Babysitters, Magicians, Teachers and other choices

“Mom, do you think I should be a teacher or a babysitter when I grow up?”

She asks me as if she needs to decide all the life plans and pathways of her future right here in this minute.

I ask this eight-year-old what she thinks about it all and she tells me how much she loves little kids and babies, and I know it’s true.091

While I’m thinking of all her potential and all the possibilities, though, she’s narrowing it down to two choices.  A or B?

Then my next girl chimes in.  “Mom, do you think I should be a teacher or a magician?”

Again I ask what she thinks, and she’s decided definitely, 100%, no doubt about it, her future career will start with a course at the magician’s school of tricks and entertainment.

So, I bend down low, cradle those chins in my hands and one at a time I tell them so they’ll hopefully understand what I’m saying deep down in the parts of their soul that they’ll only remember later when it really counts:

God made you so special, so unique, so gifted in amazing ways.  There are many possibilities for you, so much hope.  Your job is to work hard now and we’ll pray and discover what He wants you to do then.

That’s their job…To practice the piano and dance, to study in school and make their art projects when they feel inspired.  To write away creating stories on the computer and telling jokes and walking on stages unafraid.  To say their memory verses and listen to God’s Word and sing and sing and sing.  To hold the hands of little ones and teach their little sister letters and sounds and how to count just a little bit higher.  To cheer for friends and to serve those in need.

This is how they grow in the gifts God has given them.  This is how they make themselves ready and available for His purposes.

That’s their job.

I have my own and I look to King David as a reminder.

Knowing all that God had planned for his son, knowing that Solomon was called by God to build the holy temple, David stockpiled immense resources to give him a head start.  He amassed gold, silver, iron, bronze, timber and stone and trained carpenters, stonecutters, masons, and artisans for service on the temple project (1 Chronicles 22).

And then he gave it all to his son and blessed his ministry.

David said:

My part in this was to put down the enemies, subdue the land to God and his people; your part is to give yourselves, heart and soul, to praying to your God. So get moving—build the sacred house of worship to God!
1 Chronicles 22:18.

Sometimes we get so focused on our own careers and futures and ministries, what we need from others, what we need to do ourselves.  Our lives can become day after day pursuits of our own personal successes.

But God creates this perpetual ministry for us—to give and give again into the lives of others. 

I look at my daughters and I wonder, “What’s my part?”

David’s job was to fight wars and conquer enemies so his son could reign in peace.  He gathered supplies and did everything to make the temple project possible short of laying the gold bricks himself.

I’m no warrior king and I certainly don’t have some vault stocked with precious metals and gems.

But I can do my part to help them discover and develop those unique gifts that could make them a wonderful teacher or (even perhaps) a funny magician.  I can teach them about God and truth, kindness, service, and Scripture.  I can spend time on my knees for them, for now and for their future.  I can let them know they are loved.

We can do this for others, for our children, for the teens in our churches and the young moms in the next pew over on Sunday morning who look just a little tired after getting so many little people ready for church service.

We reach back in ministry, bending low to give helping hands and encouraging words to those just starting out, the discouraged, the uncertain, the teachable, the wide-eyed and hopeful.

We open a world wide open to students and pray for our pastors, pray for missionaries, pray for our ministry leaders.

We take time to say thank you to those who rock babies in the nursery and stock the shelves in the food pantry.

We all, after all, have a part.  No one ministers to this world alone or on their own merit or in their own strength.  It’s always about God at work, and He works through us, through the giving and blessing of others.

Whose ministry can you bless today?

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

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Weekend Rerun: How to Handle a Mean Girl

Originally posted on September 26, 2011

Mean girls strike fear into the hearts of moms everywhere.  They certainly make this momma drop to her knees.

So when my daughter announced that she was choosing not to play with a girl at her school table, I pounced with mom questions.

“Well,” my daughter said, “when other people don’t do things the way she wants, she always says, ‘You can’t be my friend anymore.’  So, I told her that’s okay if she doesn’t want to be friends with me.”

Wow!  I was afraid of permanent devastation wrought at the hands of other children, and yet my daughter handled herself with quiet confidence.  It was the kind of answer I’ve been praying my daughter is able to give.

Praise God that He answers our prayers for our children.

But, it’s not just our kids who need to make decisions about friends, nay-sayers, judgers, and mockers.

In her book, Stumbling Into Grace, Lisa Harper writes:

“I want to recognize the dangerous, potentially biting characters in my story; the people who create constant emotional debris with their destructive personalities or who refuse to shed the skin of deception, the ones who threaten the God-with-me peace in my life.  I’m learning to keep my distance and to  pray for snakes, but not make a habit of getting down in the dirt to play with them” (p. 47).

In our lives, we’ll face some biting personalities and snakes in the grass ourselves–even when we are simply pursuing righteousness, just like Hannah in 1 Samuel.

Hannah was a Godly woman.  Religious law dictated that men must travel to the tabernacle three times a year to worship and sacrifice, but we see in 1 Samuel 1:7 that “year by year, she went up to the house of the Lord.”  She committed to going above and beyond the minimum requirements in order to worship God with her whole heart.

But his Godly woman had a personal pain that cut deep: She was childless while her husband’s second wife, Peninnah, was a bunny rabbit of a breeder.  Scripture doesn’t even count all her kids; it just says, “Peninnah . . and  . . . all her sons and daughters” (1 Samuel 1:4).  Sounds like quite a brood.

The worst part of it is that Peninnah gloated.  She boasted and preened.  She set herself up as Hannah’s rival and “provoked her severely, to make her miserable”  (1 Samuel 1:6).

Peninnah was a mean girl.

Sure, Hannah’s husband, Elkanah, loved her and was sad about her distress.  Still, there’s something kind of clueless about his compassion.

He said, “Hannah, why do you weep?  Why do you not eat?  And why is your heart grieved?  Am I not better to you than ten sons?” (1 Samuel 1:8).

Seriously?  He didn’t tell Peninnah to knock off the nastiness.  Instead, he told Hannah just to get over it. Be happy with the fact that she shared a home and husband with a woman who had annual baby showers.  Just shrug off Peninnah’s provoking ways and be content with her husband’s love.

Elkanah was an unhelpful friend.  He didn’t stand up for Hannah, didn’t have her back, and didn’t understand her pain.

Then there was Eli, the priest who watched Hannah’s impassioned prayer at the altar.  He pounced on her in a second, saying, “How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!” (1 Samuel 1:14).

Eli was the judgmental onlooker.  The one with all the opinions who doesn’t even take time to fully understand the situation, just makes accusations and spews forth a diatribe of assumptions and personal attacks.

Beset on every side by those close to her and those in spiritual authority over her, Hannah nevertheless responded with grace.

She spoke “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). She didn’t rebel against Eli, speak badly about him behind his back, or cause a ruckus in the spiritual community, despite the fact that he hurt her.  Instead, she answered calmly, “No, my lord.  I am a woman of sorrowful spirit.  I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:15).

She trusted God to take care of her.  Hannah “was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish” (1 Samuel 1:10).  She took all of her pain to the altar and poured her soul out before God and left it in His hands.

After she held the baby boy God gave her, after she nursed him and weaned him and presented him to the tabernacle, she declared, “For the Lord is the God of knowledge; And by Him actions are weighed” (1 Samuel 1:3).

By Him actions are weighed.  God saw the mocking cruelty of Peninnah, the cluelessness of Elkanah, and the pompousness of Eli.  And he saw Hannah’s brokenness and blessed her.

We likewise can trust God to help us when we face mean girls, unhelpful friends, and those who judge us.  He will show us how to love our enemies and pray for those who hurt us and He will tell us how to avoid the venomous bites of the snakes in the grass.

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

Copyright © 2012 Heather King