Why I Can’t Mop My Floor Today

It’s all part of the plan, my strategy for party preparation.

With visitors expected, I’ve engaged in a running dialogue with the mess in my home.

All week long I’ve glanced at the kitchen floor with juice spills and mystery splatter and thought….”If I mop you today, I’ll just have to do it again on Friday.  Someone will surely spill as soon as you’re clean.”

And to the dust gathering on the television stand in the living room, I promised a wipe with a soft cloth Friday evening.

I interrupted my normal vacuuming schedule earlier in the week so that I could zoom through the house just hours before the company’s arrival.

This has been my strategy of preparation.  Knowing as I do exactly when those first little knocks on our door will occur, I can target the precise moment when my house is the cleanest and shiniest and in most presentable shape.

I hope.christmas10

Being prepared for visitors is no exact science, you know, and it’s even less so readying ourselves for God.  Christmas, after all, focuses so much on preparation. 

The Jewish people, after waiting hundreds of years for the promised Messiah, the savior of their people–and the world— felt more than ready, perhaps even impatient, for His coming.

But they weren’t.  Not really.  So God sent a messenger, John the Baptist, who shouted out the news to prepare, get ready, make yourselves right before God because the Savior was coming.

Still, when Christ came, there was no room, no readiness.  Instead there was debate and jealousy, hatred and power plays.

Only a few men and women willingly allowed God to interrupt their lives and their personal agendas in order to make room for His Glory.  Only a few were ready for obedience.

Mary, bowing the head in submission, doing chores one second and carrying the Son of God in her womb the next.

Joseph, heeding the dreams God gave Him, marry this virgin with Child, take her to Egypt to save the baby from a murderous king, travel back home when King Herod had died.

Shepherds, tending sheep in the night, earning a living, toiling as usual, following the instructions of angels to a baby in a manger, worshiping, and spreading the news across the countryside.

Sages from the East journeying for years, far from their homes and their prominence and wealth in order to lay at the feet of a child gifts of honor and adoration.

Their readiness wasn’t that of twiddling their thumbs, idling their time so that at the slightest move of the Holy Spirit they could jump up in response to His command.

Instead, they were all busy, actively serving in their jobs and homes, doing the daily thing with faithfulness, attention, and care.  And then God spoke.

An angel’s voice.
A dream.
A heavenly choir.
A mysterious star.

And they laid it all aside to follow after God, wholeheartedly, passionately, abandoning everything in order to be present and part of His plan.

May we be so ready this season and every season for God’s movement.  We don’t want to miss it! Even more than that, let us not be an obstruction or hindrance to the miraculous wonder of God.

God always knows the exact moment to move; His timing is relentlessly perfect.  Let us, then, be expectant and ready to obey Him regardless of our plan or agenda or expectation:

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship (Galatians 4:4-5, NIV).

When the time has fully come, may our hearts be ready and our lives prepared for the movement of God.

How are you preparing for Christ’s work in you in the new year?

Originally posted December 8, 2012

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 © 2013 Heather King

What if God is in this place?

What if God is in this place?

It may not always seem likely.  Not when you’re elbow-deep in soapy dish water, or pulling out the third wipe from the tub while doing diaper duty.

Not perhaps while cradling a tiny babe at 2:00 in the morning so he can eat or zooming from school to ballet while quizzing children on homework questions at the same time.

And not when passing back sandwiches to little people in the car as you spend a night away from home moving from activity to activity.

Yet, this is the place I inhabit, the Mom World.  It’s the life where my schedule is dictated by the schedules of other, tinier, needier people.

There was a time….there will be a time….when I can linger over tea, a Bible, a prayer journal.DSCF2151

For now, though, I’m scribbling Scriptures onto index cards and reading devotionals in a parked car while waiting in a line to pick up my kids here, there, and everywhere.

God has to be mobile for me.  He has to be everywhere I go.  He can’t be confined to one hour, one specific holy place, one quiet spiritual atmosphere.

No, He has to be God amidst the loud, the stressful, the busy, the on-the-go, the tired.

We talk about the discipline of a quiet time, the need to establish a routine and stick with it no matter what.  Schedule your time with God….that’s the advice we give.

For most people, there’s wisdom there.  Make a date with God.  Write it down on the calendar.  Protect the time.  Do the habit until it becomes a habit.  Persevere until it becomes second-nature.

Sometimes, though, in some special seasons and particular times, this advice leaves us defeated.  My schedule is different each day of the week.  A newborn baby can cry and change my plans in one unexpected instant.

If I’m inflexible, too rigid, only ‘doing devotions,’ only meeting with God in this one place at this one time, I will miss Him.

I’ll miss Him completely and utterly.  My life would be devoid of heaven and communion with my Savior and I’d be one stressed out Mama ending every day emptier and emptier than the day before.

Yet, there’s Mary in Luke 1, a teenage girl busy with chores, doing common, everyday things on a common, average day. That’s when an angel appeared and announced she’d carry the Messiah.

God was at work.  She couldn’t see Him…not when hauling water and baking bread.  Still, God was in that place, active in her life, preparing the greatest plan of all plans to display His will and His presence in the world.

And then there’s Jacob, the runaway rogue, the trickster fleeing his home and family because he’d made his brother, Esau, mad enough to kill him.

All Jacob did was fall asleep on a stone pillow and God was there, displaying a stairway up to heaven and bringing blessing and promise for Jacob’s future.

What could Jacob say, but:

“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” (Genesis 28:16 NIV)?

That’s it exactly, what I’m thinking, what I’m praying for and hoping to accomplish even with four young kids and a husband and a ministry and a life…

To be aware.

I don’t want to walk in and out of this life unaware of God in this place—right here, right now, right in the middle of everything I’m doing and everywhere I have to be.  I can wait for some future moment when an uninterrupted hour of quiet is an everyday commodity, but how much better to ask God to inhabit this busy, stressful, active, full life, the very life He’s given me?

After all, even when we set apart time and places for holy encounters, we can miss seeing His glory.

Zechariah the priest entered the holy place for a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with God….and yet when the angel appeared to him and announced that he’d be the father of the Messiah’s forerunner, Zechariah “was startled and was gripped with fear” (Luke 1:12 NIV).

What was God doing there in the temple?  What was God doing there on this spiritual day?

Zechariah stood in a holy place at a holy time and didn’t expect to see the holy.

But I want to be expectant in the holy places and in the places that seem steeped in the mundane.  God, please meet me here in the mini-van, here helping with homework, here making dinner, folding clothes, washing dishes, packing lunches, feeding a newborn.

May I remember that yes, God is in this place.

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

Packing, PreOrdering and Preparing for Book and Baby

People keep asking me if I’m ready for my son to be born.

I think of the mostly empty duffel bag sitting on my bedroom floor and realize perhaps I need to take this countdown to my due date more seriously.

With my first baby, of course, I had a typed up birth plan and a printed list of important phone numbers weeks in advance.  We had faithfully attended childbirth classes and I packed my hospital bag neatly (with a checklist) at 36 weeks.  I created a ‘baby playlist’ and burned CD’s with relaxing music to help me in the delivery room.

The crib was up, car seat installed, dresser stocked, and diapers ready long before she was due to arrive.

And of course, she was a week late.

I’m just about two-and-a-half weeks away now from holding my baby boy, my fourth baby, and so far I’ve packed some socks, an electric teapot, a mug and some teabags.  Oh, and some slippers.

A girl has priorities.

The truth is that from that first positive pregnancy test and the week you sit all nervous on a doctor’s examination table waiting to see your baby pose for pictures for the first time, all fuzzy in black and white, wiggling limb buds with a heart beating so hard and so fast… you are in preparation.

You are waiting.

The life grows and sometimes it all rushes by so quickly.  Other times (like in those early days of nausea, morning sickness, and awkward weight gain where you don’t look pregnant, but you do look bigger) time creeps on and you feel like this….surely…..will….last……forever.

But it won’t, of course.

There’s the season of waiting and preparation.

Surely, it may have felt like one interminable case of waiting, waiting, waiting on God for Sarah.  But more than a decade after God’s initial promise to bless Abraham with a son, Sarah labored and delivered and then held her baby, Isaac, and she laughed with joy.

And a young teenage girl named Mary heard the news from angel—she’d bear a son, the Messiah, our Savior.  No double lines on a pregnancy test to confirm God’s promises, no appointment at the doctor’s office to test her hormone levels or laying back and waiting for an image on the ultrasound screen.

No, it was the leaping of John the Baptist in his own mother’s womb, the Holy Spirit dancing of an unborn babe, that told Mary life was in her, God’s life, long before her clothes stopped fitting and her hands and feet swelled.

Her waiting didn’t last forever, though.  A night in Bethlehem ended the anticipation and the expecting.

Birthing occurs.

All that God has been doing in the hidden places of the womb, the forming in the darkness, the creation we can’t see, pushes right out into the light.

Paul wrote in Galatians thatwhen the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship (Galatians 4:4-5 NIV).

The writer of Hebrews tells us: But [that appointed time came] when Christ (the Messiah) appeared as a High Priest of the better things that have come and are to come (Hebrews 9:11 AMP).

God’s appointed time comes.

Until then, we prepare, we trust, we pray, we obey the tiny steps and trust God with the results.  We marvel and praise Him for the signs that life is growing and maturing within us and it stirs up that hope, that expectancy that yes, God is at work here.

And while I’m packing that much-neglected hospital bag, I prepare in other ways for another kind of birth….ask-me-anything-lord_kd

One I can share with you.

So many have asked, so many of you have faithfully prayed, and here is the first sign that my book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Lives to God’s Questions, will be here soon.

It’s been a summer of editing and proofreading, of working with the publicist, and approving the copy.

Now, the book is available for preorder with a release date in November!

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

You can click here to learn more about the book and what God has already done in the writing and preparing for publication.

You can click here to visit my Amazon Author Page.

An e-book version will be available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and the Apple store shortly after publication.

Thank you so much for praying, for encouraging, for blessing me in so many ways.  I am so grateful to God for each of you.

~heather~

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 on November 1, 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

What I’m Pondering

Maybe it begins in the hospital, that first moment you see this little life and she blinks her eyes in your direction because she’s heard your voice, un-muffled for the first time by the sound of your heart beat and the shushing of your womb.

Maybe, if we’re being truthful, it begins before that.  We moms analyze morning sickness, aerobic kicking routines versus squirmy tummy rolls, a baby sucking his thumb on the ultrasound or another one turning somersaults and having to be chased around by the technician to keep him on the screen.

We think about our children, consider their character, who God has made them and how He has gifted them.

We think about what they like to eat and why, whether they keep to the schedule willingly or fight it all the way.  We consider whether they are spontaneous, creative, artistic, apassionatemomnalytical, strong-willed, stubborn, articulate, shy, introverted or extroverted.

And then we ponder what to do about it.

Like how I still remember the first time my middle girl handed me a fistful of air and asked me to eat the “sandwich” she had made for me when her older sister had never yet cooked up a pretend meal for me to taste.

Or how I watched as one of my daughters played with her toys by lining them all up in one straight line, categorizing the farm animals into groups.  And my second daughter played with the same toys by creating elaborate story lines and interactions like, “Hi, what is your name?  I’m here to see the farm!”

And how two of my daughters can play for hours on their own without any need for outside conversation or stimulation and my oldest daughter can’t survive 15 minutes without someone to do things with her.

I ponder all this because God has given me these gifts, these children, and being a mom means engaging in the discipline of pondering, taking the time to listen without speaking, watch without intervening, evaluate, assess, and yes, even marvel.

Sometimes we miss it.  We’re busy; they’re busy.  They struggle and we don’t realize it.  They needed us and we failed to see.  They hurt and we were distracted.

But our desire, our goal as moms, is to mother like Mary, who

“was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them” (Luke 2:9 HCSB).

We do this because want to get this right.  We want to parent these blessings with wisdom, making the right choices for their benefit and for their future.  God teaches us who they are only when we take time to pay attention.

In her book, The Passionate Mom, Susan Merrill writes that a mom must

ponder everything she learns about her child so she can truly know her child.

This in turn becomes a spiritual discipline all its own, because pondering is the call of every mom.

More than this, it’s the call of every Christ-follower.

None of us can randomly and haphazardly scramble through this life maze and find wisdom without hunting for it or choose to turn here and there correctly without actively pursuing direction.

The Psalmist challenged us:

Let the one who is wise heed these things
and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord (Psalm 107:43 NIV).

Wisdom comes from heeding…from pondering.

And what do we meditate on?  What do we watch so carefully and take our time to consider, churning it over in our mind, thinking of the implications and action steps?

We ponder the “loving deeds of the Lord.”

Not just skip right over them in haste and busyness.  Not shout back a hurried “thanks, God” as we tumble on our way headfirst into another crisis.

No, here we pause and take the time to see and to say, “Look how God showed His love for me…what does this mean for me now and tomorrow and every day to come?”

Solomon assured us that attaining wisdom is an active pursuit:

Tune your ears to wisdom and concentrate on understanding.  Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.  Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures (Prov. 2:2-4)

Tune in.

Concentrate.

Cry out for it.

Ask for it.

Search and seek like it’s the greatest treasure and you the Indiana Jones in this adventure.

Knowing our children doesn’t happen accidentally.  We don’t become the expert on our baby instantly at birth or know all we need to know to parent them into adulthood before the nurse rolls us out of the hospital in the wheelchair.

We learn through pondering.

And this God of ours…who He is and how He works, what He desires and plans for us…we can’t fathom without the wisdom that comes through pondering His loving deeds and pursuing wisdom actively, passionately, constantly, and even patiently.

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

A Secret-Keeper Spills the Secret

The trouble is that I’m a secret-keeper, not a secret-teller.

So, I’ve struggled with how to write this post for days, and most of this morning I’ve sat at a blank computer screen and then walked away again unable to find the right words.

I’m the opposite of my middle girl, who just spills out good news as soon as she hears it, just so excited to share she can’t possibly hold it in one…second…..longer!

I like to hold on to secrets for a while and then I get used to holding on to them and then I don’t know how to tell them even when it’s time.

Yet, my husband assures me that you can’t keep secrets forever and this one, well, it’ll tell itself soon if I don’t share.

So, here goes.

In December, my husband and I both spoke the word: “Incomplete.”  Our family wasn’t full, wasn’t finished, and there was someone still missing.  So we prayed and prayed, trying to discern what that meant for us.  Baby, foster care, wait for a future adoption?  Or were we wrong and this was it?

We prayed separately.  We prayed together.

Finally, we just sat holding hands and my husband said the words: “God, we want what You want, but we need You to show us clearly what that is.”

A month later, I gave my husband a present for our wedding anniversary—a baby blanket—for use in October.010

When we ask for God’s guidance, sometimes we must wait with determined patience for the neon sign.

Then other times, it seems like He says, “I was hoping you’d ask me that!” and the answer is right there before you’ve even finished praying.

On Sunday night, we told my daughters the news at the dinner table.  My oldest girl asked, “Am I allowed to tell my friends?”

My middle girl didn’t even think to ask because of course she’s going to tell her friends!  By the time I picked her up from school the next day, I’m fairly certain she’d told every single person she’d passed in a hallway, classroom, lunch line, and on the bus.  She’s telling people all over town, everywhere we go–school, church, ballet…

It’s joy; it’s just sheer joy bursting out of this little person!  And I love that about her.  I don’t ever tell her any news I don’t want broadcast to the whole town, but I love it about her just the same.

Sometimes God does that for us surely, giving us news that’s not meant to be contained or hidden away or kept to ourselves for one single moment.  It’s the “good news” and it’s meant to be shared.  Christ has come!  He has risen!  He has saved!  He has delivered!  He has changed me and I tell you, I just won’t ever be the same, not ever, ever again.

When Jesus spoke truth to the hurting Samaritan woman at the well, she ran into town and told everyone she could find about Jesus and what He had said.  It was her overwhelming urge to tell the good news that brought salvation to her people:  “Now many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of what the woman said when she testified, ‘He told me everything I ever did'” (John 4:39 HCSB).

But if she had waited, they would have missed Jesus sitting at the well that morning.

Some secrets aren’t the joy-kind, though.  They aren’t the spilling over with good news kind, not the new baby news or the salvation and deliverance testimony.

Eventually, we’ve got to give in and tell somebody, not everybody, but somebody who is safe and full of grace and who is willing to pray us through it all.  Because the secrets of shame that we lock away can ultimately lock us right up in this prison of darkness and loneliness.

Maybe we’ve grown so used to just keeping that secret that over time the secret is really keeping us, and we need to put it to death by putting it into words.

Or perhaps you’re like me, someone who holds on even to blessings and good news for just a little while.  It gives us joy just to pause and consider what God has done.

Like Mary, receiving the gift of mothering God’s Son and watching Him grow, who was “treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them” (Luke 2:19 HCSB), I like to ponder and treasure.

And sometimes that’s important.  Sometimes we’re so quick to tell and then the emotional high passes and we forget the beauty of this grace and the grace of this blessing.

Yet, even a secret-keeper like me needs to tell the good news eventually so that this isn’t just part of my life; it’s part of my testimony.

Do you have something to add to your testimony today?  Maybe you can find a friend and share the secret.

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

“Always Expect the Unexpected,” Christmas and December

Originally posted on December 14, 2011

My schedule is a delicate balance.

There’s a shopping day.  A scrub the bathrooms and the floors day.  Laundry days (one doesn’t cut it!).  Make bread day.  Ballet day.  Volunteer day.  Eat lunch with the kids at school day. Writing day.  Bible Study prep day.  Prayer meeting day.  Homework day and library day.

It’s an intricate design that took effort and some trial and error to develop, but by October it all settled into a perfect rhythm.

Then December arrived and stomped all over my perfectly balanced schedule like a giant through a flower bed.

Suddenly, my calendar has arrows swapping events in my week, items written in ink now crossed out and rewritten on different days and at different times.20931038_s

Oh yeah, can you fit in a class party?  And a holiday concert?  Could you make gifts for teachers and stop by the Christmas get-together?  Mom, what are we doing for my birthday?  Can we have an extra cantata practice?

Onto the calendar it goes.  I’ve begun color-coding the items. Red is for the really super important things that I absolutely cannot forget, but am certain I’m going to miss.  I add dark circles around those also.  And some stars and exclamation marks.  You can’t go wrong with stars.

Now my calendar has become illegible.  So, I switch to the daily agenda plus master to-do list that spans the next two weeks.

Add in the meal plan for family dinners up through Christmas and the shopping list that I had to restart the day after I just went to the grocery store and the planning is complete.

How euphoric it would be to keep the schedule in balance at all times!  For the expected activities to happen on the assigned days.

No doing laundry on shopping day.  No extra trip to the store when it is supposed to be writing day.  No third trip to the school on a day I’ve scheduled for cleaning house.

It would all be so expected.  So perfectly planned.  So in control.

That’s the problem, though, isn’t it?  I have a certain capacity for juggling and as long as I’m tossing around the same few balls, I’m a fairly competent performer.

But when God tosses an unexpected ball into my rhythm and routine, I’m liable to drop them all on the ground.

To a certain extent, I need to practice the “no” and guard the schedule.  Keep it simple.  Don’t try to do too much.  Don’t over-commit.

At other times, though, the schedule just is what it is.  The lesson isn’t about eliminating activity.  It’s about allowing God to shuffle our expectations and disrupt our plans so that we remember how much we need Him.

It’s His reminder that we can’t always package up our days with decorated wrapping paper and a shiny bow, oh so neat and perfect.  Life is messy at times.  Chaotic in some moments.  Fairly unexpected so many days.

The one constant is Him and even He has a way of surprising us. I think somehow it’s appropriate that December is the month when my calendar is left in tatters and all my perfect plans are shattered.  It’s a reminder that God has a way of shaking us up, mystifying us, and going far beyond our imagination.

Like the fact that the Savior of us all, the long-awaited Messiah, entered this world as a baby.

In Nativity scenes, we usually see the pristine image of well-groomed stable animals, fresh hay, perfect baby wrapped in bright white cloth.  Mary is already back to her pre-pregnancy weight and looking like she didn’t just labor and give birth.

But God chose to come to this earth the messy way.  It was childbirth.  It was pain.  It was blood.  It wasn’t even in the sterile white setting of a hospital, but all smelly and oppressive like the barn it was.

A newborn, a little Child came to save the world.

The Light of the World entered in darkness, while nocturnal shepherds were keeping the night-watch over their sheep.

The King of kings arrived in a stable.

The Eternal God, the Word who in the beginning was “with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning”—lay in a manger with baby dimples and the red skin of a newborn (John 1:1).

Have you settled into a routine and rut with God?  Have you figured Him all out?  Have you gotten comfortable with what you can do and with what you believe He can do?  Have you scheduled Him and assigned Him portions of your life?

Don’t be too sure!

Just when we figure everything out and fit everything in, God often will interrupt and amaze, befudddle and change your direction.

As Paul writes: “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.  Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes” (Ephesians 3:20-21, MSG)

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.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Christmas Devotions: Christmas Eve and a Letter to a Savior

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart”
(Luke 2:19)

I was eleven and my Bible Study teacher gave our class a homework assignment for Christmas break.

Write a letter to God, she said.  Make it a prayer, a re-dedication, an offering of my own treasures, not the gold, frankincense, and myrrh of wise men, but the very finest gifts I could lay at the feet of a worthy God.

It was my Christmas gift to Him.  I wrote it out on Christmas Eve, folded it up, tied it with a ribbon and placed it under the Christmas tree.

Two decades later, I have twenty years of Christmas Eve letters to God.  It’s my most intimate and holy Christmas tradition. This Christmas Eve, I fingered the packet of letters and marveled at God’s gracious work in me.

One of my “rules” is no peeking at the letters on any day of the year other than Christmas Eve.  Yet, on that one night a year, I can glance back at twenty years of me drawing near to God just as He drew near to us on the first Christmas of all.

Usually by about February each year I can see clear answers to the prayers I scribbled out on the page just months before.

In some ways, this prayer letter is my moment to lay gifts before the King as the wise men did.  It’s my re-commitment to serve Him in a new year and place at His feet the deepest desire of my heart to give Him praise.  I offer Him my very life, noting the places He is already at work in my character and asking Him for spiritual growth so I can bring Him glory.

Like the angels, though, I am also praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven” (Luke 2:14), as I give thanks and specific praise for the blessings of the year drawing to a close.

Then, like the shepherds, I turn my attention away from the busyness of work and daily life to see what God is doing in the heavens.  I write my letter to God at night after my daughters are asleep, the dishes are done, the gifts are wrapped and under the tree. There, in near-darkness, illumined almost solely by Christmas lights, I pray and write.

I look away from the “sheep” in my care, lift my eyes and attune my heart to hear the announcement of good news, of promises for the future and the certainty of promises fulfilled.  I dwell not just on what God has done or what He is doing, but what He will do in the new year.  What burdens has He placed on my heart?  What directions has He asked me to travel?  What steps of obedience has He asked me to take?

Mostly though, my Christmas letter is a moment to be like Mary, who after the shepherds came “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

Sometimes God’s work in our lives needs times of reflection and stillness.  What He reveals to us as we sit at His feet isn’t always meant for public announcements or official New Year’s resolutions, or campaigns or church-wide programs.

Sometimes God asks us to ponder and treasure, to reflect, pray, and wait for the appointed time.

So, I ponder.  I ask for God’s perspective on my marriage, my kids, my ministry and job and heart and mind.

Instead of monopolizing my conversation with an oh-so-patient God, I ask for His perspective.  Before I ever begin to write, I flip through my prayer journal and track the themes I see there.

How at times everything I read seems to be about grace.  Or prayer.  Or allowing Him to bring light into dark places. Or believing God for the impossible.  Or how He is a God who restores.

I follow the clear path of what He has already been doing in my life and then I join Him there in that place.  Yes, Lord, I pray, be at work here.  I will join You.  I will be submissive and receptive to what You want to do in me.

It’s not too late for you to sit in the stillness of a Christmas Eve and write your own letter this year.  What a perfect time to begin a holy and intimate tradition of your own.  A letter to Your Savior.

What gifts do you have to lay before the King?  What songs of thanks can you sing in the night?  What do you see in the spiritual places when you shift your focus off the physical daily routine of life?  What has God been doing in you and teaching you that you need to ponder in your heart?

Originally posted on December 26, 2011

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.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Christmas Devotionals: I Lay Me Down

Grumpy.

That’s how I get sometimes.

Only that night, my daughter and I had sat down on the sofa with her Awana book between us, studying her lessons and verses for the week.  After learning all of Psalm 23, all 66 books of the Bible, and a run of other long and difficult verses, she nearly bounced off the couch when she saw the first verse on the page:

Do everything without complaining or arguing (Phil. 2:14).

“Wow, Mom, that’s sooooo easy,” she announced and then poured out the verse a few times just to show off her impressive memorization skills.

So easy, she thinks.  Oh, sometime it’s the shortest, simplest lessons that I’ll be learning over and over, repeatedly day by day, one relentless crawl up the mountain after another, until I collapse in worship at Jesus’ feet in heaven.

Do everything without complaining or arguing.

No grumbling in the kitchen when you’ve called your children to dinner five times and they can hear each other, hear the television, hear the phone ring, hear their game….but at momma’s voice they go conveniently deaf.

No whining about cleaning up the trail of trash or complaining about lunch packing or wailing “woe is me” because I’m tired and bone-aching weary, falling asleep on the couch as my daughters read the bedtime story to me.

No elaborate, shoulder-heaving, dramatic sighs over sock piles and shoes strewn here and there.

Our ministries in our homes, churches, communities, and jobs, sometimes they are joy and sometimes we lose focus and feel the burden.

We see bother and mess, not beauty and grace, precious gifts from God to us.  We forget to be thankful.

And we become grumbling complainers and then staunch defenders of our “rights” and the boundaries we feel will protect those “rights.”

I get the need for boundaries, really I do.  I understand that God’s people aren’t expected to just let others walk all over us. I see how that’s not healthy for us or for them.

And yet, sometimes I feel we set “boundaries” not to help others, but to protect ourselves from the slightest hint of inconvenience, the smallest encroachment on our time or budget or activity.

Sometimes boundaries are less about helping others be healthy and more about keeping ourselves comfy, uninvolved and apathetic to the people around us.

Not always, but sometimes.

How can we, nearing the Christmas season and singing and talking and preaching often about Jesus born in a manger, still stand in our kitchens and grumble about dinner and socks and lunches and mess?

After all, God of the Universe “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Phil. 2:7 NIV).

Christmas reminds us to be self-sacrificing, to be servants, to offer ourselves with joy.

Because that’s what our Savior did for love of us, setting aside His rights, privileges, and glory, and humbly, oh so humbly, living among us and our dirt, sin and ugly pride.  Being born and then dying for us, choosing the blood and choosing the pain.

Didn’t Mary also willingly endure shame, the possibility of abandonment by Joseph—and even worse, death by a mob—the loss of her reputation, the disappointment of her parents, the discomfort of pregnancy, the uncomfortable and bumpy trek to Bethlehem, the pain of childbirth, and more…..for God and for the people her Son would save?

And Joseph willingly chose to stand up against the mockers and marry this virgin-with-child anyway, abandoning his home and occupation in Nazareth to journey far to Egypt in order to keep his family safe.

Even shepherds and wise men left their daily toil to journey to a baby.

They sacrificed plans and personal agendas, convenience and reputation, money, careers, relationships…because God asked them to abandon it all for Him and for His people.

It’s an indisputable fact of Christianity, an irrefutable part of our faith…God loves people.

And if God so loved the world this much, to give His only Son….then we should love people, too.  Enough to serve without complaining and arguing.  Enough to give to others more than is comfortable.

Enough to forget the burden and remember the joy, as Mary did in her song, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name” (Luke 46-47, 49).

“I lay me down”—that’s what Christ could have sung, and Mary, Joseph, and the worshipers traveling from afar.  That’s what we sing, “I lay me down, a living sacrifice…a pleasing sacrifice to You.”

To hear Darrell Evans lead in worship, I Lay Me Down” 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

Weekend Walk: Party Planning and A Christmas Verse

It’s all part of the plan, my strategy for party preparation.

Today is my oldest daughter’s birthday celebration with friends from school.  She’s almost a Christmas baby, so we decided to plan something simple for a small group of friends earlier in December, and she was determined that it be at our house.

So, all week long I’ve glanced at the kitchen floor with juice spills and mystery splatter and thought….”If I mop you today, I’ll just have to do it acleaninggain on Friday.  Someone will surely spill as soon as you’re clean.”

And to the dust gathering on the television stand in the living room, I promised a wipe with a soft cloth Friday evening.

I interrupted my normal vacuuming schedule earlier in the week so that I could zoom through the house just hours before the party on Saturday morning.

This has been my strategy of preparation.  Knowing as I do exactly when those first little knocks on our door will occur, I can target the precise moment when my house is the cleanest and shiniest and in most presentable shape.

I hope.

Being prepared for visitors is no exact science, you know, and it’s even less so readying ourselves for God.  Christmas, after all, focuses so much on preparation.  The Jewish people, after waiting hundreds of years for the promised Messiah, the savior of their people–and the world— felt more than ready, perhaps even impatient, for His coming.

But they weren’t.  Not really.  So God sent a messenger, John the Baptist, who shouted out the news to prepare, get ready, make yourselves right before God because the Savior was coming.

Still, when Christ came, there was no room, no readiness.  Instead there was debate and jealousy, hatred and power plays.

Only a few men and women willingly allowed God to interrupt their lives and their personal agendas in order to make room for His Glory.  Only a few were ready for obedience.

Mary, bowing the head in submission, doing chores one second and carrying the Son of God in her womb the next.

Joseph, heeding the dreams God gave Him, marry this virgin with Child, take her to Egypt to save the baby from a murderous king, travel back home when King Herod had died.

Shepherds, tending sheep in the night, earning a living, toiling as usual, following the instructions of angels to a baby in a manger, worshiping, and spreading the news across the countryside.

Sages from the East journeying for years, far from their homes and their prominence and wealth in order to lay at the feet of a child gifts of honor and adoration.

Their readiness wasn’t that of twiddling their thumbs, idling their time so that at the slightest move of the Holy Spirit they could jump up in response to His command.

Instead, they were all busy, actively serving in their jobs and homes, doing the daily thing with faithfulness, attention, and care.  And then God spoke.

An angel’s voice.
A dream.
A heavenly choir.
A mysterious star.

And they laid it all aside to follow after God, wholeheartedly, passionately, abandoning everything in order to be present and part of His plan.

May we be so ready this season and every season for God’s movement.  We don’t want to miss it! Even more than that, let us not be an obstruction or hindrance to the miraculous wonder of God.

Our Christmas verse for the week reminds us that God always knows the exact moment to move; His timing is relentlessly perfect.  Let us, then, be expectant and ready to obey Him regardless of our plan or agenda or expectation.

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship (Galatians 4:4-5, 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 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

Weekend Rerun: Christmas Verse

Originally posted on December 17, 2011

Mary.

She’s been on my mind this week as I wrap presents, plan to see The Nutcracker, listen to Christmas tunes, bake cookies and prepare fruit trays for class Christmas parties. She’s all wrapped up in the middle of this Christmas story.

I’ve been thinking about her even more when I complain to God about what He’s doing in my life (or sometimes not doing), or when I prepare my end-of-the-year prayer list for God and realize how much it’s beginning to sound like a Dear Santa letter.

Mary received the greatest blessing from God without asking or seeking, just by walking in obedience and purity of heart in her everyday life.

Mary’s on my mind because the angel called her, “you who are highly favored!” and told her, “The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28, NIV 1984).

So often, I feel thoroughly humbled and honored that God gave me the care of my three precious daughters. Imagine how Mary felt to be asked to mother the Messiah.

She had found favor with God.  Isn’t that what we desire?  Not the accolades or rewards.  Certainly God isn’t looking for another Savior’s mom.  We do, however, long to please God and to bring Him joy.  I want Him to peer into the deepest parts of my heart and rejoice in what He finds there, just as He did with a teenage girl named Mary long ago.

I love Mary’s sweet innocence as she stood amazed that she would miraculously be with child.  Yet, the angel assured her, “nothing is impossible with God” and that was enough for her to believe (Luke 1:37).

If God wanted to stir up miraculous and impossible events in my life, I’d question and wonder, doubt, try hard to believe, believe for a moment, then feel incredulous again.  It’d be a see-saw of faith and doubt.

But Mary believed the promise.  “Nothing is impossible with God.”  I want to believe that God can do the impossible this year.

Then there’s Mary’s submission to all that God wanted to do in her life.  What the angel was asking wasn’t easy.  We think of the honor of being mother to the Promised Messiah, and yet it was entangled with pregnancy, labor, loss of a girlish figure, potential conflict with her betrothed, and societal shame.

It was messy and hard and disruptive.

Sometimes that’s what God asks us to do, skip out on the easy and step up to the difficult.  Mary was willing .Am I?  Are you?

My memory verse for this week shows her heart:

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her (Luke 1:38)

I’ll be praying this week for a Mary heart in preparation for Christmas and for a new year.

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