Morning Prayers to Start Your Day

I do not understand the snooze button on an alarm clock.  I never have.

To me, sleep only works when you’re actually sleeping.

The first beep of an alarm wakes me up.  From that moment on, my mind is racing on into the day.  I’m not sleeping; I’m thinking.

Worse yet, I’m thinking without actually doing anything about the million-and-one things I’m thinking about, which is a pretty stressful way to start the day,  feeling like I’m already behind.

Snooze buttons only work for people who can fall asleep in two seconds and don’t mind sleeping in batches of 5 minutes at a time.

Since that isn’t me, it’s just a way to procrastinate my way into the morning and procrastination super-stresses me out.

But moms don’t get to dictate their sleep habits, sleep cycle, sleep hours, sleep anything.  We’re just thankful for whatever sleep we get.

I’ve only needed an actual alarm clock a handful of times since I gave birth to my oldest child over 14 years ago.  I have a new alarm clock called “Kids.”

Unfortunately, this new wake-up system came fully equipped with nothing less than a human snooze button.

Babies wake up and go back to sleep, wake up again and go back to sleep.  Toddlers choose to wake mom up whenever the baby is still sleeping.

Now it’s my school children with staggered schedules waking me up in waves as their own alarm clocks go off and they troop down the stairs and into the kitchen for breakfast.

I have early risers and I have night owls who don’t exactly appreciate the need to rise and shine and they all like me to be awake when they are awake.

My sleep patterns are dictated by the sleeping or lack of sleeping of a whole posse of other people.

I know in my heart this truth: I need to bring God right into the beginning of my day.  I need to  start it with prayer before I head out of bed and into  the to-do list.

But while I agree with the ideal, my life feels louder than that so many days.  Crazier than that.  Messier than that.

And yet, I still need His presence.  Maybe because of all the noise and rush, I need His presence even more desperately than someone who can lie in the quiet and calm of a morning and spend a few extra minutes in uninterrupted prayer.

I sure need Jesus to be right here in the middle of my mess.

My days tend to take turns for the unexpected.  The long, extended quiet time that I’ve been planning for days hasn’t happened yet, because the phone rang, and I got a message, and there was a doctor’s appointment (or two) and an after school activity (or ten of them).

But I read what a missionary wrote in his journal long ago:

“Poor and weak though we are, our abode is a very Bethel to our souls, and God we feel and know is here” (Richard Williams).

Bethel.  That means “House of God.”

It’s the place where God’s presence dwells.   That’s where Jacob saw the vision of the stairway connecting heaven and earth and the angels ascending and descending.

I’m reminded, then, that God’s presence right here in the middle of my life makes any situation, any morning, any messy day, any short quiet time in the parked minivan while waiting for my daughters outside of school… a Bethel for my soul.

Because God is here.

I’m still fighting for that extended quiet time.  I know it will happen.

But even on days it doesn’t, I’m learning  to “Do Messy Faith….” to pursue His presence on-the-go instead of waiting until all the circumstances are perfect to meet with Him.  Because if I wait for perfect, then it won’t happen.

So I don’t have an hour to spend in quiet with the Bible.  I have the Bible on my phone and my Kindle.

So I don’t have the luxury of a quiet morning wake-up.  I have a human snooze alarm and I can whisper those prayers in between morning visits from my children.

Dear God, thank You for this day.

Dear God, guide me today.

Dear God, Your will be done, not mine.

Dear God, Please use me today.

Dear God, Please help me.  I can’t do it alone.

Dear Lord, teach me to be the wife and mom you want me to be.

Father, show me how to love as you love.

You have blessed me.  Lord, how can I be a blessing to others?

My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord;
In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up.
Psalm 5:3 NKJV

What prayers do you whisper as you start your day?

5 Prayers Before the School Year Begins

I stood in the line of nervous parents and excited-though-apprehensive elementary school children at Open House last year.  I was praying….a lot.

Sometimes I mess up and treat God like little more than a pagan idol–acting as if maybe if I cross my fingers, rub a rabbit’s foot, do a fancy jig and offer to sacrifice something, He’ll answer my prayers just because He sees how desperate I am.prayersbeforeschool“Oh Jesus, please give me daughter a great teacher this year…..please, please, please, pleeeeeeeeeeaaaaaasssssseeeee.”

Yet, while He loves the sincerity and passion I have for praying for my kids, He knows what they need without me trying to manipulate Him into giving me my way.

And while standing in line at Open House isn’t a bad place to pray, it’s not the only time to pray.

After all, when it was our turn, we stepped up to the table and the principal handed us an index card for each daughter with their room number and teacher’s name for the school year. The decision, however, had been made weeks before.

So, maybe that’s when to start praying?

Or maybe the answer really is that we never stop praying for our kids.

Not ever.

We move from need to need, praying today for today, but also for tomorrow and for five years from now and on into their adult years, their marriages, their careers and ministries.

So, here are five prayers I start praying before the school year begins, long before I step into that line on Open House night and certainly before I kiss my kids on the head, pray for them quickly and watch them step onto the bus on the first day of school.

  1. For the right teacher and classroom:  God, you know my children best.  Yes, you know them even better than I do.  You know exactly what teacher is going to work with their strengths and weaknesses and what teacher will help them reach their potential and be excited about school and learning.  Please give the teachers and administrators wisdom as they place our children into classrooms and help my children be matched with the perfect teacher and the classmates who will be good friends rather than bullies, mean girls, or distractions this year.  Please bless the teacher’s summer, helping it be restful and fun so he or she can start the school year with enthusiasm, excitement and energy!
  2. For safety:  Lord, it’s hard for me to let my children go where I can’t see them or be with them all the time.  I want so much to be there to protect them and guide them, intervene for them, and love them through the hard things.  But, I know You are with them even when I can’t be.  You can care for them better than I can.  Please watch over them with Your providential care and protection.
  3. For their choices:  Father, my children will be making tons of decisions every day.  Please help them to know they can always turn to You for help when they need it and please help them draw on the wisdom from Your Word that we’ve tried to teach them.  Let Your Holy Spirit direct their steps and guide their hearts to do what is right.  Help my children be a witness for You all day, on the playground, in the lunch room, in the classroom and more.
  4. For us as parents: God, we need just as much help as our kids do for this school year.  Help us make wise decisions and know how to mold their character, give advice, when to get involved and when to let our children handle things on their own, and how to train up this child in the way that he or she should go.
  5. For their friendships:  Lord, one of the biggest decisions my kids will make this year is about who to befriend.  Please give them discernment and wisdom to know how to choose good friends, those who will lead them to you, those who will encourage success and help them do the right thing.  When there are children being picked on or ignored, I ask that you will show my child how to give them compassion and to reach out to them in love.  Give my children the strength to lead others to You rather than be led by others away from You.  Please protect them from bullies, mean girls, and bad influences and help them know how to stand up for what is right when necessary.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Originally posted August 2, 2013

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

Dear Daughter: To Lauren

Dear blog friends and followers,

Today’s the day we plan to meet our baby boy for the first time!

So, just a reminder that this week I’ll be posting some  letters to my children here–one for each daughter and then one for my son–and I hope they bless you, too.

Don’t be too impressed that you’re seeing this post on my delivery day.  I’m not live-blogging during a C-section.  No, I’ve written all this in advance and scheduled it for the days I’ll be away.  There, I’ve spilled the secret!

I’d love your prayers today and for the rest of this week!



Dear Lauren,

You taught me that my heart could expand.

Just days before you were born, I panicked, wondering, “What if I can’t do this?  What if I’m Mom enough for this one child, but not two daughters?”

And then you were born, this perfect little round-headed, bright-blue-eyed baby girl.  You captivated my heart and I learned for the first time how God loves us all, not more, not better, but every one of us specially.

We had worried over you for months before we held you in that delivery room.  The doctors and nurses thought you would be too small, maybe you weren’t growing, maybe you were under stress.  We’d been heading to the office for extra tests and extra ultrasounds.

Yet, you were a surprising and unexpected mystery even then. Every guess and estimate about your size was wrong; you were so perfect, and we were so thankful.

We’d been praying for you all those months before you were born and even now we’re still clasping hands together and praying for you.lookingatdad

And, in many ways, you are still a bundle of mystery and surprise. No one has ever described you to me without using the word ‘unique.’

You surely are.

I remember the first time you toddled over to me, transferred “air” into my palm, and told me to eat the food you’d made.  I’d never seen imagination at work that young before.  You were pretending long before  your older sister ever was.

She played with her farm animal toys by lining them all up, sorted and in categories.  You, however, could spend hours on the floor with just a toy horse and a toy farmer, creating intricate scenarios, exchanges, interchanges, and relational situations.  Even now, you can disappear into your room for an entire afternoon and create a story-line to rival the greatest novelists and playwrights.

We secretly watched you as a toddler, making funny faces in the mirror, and you’ve entertained us for years with your mimicry as you copy cartoon voices and foreign accents with ease.  You and your dad can put on quite a show around our dinner table.

God gave you this astonishing mind that remembers everything, orders the world into patterns, soaks in all you see and hear even when we think you aren’t paying attention, and solves the most complicated puzzles without any effort.  Still, you’re never really out to win awards, show off, brag, or gain attention.  What you do is simply because you can, simply for the joy of it.

You teach me how to rest…how to lounge in pajamas or comfy clothes, snuggled into a blanket to enjoy a book or a movie and take time just to breathe, and you remind me of the power of a deep belly laugh, a funny story, or a silly joke.

You aren’t a fan of super-serious conversations, changing the subject if our discussion digs too deep and giggling when I’ve lingered too long on my Mom Soapbox.

But here’s the truth I need you to know…..

You are loved and treasured, you—uniquely you.  Even when we’re instructing or disciplining, guiding or correcting, we love you fully, completely, and passionately just as God has made you.  008 You don’t need to be the same as your sisters; you don’t need to achieve the same things or pursue the same activities.  Lauren, you are loved as you.

You are the boss of your emotions.  They shouldn’t hold you captive, shouldn’t dictate your behavior or your decisions.  Fear especially will destroy your joy in this life; don’t give in to it.  Overcome.  Take charge.  Push yourself to achieve and explore, not without fear, but in spite of fear.

Choose good friends and take the lead when it comes to doing what is right.  Show compassion, generosity, grace, and love for every one you meet, but remember that the very best friends aren’t just fun or funny.  They are the ones who encourage you to do your best, make wise decisions, and be more like Jesus.  Choosing good friends….and one day choosing whom you date and choosing whom you marry….will determine so much of your future.

Discipline trumps talent.  Every time.  No exceptions.  The reason we push and nudge you is because we see your potential.  God has given you astounding gifts and talents, but they will remain useless and undeveloped without self-discipline and determination.

Don’t give up when the work is hard or takes time away from fun.  The best things are worth working hard for; they are worth all the practice, studying, and sacrifice. 

All of those prayers offered for you as two expectant parents worrying over their unborn child continue even now.  As we ask God how to be your mom and dad, we marvel that we’ve been entrusted by Him with the gift of you.  We so quickly bow our heads and pray…

Because we love you…

Because you amaze us….

Because you have so much potential….

Because we want God’s best for you.

Before you were born, your daddy chose these verses to pray as a blessing over you:

The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and faithful in all he does.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them
(Psalm 145:17-19 NIV).

Take this to heart, my Lauren, my daughter.  God is with you always, perpetually near to you, ever faithful and unceasingly gracious.  Remember to turn to Him.



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

5 Prayers for our Schools

It was one of those statements in a sermon that sticks with you forever.

About nine years ago, one of our pastors said, “If when you pray for me all you ask is, ‘God, please bless my pastor,’ then don’t worry about praying for me.”

Not pray for him?  Who, after all, would reject a blessing prayer?

But really, he didn’t mean to reject prayers, just to emphasize the importance of specific prayers for others.prayersforschools

It’s true for husbands, for children, for pastors and other ministry leaders, and for our schools.  If my idea of praying for them is, “God please bless these people today,” then I’m really not requesting much, not petitioning God much on their behalf.

I want to be specific, be particular, praying in faith that God knows best, but laying my requests all out there before His throne.  Not just a “pray-and-run” kind of petition, shooting out a list of people or places to bless in one minute and then rushing on with my day.

I want to get knee-deep involved in intercession like the Levites who prayed for the refugees returning home to Israel to rebuild the Jerusalem walls in the book of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 9).

How to pray then?  What to ask God for?  You might have ideas, too, but here’s a prayer tool to get us started as we begin this school year:

5 Prayers for our Schools

Mondays:  Safety and presence of God:  God, we pray for Your presence in our schools, public, private and home-school settings.  We ask for peace to reign in the hallways, the classrooms, and playgrounds.  Please protect our children and school staff and prevent evil from infiltrating the school grounds.

Tuesday: School administrators and office staff:  Lord, we thank You for the administrators and office staff who keep our schools running smoothly and who are responsible for making decisions both about our children’s education and their safety. We ask that You give them strength and wisdom and help them establish a positive learning environment.  Help them balance the pressures of standardized testing with the goal of encouraging a love of learning.  We pray that they can foster an atmosphere of creativity, passion, and joy among all the educational staff.

Wednesday: Teachers and assistants:  Lord, we pray for the teachers and assistants who are putting long hours in during the early days in the school year. There is so much to get set up, students to assess, routines to establish. Please give them the energy they need and strength for each new day. Help them to know You are with them. Give them wisdom as they get to know each student—reveal strengths and needs, highlight situations that need intervention, show teachers where students deserve encouragement and praise!

Thursday: School nurses and counselors: Lord, we ask that you bless the school nurses as they run their clinics and the counselors working with our kids.  Our nurses not only manage the intricate schedule of medications for our students, but they are also a source of compassion and love every day.  Our counselors need to rightly discern students who need help and intervention and fight against bullying and other problems in our schools.   Give them wisdom, gentleness, and compassion.  Fill them up daily with Your love as they pour so much of themselves out for others.

Friday: Staff (Cafeteria, janitorial, bus drivers and more):  God, there are so many men and women who work in our schools, providing food, transportation and more for our kids.  They are often the ones responsible for keeping our schools healthy and our children safe.  Please give them joy in their work, bless their hands as they serve each day.  Help them know how much we appreciate their efforts on behalf of our kids.

How do you pray for our schools and their staff? 

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

Keep On Keeping On

Lunches packed for the last time. Desks cleared, backpacks cleaned out and stowed away. Field day over.  Class parties celebrated.  Awards ceremony concluded and certificates photographed.  End-of-the-year pictures taken of each daughter and compared to the photos from the first day of the school year.

And now we collapse.  We did it.  Somehow it feels like a joint accomplishment, not just theirs.  Sure, my kids worked hard. So did I.  And somehow, by God’s grace, we made it here to this first day of 006summer vacation.

It’s only taken 15 months of prayer.  I started praying for this school year last March, praying for this teacher, this classroom, these friends, this school, these character issues, and these lessons.

On Monday, a friend and I bowed heads for the last time this school year and we gave thanks.

Thank You, Lord, for answering our pleas for our children.  Thank You for helping them learn, being with them in all of the struggles that have sent these loving (and worried) mamas to their knees.  Thank You for helping them with difficult concepts and friendship drama, bullies and mistakes on tests, report cards and forgetfulness. Thank You for these teachers You chose specially for our kids.

And we began again, just that quickly, one sentence to another, thank God for this year and then praying for next year: for classroom placements and teacher assignments, for the responsibilities of a new grade and for the friendships they’d make.

So it continues.

“Pray without ceasing….” that’s what Paul wrote (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

He meant that living prayer, that breathing in and breathing out of living life alongside God, taking in crises and handing them right on over to the Lord, receiving blessing and offering up spontaneous praise.

It means no more arbitrary separations between the sacred and the secular, between the holy parts of my life where God is welcome and invited and the dusty living rooms of our hearts where we try to hide away the clutter in corners.

Having kids, though, reminds me of this, too:

Prayer is perpetual; it’s insistent and consistent.

And sometimes I’m not.  I’m driven to the throne by need and I’m pouring out pleas of desperation until the need eases a bit.  Or perhaps I just grow weary or fall back into the coziness of complacency and apathy.

I’m not praying so fervently any more. It’s more like unemotional have-to prayers, perhaps performed out of duty, perhaps totally forgotten and not prayed at all.

We pray for that intervention, that salvation, that redemption, that rescue…for us or for another….and then slowly we cease the praying.   We need the reminder to keep on keeping on, to not give up asking God for that healing and to refuse to stop praying for a loved one’s salvation.

With kids, you can’t really forget, not for long.  Time just pushes you right through from prayer need to prayer need.  I’m not even done praying over one school year before I’m on my knees for the next.

I read the Psalms and here is the reminder anew:

“But I keep praying to you, Lord, hoping this time you will show me favor.  In your unfailing love, O God, answer my prayer with your sure salvation” (Psalm 69:13 NLT).

“But I will keep on hoping for your help; I will praise you more and more” (Psalm 71:14 NLT).

“We keep looking to the Lord our God for his mercy, just as servants keep their eyes on their master, as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal” (Psalm 123:2 NLT).

Keep praying….keep hoping….keep looking.005

Keep at it and when He answers, press on in more prayer.

With this fresh resolve, I flip through the pages of the neglected prayer journal.  What did I pray then….and what do I still need to pray now?

What have you neglected in prayer?  What have you given up on and long since stopped asking God for?  Who used to be on your prayer list but somehow slipped off?

It’s discipline to begin again.  And when we cease praying, which feels like the inevitable failing of us forgetful ones, we return again and resolve again to be insistent and consistent in seeking God and hoping in His deliverance.

What have you stopped praying about that you need to pray for again?  What prayers are you already praying for your children’s next school year?

Do you have a prayer journal?  How does it look and how do you use it?

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

Finding God While Folding Clothes

I was crying and laughing at the same time.

All these years, I’ve heard about that, how you’re spilling over with overwhelming emotions and your body just doesn’t know what to do.  Cry out the tears?  Burst out in laughter?

There’s Sarah in the Bible, who waited month after month, year after year, decade after decade for a baby…and then when God said she’d have a son, she laughed.  She just couldn’t hold that in, that joy….that disbelief…that incredulity….that moment of shock when your whole life changes in one second and you’re thrown off balance and grabbing onto a furniture or to an outstretched hand to  steady yourself.

Me?  A son?

Sarah had her moment; I had mine.  Lying there on an exam table while an ultrasound tech rolled a wand expertly over my pregnant self.  She tells me these are kidneys, this is the stomach, there are the chambers of the heart….My baby looks so beautiful and healthy, and I’m already exhaling that big held in breath and each of my muscles slowly relaxes just hearing the good news.

Then she says the words, “It’s a boy.”

This momma to three daughters laughed through tears.  I can’t even remember what I said, but it was something like:  No way!  I can’t even believe it.  Are you sure?  Are you sure your sure?

My husband asks me later if I’m disappointed, but it’s not that.  I’m excited, yes, just still in a bit of shock.

All these years, I’ve become a girl’s mom.  I’ve learned all things girl and prayed over all things girl, read the books and considered the truths about being a mom to girls.

Truth be told, I’m feeling pretty confident most days, not always but often, thinking maybe I’ve gotten the hang of this. Maybe I know what to do.

Bringing up girls is what I do and being a mom to daughters is who I am.

Now I’m reading blog posts and books and listening to podcasts about raising boys.  I’ve watched sons with their moms in the store, in the park, at the school.  I’ve leaned in close and listened to friends and made mental notes about being a mom to boys. 

And I’ve prayed.

Maybe that’s the point.

Nine years ago, pregnant with my very first baby, I thought I’d have all boys and thought I’d be a great boys’ mom.  That was when the news of a daughter first shook apart any foolish confidence I had.

How I had prayed then when God gave me this unexpected gift of three daughters, and my Mom-life still holds together simply because of my worn-out knees from constant prayer.

So here I am now, stumbling down onto my knees again and I’m reminded: I am insufficient.  I don’t know.  I don’t have it all together and I’m not sure how to do this right.

I start by dragging out bag after bag of girls’ clothes from the Rubbermaid containers in the garage and sorting them into piles to give away to friends.004

Then I remember how over the years some people mis-heard the news and thought we were having a son when we were having another girl, so they gave me gifts for boys.  Then there were those who worried that ultrasound techs got things wrong, so they gave me gifts of yellow, green and white just in case.

I pull out the collection I’ve amassed over 9 years of having babies.

And right there God meets me.  Right there as I’m folding these tiny boy’s clothes and watching the pile grow.

I had no idea how long He’d been at work preparing me for a son.  I didn’t realize how much abundance He’d provided unexpectedly and beyond all reason.  Blue outfits, blue t-shirts, little boy washcloths and towels, hats, blankets, mittens, sleepers, and socks: it all piled up on the back of my sofa as I folded the clothes until the piles were about falling over.

God had been at work all along, making room for grace.

I still feel insufficient.  I still feel overwhelmed with all that I don’t know and amazed that He would trust this gift to me when I feel so incapable.

Paul said it, though:

He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

This grace of God’s is sufficient.

But we don’t realize it, don’t rely on that, don’t allow Him to be fully sufficient until we realize just how insufficient we are.   The more we are driven to our knees by our unworthiness, the more we declare Him worthy of all praise.

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

After the Parade Passes By

Yesterday, they formed a parade in my honor.

I heard the commotion outside the bathroom door as I finished brushing my teeth on the morning of Mother’s Day.

At the sound of the whispering and shuffling, I opened the door to find three daughters and one husband singing, “Happy Mother’s Day to you…” their own take on the familiar birthday tune.

My youngest waved two hand-made flags, my oldest led the singing with her present in hand, my middle girl smiled in her Groucho Marx funny glasses.  They had as021signed my husband a triangle and given him handwritten sheet music so he knew when to play his notes.

Happy Mother’s Day to you. (tap, tap)

Happy Mother’s Day to you. (tap, tap)

Happy Mother’s Day, dear Mommy. (tap, tap)

Happy Mother’s Day to you. (tap, tap, tap)

They labored with love and presented handmade gifts, so thoughtful and sweet, and they were so proud of their offerings.  More than just handwritten notes, they had created dot-to-dot puzzles and coloring sheets for me with hidden messages.

All day my daughters fussed at me for pouring the cereal, clearing the table, or buckling my youngest girl’s seatbelt.

You shouldn’t have to do anything today, Mom.  That’s what my middle girl assured me.

Mother’s Day, all that recognition and thanks, all those assurances that the daily grind that has ground you right down is noticed and worth it and they appreciate it after all and maybe all those times you felt invisible someone actually saw you, that’s such a beautiful gift to a woman.  It fills her soul right up so that she’s able to pour out more.

Parades, though, all have endings.  A final float, the Santa sleigh or the police escort brings up the rear and everyone packs up their lawn chairs and bags of candy and treks back to their cars.

And we wake up the day after Mother’s Day and love without the flags and songs.

The phone is ringing, the laundry spinning, the dishwasher humming, and I’m running through the to-do list today.

But it’s when I scrub the toilet, of all things, that I remember as I grumble a little with that silent whine that no one else knows about except God.

How it must sadden Him so, how disappointed He must be by my heart’s ugly attitude as I serve, as I wash feet without joy and give without cheerfulness of heart.

There I scrub, bleach poured out and I’m working fast just to get it all done, when I remember—yesterday, they made a parade for me.

These gifts of God, my family so precious, those I watched last night after they were in deep sleep, breathing slow, hair tangled all over pillows, fleece blankets wrapped tight like cocoons around them.  I remember that I had prayed such deep thanks for these blessings.

And I felt so overwhelmed by that grace we can’t ever understand, how God trusted me with these daughters and the love of this husband.  This is the great privilege and highest honor.

Serving with joy, that’s my heart bent deep in gratitude to God.

It all feels easier for a while because I remember.  The laundry and the toilets and scrubbing the toothpaste off that sink: this isn’t mundane and annoying.  It’s the blessing and the gift.

But the challenge is here: How to remember the parade a week from now, a month, this time next year?  It’s always in those moments after the high of a mountaintop that we can crash right down the hardest because we have the farthest to fall.

Like Elijah, sitting on that mountain all alone after defeating 450 prophets of Baal in a spiritual showdown with supernatural fire.  It was after the victory that he ran away in fear.  After all that boldness, there was terror and loneliness and suicidal despair.

How could he forget, I wonder?

Maybe he hadn’t learned to live without the parade.

Sometimes God speaks in the whirlwind, the earthquake and the fire.  Sometimes it’s grand and showy.

But not always.

Oh no, sometimes it’s that “still small voice” and this we forget in the days long after the Mother’s Day parade when we’ve started to feel a little overlooked and invisible again.  We forget how to see God in the quiet and the everyday.

Zechariah 4:10 asks: “Who dares despise the day of small things?”

The small things, the quiet ways, the stillness, the everyday, the service without parades, the scrubbing down bathrooms without whining….that’s where we can find beauty, where we hear God, where our worship brings Him joy.

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 Prayer for When You Just Don’t Know

Years ago, a mom-friend of mine flopped onto the big blue couch in my living room and confessed, “I feel like all I do all day is tell my kids what to do and how to do it.”

I nodded my head knowingly and sympathetically and absolutely had no idea what she was talking about.  At the time, I had a baby less than a year old.  Our conversations usually went like this, “Momma loves you.  You’re so sweet.  Where’s your nose?  Oh, you’re so smart.”

And then she’d respond with, “Mama” or something else equally superior and I’d just know we had connected and that she was a genius bound for great things.

But now I’m older and my kids are older.  One day at dinner I remembered the words of that mom and realized that she could be describing my life.

Wash your hands before you eat.  Use soap!  Sit like a lady.  Talk like a lady.  Eat like a lady.  Chew with your mouth closed.  Use a napkin.  Don’t spill your milk.  Clean up the milk you spilled.  Clear your place when you’re done eating.

Brush your teeth.  Up and down.  Front to back.  Don’t forget your tongue.  Brush every single tooth.  Don’t leave globs of toothpaste in the sink, on the wall, or on the floor.  Hang up wet towels.

Don’t hit your sister.  Don’t yell at your sister.  Don’t manipulate your sister.  Don’t push your sister. Don’t boss your sister.  Don’t roll your eyes at your sister.  Don’t tattle on your sister.

Do your homework . . . neatly.  Take pride in your work.  Practice the piano.  Study your memory verses.  Put your shoes away—shoes and socks do not live in the middle of the kitchen floor.

At times it feels like we’re prepping kids for the standardized tests of life and that means covering table manners, relationship skills, character issues, faith lessons, and more.

This isn’t just about the Mom-life.  Teachers, church leaders, aunts, grandmas, big sisters, small group leaders and more all have speeches we’ve mastered and a curriculum to cover.

But what if we miss something?  What if there’s a question we don’t know how to answer?  What if we get it wrong and miss out on cultivating one of their gifts or fail to correct a character weakness?

Oh, how I have collapsed onto my knees under this responsibility in the past and now again for one of my daughters.

Because I just don’t know.

I don’t know what to say and when to say it and when to hold my tongue.  When do I punish, let it go, reward?

Samson’s parents prayed the same prayers I’ve been groaning out in confused desperation.

In Judges 13, an angel of the Lord appeared to the wife of a man named Manoah to announce that she’d no longer be childless.  She would have a son and he would be set apart for God from the very beginning as a Nazirite—no alcohol, no cutting his hair, nothing unclean.

God had a plan for Samson: “He shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines” (Judges 13:5).

What a promise, and yet how overwhelming for two first-time parents to wonder: “What if I mess this up?”prayer Bible

So, Manoah “prayed to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord, please let the man of God whom you sent come again to us and teach us what we are to do with the child who will be born’” (Judges 13:8 ESV).

Yes, this is how my prayer crams into words:  “Teach me what to do because You know and I just do not.  I could read every parenting book and follow every tip and strategy in every parenting magazine and every idea on every awesome mom-blog and still get this so terribly wrong.”

God answered Manoah’s prayer, returning to visit with this young mom and dad and instruct them on the Care and Keeping of Samson.

So, I pray with the deepest confession of weakness and need, “God, I’m clueless.  I don’t know where to begin.  I don’t know how to get it all done.  I don’t know where to go or how to make this happen.  Please teach me.”

And when we come to Him, all overwhelmed and fully aware of our own insufficiency and weakness, He answers. He sees that purity of our heart’s request: Our deep desire to steward these gifts He’s placed in our hands, the way we’re not flippantly shuffling through every day with inattention and unconcern.

Our God:

leads the humble in what is right and teaches them His way (Psalm 25:9 HCSB). 

Yes, He has:

heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their hearts. You will listen carefully (Psalm 10:17, HCSB).

On days when we’re clueless, moments when we just don’t know, this is the promise we need.

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