate Communication with God
by Chris Tiegreen

Several years ago, I received one of Chris Tiegreen’s One Year Devotionals as a Christmas present.  I’m usually a devotional critic, expecting more meat and substance to be packed in than most devotionals really deliver.  Yet, I fell in love with Tiegreen’s style and made that Christmas present part of my daily reading all year long. Since then, I’ve used several of his devotionals as part of my regular quiet time.  I choose them because I know what to expect—quick, to-the-point writing that gives me some new way of looking at a particular verse or gives me something deeper to meditate on throughout the day, which is exactly what I’m looking for.hearinghisvoice

His book, The One Year Hearing His Voice Devotional, follows the same format and style that I love.  Each entry begins with a Scripture, includes a one-page devotional thought and ends with a few lines of prayer.  Nothing fancy or elaborate, but still thoughtful and contemplative.  I like how his devotionals follow a particular theme for the entire year, in this case hearing God’s voice.  Right from the beginning, he addresses the skeptics who think surely God doesn’t speak to us directly. He highlights that it is the nature of God to speak and it is His desire to have a relationship with us.

I’m likely the only person to feel this way, but the only part of the book I didn’t like so much were the occasional entries written “From the Heart of God,” in the same style as the popular book, Jesus Calling.  About once a week, he has included these entries written as if God were speaking directly to the reader.  It does fit with the book’s theme of God speaking, but I have to say I prefer devotionals written from a third-person perspective.

Other than that personal preference, I have enjoyed the One Year Hearing His Voice Devotional and look forward to continuing to use Chris Tiegreen devotionals as part of my quiet time in the future.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


It just seems so cruel.

I’m playing the board game Sorry! with my kids, not grown ups, not enemies, not rivals.  sorry!These are little tiny people with big sensitive feelings.  But when I draw that one magic card from the stack, I have to stomp all over their progress and send their man back to the start zone.

Don’t pass Go.  Don’t collect $200.

Or something like that.

And while I might be able to rig Candy Land, there’s not really much I can do about the game Sorry!, not without destroying the essence of the game by hiding all the Sorry! cards themselves.

Over time, my kids have grown a little hardier, but when we first started playing I had to apologize profusely for sending them back to “Start” just as they thought they were winning.  There was crying and there were hurt feelings.

Now at least they understand it’s all part of the game.

While all of us want to race straight from “Start” to “Home,” the truth is Sorry! is all about patiently waiting for the right card before you can step out onto the game board.  It’s about being sent back a few times and jumping ahead at opportune moments, sliding a little forward when things go your way and taking four steps back every once in a while.

It’s a little bit, or maybe a lot, like life.  It certainly reminds me of Abraham’s life.

When God called Abram (later Abraham) to leave his home and head out to an unknown land of promise, Abram packed his bags in faith, bid a fond farewell to family and friends and set out on his journey.

I guess I’ve always imagined him rushing through the wilderness, riding as fast as his camels could carry him in the desert heat, stopping only for sleep and meals only when fruit snacks and peanut butter crackers no longer sufficed.

I could see his wife, Sarai, pulling her camel alongside his and assuring him softly that, “It’s all right to stop for a bathroom break.  We don’t have to make it to the Promised Land in one day.”

I know I would be in a hurry to reach my destination!  Given a promise or a hope, I’m eager to leave and rush breathlessly down the road.

I’d be pressing into God every day:  Is this the land, God?  Is this your promise?  Or is it beyond this and, if so, what are you waiting for?  Let’s get moving!

Yet, Genesis 12:9 says, “Abram continued traveling south by stages toward the Negev” (NLT).

He took the journey in stages.  Travel a bit and then rest for a while in one place.  Get to know the people.  Linger along the desert road.  Tend to the sheep.  Wait on God to direct His next step.

Yes, Abram enjoyed the journey.

Even when he arrived at the land of promise, it must have been such a disappointment.  Scripture says, “At that time a severe famine struck the land of Canaan, forcing Abram to go down to Egypt, where he lived as a foreigner” (Genesis 12:10 NLT).

The Promised Land wasn’t flowing with milk and honey at the time.  It was dried up and destitute.  He had to retreat to Egypt, taking a long detour where he lived as a foreigner, an outsider, one man worshiping One God among a nation of many gods.

Then he trekked back over land he’d already covered, but even then he didn’t hurry.  He knew the way.  He’d been there before.  And yet still he traveled slow:

“From the Negev, they continued traveling by stages toward Bethel, and they pitched their tents between Bethel and Ai, where they had camped before.  This was the same place where Abram had built the altar, and there he worshiped the Lord again” (Gen. 13:3-4).

Maybe that’s what kept him going all along, knowing he would see Bethel again, where he had worshiped the Lord before and where he hoped to meet God anew.  Perhaps by then, Abram needed that reassurance that God was still with him and that though the journey was long and complicated, confusing even, there was a plan and a purpose, a hope and a future.

Surely we all need that reassurance at times, because our traveling isn’t much more straightforward than Abram’s was.

Sometimes we have to go back and sometimes we have to take the long way round.  Sometimes we get knocked aside by others.  Sometimes it seems like we’re absolutely standing still, just turning over card after card waiting for our chance to move.

But we remember to take it in stages, knowing that, unlike arbitrary cards on a board game, God has a plan.  We can trust that “the Lord will continually guide you” (Isaiah 58:11 NASB), even when we’re not moving forward, we are always moving on with Him.

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

Feeling Unloved

She was sobbing next to me and finally put all those unmanageable, messy feelings into four words.

“I feel so unloved.”

One fight with her sisters, one afternoon of correction and quiet discipline….and this totally loved daughter of mine told me she didn’t feel loved at all.

She sat with her tissue, snuggled against my side, my one arm hugging her shoulder, my other arm smoothing her wild hair that had been mussed by all the emotion.

But she felt unloved.

I had packed her lunch for the day, putting in her favorite snack and slipping a tiny paper with a joke on it into her bag of pretzels so she would smile and laugh and think of me.

She was wearing the outfit I had bought her and a ribbon in her hair that I (yes, the mom recovering from an allergy to crafts) had made for her with my own two clumsy hands.

Her favorite dinner was simmering on the stove.

Before bed the night before we had studied her Bible verses for the week and read together from books I ordered used online because they were out-of-print.  But they were her favorite, so I had happily spent an afternoon performing Google searches to find them.

I had combed out her long blond hair after her bath and sprayed it down to ease out the tangles and reminded her to brush her teeth.

And I had told her I loved her often, hugged her and kissed the top of her head throughout the day, then tucked her into bed under the blanket I had made for her myself.

But still she felt unloved.

I just finished reading an article about prison ministries and how many of the inmates come from homes where no one bothered to make sure they weren’t starving or had warm clothes to wear in the winter or a place to sleep.

No one really cared about them at all, but my daughter didn’t know the horrors of need and desperation.

So I told my crying girl how loved she is and how even when her emotions push their faulty lies into her heart and mind, she can shut them down with truth.

Doesn’t my Mom care for me?  Doesn’t she tell me she loves me?  Doesn’t she take care of my needs and even those extra things that I want?

We’re just as forgetful as my daughter is at times, feeling unloved because of a circumstance, a correction, a trial or sadness.  And we sit among our piles of blessings, of salvation and daily grace, and think, “God, don’t You love me?”

We meditate on the lies and feed them with our feelings, just like the Israelites did in the Old Testament.

Psalm 106 follows their long journey through forgetfulness and betrayal…

they gave no thought to your miracles;
they did not remember your many kindnesses (verse 7).

But they soon forgot what he had done
and did not wait for his plan to unfold (verse 13).

They forgot the God who saved them,
who had done great things in Egypt,
miracles in the land of Ham
and awesome deeds by the Red Sea (verse 21-22).

They didn’t just forget minor provisions of lunch box meals and some new outfits for school.

They forgot miraculous deliverance out of slavery in Egypt, the parting of an entire body of water so they could cross on dry land, daily provision of manna from heaven and the protection from war-loving enemies on every side.

But always God was faithful:

Yet he saved them for his name’s sake,
to make his mighty power known…

Yet he took note of their distress
when he heard their cry;
 for their sake he remembered his covenant
and out of his great love he relented (Psalm 106:8, 4-45).

They forgot.  He remembered.

“Yet, He….” it says in each verse. In my NKJV Bible, it says, “Nevertheless…”

That’s what God is...never at any moment less than good and powerful, mighty and merciful to us.  He is never less than His character or His faithfulness to His promises.

Even when our feelings tell us otherwise.

Even when we’ve believed the lies.

Beth Moore writes, “To live some semblance of victory, I’ve had to learn to be intentional and determined about where I would “set” my mind.  We can’t just depend on a good mood to get us through” (Esther).

That’s what I quietly tell my girl–how she’s always loved, even when she doesn’t feel like it, and how to conquer the lies by remembering the truth.

And that’s what I remind myself on the bad days and in the hard times, when I’m annoyed, frustrated, tired, or overwhelmed…that God loves me and cares for me.  Even when I mess up, never-the-less He is faithful.

That’s the truth.

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


Roller Coaster Friendships

I thought I just wasn’t into roller coasters.

This summer, though, I discovered I couldn’t even handle, much less enjoy, the whirling tea cups at Busch Gardens.  I rode them visit after visit because my three-year-old finds them great fun and she has to ride with an adult.

But I braced myself each time.  My middle girl always yelled the same thing, “Spin the wheel!  It makes us go faster!”

As I hung on with a white-knuckled grip, I managed to sputter out something like, “Aren’t we spinning enough already?”

It gets worse than that.

Recently, I sat on the swing next to my preschooler as she shouted at me to “swing higher.”  I gave it a try even though it’s been years since I’d swung on a swingset and I’ll tell you what I discovered.

I’m old.  Even a swing made my stomach flip into complicated and tangled knots.

How is this fun?  This little girl next to me in a ponytail and light-up shoes was giggling and squealing that she needed to rise higher and higher.

I suppose I just prefer solid ground.  No need for speed.  No desire to let gravity wreak havoc on my digestive system.  Fun for me is a trip to the library, a hushed walk through a museum, a long stroll on a cool day, a comfy couch with my book, chocolate and cup of tea.

That is fun.  Spinning, screaming, and lifting off the ground = not fun.

This is, perhaps, why first grade friendships have me befuddled lately.  Friendship means loving one another, believing the best about each other, laughing and crying together.  It means loyalty, sharing, encouragement and support.

In first grade, though, the kids are still figuring all that out.  So, instead of the solid ground kind of you-can-count-on-me, dependable r049elationships, they end up with something more like a daytime soap opera, a roller coaster of kindness and backstabbing.

My first grader reports one day that so-and-so said, “she can only be friends with one girl and nobody else” and she stuck out her tongue or wrote a nasty note or stole my daughter’s glue stick and mocked her hair cut.

The next day, my daughter says they are friends now and played together all day.

The day after that, she reports the girl “just left her alone and ignored her.”

Even as adults, we can find this world a dizzying place to live, a roller coaster ride of the unexpected and occasionally the downright scary.

We are blessed, some of us, to have friendships and marriages that keep our feet firmly locked onto the unshakeable ground of trustworthy relationships.

And yet, how often lately I have heard of lovers who swore to “love, honor and cherish ’til death do us part” later end up enemies on the opposite sides of a divorce attorney’s table.

Even truly loyal relationships end eventually, maybe through moving or even death.  The people we count on and love won’t always be with us, not here on this transient planet anyway.

That’s why it’s so precious that Jesus declared,

“I no longer call you servants.  I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).

He’s our forever friend!  So faithful, so eternally compassionate, so genuinely understanding.  This is no first-grade cohort, kind today and snippy tomorrow, supportive today and jealously cruel the next.

He’s day-after-day, in-and-out, always-and-forever loyal to those He calls friends.

But am I?

That’s what Joni Eareckson Tada asked in Diamonds in the Dust:

“What a friend I have in Jesus.  But I wonder….what kind of friend does He have in me?
Too often we stay at an arm’s-length distance, pulling back from the full intensity of an intimate friendship with the Lord.  We satisfy ourselves with “less” when it comes to our relationship with Him” (p. 400).

Of course, Jesus is faithful.  That’s His character.  It’s who He is no matter what.

The question really is more about me What kind of friend am I to God?  Do I pull away, afraid to get too close for fear He’ll discover the ugly truth about some of my faults, foibles and (to be honest) sins?

Do I chatter and laugh with Him affectionately some days only to abandon Him the next for busyness and more instant gratification?

Do I deny Him and stray from Him when I’m angry or hurt?  Do I believe the best about His character even when I don’t understand what He’s doing?

To be a better friend with God requires maturing past our first-grade relationship tactics and becoming day-after-day loyal and true regardless of our emotions, circumstances, or the enticements of others.

Today we can choose to be better friends to each other and to our trustworthy God who is so consistently faithful to us.

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

A Pentecostal Girl in a Baptist Church Reads the Book of Common Prayer

“Look, girls, this is Abraham Lincoln’s hat!  Isn’t that amazing?  His actual hat that he wore on his actual head!  Cool, huh?”

“Yeah, mom, cool!  Wow” and then they skipped off to the side where a touch screen terminal allowed you to pull up videos on almost every historical subject ever.

“Oh….my….goodness…” I exclaimed. “It’s Kermit!  It’s THE ruby slippers!”  “Look at this!  It’s George Washington’s desk and his field kit.  Wow!  George Washington touched this.”  Incredible, huh?”

“Cool!” my daughters said as they turned back to the museum’s electronic history mini-game.

On a recent trip to the National Museum of American History I learned that young kids don’t really share my appreciation for relics of the past.  They liked history well enough and enjoyed the trip.

Yet, they were drawn like magnets to all the electronic gadgets and doo-dads the museum had added to make the exhibits more interactive.

I, on the other hand, could have just stood in front of a hat, a cane, a chair, and a medical kit and marveled all day.

Perhaps one day, when they’ve learned how quickly time rushes us through life and how people matter, when they discover that it’s hard to make an imprint on this world and leaving a legacy long after death is a marvel, then maybe they’ll treasure relics, artifacts and heirlooms–the physical reminders of people from the past.

For now, though, it’s just “stuff” and the people are little more than black and white photographs on a history book page.

I’ve been thinking recently about the heirlooms of faith, not just salvation itself and the handing down of the Gospel.  But the prayers and readings that unite us to a long history of Christians, centuries and centuries of believers on their knees echoing the same thoughts and words before God’s throne.BookofCommonPrayer

One of the family “heirlooms” I keep on my fireplace mantle is my Grandmother’s Book of Common Prayer.  I’ve had it there since her death years ago, but I’ve never once opened it up.

The tradition of her faith was so very different than mine. I grew up in a Pentecostal church that taught me valuable faith-lessons, doctrinal foundations, daily Bible reading, personal, intimate and honest prayer, and passionate worship.

My faith is alive and vibrant today because I was taught and encouraged to be personal and interactive with God. I wouldn’t trade or change that foundation for anything.

I feel like I’m drawn to the idea of liturgy, though, much like a museum visitor gazing at Lincoln’s hat and thinking about how this “thing,” this “physical object” connects us to living and breathing people from the past.

I’m not changing churches, denominations, or my personal statement of faith.

Yet, how important it is to remember that salvation isn’t new to 21st century Christians.  Connecting with the past reminds us anew that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). It reminds me that God cared for His people since the creation of the world and that my testimony of His faithfulness joins with the testimonies of believers for thousands of years.

God is bigger than me and bigger than my brief time on this earth. 

I’m curious about this prayer book sitting unopened on my shelf.  First published in the 1500s, it was meaningful for centuries, uniting the hearts of God’s people to pray and read Scripture together.

It was a way of ordering your spiritual walk, not based on your own personal whims, emotions or circumstances, but on the life of Jesus Himself—beginning with the first Sunday of Advent and the account of Christ’s birth.

The object itself isn’t holy, isn’t to be worshiped and isn’t inerrant other than the Scripture readings themselves.

Yet, there’s something breathtaking about opening a prayer book on the first Sunday of Advent and reading the same Scripture passages that Christians have read on this very same day for hundreds and hundreds of years.

And while these pages may be oft-read and well-worn for many who have followed those traditions year after year, for me—for a Pentecostal girl attending a Baptist church in the year 2012—opening the Book of Common Prayer is a wild act of discovery.

Usually each December, I choose my Bible reading plan for the year ahead.  I’m typically a One Year Bible-kind of girl.  This season, though, starting this first Sunday of Advent (Dec. 2nd), I’ll be following the two year-Scripture and prayer plan in The Book of Common Prayer.

It’s a long-held tradition, an heirloom that I’m taking down off a shelf and making new and fresh for me.

What will be you be doing to keep your faith alive and growing in 2013?


For more information on the history of the Book of Common Prayer, what it’s all about, and how to use it, you can visit this site or watch this video on why it can be used along with spontaneous and personal prayers to build our faith.  The daily Bible reading schedule is provided here.

Christian Writers Blog Chain

Today’s post is part of the November topic ‘Heirloom’ 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 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 words get in the way

He told me about his wife, about her kidneys not behaving, her liver calling it quits and her heart not being strong. Mostly, though, he told positive news and trends for the better.

Yet, they had dared to throw out the word ‘hospice’ in one of those foggy discussions with doctors where you’re hearing them and you’re nodding your head, but really the words don’t make sense.

On the phone, I heard how ‘hospice’ made him stumble.  He sucked in his breath, cleared his throat and told me the rest.  His brother is already there, in hospice–(there he said it again; that word never seems to come out easy)– 5-1/2 hours away.

As my grandfather talked, I though of my grandmother, spunky and life-filled, always in tennis shoes so she could speed-walk to everywhere, always talking about trips to Haw-a-ii and cruises to Alaska and more adventures.

Then I thought of her in the hospital, under 100 pounds, fragile and so easily broken.

Two irreconcilable images, surely not the same person.  And yet there it was, unreal but real.

My grandfather said, “I’m fixin’ to be an orphan here soon” and laughed a kind of nervous giggle when you make a joke that isn’t truly funny.

What to say to that?

After years of women’s ministry, I’ll tell you what never gets easy—knowing what to say when it’s all spilling out of someone and you just want to rescue and protect and bandage it all up.  But you’re powerless to do little more than hug and slip on a few Band-aids, then pray with desperate cries that God will heal in the deep-down ways we can’t.

Lost jobs, unfaithful husbands, abusive spouses, alcoholism and pornography, runaway kids, bankruptcy, rape, homelessness, pregnancy unplanned and unwanted, pregnancy wanted so bad it hurts every month with that negative test, abortion, custody battles gone wrong, parents not talking to kids and kids not talking to parents, divorce, fatigue, dying moms and dads, babies in caskets, surgeries failing and car accidents turned tragic…

This…. never…. gets …..easy.

How can there be the right words for so much that is wrong?

Maybe that’s exactly the point.  Maybe even a lover-of-words like me has to fess up that sometimes words don’t just fall short, they actually get in the way.

Like for Job, sitting heaped in ashes and wearing torn rags, scraping at the burning blisters on his flesh with broken pottery, mourning his servants, grieving his children.

Scripture tells us:

When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.  Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him because they saw how great his suffering was (Job 2:11-13).

They spent a week in silence with Job, just sitting next to him without speaking or offering hollow words of fake comfort.  For guys who turned out to be so chatty (okay, verbose), this was a big deal!

They seemed to get this right, this friendship without words.  Just mourning with those who mourn and leaving it at that.

Unfortunately, Eliphaz finally asked the question: “But who can keep from speaking?” (Job 4:2) and that’s when it all went awry.

The moment he erupted with spiritual cliches, the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” speeches, theological debates and judgmental accusation…that’s when he felt more impressed with his oratory skills than concerned about loving a friend.

Ezekiel, on the other hand, “came to the exiles who lived at Tel Aviv near the Kebar River.  And there, where they were living, I sat among them for seven days–deeply distressed” (Ezekiel 3:15).

For a week, the prophet crouched in the dust with the exiles from Jerusalem, those who had been carried off after years of starvation and the siege by the Babylonian empire.

And he stayed there until God told him to get up and move on (Ezekiel 3).

Sometimes we back away in fear from those in pain, not really knowing what to do.  After all, we can easily say the wrong thing.

But you really can’t mess up listening.

God brings hurting people to us not so we can fix life for them or speak some magical words that make it all better.

He wants us to get down in the dirt where they’ve fallen, love them, pray with them, serve them, and practice the power of presence, and so often presence without words.


May I recommend this book if you are grieving the loss of someone or ministering to another who is mourning?  It is lovely and full of practical advice and spiritual encouragement. Grieving God’s Way: The Path to Lasting Hope and Healing by Margaret Brownley

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

Naming, Name Changes, and Being Made New

Her name suits her.

She asks us about it all the time and we’ve told her the story over and over.

Why is she named Victoria Eileen and what does it mean anyway?

You’re named after your grandmothers, we tell her, Godly women who are strong in their faith. We prayed over our first baby, prayed about naming her just right— a name that was clearly feminine and clearly strong, a name for an overcomer, a fighter, a stand-up-for-what-is-right kind of woman of God.

Victoria—“Victorious One.”

It fits this feisty little person, the perfect name from the first day I held her in my arms in the hospital and she screamed and screamed, trying desperately hard in her newborn way of making her needs known. She befuddled nurses and her first-time momma.

Yet, submitted to God, believing in Jesus, with His Spirit in her, she’s a mighty force to be reckoned with underneath her princess exterior of swirly skirts and long blonde hair.

When she asks us about her name, we tell her the whole story of what it means, and why we picked it and what we hope it says about her future and her character.

I can’t imagine how that conversation went in Hosea’s house.

God told the prophet Hosea to marry a “promiscuous woman.”  His marriage was to be a living testimony of how the long-suffering God remained faithful to His people Israel, despite their ongoing adultery with foreign gods and idols.

That sounds hard enough.  Yet, in obedience, he married Gomer, a frequent runaway lover.

Then God told Hosea to have children with this faithless wife.

When she had a daughter, God told them to name her “Lo-Ruhamah (which means “not loved”), for I will no longer show love to Israel, that I should at all forgive them” (Hosea 1:6 NIV).

Then she had a son and God said, “Call him Lo-Ammi (which means “not my people”), for you are not my people, and I am not your God” (Hosea 1:9 NIV)

The Message translates these names as “No-Mercy” and “Nobody.”

Every time moms in the marketplace cooed over these precious babies and asked, “What’s the baby’s name?” the answer came back as a label and message from God.



Have you ever felt labeled and even condemned by your name, your heritage, a nickname, a curse, the hurtful words of others that you can’t seem to erase from memory?

Has your past held you captive?

Surely these two children could relate to your pain.

But the beautiful thing about Jesus is that He doesn’t leave us untouched by His presence.  He’s a Creator God, making things new, making US new.

He changes us and renames us, giving us a new identity in Him.  Paul tells us:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV).

In Hosea 2:1, God tells the prophet:

Say of your brothers, ‘My people,’ and of your sisters, ‘My loved one.’

Or as the Message says:“Rename your brothers ‘God’s Somebody.’  Rename your sisters ‘All Mercy.’”

Eugene Peterson asks: Under what circumstances have you seen “No Mercy” turned into “All Mercy?”  How about “Nobody” changed to “God’s Somebody?”

That’s our story, yours and mine!  Our story of redemption and transformation, how we’re shedding who we used to be and stepping into new clothes of righteousness—new names, new lives.

Hosea’s kids probably had to fight for their new identity.  Townsfolk likely slipped up time after time.  “No-Mercy,” they’d say, and she’d reply, “That’s not my name anymore!  Haven’t you heard the good news?  My name is “All Mercy” now.  God changed it!”

And her brother, “Nobody,” likely had to correct friends and neighbors and the school teacher who always treated him like a fool: “God says I’m no longer, “Nobody!”  I’m “God’s Somebody” now!”

God says that about you, too.  He says, “You’re mine.  I’ve given you my name and called you my child.  You are a sign of my mercy, you are loved, you are important to me.”

Yet, just like Hosea’s poor children, who likely had to stand up for their name change time and time and time again . . . so we must continually refuse Satan the prerogative of defining us by our past.

Instead, those names from our past, those identities are just part of our testimony now, a reminder of how God redeems, renews, and recreates, how He makes “beautiful things out of us.”

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.  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