Clean-Up on Aisle 12–Mom-breakdown in progress

I had a mom breakdown in the ice cream section of the grocery store.psalm28

A few weeks ago, we had been out all day in the sun and warmth and I had one of those moments when you feel like an extra-generous, extra-spontaneous, extra-sweet, just extra good mom.

I’ll treat them to ice cream, I thought.

But I wanted to be economical and efficient.  Rather than sit and eat at an ice cream shop or run into the convenience store for individually and outrageously priced frozen goodies, we parked the minivan and headed into the grocery store.

I thought surely we could pick one box of ice cream bars to share.

But one child wanted Popsicles and one wanted Klondike Bars and one wanted Nestle Drumsticks…

No one wanted what anyone else wanted.

I have come to appreciate the power of majority rules, of democracy in action, of voting and sticking with the outcome of the family vote.

And I have also come to appreciate the power of the maternal dictatorship.

Either way, this is how it goes with my brood of three older children (the baby has yet to express an opinion on these matters).

What should we pack for our picnic lunch: hard-boiled eggs or sandwiches?

Egg.  Egg.  Sandwich.

What should we do to enjoy the day: go to the park or take your bikes out riding?

Bike.  Bike.  Park.

But what I realize after my mini-breakdown in the grocery store freezer section over our complete inability to ever just make things easy for once by being the same….

….is that easy and the same negates the complex and unique majesty of God’s creativity.

God is limitless in His capacity to design and form individuality.

And, oh how breathtaking the view when we see our kids as wonderfully unique.

This month, I’m drawing near to the presence of Christ and the heart of the Creator by dabbling in creativity myself.

I thought that meant glue sticks and fabric, a sewing machine, or recipes, or scissors and paper.  But yesterday I celebrated Mother’s Day with my kids and thought what greater honor than this—God asks us to be part of the creating of life and the molding of character.

I may be a hot glue gun failure and hopelessly inept with all things “arts and crafts,” but God still invites me in as a mom to the creativity of parenting.

I see this quote from Mary Southerland in my Facebook feed the day before Mother’s Day and it rumbles inside my head all Sunday afternoon:

Motherhood requires great sacrifice and limitless energy, but to invest your time and beset efforts into a child, and to watch that child grow and develop is to be part of the creative majesty of life itself.

We moms can chatter away endlessly in checkout lines and in the waiting room at the ballet studio and on the sidelines of that soccer field all with this one conclusion: Each child is so different.

I have four little ones and it’s not just ice cream choice or lunch packing at issue.  It takes all my mom-focus and mom-energy to know each of my babies, really know them, know those motivations and fears, those funny bones and those tender hearts, know the likes and dislikes.

And then just as I know them, they change.  A new favorite color.  An overcoming of a fear.  A new worry.  Now they need me.  Now they don’t.

Every day as a mom is made new.

I must roll up my sleeves and dig my hands deep in the soil of their child-hearts—tending and weeding, pruning and feeding, watering and helping them, not just grow, but thrive and bloom in maturity and fruitfulness.

I must change and adapt.  What worked for one child doesn’t work for another.  What worked yesterday doesn’t work today.

This is no assembly line art.  No paint-by-number or dot-to-dot project.

This requires masterful creativity of the highest form, without instructions or samples and with a million voices shouting at you to “do it this way because it’s the only right way.”

I’m not woman enough for that.  I can’t even sew a simple project without ripping out stitches and starting anew.  How can God trust me with these children?

But God doesn’t ask us to be perfect moms or perfect women.

Instead, He gives us this grace—the invitation to the creative journey of motherhood and the promise of His presence along the way.

And He gives us this mercy of fresh starts and short memories, of brand new days, of forgiving hugs and lay-it-all-out-there-honesty, of goodnight kisses and tiny hands, of godly examples and those who look back and say, “Way to go, Mom.  Don’t give up.  You are doing a great job.”

And He promises us the help we need:

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
    and with my song I praise him.
Psalm 28:7

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 this month as I ‘Create Beauty’?


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




Seven Months: How to Enjoy the Season You’re In

Seven months.

She asked me to take on a new responsibility and normally I just do, I say ‘yes’ and add it on to the stuffed-to-overflowing to-do list and cram it onto the overcrowded calendar.

But this time, I answered, “Seven months.”

This is the season I’m in: a season of no more and not now.  For seven months, what I have is what I can do.  And then, who knows?  God will direct the steps.

For now, though, my life is packed full and I must invest myself fully here with this blessing of a new baby, a new book, and three daughters in school and after-school activities that dictate our schedule and keep me in the car driving here and there for hours in every day.

It’s the best advice my mom ever gave me as I awaited the birth of my firstborn babe when I, in my innocent pre-motherhood state, thought I knew what being a mom meant and the sacrifice it required.

I didn’t, of course.

She told my young, naive self: “Everything is just for a season.”ecclesiastes

The advice sounded good enough at the time, something to tuck away for another day perhaps.

But I didn’t realize the depth of the wisdom here or how I would return to this as a promise of hope on the hard days…

when I’m finding it hard to breathe because of the clutter and mess
and the noise is drowning out my own sane thoughts
and I’m longing for a ‘quiet time’ at the kitchen table but settling for a quick devotional-on-the-go while waiting for preschool to end
and dinner is macaroni and cheese from a box instead of the gourmet meal I found on Pinterest
and I’m lacking in sleep and feeling like a mess and groaning about laundry and dishes.

Ecclesiastes made it clear:

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).

“To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven”

That’s how The Byrds sang it in the 1960’s and the song jingles around in my head when I consider the wisdom of this.

There is a season.  And one season follows another just as surely as day follows day.  Nothing is forever.  God makes all things new time after time after time.

It’s been my mantra as a mom.

Sleepless nights….potty training….terrible two tantrums…

A season.  Only a season.

A messy minivan and hours outside the ballet studio, endless noise, sibling rivalry, homework, and diaper changes.

A season.  Only a season.

I think aloud to a friend about my life right now and she reminds me of my own words,

“I’ve heard you say it often, that this is only a season.”

She echoes it back to me and I realize how often I give that advice to others, sharing the wisdom with them that my own mom gave me.

But I realize something else on the good days—

when my baby is cooing so sweet and tosses me a smile that stops time for that moment because I love him so
and my children work together and play together sweetly and my heart dances with pride in their beauty and strength
and we laugh at the dinner table and tell stories of our day and I think how precious is this gift

Seasons come and seasons go, but God is in every one of them.  Yes, in  this season of sleeplessness and carpooling….and this season of baby giggles and child songs.

I could grit my teeth, grip the wheel white-knuckled, and hold on tight until this season of busyness passes me by or I could revel in the joy, yes–here, yes—now.

There’s such beauty in this season of watching my children grow, discover, learn, and transform every day.

All too quickly this passes me by.

I could endure the frantic pace of it all, but so much better to enjoy the blessing of it all.

This season you are in right now, whatever it may be, does it chip hard at your rough edges and wear heavy down on your soul at times?

Perhaps you are weary some days.

Maybe you are feeling raggedy, lost, and alone on others.

Hear this sweet breath of hope when you feel the suffocation:

This is only a season, going and then gone.

And hear the urgency of this challenge:

This is only a season; revel in the joy of it, even the joy of knowing God is with you even in this.

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

One Week Without a Voice: Lesson Three

“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame”
(Proverbs 18:13 ESV).

Everyone has a particular Mom-style and special God-given Mom-talents.

I do, too.  I have a talent for Mom-speeches.

There’s the “Your sister is your best friend.  Other friends will come and go, but God gave you a sister for life” speech.

The “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” speech.

There’s the “Behave like a lady, talk like a lady, eat like a lady, sit like a lady” speech on manners and the “Don’t embarrass me in public” speech for family outings.

I give an “Always do your best and strive for excellence so you can be proud of your work” speech and the “God gave you special talents for you to develop and use” speech and also a “The best things in life are worth working hard for, so don’t ever give up” speech.

Also the “You made a commitment, so you have to fulfill your promise” speech for when my kids get tired out half-way through activities.

My kids also know the “I love you no matter what, even if I’m disappointed in you” speech and a “you’re totally beautiful inside and out—and the inside is what matters most” speech, which is often followed up by a discussion of boys and the “you are so smart and so talented and God has such big plans for you; worrying about boys is just a distraction (and no dating until you’re 30)” speech.

We also have the “You are a King girl.  You represent our family and you represent God, so keep that in mind in what you say and do” speech and a speech on “You don’t have to be best friends with everyone you meet, but you do have to treat others with kindness.”

Yes, I can hop up on a Mom soapbox at the slightest provocation.  Fortunately, I have one daughter who seems to listen.

And I have one that. . . well, doesn’t.  By the time I am finishing up one of my epic declarations, she’ll look me in the eye and ask something totally random, like “Why does Batman wear a mask?” or “Can I have ice cream now?”  Clearly the whole time I’ve been waxing eloquent she’s been thinking about superheroes and dessert.

Last week, I could barely tell my kids it was time for dinner much less deliver one of my famous orations.  My throat was a scratchy mess and the loudest I sounded was when I was coughing.

And a week without speechifying was good for me.  It’s not that any of the things I say are bad.  Who knows?  Maybe my girls really do hear me and take my treasures of wisdom to heart.

Maybe when they are 35 and looking in the face of their own daughter, they’ll find themselves repeating the speeches they learned by heart from me.

But just as important as what I say . .. probably more important really . . . is whether I’m listening to what they have to say.

A lady in a Bible Study with me years ago said, “Listening is an act of love.”

This is true for us; we can show love to others by listening, really listening, to what people have to say.  It’s looking them in the eye when they talk rather than shuffling papers, multi-tasking, glancing at our watches and texting on our phones.

It’s asking deep questions to show we care and want to hear more and are interested in their thoughts.

It’s controlling our own thoughts—our own tendency to think up things to say while they “chatter”—and instead actually focusing on what the other person is expressing.

It’s redirecting conversations to be about them instead of always us.  Yes, we all have “stuff,” we all have life to share and stories to tell.  But for a few minutes, you can make another person feel loved just by letting them be the one to talk.

Then there’s God.  Listening to Him is an act of love also.  It shows we value what He has to say and aren’t rushing through our time with Him, dumping our problems at the altar and rushing off into our day like He’s a personal assistant.

Instead, we can pray that, like He did for Isaiah, God “wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed” (Isaiah 50:4).  He can tune our hearts and our ears to listen to His voice and the hearts of others all through our day.

Partway through my week without a voice, I loaded my daughters into the mini-van with a whispered, “Let’s go somewhere” and drove them to the movie theater to see Brave, the story of a Scottish princess trying to escape arranged marriage.

There in that darkened icebox of a theater, I watched a mom make speeches to a daughter who was tired of hearing them.  Both of them were talking; no one was listening and understanding.

But then the mom couldn’t talk at all.  Her only form of communication was a pointing finger and some pantomime and charades.  Yet, somehow mother and daughter never understood each other so well as when there was forced silence and purposeful listening.

As I sat there watching an animated Disney/Pixar film, I thought of James’s words: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19 ESV) and I remembered that speeches are fine, but I’m too quick to make them.

It’s much better to be quick to hear, prone to listen, talented at understanding . . . and slow to speak.

Who needs you to listen to them today?

You can read other devotionals on this topic here:

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.