We are doing an eternal work (and we have help)


At last year’s dance recital, I had two lovely ballerinas on the stage, one two-year-old son sitting on his dad’s lap, and one precious daughter who didn’t want to do ballet, but felt left out for not doing ballet.

She really preferred tap dance, but when our studio stopped offering that, she never picked up another activity.

And I wasn’t in a rush to fill the schedule.

After the recital’s grand finale, though, my non-dancing daughter said, “Everybody in this family is into dance except me.”

Now, I questioned the accuracy of this statement.  Neither her dad nor I could be considered “into dance” by any outrageous stretch of anyone’s imagination.

Still, she felt left out.

I started praying right then.  How can we encourage her to be active?  How we can find her “one thing” to enjoy and participate in, Something that is “hers”?

She gave me a list of possible interests:

  1. Basketball.
  2. Karate.
  3. Tap dance (at another studio if I could one one).

This list held a few surprises.

So, I prayed some more.  God, please give us clear guidance.  I know you love my daughter.  What is your best plan for her?

Schedules started rolling out and I checked them faithfully.  Every time a basketball activity was offered, she was already busy.

Karate, on the other hand, fit perfectly in the fall schedule. So karate it was.

I didn’t stop praying of course.  I signed her up and kept right on giving this to God–would she like it, like her teacher, like her class? Would she feel comfortable and have fun?

That first night of karate, I started getting the text messages from my husband as he sat with her before class began.

She knew a few kids in her class already.

Not only that, the very first thing the instructor said to her was, “You’re tall.  You’ll need a different t-shirt.”

This child is endlessly obsessed with her height and how much taller her sisters are and how she hates being short.

So, this guy pretty much made her day.  Maybe her whole year.

She ran over to her dad, “He says I’m tall!!!”

She burst through the door at home and told me, “Mom, he said I’m tall!!”

She told her friends at school the next day how the karate instructor said she was tall.

God knew the precise encouragement that would bless this girl-of-mine.

Will she be the next black belt in karate?  Who knows?  She’s only had one class that was “awesome” and we don’t know if that will change.

This I know, though: God is so faithful to care for our families when we turn them over to His care.

In his book, Hopeful Parenting, David Jeremiah writes:

Observe the instruction to families in the Bible and you will notice one recurrent theme…All these instructions to the family wrap around a core of faith in God and Jesus Christ.

Paul wrote in Ephesians:

  • Children, obey your parents in the Lord  (Ephesians 6:1)
  • Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22).
  • Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25)

When I wrestle with how to love my husband well, how to be the wife I need to be…how to be more gentle as a mom, more patient, more willing to listen more and talk less, and when I seek how to pour into the hearts of my children, I am relying on Christ to build this home.

And He is reliable.

I can strive to love them on my own, but I am not enough for this job.  I am faulty and will fail.

He, however, is more than enough.

For some of you parenting through a tough season and praying for a prodigal, I know praying hasn’t seemed to work….yet.  Happy endings and fairy tale conclusions aren’t promised.  You’re not praying about after-school activities; you’re on your knees for so much more.

But don’t give up.  Even when you can’t see anything changing, please keep praying.

Your prayers matter.

And all of us, wives, grandmothers, parents of littles and parents of grown children, can shift our perspective when we remember this:

The person who sleeps next to you at night and eats across the table from you each day is eternal (David Jeremiah, p. 222).

We are doing far more than making meals, scrubbing toilets, packing lunches, or paying bills.

We are worshiping the Lord, and we are engaging in an eternal ministry by building into others in eternal ways.


And we are doing this “in Christ” and “like Christ” and with His help always because we can’t do this on our own.

Will you still love me after four kids, a minivan, and a mortgage?

I made the list when I was, oh, 14-years-old or so.

With cramped cursive letters, I wrote in my journal:

Things I Want My Husband to Be Like

Then I divided the list into “Non-negotiables” and “Negotiables.”  Or”Requirements” versus “Desires.”  Or some other dual-heading system like that.1cor13

Because even then I was neurotic about list-making.

I was spiritual about it, of course.  I prayed before making the list and then again afterward.

Even though I can’t find the list anymore in my pile of teenage journals, I still remember most of the items on there.


  1. Not just a nominal Christian, but someone who is passionate about God and His Word and is actively using his spiritual gifts to praise God and minister to others.
  2. Someone I can respect intellectually.
  3. No substance abuse issues.
  4. Faithful.
  5. Hard working.
  6. Unselfish.
  7. Calm without problems controlling his anger.


  1. Please, God, can he play the guitar since I play the piano?
  2. I kind of like blue eyes.


Fourteen years ago, I married this blue-eyed, guitar-playing man who was everything on my list and so much more.

He’s the only guy I ever dated.  The only man I’ve ever kissed or held hands with or told, “I love you.”  After all, not many men would live up to “The List.”

And I’ll confess it.

I still get all weepy every….single….time he weaves his fingers through mine and prays with me.

I’m still his biggest fan whether he’s on the stage acting in a play or grabbing his guitar and stepping up to the mic to lead worship at our church.

And when he reaches out and places his hand on mine when we’re driving around town in our minivan with four kids (possibly screaming, singing, fighting, or laughing) in the back seats, my heart totally stops for a second or two.

I pretty much still have a teenage crush on this guy.

Back when I was making my ‘husband list,’ I was thinking things like:

What kind of guy would I want to spend the rest of my life with?

Who do I want to date forever?

Whose eyes do I want to gaze into when sitting at a candlelit table?

But I wasn’t thinking this.

Who will give me grace when I’m grumpy?

Who will see the ugliest parts of my heart and dare to love me anyway?

Who will watch me push a baby out of my body or see the surgical scar from a C-section…or see me on days when I’m covered in baby spit-up, child-vomit, or other bodily fluids from my kids and still make me feel beautiful?

Who will crawl under our house multiple times in January during a massive plumbing failure to make sure our pipes aren’t clogged and then call the septic guys and take off a day of work so he can be there to talk to them as they drain out our clogged and filled septic tank? (True story).

One day you just wake up and you’re the one with the minivan, the mortgage, a few extra pounds, gray hair, and four kids.

So, I’m so thankful I didn’t marry someone I could only do romance with, but someone I could do life with, as well.

After all, you can do beautiful with most anybody; it takes someone special to plow through the sludge with you.

In his book, Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas writes:

Marriage can be that holy place, the site of a relationship that proclaims God’s love to the world.

Paul said it this way:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless (Ephesians 5:25-27 NIV).

So, maybe this is what should have been on my list all along: At the end of the day, people should see my marriage and say, “Wow, look at the faithful, unselfish, sacrificial, gracious way that God loves the church!”

And here on my 14th wedding anniversary I’m remembering this: marriage isn’t just a secondary something I do while I minister to God elsewhere.  Marriage is my ministry, my sacred calling, the workshop God uses to make me more like Christ, and the way He can use me to show God’s love to my husband, my children, and to the world.

If you knew a young woman who was making “a list” of qualities to look for in a husband, what would you suggest she put on that list?

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

The Sincerest Form of Flattery

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God
Ephesians 5:1

Today, a story in pictures.

To celebrate the first day of summer vacation, my girls and I with Grammy along to help, hopped in the van and made the trip to the newly opened Children’s Museum of Virginia.  We had toured every exhibit, played with every experiment, explored every room and we arrived at the final destination—a room set up as a stage with costumes in the corner, lighting and sound effects, and a puppet theater.

My oldest daughter first tries an octopus costume and then abandons it for a grass skirt and lei.  Then, like a superstar, she steps on the stage and begins to dance.  Grammy tells her to, “Use your hands to tell a story.”

Concluding her puppet show, my next daughter drops the prince and princess off her hands and runs to the costume corner.  Climbing into her own grass skirt, she then pops a lei over her head, steps on the stage and begins to dance just like her big sister.

Grammy and I watch the show and I snap pictures.  In the stroller sits my baby girl, tired and hungry.  She’s cuddling with her blanket now and ready for lunch and a nap.  We didn’t realize she was watching sisters one and two, but she was.  Climbing out of the stroller, she dashes over to the last grass skirt in the pile of costumes and wraps it around her little self.  I help tie it on her too-tiny waist and she then scoots away from me so that she can also step on the stage and dance.  She sways from side to side, waving her hands gently to the left, now to the right.   Hula dancing with the big girls.

Grammy tells the older sisters, “Look how she followed you even when we didn’t think she was really watching.  She wants to do what you girls do.  You always need to choose the right thing so that you set an example for her.”

They danced and hardly appreciated the wisdom in those words.  Make good decisions so those watching can follow your example.

To the Corinthian church, Paul wrote, “Therefore I urge you to imitate me” (1 Corinthians 4:16).  “Do what I do,” he says.  It seems prideful at best, almost blasphemous, surely dangerous to set himself up as a model for others. It’s context that brings clarity here.  In the same letter, Paul later writes, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1) and that’s the key really.  Paul strove to be a living, breathing, walking around, interacting with others example of Christ and because of that, others could see Christ in Him, follow Christ in Him.  He practiced what he wrote to the church in Ephesus, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1).

Yesterday, our Pastor asked the congregation, “Who has been an example of faith to you?”  Around the sanctuary, people called out names.  I thought of many who model Christ to me and then I remembered Mama Zello, one of the first life-examples to me besides my mom, a woman I remember to this day and who I consciously think of often as I read my Bible.  I remember the church service when I was about 11 years old during which the pastor of our fairly large congregation asked his momma to stand up.  She stood delicately to her feet, a “seasoned” woman of the faith whom I had seen many times.  She was so faithful to be at church even as age and sickness could have made it difficult.  She gave hugs and smiles to others generously.  On that Sunday, the Pastor asked in his microphone from his pulpit, “Mom, how many times have you read the Bible all the way through?”   And she answered—one time for every year she had lived.  In her later years, she had read the Bible through two times in a year to make up for the years before she could read as a child.

Just ponder that for a moment.  Imagine on your 80th birthday having read the Bible 80 times.

I was inspired.  Not by Biblical scholarship.  Mama Zello’s Bible reading was not head knowledge without life change.  She read the Bible over and over not to show off, not to stuff more information into her brain, not to attain some worldly success or make it into the Guinness Book of World Records.  She did it because she loved God and wanted to know Him more intimately so that her life could reflect Him.  Now, her son had risen “up and called her blessed” (Proverbs 31:28).  For me sitting in that sanctuary seat, it meant that the Bible mattered, really mattered in life, that when I stood up as a woman of 80, my greatest life accomplishment should be that I loved God’s Word that passionately and let it stir up in me a love for others.

She lived a life of example to me even when she didn’t know I was watching.  I was just a preteen girl sitting next to her parents in church on a Sunday morning and yet seeing and knowing this woman of faith impacts my life even now.

Do you live like that?  Do you imitate Christ so closely that others can imitate you—not worship you, idolize you, or adore you—-but see and follow Christ in you?  Does knowing you make others want to know more about God?

And, do you have an example like that in your life?  Someone whose life you can look at and say, “By following her, I am following a mentor who will teach me about God” or “that’s what I want to be like when I grow up.”   Certainly we must be careful not to place these examples on impossible pedestals and treat them as demigods.  Instead, we remember that in all their humanness, they have traveled with Christ a little farther than we’ve made it so far on our journey.  So, we can place our toes confidently into the impressions in the sand their feet have made and know we are simultaneously journeying to Christ-likeness.


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

Copyright © 2011 Heather King