We Celebrate Courage in This House (Because We Aren’t Naturally Courageous)

joshua1
Bravery doesn’t run rampant in this house.

My girls and I freak out about bugs.

We grab for a dry towel when water splashes into our eyes.

We talk through all possibilities and potential scenarios so we won’t freak about what’s new and different.

We inch into doorways when there’s a room full of new people.

We’re not adventurers or discoverers, explorers or conquerors.  We’re not risk-takers or rock-the-boaters.  We’re not the movers or the shakers.

No, we’re planners and organizers.  We’re the faithful and the hard-working and the folks dipping their toes in all gentle and nervous on the side of the pool to test the waters before jumping in.

That’s why we celebrate every victory in our house, every display of courage and every hint of bravery.

When my most fear-prone daughter announced this was the year she was really going to ride an actual roller coaster instead of the kiddie ride at Busch Gardens, we cheered her on.

I took pictures.  We celebrated and high-fived after her victory.

And when my older girls went on to try out other roller coasters, we looked straight in their eyes and told them we were so proud of the courage in them.

Even when my one daughter tried a roller coaster and hated it and complained that it was creepy and made her afraid, we still celebrated because she tried it.

She doesn’t have to ride again—that’s wisdom.  In Let’s All Be Brave, Annie Downs says, ‘The road to courage is lit by God’s wisdom.”

But to overcome her fears and try at all—that’s courage.

We celebrated a daughter not crying or freaking out over allergy testing and a toddler who climbed up onto the potty.

In just a few days, we’ll cheer them on as they step onto a yellow bus and head off to a new classroom, with a new teacher, and new classmates.

I’ve been spending all these years of motherhood cheering for my daughters to have courage.

I tell them:

It’s okay to make mistakes, so just give it a try.

I tell them:

God is with you, so don’t fear.  Just relax and trust Him.

I tell it to them and maybe along the way I’m preaching to myself.

Sure there are plenty of other kids who have faced down bigger and badder roller coasters than we’ll ever dare to try.  We’re no daredevils after all.  But still, that’s not the same as true bravery.

Bravery doesn’t require doing what everyone else is doing or trying to keep up with or match the accomplishments of others.  Courage is so personal; it’s not about you being like anyone else.

And, while not feeling any fear at all can make you look courageous on the outside, it can also make you foolhardy.

That’s not what courage is.

Being brave isn’t the same as being unafraid.  Bravery means doing the right thing no matter what, even if you tremble in your sneakers and even if your stomach flip-flops with fear.  

You trample all over the anxiety and the worry and the fearfulness and you do it anyway.

You don’t let fear control you, imprison you, or hold you back from what God has called you to do.

Those men and women of courage in Scripture didn’t follow God without facing their own fears.

When Mordecai told Esther that she needed to petition King Xerxes for the rescue of her people, she told him why that was too much to ask:

“All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. But as for me, I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days” (Esther 4:11 ESV).

Esther, the poster-child for Biblical courage, was scared out of her mind.  She knew she couldn’t obey God on her own so she asked her to people to fast and pray with her for three days before she finally set one foot in front of the other and walked into the throne room to see the King.

She was terrified.  But she took a stand anyway.

That’s being brave:  Obeying God even when you’re afraid.

God’s calling can cost us.  It can be frightening and unsettling.  He can ask you to face down giants or ask you to face down change or ask you to face down the unknown.

In all circumstances, he tells His people to “Be strong and courageous.”  He knows, after all, that we aren’t naturally strong or naturally courageous.

But He also knows we take courage from His presence.

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 © 2015 Heather King

 

 

Fear is an ill-fitting hand-me-down

Psalm 56-3

We called her our Roller Coaster Baby.  My middle girl was a fearless climber and intrepid explorer in her younger days.  When she played with Daddy, she always wanted to go higher and faster.

We thought she’d be a mountain climber, an adventurer, a bold and brave pioneer, who wouldn’t be intimidated by peer pressure or life’s obstacles.

Then she learned the word “scared.”

From the first time that word rolled off her tongue, she changed.  Her reaction to every movie or TV show, every playground, every game was, “I’m scared.”  To emphasize it, she would clutch her arms around her body and tremble.

Now, she’s growing up afraid.  She’s afraid of heights.  She’s terrified of spiders.  She can’t sleep in the dark.  Most movies are off-limits because any bad guy of any kind ‘creeps her out.’  She can’t sleep with her head uncovered at night for fear of intruders and murderers.

Unfortunately, this middle girl of mine is passing her fear on like a worn-out, unwelcome hand-me-down.

My youngest girl is a brave soul, taking on challenges and amusement park rides with courage.

But last night, her older sister’s fears trickled down to her.  This little one couldn’t stay in her bed, couldn’t sleep in her own room, couldn’t turn out the lights.  She was tearful, fearful and overcome.

She had learned that you were supposed to be afraid.

I’m discovering that fear is a cursed ill-fitting hand-me-down that we sometimes pass on to one another.

At the very least, I know one thing with certainty–fear isn’t something given to us by God.  It’s never part of His plan for us.  He wants us all to be intrepid explorers, brave pioneers, and valiant defenders of what is right and true.

Instead, we are run-out-of-the-room afraid.  We are hide-our-heads-under-our-blankets scared.

How has this happened? Paul wrote so clearly that:

 “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV). 

When Jesus left the disciples, He gave them another precious gift:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid (John 14:27, ESV)

We trade in the gifts that God’s given, of power, love, self-control and peace, for a fear-filled life and anxious hearts.

It’s a learned trait.  At some point, someone we respect and believe in tells us to be afraid and suddenly the childlike fearlessness of our innocent days is tainted and torn.

Or we are hurt and abandoned, abused, or neglected and we learn what it means to be terrified.

Or circumstances just loom so impossibly over our shoulders and our practical minds assure us that destruction is imminent.

Or Satan, the father of lies, fills our hearts and heads with doubt and discouragement.  He tells us, “God’s not with you.  You’re alone.  You have no hope.  This is impossible.  Nothing can save you now.”

Whatever our story is and no matter who or what it was that first shoved fear into our hands, it’s time to stop agreeing to the exchange.  It’s time to stop accepting hand-me-down terror.

It’s time to fight for the gift God’s already given us—peace in His presence.

Remember that “with His love, He will calm all your fears” (Zephaniah 3:17) and even “though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4).

God’s Word also reminds us:

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10)

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

We don’t know the future.  We don’t know all the reasons for evil and pain in this world.  We don’t understand everything that happens and we’re not guaranteed perfect lives of comfort and prosperity.

But we don’t have to be afraid.  God has lavished us with perfect gifts—peace, love, self-control, power.  He promises to be with us, wherever we go, whatever we face.  That’s a gift worth keeping.  Don’t trade in that promise for anything.

To find more verses on fear and worry, click here.

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.

Praying What You Really Don’t Want to Pray

Psalm 56-3

Afraid.

Sometimes I’m afraid to pray those ‘dangerous’ prayers even when I know deep-down that’s what I should pray for.

But it’s like giving God permission to interrupt my life, letting Him move on into my heart and mind with cleaning supplies and uncover all the dirt I’ve hidden away.

So, I sat there holding the prayer card, debating whether to write the truth down.

I’ve been making these prayer cards for my family, friends and others I pray for.  I have a card for my husband, for each of my children, one for the unsaved, one for church and another for Bible study, and a card for me.

The cards are growing over time.  I scribble down my requests for my kids and then the next day I find the perfect verse to pray, so I jot it down on the back of this 3 x 5 white index card with a Sharpie marker.

I’m not writing the little requests that change day-to-day:  a fever, a bruise, a big math test.

These are the prayers about character and life, big decisions,using their gifts for God’s glory, spiritual growth and their future.

For each child, I know what I need to pray.  One needs to grow in forgiveness.  Another in self-discipline and overcoming fear.  Another in being teachable and accepting grace.

But I pause, my hand hovering over the card.

Do I write down’forgiveness?’  What if God allows my daughter to be hurt because of my prayer?  What if He allows pain so deep that she has to fight through bitterness to choose to forgive?

What about “teachable?”  Do I dare write that down?  What if God humbles my daughter through excruciating failure, brokenness, and the lessons of humility?

We Christians have joked about it so often, “Don’t pray for patience!!!”  That’s what we remind each other and then we laugh in agreement because, truth is, God has taught us all some of those painful lessons in patience.

And we didn’t like them.

So, we’re afraid to pray.

Yes, I am afraid to pray, too.

I know why.  It’s a trust thing.  I’m not believing the best about God.

The truth is that God won’t bruise or break if  a gentle lesson, a sweet whisper could change our hearts.

He never answers our prayers for patience with trials just because He’s mean like that.  Or He likes to hurt us.  Or He can’t come up with another way to teach us.

If I pray for my daughters to grow in these areas, I can trust Him to teach them in the best way, the perfect lessons at the perfect timing, and if their hearts are yielded and moldable clay, He’ll use the gentlest touch to fix the imperfections He finds.

And the truth is that if it’s breaking we need, He’ll allow the brokenness so that He can reshape us and form us into something beautiful: into the image of His Son.

But even then, I can trust His hand.  I can trust His love for us and the grace He pours out and the way He never gives up.Praying with prayer cards

As I read in Genesis, I think how Jacob must have been so afraid.  I recognize it now as I look at him: one fear-filled human looking into the heart of another fear-filled human.

Jacob lost his son Joseph.  So, when his remaining sons trekked off to Egypt for food during an intense famine, he had one demand:  They had to leave his youngest son, Benjamin, behind.  He couldn’t lose another son.  Not ever again.

It seemed to work at first.  The boys brought home grain from Egypt and the youngest son stayed home.

But the food ran out again and Joseph had made it clear—-no younger brother in Egypt, no more food.

Jacob either needed to trust God or his whole family would starve.

And God let Jacob reach the very end of all his resources so that Jacob would finally let go of control and send all his sons back to Egypt, Benjamin included (Genesis 43).

This was God at work.

Jacob was terrified, but God was in this.  He was working for the reconciliation of Jacob’s family and the preservation of the entire nation of Israel.

But as long as Jacob held on tight to control, not wanting the possibility of pain, he missed out on God’s best.

We can trust God with our hearts, with our lives, with our children, with our marriages.  We can trust Him with all of it.

So, I write down those prayer requests on the prayer cards and I entrust my children to His care.  I tell Him that I’m afraid.  I tell Him the truth about what’s in my heart.

But I trust Him and I let go.

 

 Want to learn how to pray with prayer cards?  I first read about them in Paul Miller’s book, A Praying Life.

 

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, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2015 Heather King

Book Review: Brave Mom

Brave Mom: Facing and Overcoming Your Real Mom Fears
by Sherry Surratt

We live in a scary world and it’s all too easy to get caught up in parenting with fear rather than parenting in faith, which is why I was so excited to read Sherry Surratt’s book, Brave Mom.  This CEO of MOPS International(Mothers of Preschoolers) talks openly and honestly about some of the biggest fears moms face, including a fear of parenting teenagers, fear of not being perfect, fear that being a mom will change you forever, and more.  Certainly as a mom I’m more than just afraid about keeping my kids physically safe.  I worry about the friends they make….worry about whether I’m doing enough, whether I’ll let them down or mess them up, whether they’ll be bullied or teased or lost or alone or…you name it.  These “Real Mom Fears” can take over the moment you find out you’re pregnant for the first time.bravemom

Each chapter includes notes and letters from other moms who have faced and overcome similar fears, so it really is like attending a mom support group and saying, “Hi, My name is ________ and I struggle with fear” and listening to others who understand what you’re going through.  Surratt’s relaxed and chatty style of writing makes this book an easy read and very relatable.  She concludes every chapter with a section called “Let’s Get Practical” that includes some questions for further thought/discussion and another section called “Let’s Take Action” that helps you put what you’ve learned into practice. It’s not a Bible study really, but it is great for an individual to read or for a book club or moms group to read together.

My favorite chapters in the book came at the end: “Facing Your Emotional Monsters” and “Building a Better You.”  Her advice in those chapters is practical, helpful, wise, and full of grace.  She encourages moms to build a support system and to find spiritual rhythms that work for you instead of trying to copy the quiet time habits of others around you.   I also loved the idea of sorting fears into two categories: things I can do something about and things I can’t do anything about so I need to just leave it to God.  Grabbing a hold of those runaway fears, analyzing them, praying through them, and doing something about them all helps tame the anxiety monster that can hold us moms captive.

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.”

25 Bible Verses About Trust

  • 2 Samuel 7:28 NIV
     Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant.
  • Psalm 9:10 ESV
    And those who know your name put their trust in you,
        for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
  • Psalm 13:5 ESV
    But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
        my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
  • Psalm 20:7 ESVversestrust
    Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
        but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
  • Psalm 22:4-5 NLT
    Our ancestors trusted in you,
        and you rescued them.
    They cried out to you and were saved.
        They trusted in you and were never disgraced.
  • Psalm 31:14 ESV
    But I trust in you, O Lord;
        I say, “You are my God.”
  • Psalm 33:21 NLT
    In him our hearts rejoice,
        for we trust in his holy name.
  • Psalm 37:3 NLT
    Trust in the Lord and do good.
        Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
  • Psalm 37:5 NLT
    Commit everything you do to the Lord.
        Trust him, and he will help you.
  • Psalm 40:3 NLT
    He has given me a new song to sing,
        a hymn of praise to our God.
    Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
        They will put their trust in the Lord.
  • Psalm 40:4 NLT
    Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord,
        who have no confidence in the proud
        or in those who worship idols.
  • Psalm 56:3 ESV
    When I am afraid,psalm56-3
        I put my trust in you.
  • Psalm 84:12 ESV
    O Lord of hosts,
        blessed is the one who trusts in you!
  • Psalm 91:1-2 NLT
    Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
        will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
    This I declare about the Lord:
    He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
        he is my God, and I trust him.
  • Psalm 112:7 NLT
    They do not fear bad news;
        they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.
  • Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV
    Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
        and do not lean on your own understanding.
    In all your ways acknowledge him,
        and he will make straight your paths.
  • Proverbs 11:28 ESV
    Whoever trusts in his riches will fall,
        but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.
  • Proverbs 28:25 NLT
    Greed causes fighting;
        trusting the Lord leads to prosperity
  • Proverbs 28:26 ESV
    Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool,
        but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.
  • Isaiah 12:2 NLT
    See, God has come to save me.
        I will trust in him and not be afraid.
    The Lord God is my strength and my song;
        he has given me victory.”
  • Isaiah 26:3-4 NLT
    You will keep in perfect peace
        all who trust in you,
        all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
    Trust in the Lord always,
        for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.
  • Daniel 6:23 ESV
    Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
  • John 14:1 NLT
    Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.
  • Romans 15:13 NLT
    I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • Revelation 21:5 NLT
     And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”

Ask Me More: Why are you afraid?

I wake up from the nightmare.

It’s about 4 a.m. maybe.  I can’t see the clock without my glasses, so I guess at the time.Female with head bowed in front of sunset sky

Dreams always remain hazy for me, but I remember what finally startled me awake: my daughter in the dream crying out, desperately broken, desperately sad.

It’s the second time I’ve dreamed about this one baby girl of mine being hurt, and I can’t shake the terror in the night or my helplessness.  It’s just a dream and yet it seemed so real.

I could do everything right as a mom and still get it wrong.  I could do everything right and still I can’t protect them all the time.

So, it’s 4 a.m. and I’m lying there still in the darkness just praying:

“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus….. Have mercy….”

O Lord, I remember Your name in the night (Psalm 119:55a)

I pray it over each of my children by name.  Pray until my heart calmly slips back into its normal rhythm.

And I sleep.

The next day, my family drives to church and unloads from the minivan in a stead stream of King family members.

But my other daughter lingers, hiding her face, and I see how she’s turned her back to the door.  She’s been crying.

I lead her out by the hand, whisk her off to a quiet place and when I wipe those tears off her cheek, I ask her, “Why are you crying?”

She sobs it out and I try to interpret the shoulder heaves and breathy story.

We’d been listening to the song Blessings by Laura Story in the minivan.  What if your blessings come through rain drops, what if your healing comes through tears?

And she watched her baby brother’s smiles and the way he cooed at her all the way to church and she thought, “What if something happens to him?”

She was afraid.

We tried all morning to help her overcome the anxiety of what-if’s and hypotheticals and the wondering, “how could I ever survive?”

Until finally, I whisper into her ear as she bows her head low….Look, I get this.  Your mom has been a fearful person.  I know what it’s like to be afraid.  But you don’t know that anything bad will ever happen.  You can’t miss out on enjoying the present for fear of an unknown future.  The only thing you do know is that God loves you, God loves us, God will be with us. 

I give her these two choices, cut through all of the possibilities and the confusion, the philosophy, the emotions.

Here it is.

Just this: Fear or faith?

And I think how I need this myself, as a woman, as a mom.

I can live in fear or I can live in faith.

I can parent in fear or I can parent in faith.

The disciples rocked violently in the wind of a Galilean storm on a boat they knew how to handle expertly.  They were fishermen, well-versed in weather and weathering the storms on that sea.

But they were scared that night.  Terrified even.  This storm exceeded their ability and expertise.  They could not survive alone.ask-me-anything-lord_kd

And where was Jesus?  Sleeping while they struggled?  Ignorant of their need?

They woke him and poured out frustration and fear in a torrent of accusation, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38).

So, Jesus spoke to the waves and wind and they obeyed Him and settled into a calmed hush of stillness.

Then he turned to those still-shaking disciples, dripping wet and exhausted from their battle with the storm.  He didn’t lecture them or give a sermon on His power or His mission.

He didn’t command that they also hush and be still.

Instead, He asked them a question:

Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40 NASB)

Fear or faith.

Those are the only options.  That’s what His questions mean.

The disciples felt justified in their fear, perhaps.  Surely they should be afraid when an overpowering storm threatens to capsize their boat and drown them all.

But Jesus pushed beyond their excuses and reasoning to reach the real issue: We can’t be afraid and full of faith at the same time.  It’s an either/or state of being.

Ray Stedman reminds me that even when damage seems permanent and disaster imminent:

One, the boat will not sink; it cannot sink when the Master of ocean and earth and sky is in it. Two, the storm will not last forever.

And that’s faith; it’s returning to what I know instead of worrying over the unknown.  

So, I choose faith over fear this time.  But it’s a journey.  I must choose faith and choose faith and choose faith, not just once, but every time I’m tempted to question God’s presence, His love, or His power.

Want to read more about the questions God asks?
Check out my book, Ask Me Anything, Lord, available in paperback and for the Kindle and nook!

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

Pursuing His Presence: Because Being Still Is Not Enough

I found her with untied tap shoes on her feet and eyes red from crying.

We zipped into the ballet studio, one mom and three girls (plus one baby boy) on a mission.exodus33

Three daughters in four back-to-back and sometimes overlapping dance classes during observation week.  This means instead of huddling in my minivan or zooming around town doing errands in between classes, I sat in the corner of class taking pictures.

We all piled into my youngest daughter’s class except for my tap-dancing girl who left to change into her tap-tap-tappy shoes.  I watched the clock carefully and slipped out just in time to check on her before her tap class began.

She wiped her eyes and explained, “I couldn’t get the ribbons on my shoes tied and I didn’t have anyone to help me….”

I tie the ribbons swiftly and then smooth down her hair with my hand.  Then I say it so she knows it’s not just about shoes anymore:

You didn’t trust me to come help you.  I knew you’d need help and I came just in time.

She’d been frantic and upset and all along I had a plan for her rescue and I was right on time, not a second too late.

So, all her fretting had been unnecessary drama.

And when is fretting not?

I started this year with intentionality: 12 months of pursuing the presence of Christ in the middle of the noise, mess, and busyness of life.  Today, I finish January’s journey, learning to be still and know that He is God.

For months, I dreaded this start to the year, knowing it would be the busiest and craziest of our busy and crazy schedule.  I feared the stress—-as in, tearful eyes, breathless suffocation just thinking about it.

But here we are.  We made it.  God is gracious.  When I felt that familiar strangulation of fear, I heard that still and small reminder: Don’t worry about that.  Just think about today.

So I did.

And, as much as I whine perhaps about winter, the overload of snow days has given me unexpected rest when we needed it most.psalm46-10

God planned the perfect rescue at the perfect moment for me all along, but I had been fretting and worrying.

Why?

Because I didn’t trust Him.

So often, we read that familiar Psalm—-BE STILL and know—and we focus on the stillness (Psalm 46:10).

Yes, stop with the flustered activity, the desperate attempts to fix things on our own, the frantic search for help from everyone except the only One who can truly save….

“Cease striving” it says in the NASB.

So, for a moment we pause.

Here’s what I’ve learned this month, though—“Being still” is not enough. It simply tells me what not to do.

I can’t forget that after I’ve ceased that striving and calmed my heart, God tells me what I should be doing in the stillness:

Know Him, Know He is God, Know that He’s got this under control and I can rest in the knowing that He cares for me.

Ann Voskamp reminds me of this….to remember He is I AM.  His very name is the reminder of His Presence here in this present moment.

Like Moses, I’ve asked in the boldest of ways that God will show me His Glory this year.  And, like Moses, I’ve told God that I don’t want to move from this place until His presence will go with me.

So, like Moses standing there on a holy mountain before a Holy God, I pray this also:

If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you (Exodus 33:13).

Because, God, in order to dwell in Your presence day after hectic day, I must be still and know You more, know You as I AM, know You as God present with me.

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me next month as I focus on Praying Simply?

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

A Reflection of Faith

He wasn’t but a few hours old when the questions began.

“Who does he look like?”

I wonder.  These eyes, this nose, his little round face and fuzz of light brown hair…do I see a reflection of me or are these my husband’s features in our newborn son?069

The debate is familiar.  I’ve swaddled three daughters and one son in hospital blankets and visitors have glanced into their faces and declared each time:

Just like dad.

Just like mom.

The opinions differ, this person…that person….there’s no consensus here.

So they ask me and what to say?  I fail at this every time, not seeing all him, all me.  Seeing only “our baby.”

That’s what we decide, not so much that my son looks like dad or mom.  Instead, he looks like a “King baby” and the comparisons are less with his parents and more with his sisters—these sibling counterparts with shared DNA.

I think of my own reflection and how people have told me my whole life that I look exactly like my mom.

But this light brown hair, my blue eyes, my fair skin, my (unfortunate) chin….those aren’t my mom’s features.  Those belong to my father.

What they see in me isn’t a physical copy of my mom, but a personality, a laugh, a voice and a spirit that make me her “spitting image.”

So maybe the essence of who we are truly overcomes the external and influences—maybe even determines—the way others see us.

People can look right at me and yet see past all that is physical to the spirit within.

And so the apostle Paul could see past body frailty to find faith in a man.

In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk (Acts 14:8-10). 

How many people had looked directly at that man and seen only external limitation?  From his birth, he’d been crippled and all through childhood he’d been defined by disability.

Yet, his faith was so great, so overpowering, as to be his greatest noticeable characteristic when Paul looked his way.  How could it be so clear, so definitive in one lame man among a mob of many?2corinthians

What does such faith look like?  What are its features?

If someone looked at me in a crowd, would they see this faith above all else in me?

It must have been mountain-moving faith the man had.  The kind that makes room for miracles and doesn’t crowd them out with doubt rooted in practicalities and self-reliance.

Me?

Could I have faith so bold?

And daily faith, what about that?  Would Paul have seen faith in me amidst the most minor of daily annoyances, the stresses of the schedule, the disappointments of the moment and the way I have to face up to my very own mistakes and failings?

Doesn’t that take faith also?

To choose not to make a forgotten phone call a crisis or a lost library book or the 5 minutes on the clock screaming at me that we’re late or my mistake from rushing too much (yet again).  How we react in the most mundane of stressors reflects our faith or lack of it.

Do we trust that God has everything under control?

Everything?

Yes, the overwhelming issues we can’t possibly handle, but can we trust Him even with our calendar and our kids’ homework and our grocery bill?

And, if He is so trustworthy, why then fret and fear instead of relax easy into the trust that is faith in a God so mighty and so merciful?

The Proverbs 31 woman “can laugh at the days to come” (Proverbs 31:25).

She has no fear of tomorrow or any days after that and no worries over what-if’s and hypotheticals.

She has faith.  And it shows up in her demeanor, in her belly of laughter instead of a wrinkled face of worry.

Proverbs also tells me this:

As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person (Proverbs 27:19 NLT).

This reflection of mine should radiate faith, confident assurance that God is who says He is and He will do what He says He will do.  It’s the firm, unshakeable belief that whatever I face any day in this world is in His hands and never beyond His control or His caring.

Who do I look like, then?

Oh, I hope it’s a woman of deep, unshakeable faith and that it’s written all over my features and in every part of my being so you could pick me out in a crowd and know I belong to my God.

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 now available!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Ask Me Anything: Giveaway Winner and “You want me to do what?”

It’s time to announce the Giveaway Winners!

Thanks to all those who participated.  I absolutely loved hearing the book titles you’d choose to tell your own story and am reminded of how much we can learn from one another.

I used a random number generator to select the comment number of the winners and they are: Mary Reese and Betsy Marmon!

Congratulations!  I’ll contact you privately about getting these signed copies of Ask Me Anything, Lord to you.

If you didn’t win, you can still get a copy of the book here:

Visit me at Discovery House Publishers to read a sample chapter and order online!

Follow these links to find the book at Amazon,  Barnes and Noble and also at Christianbook.com.

Or click here to order an autographed copy via PayPal.

The book will also be available on e-readers (like nook and Kindle) and in some local Christian book stores in November 2013.

And now, for the final excerpt from Ask Me Anything, Lord.  Enjoy!

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You want me to do what, God?

You want me to parent these children? You want me to stay in this marriage? You want me to lead this ministry? You want me to start this program?

When God calls us, it isn’t about us at all; it’s all about Him. We’re the ones looking at our qualifications and feeling mismatched for the job He’s assigning us, whatever that calling looks like in your life.

Moses reacted that way at the burning bush all because he focused on himself. He asked God:

“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’” (Exodus 3:11 NIV).

It was his way of saying he wasn’t qualified for that.  “It’s all about me and ME isn’t good enough.”

God, on the other hand, focused not on Moses, but on Himself.  He said:

“I will be with you . . . I AM WHO I AM.  This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ . . . ” (Exodus 3:12-15 NIV).

There are moments and days when I fell like Moses, when I begin to wonder how I could possibly minister to others when I’m working so hard at basics like keeping calm with misbehaving children and not stressing about my calendar.ask-me-anything-lord_kd

When I feel so empty, how can I pour out to others?

It’s one thing to serve and encourage when we’re overflowing; God’s goodness just sploshes over the tops of our lives and refreshes all who cross our paths. But, what about when our cup seems dry? What happens when a thirsty neighbor lifts up needy hands in our direction and we ladle out empty air?

In some ways, that’s where Moses was. He felt enthusiastic to the point of foolishness about leading the Israelites decades before when he was still in Egypt. Unfortunately, he was oozing confidence and overflowing with a vision of leading a slave revolt that depended on his own strength. He believed then that if it all depended on him, well then he was enough.

Then he murdered an Egyptian in his enthusiasm. His own people rejected him. Pharaoh sought to punish him. That’s what happened when he served in his own strength.

At the burning bush, however, Moses clearly recognized that if this deliverance thing depended on him, well then he simply didn’t cut it.

And that’s what we say sometimes when we tell God that we can’t possibly do what He wants us to do.

In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers wrote:

“Jesus was saying, ‘Do not worry about being of use to others; simply believe on Me.’ In other words, pay attention to the Source, and out of you will flow ‘the rivers of living water’” (John 7:38 NIV).

Similarly, the Psalmist wrote, “Then those who sing as well as those who play the flutes shall say, All my springs of joy are in You‘” (Psalm 87:7, NASB).

God is the Source, the Spring from which comes all our joy.

He’s not an immovable Fountain either, located at only one place or accessible at only certain times of the dayHe is our Portion and Provision every moment of every day

When we find ourselves carrying our cups back to Him like Oliver Twist in the orphanage, asking shamefacedly, “Please, Sir, can I have some more?” we’re forgetting that we serve a generous God, who longs to pour out His grace on us. He isn’t stingy and doesn’t want us thirsty or starving.

The more times a day we lift our cups to Him, the more times He will fill them. If that means we’re having a quiet time every five minutes all day long, then that’s what it takes that day to fill up at the Fountain of God.

I know that when I’m running back to the well every few minutes, it’s because I’m a needy and leaky person, with holes punched all in my heart from stress and busyness.

Yet, it’s also because I’m pouring out to others and God is willing, even joyful, to replace what I’ve spilled over into the cups of my husband, my children, my friends, my Bible Study girls, my church members, the Wal-Mart cashier and the girl who cuts my hair.isaiah41

The frequency of our visits to the Well doesn’t reveal our weakness or failure. It reveals our dependency on Him and how much we pour out to others. 

So when we peer into an empty cup and think we’re too dry to walk this Christian life, too empty to share with another, then we’re forgetting that It’s All About Him.

That’s the mistake Moses made. He assumed the ministry depended on himself. Truthfully, though, none of the ministry we perform in our homes or outside of them is contingent on our ability, brains, beauty, education, character or godliness (thank goodness!).

It’s really all about Him, and He promises: “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you” (Isaiah 41:13 NIV).

Taken from Ask Me Anything, Lord,© 2013 by Heather King. Used by permission of Discovery House Publishers, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 49501. All rights reserved. www.dhp.org.

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 now available!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Ask Me Anything: Seeing The Impossible

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people”
Ephesians 1:18, NIV

When Hagar ran off into the wilderness with her son for the second time in Genesis 21, she ended up wandering in the Desert of Beersheba. She was a homeless single mother, without friends, caring for her boy in unfamiliar desert territory and running out of supplies.

Her circumstances were desperate.askmeanything8

Placing Ishmael under a bush, she walked away so she wouldn’t have to watch him die. “And as she sat there, she began to sob” (Genesis 21:16 NIV).

It’s in the impossible situations where God is often most visible.

So it was with Hagar. God visited with her once again and asked:

“What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink” (Genesis 21:17-19 NIV).

Just like His question, “Where have you come from and where are you going,” this new question, “What’s the matter, Hagar?” shows that He was concerned about her. He knew where she was and what her circumstances were. Not only that, but He opened her eyes to see the deliverance He had prepared for her.

Nothing about Hagar’s circumstances changed. She was still a homeless single mother, short on provisions and without friends or direction.

It’s possible that God miraculously placed a new well nearby where she sat. Scripture simply says “God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.”

It could also be, though, that the only thing that changed was Hagar’s vision. Blinded by impossibilities and overwhelmed with despair, Hagar had given up when a well was so close. God revealed to her grace and provision that she simply hadn’t seen before.ask-me-anything-lord_kd

In the same way, God miraculously gave supernatural sight to Elisha’s servant in 2 Kings 6:15-17.  Surrounded by an impossibly large enemy army with horses and chariots, the servant cried out in despair, “Oh no, my lord!  What shall we do?” Clearly, they were doomed to defeat. Yet, Elisha assured his anxious friend:

“‘Don’t be afraid . . . those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’  And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:15-17 NIV).

Suddenly their odds of winning didn’t seem so impossible anymore, yet their reality was unchanged. Those heavenly defenders had been there all along; the servant simply hadn’t seen them.

Pray that God will open your eyes to His provision and plan for you.

Sometimes we feel that our circumstances are too impossible even for God.  We forget that He is the God of creation, who spoke the sun and moon and all of the earth’s creatures into existence out of nothing.

God hasn’t stopped being a creator God. He can create something out of nothing.  He can place wells where there has been no water.  He can create a heavenly army to deliver you when you are defenseless.

Remember that, “With man this is impossible, but not with God. All things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27 NIV). You can trust that the God Who Sees you will know what you need exactly when you need it.

Taken from Ask Me Anything, Lord,© 2013 by Heather King. Used by permission of Discovery House Publishers, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 49501. All rights reserved. www.dhp.org.

To pre-order a copy of this book, click here.

For more information about the book release, you can click here.

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