Mistakes, mess-ups, failures, growing pains, and a need for grace


I’ve been writing notes and sending cards since we’ve been shut away from friends and church family.  Sometimes it’s a text message  or an email to say, “I’m thinking of you today.”  But I’ve also been refilling my supply of stamps and note cards regularly as I send out snail mail.

Last week, I discovered an extra set of stamps that I’d bought long ago and I was so excited about the little unexpected blessing:   Stamps when I thought I was almost out of stamps.  What a blessing!

It was like waking  up to manna or miraculous oil in a near-empty jug or wine overflowing when the wedding feast ran out of wine.   All those things.

I happily mailed out a few more cards.

Then this week, my daughter asked me if she could mail some cards also, so I pulled out those extra stamps and saw what I’d missed before:  the word “Postcard” in teeny tiny, minuscule letters on the bottom.


That’s why those stamps had been sitting for a good long while.  I bought them to mail out a few postcards and the extras just sat and sat.

I’ve been stressing about this for days now.  Apparently, I’ve been sending out regular cards with only postcard postage.

Great.  Either the cards will return back to me so I can have  a re-do (I love a good re-do), or the post office will deliver my cards and actually ask other people to pay the missing postage.

How embarrassing.

I’d rather the secret re-do option, of course.  But I have no power here.  I’m at the mercy of the postal service.

So, I  wait.

It’s the silliest little mistake, but a mistake I’ve been fretting over nonetheless.  That’s partly because all of this coronavirus shifting we’ve been doing has brought so much failing our way to  success over here.

We’re doing  new things in new ways and that can get messy and exhausting.

Technology alone brings it’s own growing pains.  Try this video, this sound, this streaming program, this way of filming, this way of posting.   And all along the way we leave a trail of trying, messing up, and trying again.

I  also can’t keep my dates straight, at all.  I keep thinking Mother’s Day is this week and not next week.  The days are just running all together.

All of these mess-ups leave us so tender-hearted.  So humbled.  How many times can we say the words, “Sorry.  That didn’t work. My bad. I missed that.   I made a mistake.  I used the wrong stamp.?”  (I’m still so embarrassed about the stamps.)

But so many of us are in the same place.

That’s the thing.

I’m so compassionate  and deeply grateful as I see my kids’ teachers trying so many new things every single day.  I think—-thank you, friends, for putting yourself out there for my kids.  For getting on Zoom videos and Facebook live posts and whatever else is happening.  I know some of them would prefer not to be on a video.  I GET that.  I don’t want  to be in videos either.  But they do it anyway.

Then there  are days the sound doesn’t work or the screen is backwards or the link they thought they posted didn’t post or didn’t work or whatever whatever.  I feel like saying, “Solidarity, my friend!  I am with you.  We are all trying so hard and it’s imperfect and messy, but we’re genuine and humbled and real and just making  it through.”

We can shake off the old, the broken, the mistake-ridden the failure and the mess up because we have this grace: We can try again.

And, even if a new days is full  of new mistakes, Jesus isn’t giving up on me or on any of us.

I read this promise in Scripture:

While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease (Genesis 8:22 ESV).

The rhythms of creation itself are a reassurance of the rhythm of grace.

Day and night come ceaselessly.  I will wake up to a new day, a fresh start, an opportunity to try again and maybe even get it right this time  (and to buy new stamps.)

More than that, whole seasons come and go with certainty.

One bad year of planting isn’t the end.  One season of hard soil,  no rain, or destruction from storms and pests isn’t the end.

Spring comes anew and I can plow the field fresh, drop the seeds into the earth, and look forward to a better harvest.

The failures of one day, one moment even, are only permanent if I choose to give up instead of going forward.

Fresh starts and new beginnings: That’s what God promises us, season after season, day after day.

For a while you fall, but then you skate

jeremiah 17

Last year, my little girl made it about 15 minutes on the ice skating rink before she gave up.

Her sisters kept getting better.  They started out along the wall, too, but then they let go and made progress.

But she seemed stuck .

This ice skating business was no fun.

Falling.  Falling.  Falling again.

Clinging to the side for dear life and trying desperately to stay out of everyone else’s way.

Making one s-l-o-w loop around the rink and developing blisters on her feet without much progress to show for the pain.

No fun. At all.

So she gave up.  She sat with me while her older sisters skated and then we packed up and went home.

But this year, we tried again.  She slipped on the skates, stepped out on the ice and shuffled along the wall just like before.  Only this time, she didn’t give up.

The difference wasn’t how she started; it was how she finished.

I glanced up occasionally to check her progress, but mostly I chased around my three year-old son and didn’t see the exact moment it happened, that moment she let go of the wall.

At some point, though, she skated right out into the middle of the ice, brave soul.

But in order to get to the skating part, she had to get past the falling part.

I take this to heart, because failure and falling and weakness can keep me on the sidelines.

I’d rather stick to what I know I can do, invest in guaranteed successes, and live this safe and comfortable life without change or risk.

That’s a life, though, that doesn’t rely on faith.  That’s just relying on my own strength, living on my own abilities without any room for trusting God or relying on His mercy and His strength.

Still, I fear the falling and the failing.

After all, falling is not just painful; it’s embarrassing.  Others zoom by like this is the easiest thing in the world to them and they probably feel pity for those of us hugging the ice.

I found myself snapping in frustration at every annoyance yesterday and it took me all day to realize why.  My emotions were just oozing out all over the place because I’m in a place of weakness.

I’m doing things that I don’t know how to do.  I’m making mistakes and then trying again.  I’m uncertain, fearful, and doubtful of success.

And that makes me cranky.

In Craving Connection, Angela Nazworth wrote:

Falling isn’t the problem.  Being so afraid to fall that you make yourself hard is the problem (p. 16).

Yes.  This.

I can choose in this season to pray through my weakness and seek His help in my need.

Or I can grow hard and I can quit.  I can refuse to bend or step out on any ice at all.

What made the difference for my daughter?  What made her choose this time to take the risk?

Maybe it was just being a little older and a bit more mature.

But there was something else.

She found a friend.  Another little girl out there skating on the ice was also seven and also in second grade and also took ballet and also liked playing Minecraft.

The friend let go of the wall, so Catherine let go of the wall, too.

Weakness so often makes us want to hide away, but the encouragement and prayers of a friend might be the very thing we need to give us:

courage in the fearful moments.

comfort when we’ve fallen (again).

and a helping hand so we’ll get back up and try anew.

Sure, sometimes our friends disappoint us and sometimes we even knock them over because we start counting on them to bear all of our weight and that’s just too much.

Jeremiah wrote:

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.

8 They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 27:7-8 NIV).

Our confidence isn’t in our friends; they are a help and an encouragement, but they are not our only hope.

Our confidence is not in our own wobbly selves.

Our confidence is in HIM, that He’ll catch us and He’ll help us.   He’ll redeem our failures.  He’ll give us new mercy.  He’ll forgive us and shower us with grace and love us through it all.

When we are God-confident, we don’t fear heat and we have no worries even in years of drought. In all seasons—seasons of weakness and seasons of strength—He helps us be fruitful.


Today I can’t do perfect, but I can do good

psalm 37-1

Shhhh…don’t tell my daughter, but I let her down last month.

She just doesn’t know it.

Five years ago, I committed to having lunch at the school with each of my daughters every single month.

Now that I have three girls in elementary school, that’s three lunches a month or 27 lunches a year, plus an occasional extra lunch thrown in for a birthday or other special occasion.

My kids are typically on top of this, too.  If I haven’t had lunch with my youngest daughter within the first week of a new month, she starts nudging.

Mom, you know you haven’t had lunch with me this month, right?  When are you coming?

The very first day my kids went back to school after winter break—the very first day!!!!!–she came home from school and asked when I was coming for lunch.

But January zipped right past me.  I made it up to the school for my  youngest daughter (or I’d never have heard the end of that failure!), but not to eat with my two older girls.  Every time I planned a day for school lunch-time, we had a snow day.

When they actually had school, I was in a mad rush to make up for everything I didn’t get done because of those same snow days.

My husband says—You’re eating lunch with them at home.  Doesn’t that count?

No.  That does not count.

Finally, on the last day of January I resigned myself to the truth:  I’d failed: A five year streak of faithfulness broken by winter weather and a packed calendar.

Funny thing is, the one daughter who I thought would be bruised and destroyed forever by my failure never even noticed.  She didn’t pressure me about it, didn’t nag or pester.

So, I’m not telling her I missed out on January’s cafeteria lunch.  It’ll be our little secret. I just went early in February and hoped for the best.

At the beginning of this year, I set some goals in four areas of my life:  Marriage, Parenting, Ministry, and Self-Care.

I’ve been replacing soda with water or green tea.

I’ve been exercising and listening to podcasts while packing my kids’ school lunches.

But there’s one that’s harder to do. It’s not a box to check off or a physical habit to create.

It’s this:  Choose to be gentle with myself.

It means not letting Mom Guilt terrorize my like the tyrant it is.

It means not listening to my self-criticizing internal dialogue.

It means putting a Lunchable in my kids’ lunch box every once in a while.

It means not beating myself up if I occasionally have to order pizza for dinner or go for the quick-fix like boxed macaroni and cheese.

It means laughing instead of berating myself if I forget, and cutting myself off from chores in the evenings so I can spend some time with a cup of hot tea and a book.

And yes.  The struggle is real to let go and choose grace.

I still have this nagging sense of guilt that I didn’t make it to the school for those lunches in January.  It’ll probably plague me for a long time.  Because I can’t go back and fix it. I can’t make it all perfect.

Then I read what the Psalmist said:


Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.
(Psalm 37:3-5 ESV).

Trust Him and do good. That’s what it says.

It seems I spend a whole lot of time and effort trying to “do perfect” or “do all.”

But that’s not what God asks of any of us.

God doesn’t expect perfection because He knows we’re imperfect.

He simply asks us to trust Him, “do good” and keep doing good.  Choose the right things.  Show up day after day.  Be faithful.

Even more than that, don’t try to figure it all out or make it all work.

He’s not going to give us the desires of our heart because we worked like mad-women to make them happen.

He gives us the desires of our heart when our greatest desire is for Him.

And after Jesus, what is it that my heart desires?  It’s to love my kids to Christ.  One missed lunch isn’t going to change that.

You cannot be perfect today.  Neither can I.

But we can trust God and do good and leave everything in His hands.

And we can choose to be a little gentle with ourselves today.

Shrug off some shame and step into some grace.

Let go of some expectations and cling to the freedom Christ offers.



Well, that was a failure

lamentations 3-22

Our morning routine on that first day back to school after winter break went flawlessly.  My kids were up, fed, dressed, and packed for school 20 minutes before the bus’s arrival.

We even added in the coats, hats, and gloves for the first time this winter and my kids still walked out the door early that Monday morning.  Someone pin a medal on us or something!

And then.

Only one word describes that afternoon: STRESS.

Before Christmas break, we had those Monday afternoons down to an exact science: Forty minutes between the time we get home from school and the time we need to walk out the door to ballet.

No problem.

In those 40 minutes, my kids changed out of school clothes and into dance attire.

I emptied the backpacks and lunchbags.  By the time we left for dance, I had their school folders cleared out; reading logs, behavior logs, agendas, and take-home folders signed; lunches packed for the next day and dinner made.

Wham.  Bam.  Thank you, ma’am.

But not this week.

Oh no.

We were a right awful mess.

Over the break, I washed all the dance clothes and thought I put everything back in the right dance bags.

On the contrary, my six-year-old couldn’t find her tights.

No problem, I found them.

Then, she had the wrong leotard in her bag.

A little more of a problem, but after some searching, I found it.

Then, her dance shoes felt tight and didn’t fit anymore.

Okay, I pulled down our bucket of dance shoes (I have quite the collection) and resized the child’s foot.

She put on her dance clothes, but forgot to take off her underwear first.  (For those who are not dance moms, underwear under your leotard is a no-no because it shows and looks embarrassing. I actually Googled that once to find out how ballerinas kept their underwear from showing.  Seriously.)

My baby girl and I had a good laugh at how much we’ve forgotten over the break and I asked her to change again.

Only then she put her stockings and leotard on inside out.

Bless her heart, I thought she’d cry for an hour over that one.  She was just so tired of changing her clothes already.

This time, I helped her into her dance clothes myself.

I loaded everyone into the minivan with five minutes to spare, plopped into the driver’s seat and realized I didn’t have my key.

Then I spent the next five minutes searching the house for the missing key only to find it on the key ring exactly where it’s supposed to be so I don’t lose it.

For real.

It was an all-out miracle because I didn’t lose my temper or explode.

But I did cry.  I sobbed a little around the house as I hunted for that key and called out a desperate cry over and over, “Jesus, help me.  I know I’m a mess and I’m just not making it today.”

But here’s the thing:  We arrived at the dance studio on time.

My daughter looked perfectly cute in her shoes, leotard, and tights (sans underwear).

I even remembered my checkbook to pay the tuition for the month.

It probably looked like we had sailed through that afternoon of craziness just fine.  Maybe it looked like I had it all together.

Nevermind that internally I had one grade to give myself for my afternoon’s performance: F as in Failure.  F as in good grief, Mom, could you possibly get yourself together already?

But oh such grace is this: We can try again.  I know we’ll get back to that smooth routine and it will go better next time.

And, even if it doesn’t, Jesus isn’t giving up on me because of a lost leotard and foolishness over my car keys.

I read this promise in Scripture:

While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease (Genesis 8:22 ESV).

The rhythms of creation itself are a reassurance of the rhythm of grace.

Day and night come ceaselessly.  I will wake up to a new day, a fresh start, an opportunity to try again and maybe even get it right this time.

More than that, whole seasons come and go with certainty.

One bad year of planting isn’t the end.  Spring will come anew and I can plow the field fresh, drop the seeds into the earth, and look forward to a better harvest.

I can count on it.

The failures of one day, one moment even, are only permanent if I choose to give up instead of going forward.

Fresh starts and new beginnings: That’s what God promises us, season after season, day after day.


That Time I Did Spontaneous

mark 14I did spontaneous.

This miracle happened right here two weeks ago. Yes, this Planning-Mom-Extraordinaire did spontaneous.

My son woke up from his afternoon nap and I loaded my kids into the minivan for a trip to the beach.  The library’s summer reading program is hosting a ‘drum circle’ every Wednesday evening along the beachfront.

So, we went.

They had drums of every size and variety, egg shakers and rain sticks, tambourines, maracas and more.  My son claimed the upside down 5-gallon bucket that he could beat on with a drum stick.

We played music.  My kids climbed on the playground.  We explored the library truck and found the exact book we’d been looking for since summer began.

Spontaneous trip success.

Then we headed on to our evening activities at church, driving through the KFC to grab a quick dinner first.

Now, I have yet to master the drive-thru ordering at KFC.  The options seem endless and I’m an overwhelmed soul feeling rushed by the mystery voice on the other side of the order screen.  “Hi!  May I take your order?'”


I squint my eyes because they have all these meals with chicken and biscuits and sides and half gallons of lemonade and who knows what else and I can’t see the tiny little print underneath all of that.  I want chicken. I just want a bunch of pieces of chicken to feed all the people in my family.

Try ordering that through the little noise box, though.

Finally, I collect myself enough to order food, but I realize as they hand it out the window that I forgot to order a large lemonade for my kids to share.

Still, I had taken them to the beach.

I had let them play on the playground.

I had ordered them food from a drive-thru.

Surely, I still had some claim to supermom status.  I had Caprisuns and cold water.  Would that do?

No.  Not hardly.

A child (who shall remain nameless) could not get over the fact that I hadn’t ordered a drink.

Could. Not.

She glared.  She huffed.  She whined and complained and confronted me with my oversight.

Nothing makes you feel like a Mom-failure so much as an ungrateful child.

Really, it’s a struggle for me anyway.  Maybe it’s that way for all moms.  No matter how much we are doing, it just never feels like it’s enough.

It seems like others are doing better.  Other moms are more….more fun, more wise, more crafty, more creative, more gentle.

I’ve been working really hard this summer to improve my spontaneity, flexibility, and effort at playdates.

But every single time I do something spontaneous, flexible, fun and playdate-ish, they want to know when they can do it again. What about tomorrow?  What about a sleepover?

However much I’ve done, it’s just not enough.

Today, as I read Hope for the Weary Mom, I suck in my breath because she’s describing me:

“Communication is her best asset, but she often feels like she’s not good enough at having fun or coming up with creative ways to laugh and be spontaneous with her children”  (Brooke McGlothin).

And, she tells me the best way to combat that weariness and insecurity is to stop focusing on my weakness and start recognizing my strength.  She says, “Live freely in who God made you to be.”

I’m still thinking about this as I read the Scripture. Right there in the middle of 2 Chronicles of all places, I find it:

Ahaziah also followed the evil example of King Ahab’s family, for his mother encouraged him in doing wrong (2 Chronicles 22:3 NLT).

I’m not the perfect mom. None of us are.

But we also don’t have to be perfect.  God doesn’t expect that of us or require it.

I read about Ahaziah’s mom, how she actually encouraged him to do wrong, and I breathe deeply of grace.  Because if there’s one thing I do, it’s love Jesus and His Word.  Spontaneous might not be my thing, but encouraging my kids to do what is right—yeah, I’m totally into that.

So, I’m working on teaching my kids gratitude and appreciating what they have instead of greedily demanding more, more, and more….

But I’m also teaching myself that I don’t have to be the mom their friends have or the mom on Pinterest or Facebook.  I have to be the mom God has called me to be.

When the woman broke that alabaster jar and poured the perfume down over Jesus’ head, those at the table criticized her offering.  It wasn’t perfect, right, acceptable.

But Jesus said this, “She has done what she could” (Mark 14:8 NLT).

Dear Mom, God isn’t expecting you to be perfect; He finds your heartfelt, all-in offering beautiful.  He knows when you’ve done what you could and that is indeed enough.

Heather King is a busy-but-blessed wife and mom, a 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.

If you want to get there, first you have to be here

galatians 6

My five-year-old has taken to the piano like a hummingbird to nectar.

She watched her older sisters play for years and could not wait for her turn to tackle those first assignments in the beginner piano book.

Of course, it starts out so easy. Follow the pictures, plunk down the right finger and ‘presto’—a song! It might only be ten notes long, but it’s still a song and she aced it with no effort at all.

Then the lesson grew a little harder. She needed to read actual notes and sometimes those notes went in unexpected directions.

You mean not all songs use just four keys?

After one mistake, she collapsed into deep sobbing. I finally calmed her down enough to understand what she was saying. “I (sob) can’t (sob) do (sob) it (big, big, big sobbing).”

I’m her teacher and her mom, though, and I know better.

I know that one wrong note the first time you play the song does not mean you can’t do it.

I tried to tell her, “When you play the piano, sometimes you hit some wrong notes. You don’t play every song perfectly the first time you play it. You have to make mistakes and fail sometimes, but you just don’t give up. You practice and practice and work hard and then you get it right.”

After that award-winning Mom-advice, she looked right at me and whined, “I don’t want to play the piano then.”

She was ready to give up, ready to pack it all in and call this whole experiment in piano playing a complete failure at the grand old age of five years old because it took a little effort and because failure was part of the learning experience.

Have you felt like giving up recently?

Have you made a few mistakes and decided maybe God should pick someone else for this job?

I’ve been there so many times before.

I’ve looked around at where I’m at and how hard it is, and I’ve thought, “I’ve gone far enough.  I’ve exerted enough effort.  It’s just too costly and time-consuming and emotionally draining and I think I need to stop.  Take a vacation.  Escape.  Quit and do something easier.  Settle for something less.  I just can’t do this anymore, God.  I’m not seeing any results, blessing or reward, so this just doesn’t seem worth it.”

Sometimes it’s just fine with me to stay on the beginner lessons and never move on to mastery.

Because this is just too hard.

But, God’s our Teacher and our Father and He knows better.

He knows that sometimes we grow tired and weary and that in those moments, it’s difficult to remember the vision He gave us or the call He placed on our hearts.

He knows sometimes we want to pack it in and curl up in His lap for a rest.

He knows that sometimes the only way we learn is to make a mistake or two, to try again, to practice and practice and inch our way forward….but that what we really want is instant victory.

If that’s you today and you feel like giving up and giving in, look ahead.

I tell my daughter not to give up because one day she wants to play this song and that song and she wants to play harder music and beautiful pieces.

And if you want to get there, first you need to be here.  

Here might be hard.
Here might be costly.
Here might be lonely.
Here might be exhausting.
Here might seem unimportant or it might seem to be taking forever and can’t we move on to something new now because frankly I’m tired of waiting and I’d rather just skip to the end?!

When all you can see is the difficulty of the moment, it’s hard to keep going.

Remember the goal.

Then take the next step.

You can’t conquer everything in a day.  It wont always be easy. You’ll falter.  You’ll have to persevere.  But that next step…the one right there infront of you….that’s all you need to do today.

So, take heart.

Do not give up.

“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded” (2 Chronicles 15:7, NIV).

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9, NIV).

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.

Wonder Woman, Here’s Your Cape

Pride is such a sneaky slave-master.

It confuses and deceives, tricking you into feeling free, distracting you so that you never notice the slow clinking of the restraints on your wrists, the ever-increasing weight of the chains on your legs, dragging you down, holding you back, restraining your worship and your service.

Friends encourage you.  Loved ones compliment you.  A boss pats you on the back.  They say: How well you are doing, how quick…how strong….how capable……and slowly you believe it.

Slowly you try to live up to it.

Because if you admit just for a second that you’re needy or weak, struggling in hidden ways, tearful, hurt, broken, tired, or sad, you’ve taken a hammer to that pristine persona.  You’ve shattered the image of The Woman in Control or whatever fake statuesque creation you’ve built onto that shaky pedestal for others to see.

The truth is it’s hard to admit you’re not Super Girl or Wonder Woman, complete with cape, tights, mask and heroic strength and powers.

Because of pride, that’s why.

Most of us, after all, choose the super hero costume over the average, flawed, everyday, hard-working but imperfect woman we really are underneath all that bright-colored spandex.

But God won’t let us.  Not forever, anyway.

He gently reveals our weakness on the tough days:

….When we forget the appointment.

….Or lose our temper with our kids.

….Or pack our husband’s lunch but leave out the sandwich.

….Or put away the groceries one morning only to find the frozen broccoli a week later defrosted and disgusting in the pantry and the box of pasta iced over in the freezer.

I’ve been there, done that, refused to wear the t-shirt.

Truly, I need the grace.

I need the reminder that on the days I actually remember to sign my kids’ school agenda books and send in the right forms with the right child….on days when I get everybody ready for school AND manage a shower and makeup myself (even more so if I actually get to dry my hair)…that this isn’t because I have super powers.

It’s because I have God.

He helps me.  He gives me rest.  He strengthens me when I’m feeling worn down and He gives me energy when I’m sleep-deprived.  I can’t take credit for that.  I can’t accept the compliments from others and let it go to my heart and my head, making me think that I sure do have it all together.ephesians2

I think of Peter’s mother-in-law, feverish and ill in bed when Jesus and His disciples stopped by for an unexpected visit (Matthew 8:14).

That poor woman, too sick to pretend to be Martha Stewart.  Guests sat in her living room and she couldn’t pour cups of iced tea and serve cookies.  She couldn’t tidy up quickly when she heard them knock on the door and hide the dirty dishes and the pile of clean clothes before inviting them in.

She needed Jesus in her moment of frailty.  He healed her and then she could serve.  He equipped her and then she could give.

On her own, she lingered frail and tired in the sick-bed, but in Christ and through Christ she rose in worship and thanksgiving to care for Jesus and His followers.

And when I’m struggling, it doesn’t mean I need to pull myself together all on my own.  It means I need Jesus.

I need to lean in more onto Christ’s steady shoulders.  I need His counsel, His wisdom, His help to be disciplined and discerning.

Or maybe it means I need to give myself the grace to accept help from others.

Either way, it requires being real and downright honest about who I am (plain old regular human being Heather) and who I’m not (endowed with superhuman powers of perfection and infallibility).

Maybe more of us need to make that honest confession.

I, ____________________ (insert your name here), am in need of God and in need of grace.  I’m not perfect.  I don’t always have it together.  Sometimes I’m a mess.  I often make mistakes.  But I’m forgiven and God promises to help me do everything He’s called me to do.

That’s the challenge, isn’t it?  To remember Paul’s prayer:

Now may the God of peace…equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen (Hebrews 13:20-21 NIV).

We’re equipped to do His will, not to do everything we volunteer for or everything others ask us to do or every good service and fun event we could pencil onto our calendars.

He gives us everything we need to fulfill the calling He’s given us today and no more than that.

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

More Than Snapshot Faith

Originally published 10/21/2012

“Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight”
(1 Peter 3:4)

Today is picture day at school and I may need a vacation to recover.

The aftermath of this morning’s preparation is like an explosion in a boutique.  I returned to the house after waving goodbye to my daughters on the school bus and surveyed the damage.

Headbands, combs, clips and ribbon left a trail from the bedroom to the kitchen and the living room.

Pajama bottoms and tops and rejected dresses were strewn across every piece of furniture in sight.

A pile of not-good-enough shoes sat beside one dresser and a stack of pink and white stockings next to the other.

The morning’s activities had tired me out.  Even though we had planned their outfits for a week and carefully laid out their chosen wardrobe the night before, the morning had still been crazy with changed minds, fresh inspiration, and forgotten items.

And then there was the meltdown over the headband.  It involved many tears, angst, stubbornness, threats of punishment and varying opinions about the definition of “matching.”

I imagine my house this morning looks a little like King Xerxes’ court appeared as he searched for a second wife.  It was the biggest beauty pageant of all time and after 12 months of preparation (“six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with perfumes and preparations for beautifying women”), it all came down to one night (Esther 2:12).  One chance to knock the socks off the king and be chosen as his bride.

Yet, Esther was not dependent on beauty treatments, over-the-top jewelry, and exotic perfumes.  Hers was the beauty of consistent character and long-term loveliness of the heart and so she found favor with the king and became queen of the Persian empire.

Like the other women in this great Persian beauty pageant, we Christians sometimes focus too much on dressing up and dousing ourselves with perfume.  Our emphasis is often on the “picture days” of the Christian walk, on the posing, the practiced smile, the activity, the special occasions.

But our faith isn’t about snapshots.

We don’t prep ourselves for five minutes in front of a camera.  Did we greet everyone with joy on Sunday morning?  Did we say the right things in Sunday school?  Did we wear the right clothes?  Did we know the words to the songs and nod our heads at appropriate points in the sermon?

Our heavenly king isn’t making judgments about our beauty based on one night’s impression. That means mistakes don’t determine the rest of our lives.  If you’ve blown it this morning with your kids, made some bad choices, or messed up how you handled that situation, God’s grace provides you with restoration, renewed mercy and the fresh start of a new day. 

That’s why Moses is about more than his disobedience when bringing water from a rock (Numbers 20).  It’s why David’s ministry didn’t end with adultery and murder or why Peter wasn’t cast off forever after denying Christ.

It also means the moments of triumph don’t set us up on permanent religious pedestals.  God isn’t deceived by the external beauty treatments we apply.  Peter wrote, “Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:4).

The beauty of our faith isn’t determined by those extraordinary seasons of spiritual victory, crisis or sin.  God is far more interested in the daily wardrobe of our soul and what happens when the cameras aren’t turned in our direction.

Oswald Chambers wrote:

“it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four house of every day as a saint, going through drudgery, and living an ordinary, unnoticed, and ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus.  It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God—but we do not.  We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people.”

My oldest daughter’s goal for picture day was to look just like a real princess.  My middle girl wanted to be “as cute as can be.”  And they succeeded. This one picture, though, won’t make them beautiful or ugly, cute or goofy.  They are always lovely and always loved.

It’s the same with us.  What’s far more important than how we look in a posed portrait is the ordinary, unnoticed, unexceptional holiness that we live out day after daily day. 

It’s the praying in the prayer closet, the doing dishes and washing clothes for your family.  It’s the ministry to a friend and your faithful, hard work at your job.  It’s responding with kindness and having patience with your spouse.  It’s putting the mistakes of the past behind you and it’s obeying God today with a cheerful heart.

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

Copyright © 2012 Heather King