The Great Human Struggle Right There in the Middle of the Kitchen

He freezes in the kitchen with one hand hanging mid-air.

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Picture courtesy of Steve Janacek, PicJumbo

He was headed into “The Forbidden Territory”—AKA the laundry room—just as fast as he could crawl when he heard me say, “No.”

And this tiny baby boy engaged in the great human struggle right there in the middle of my kitchen floor.

Do I do what I want to do?  Even if I know it’s wrong?  Even if mom says, ‘no?’

Or do I obey and turn to enjoy something else, something approved and acceptable?

He tilts his head up so he can see me, still sticking his hand right out into the air, paralyzed as he decides where to slap that hand down on the linoleum floor.  Place the hand here to move forward to the “No Zone of the laundry room.”  Place the hand there to turn and obey.

His muscles actually twitch under the strain of the decision.  He grunts and growls.  He looks at me with the brightest blue eyes all filled to the brim with tears.

Because he wants what he wants.

And yet, still crying, still upset, still disappointed, slowly he lowers that hand down and shifts his body.

He turns.

He crawls full speed ahead to my legs and throws himself at me.

Sometimes obedience is hard.  So I reward him with cheers and kisses on his cheeks and an elaborate hug.

He’s not even old enough for me to lay it all out for him all psychological and explanatory.  How sometimes Mom says ‘no’ because she loves you and she doesn’t want you to end up in the laundry room with a mouthful of cat poop because you found the litter box.

How sometimes the things we think we want the very most are the very worst for us.

So, it’s my Mom-job to tell him “no,” not to be mean or arbitrary, but for protection and because I have something better in mind than cat litter (promise!).

Does God give whisper this to us also?

Dearest One, I love you.  I know that your heart is hurting because I’ve said, “no,” but please trust me and trust my heart for you.  I’m not out to harm you or withhold blessings or good things from you.  I’m here to protect you.  Wait for the moment when I say, “Yes” and it’s perfect.  It’s worth waiting for.  Love, Abba

The Psalmist said it:

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
  Psalm 84:11 ESV

He is our light.  He is our protection.  And He doesn’t withhold good things for us.

But we have to let Him define what is ‘good.’

Paul pursued what seemed like a noble Gospel-sharing goal—to preach in Asia–and yet, the Holy Spirit stopped him with a clear, ‘no.’

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. (Acts 16:6-7 NIV).

It’s a ‘no’ that doesn’t seem to make a bit of sense.  Surely Paul’s itinerary seemed ‘good.’

Yet, even when it seems hopeless and crazy, utterly insane, or like all the doors are closed and everything is over and you should just give up already and go home, if God tells you ‘no’ and asks you to wait….then wait.  If He asks you to turn, then turn.

Linda Evans Shepherd in The Stress Cure writes:

Living in God’s will means always saying yes to God (p. 138).

You want me to stop?  Yes, Lord.
You want me to wait?  Yes, Lord.
You want me to change direction?  Yes, Lord.

That’s what He did for Paul.  He redirected Paul’s steps to Macedonia and to a Gospel mission to Europe:

 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them (Acts 16:9-10).

Maybe I would have pushed and shoved right out of God’s presence and His will and right on into Asia.

Yet, Paul turned.  He accepted the ‘no’ and said ‘yes’ to God’s mission and agenda instead of his own seemingly noble one.

Do I want what I want?  Even if I know it’s wrong?  Even if God says no?

Or do I want to be where God is, satisfied and content in His presence and trusting in His love?

May we always choose the “yes” of His presence.

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 Learn When to Say, ‘Yes?’

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

It’s 3:00 AM, Give or Take An Hour

It’s 3:00 a.m., give or take an hour.  I didn’t look at the clock when I heard my baby’s cry in the night.

When I slip into the room, I hear him sniffling through his stuffy nose.  He’s been up several times already tonight.  After this, he’ll probably continue to wake every hour or so until morning.

His cry is weary and sad, like he’s asking me to fix what I’m unable to heal.  Like he doesn’t understand why he feels so rotten.  Like he’s apologizing for waking me up yet again.

He scrambles to sit up.  Then he tucks himself into my chest and his head drops down ever-so-slowly onto my shoulders.ortbergquote

I feel his breathing ease into that slow rhythm of rest.  His body radiates warmth and I gently stroke my hand across his forehead and feel the slight fever.

He has this fine, blond dusting of hair on his head.  I comb it down with my fingers, slow….gentle….the lightest touch.

He’s asleep.

With four sick kids, I’ve been up about 4 times already that night.  I know my future, no crystal ball needed.  I’ll likely be up every hour from now until sunshine and the rush of the day begins.

So, the practical side of me knows I need to ease that baby boy back into the crib and slip out of the room again.

Get as much sleep as you can, ’cause, girl, you’re going to need it.

The practical side of me is so smart.

But this baby boy snuggles into me and makes this busy, rushing, speedster of a momma pause, rest, breathe in and out and really listen to the rhythm of breath and the rhythm of life.

Usually, he’s on-the-go (like me).  I try to cuddle him, and he pushes away to pester the cat or crawl after his older sisters or grab at the TV remote, cell phone, or Kindle or whatever catches his attention, which is pretty much anything and pretty much all the time.

I almost never get to hug him.

When he starts walking, what then?

When he’s off to school….off to driving…off to life?  What then?

Better to sit right here in the black of 3:00 a.m. (give or take an hour) and hold my son just a few moments longer.

I think of what I’d been reading that day in Pathway to Purpose by Katie Brazelton.  How she said,

“I now know that the most important stuff that happens in life is often challenging, rarely exhilarating, and frequently frightening.”

and this:

“It is not God’s plan for you to spend today chasing after your future one thing when your many things are right in front of you.”

Surely in this moment, this is the most important thing.

We sure can get caught up in searching from some grand revelation of God’s great plan for our lives.  We want to know His will for us, His purposes for us, how He’s going to use us, not just today but long into the future.

Yet, here in the night, sleep-deprived, zombie-brained momma that I am, I feel that God sees me cuddling a sick child.

I think how too often we miss this truth:

God’s great purpose for us is to serve Him humbly, sacrificially and obediently in the here and now of life.

We don’t have to search beyond that.

I think of Lydia:

 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us. (Acts 16:13-15 NIV).

Lydia was the first European Christian convert recorded in Scripture, a woman who accepts Christ, shares it with her family, and offers Paul a place to stay while he shares the gospel.

But it began because she said “yes” to God in the ordinary.pathwaytopurpose

“Yes,” to showing up to work.

“Yes” to listening to a missionary.

“Yes” to responding to the gospel.

“Yes” to sharing it with her family.

“Yes” to opening her home as a missions base and church.

Maybe this month, as I’m learning when to say ‘Yes,’ it’s less about joining programs, committees, and ministries, and more about starting with simple obedience and faithful service day after day.

Looking for purpose?  Looking for God’s plan?

Look to today.

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 Learn When to Say, ‘Yes?’

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

 

Would You Like Some Peas With Your Worcestershire Sauce (And Other Quirky Eating Habits)

Peas were my dad’s favorite vegetable.  This is funny to me because when he ate them, he drowned them in Worcestershire sauce.

So, I wonder.

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Photo by Wacharaphong Sakoolwongveroj; 123rf.com

Did he really like peas?

Or did he like Worcestershire sauce?

We have our own familial mealtime quirks.

I eat a little of everything, some of this and some of that until it’s all gone.

My husband eats every last bite of vegetable first.  Because he hates vegetables.  And if you eat them first, you can cover over the taste with other, more palatable foods.  Like meat.

When I set the table for dinner, I routinely place a bottle of steak sauce next to my oldest daughter’s place.  She pours it on any food containing cheese.

I like cheese.

She doesn’t.

So, we compromise.  I cook dinners with cheese.  She creates a steak sauce puddle on her plate and eats without complaining.

My middle daughter is what scientific experts would call “a picky eater.”  She refuses to eat most foods, especially potatoes.  When I get all brave and try out a new recipe, I’m sure to hear from the complaints department, namely her.

“I don’t like this.”

“How do you know if you’ve never tasted it before?”

“I have tasted it” (she licks a speck of sauce off of her fork) “and I don’t like it.”

Alrighty then.

Then there is my baby girl.  I serve up a new recipe and say, “Taste this, babe, you’re going to like it.”

So, she tastes and most of the time, she swings her ponytail around and grins at me: “You’re right!  This is the best day ever.  This is too much deliciousness.”

Sigh.  I’m so thankful for her.

And I learn from her.

The Psalmist said,

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him (Ps. 34:8).

I think of my girl, willing to taste, and when she discovers goodness, she devours it and maybe even asks for more.

Because what good is goodness if we’re satisfied with just a taste?

How often are we unwilling to even take the taste-test challenge?  Too busy, too frantic, too frazzled, too scheduled, too independent, too hardhearted, too hardheaded…maybe it’s one of those or maybe it’s all of them, but we don’t even try.

Or maybe we taste, but after we experience God’s sweet goodness, we walk away?  We think, “That’s great and that’s enough.  It sure was good.  Maybe I’ll order that some day.”

Sometimes we’re too easily satisfied by things that don’t satisfy.

In Psalm 119, David tells us:

My soul faints with longing for your salvation,
but I have put my hope in your word (Psalm 119:81 NIV).

This is the holy hunger.

The more you eat of God’s Word, the hungrier you are for God’s Word.

When we come absolutely famished and starving into His Presence, He fills us up with Good.  All the junk we’ve been tossing down our throats in order to satisfy our souls now tastes like cardboard.

In my year of Pursuing the Presence of Christ, I learned how to say, ‘no’ last month.  This month, I’m Learning When To Say, “Yes.”

I’ve found that after saying, ‘no,’ I’ve gained a more discerning palate.

People keep asking me now that the school year has started, “What are you going to do with yourself?”

I wonder if they think I’m lounging around my house watching soap operas…..but after a week, I still haven’t found a spare moment for lounging.

Last year was frantic.  I held on tight to the reins of our home and our schedule.  I survived.

Somehow I practiced the spiritual disciplines in the midst of that.  I read the Bible through in a year, finished my Bible studies, and read my devotionals in the minivan, outside the ballet studio and in between play rehearsals and church activities.

Now, in this first week of quiet after all that noise, I found I’m starving for the Word of God, hungry for more than checking off my Bible reading plan, turning the pages of the devotional, or filling in blanks in the Bible study.

What is my first “yes” this month?  It’s not a program or an activity or a project.

It’s feeding my undernourished Spirit with my first chance to sit quiet and unrushed at His feet in far too long.

I have tasted the goodness of God.  Now I intend to clean my plate and maybe even lick off all the crumbs and drips of sauce when I’m done and ask for seconds.

I’m the sheep who has traveled through the wilderness and finally been placed in those green pastures.

Are you weary?  Rushed?  Downtrodden?  Hopeless?  Worn?  Discouraged?  Apathetic?

Come hungry to the Word of God.  Taste….feast…..and find the goodness of the Lord.

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 Learn When to Say, ‘Yes?’

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