When You’ve Become the Diaper

I’d been a mom for just under two years when I got pooped on for the first time.

It turns out new babies can’t quite tell when the diaper is on and when Momma has removed it for bath time.

This is one of those things you just never anticipate happening to you.   You go to college, study hard, earn a degree in British Literature.  Go back to school and earn a Master’s degree in Educational Administration.  Teach highly intelligent senior high students Advanced Placement English classes.

Then two years later you’re cleaning yourself up after being mistaken for a diaper.

Every mom has Kodak moments of familial perfection.  For a few minutes, it’s domestic tranquility.  Kids are healthy.  They used their manners at the dinner table.  The homework is done.  The laundry is put away.  You cooked a delicious and healthy dinner in your Crock Pot, made homemade bread, and no one complained about it at the dinner table.  Your chore chart and behavior reward system are working.

You are, in fact, Super Mom.  You are June Cleaver, Betty Crocker, and even maybe Mr. Clean in one grand super hero package.

Until noses start running and children start fighting when you have a headache.  A stomach virus shoots through your family.  You realize that “dressing up” now means wearing the jeans without the worn knees and Sharpie stains from your child’s experiments with permanent marker.

Are you less of a Super Mom now?

Partway through last week when the stomach virus hit my home, the cleaning up of bodily fluids was beginning to wear me down.  It was like being pooped on . . . all day . . . every day.

I needed a good cry, a scented bubble bath, a cup of hot tea, some rich chocolate—maybe hot fudge on an ice cream sundae, a hair cut, some time to myself, someone to tell me I looked beautiful even on a day it couldn’t possibly be true because of the aforementioned bodily fluid clean-up.

Without any of those indulgences readily at my disposal, I prayed the only prayer I was feeling at the moment, “Can you help a girl out, God?  It’s pretty hard to feel like the yucky humiliation and selflessness of this job has any eternal significance.  Do you even know what it’s like to put other people first all the time?”

I forgot who I was talking to.

Oh, sure, Jesus was the Savior of mankind.  He had the power of divinity at His fingertips.  He could multiply the bread instead of having to kneed it by hand and let it rise on the stove.  He could command the fish into the nets instead of pushing a cart around Wal-Mart with a shopping list, a budget, coupons, and a toddler.

And yet.

When we over-romanticize the life of our Savior, we forget the utter humility and selflessness of Jesus, who:

“though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” Philippians 2:5-8 (ESV).

Jesus emptied Himself for us.  He took the form of a servant for our sake.  Stepping down from a heavenly throne, for a little while He “was made lower than the angels” all because He loved us (Hebrews 2:9).

The writer of Hebrews emphasizes that Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t just that He died on the cross for us—although that is more than enough.  The sacrifice began the moment He confined Himself to flesh and submitted Himself to a life of hunger, fatigue, and pain.

He suffered in this way so that He could understand our suffering:

“Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted”  (Hebrews 2:14-18, ESV).

and

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15, ESV).

Jesus sympathizes with us on our hardest days.  He loves on us and showers mercy down on our lives when He sees how we struggle.  Christ bends Himself low to wash our feet and heal our hurts.

This is never more true than when we’re covered in mess because we’ve been serving someone else.  Before Paul writes in Philippians 2 about Jesus’ humility even to the point of death, he first challenges us to “have this mind among yourself which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

We are supposed to humble ourselves in the same way Christ did.

This, to me, means that the most beautiful moments of my motherhood to God aren’t the ones when the family is clean, happy, eating my perfect food, at peace with one another and I look like a fashion model.

Instead, it’s when I’m serving even though I’m tired or sick myself.  It’s getting up early even when you were up in the middle of the night.  It’s cleaning up messes and assuring sick children that it’s all okay.

This isn’t just for moms either.  God has called us all to a ministry of self-emptying, of inconvenience and mess, so that we can share His love with others.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com 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

A Giveaway and a Trophy!

Giveaway!

I promised in my weekend post that we’d celebrate reaching the 100th entry in this devotional blog and we’ll hit the big 100 on Friday!  Thanks so much to you for traveling on this journey with me.  I pray for you–even if I don’t know who you are or what you’re going through.  God knows all these things and I ask for His hand of blessing on you as you seek Him.

On to the giveaway!  I’m just over a month away from traveling to the Women of Faith conference in Washington, DC, so I’m going to give away some Women of Faith goodies.

The prizes:  The first person whose number is drawn will receive a brand new copy of Sheila Walsh’s book, Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God.

I’m also giving away two brand new Women of Faith Worship CDs including songs they’ll be singing at this year’s conference.  These will go to the second and third numbers drawn.

To Enter:

Post a comment anywhere on this web site starting today and ending at midnight on Sunday, July 17th.  I’ll use random.org to randomly select the winners and I’ll announce their names in Monday’s post.

Today’s Devotional: Do I Get A Trophy?

The kids piled onto the stage for the practice before the big program.  At first, I arranged them like carefully planned chess pieces—tallest in the back, little ones up front.  Brothers not next to other brothers for fear of poking and other tomfoolery.  Eventually, though, the kids just kept coming and shifting around and they ended up in no particular order.

However it happened, in the very middle of the stage in the very front row was the most precious little boy you could imagine.  He sang.  With all his might, he sang.  You could hear his voice in any place in the sanctuary and those passing by the closed doors could hear him singing down the hall.  His sister poked him during each song and whispered to him, “Don’t be so loud!” Those watching us practice from the pews couldn’t help but smile as he made a “joyful noise.”

Then, the practice done, each child climbed down the steps of the stage and filed into the back room to wait for the actual program.  Except for this one singing boy.

He took hold of my hands and asked, “Ms. Heather, did I do a good job?”
“Oh, you did a great job. I love how you sang with all your heart.”
“So, do I get a trophy?”
“Well, I don’t have trophies, but I have candy!”

He seemed happy with the alternative and ran off with the other kids.

We Don’t Serve To Earn a Trophy

For most of the truly important things in life, we don’t get trophies.  Coaches hand them out for playing on a soccer team, but no woman polishes the brass trophy on her shelf for enduring labor and having a baby.  There’s no “stayed up all night with vomiting children” trophy.  No trophy for “visiting the nursing home without anyone else knowing you did it.”  No plaque for “spent hours on knees praying for wayward child.”

We don’t serve for awards that will hang on our wall or adorn our bookshelves.  Other than an occasional mug from our kids saying, “World’s best mom,” we go through our everyday acts of ministry without recognition.

Sometimes our motives twist and need readjusting.  Deep in our heart, we occasionally slip into acting out of a desire to be seen, noticed and praised.  Or we take on a task because it feels good to be needed and asked.  We fear that no one else could possibly do it, so we sign on the dotted line.

When others are looking, we sometimes put on the voice and physical appearance of “Super Christian,” and then snap at our family, grumble and complain, and gossip about others as we sink into the seats of our cars and drive from church to home.

Then there are those moments when we shove the dishes into the dishwasher and slam the pot down on the counter wishing that someone would recognize what we do.  It may not be Nobel prize worthy, but this is our life’s service we’re talking about!  This is self-sacrificing.  This is humbling.  This is always putting others first!

It’s not always articulated in our heart and mind that way. It’s not something we always admit or even recognize.  But our motives are distorted and we’ve begun to serve for trophies–polished brass rewards of attention, praise, personal pride and recognition from others.

Jesus warned: “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:1).

We shouldn’t serve in any capacity to get a trophy.  If we do, we’re forfeiting heavenly reward, trading eternal glory for a temporary self-esteem boost.

But We Serve As If God Was Handing Out Trophies

Here’s the challenge, though.  With pure motives and sometimes hidden service, without seeking praise and recognition, we can still serve with all our heart as if we would get a trophy.

We don’t seek the prize, but we strive with all our might to be worthy of it.  Because even when we are invisible to everyone else, God sees us.

He sees you.  All of your effort, your service, your laying down of self, your sacrificial giving, your stepping out in faith, your steady faithfulness, your lack of sleep, your soul emptied out.

Just like my singing friend.  Fully knowing that he wouldn’t get a trophy, he still sang loudly and enthusiastically during the program.  He gave his best effort anyway and I’m positive that God was beaming at every word he sang.  God didn’t miss a single second of his heartfelt praise.

In the same way, we worship wholeheartedly, we serve menially, we act selflessly not for our own glory, but for the glory of God.

We pick up toys for the “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”  We work at our jobs not so we receive promotions, but so that our “light (will) shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).  We walk away from gossip.  We take a meal to the family who needs it.  We write the note of encouragement.  We pray for our friend.  We teach the Sunday School class year after year after year.  We rock the baby.

Because God sees and cares.

We sing with all our hearts not because some human being is going to hand us a physical trophy, but we’re singing for God, so that He will be pleased.  This is our worship, the offering we place before Him.  When we grow weary or frustrated, feeling annoyed or walked all over, pouring out our very soul for the sake of others, we do not give up and go through halfhearted motions of service.  Our motivation remains the same, to serve God, to bring Him glory, to give Him praise.

Because even when no one else notices, we know that God sees.

We remember what Paul wrote:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

and

So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith (Galatians 6:9-10 MSG).

For those who feel invisible at times, here’s a video from Nicole Johnson on The Invisible Woman.  I hope you are blessed by it as much as I was:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com 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 © 2011 Heather King

The Giving of Courage

 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing,
but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 20:24-25 

My sweet baby girl is my cheerleader.  I finish putting the clothes in the dryer and she claps her hands excitedly for me.  I change her diaper; she shouts yay!  yay!  and applauds with enthusiasm.   I drop the last of her toys into the basket and she does a happy dance and showers me with praise.  When I slide the last puzzle piece into place with her, she cheers and shouts.  If you spent the tiniest bit of time in my home, you’d think I won an Olympic medal every hour all day long because my “crowd goes wild” just that often.  My little crowd of one tiny, joyful cheerleader.

Has someone been a cheerleader for you before? 

You sit tired in the pew at church after the rush of Sunday morning preparation, but you made it and all your children sit next to you with clean clothes on.  Small victories.  Then a comforting hand reaches across your shoulder and a friend tells you, “Great job.  You’re such a great mom.”

You push your cart through the grocery store and try to efficiently and frugally shop all while monitoring the arms and legs of your various  kids and periodically reminding them to use “inside voices,” when an unknown woman whispers to you, “Your children are so well-behaved.”

You pour yourself out into the ministry you know God has called you to and yet there are those moments and days when you wonder if it really matters, if it does any good, if anybody is blessed by it, if it’s worth the time and effort you spend on it.  Then, you sort through the bills after collecting your mail and find buried in there a card from a friend, a note of appreciation and thanks, a prayer, a verse.

You’ve been struggling.  Life is hard.  You don’t know what decisions to make.  You’re hurting and overwhelmed.  Then an email arrives and a friend says, “I’m praying for you.”

God uses others to bring us these messages of hope and encouragement at just the right moments in our lives, filling needs we can’t even always identify. It’s one of the reasons He designed us to travel together—He knows our hearts sometimes need this cheerleading from others.  When we stray from the group, when we go off on our own and try to live faith solo, we are easy prey for attack.  The Israelites learned this on their journey out of Egypt: “Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt.  When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and attacked all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God” (Deuteronomy 25:17-18, NIV).

If your heart is weary and in need of some encouragement today, look to your right and your left for your group; be sure that you are connected and not lagging behind.  Perhaps the first step needs to come from you in a search for the Christian community that will walk alongside you and encourage you along the journey to the Promised Land.

But you can also ask God for the refreshing your heart needs.  He knows exactly what will fill your spirit, giving you strength to overcome fatigue, guidance when you need direction, laughter when your heart lacks joy.  As the Israelites journeyed in the wilderness, God led them to an oasis: “They came to Elim where there were twelve springs of water and seventy date palms, and they camped there beside the waters” (Exodus 15:27).    Priscilla Shirer writes: “‘Twelve springs of water’ to match the twelve tribes of Israel.  What a great illustration of God’s overwhelming care and specific concern for His people.  He knows exactly what it takes to refresh you.”

He is the shepherd who knows His sheep.  “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,  he refreshes my soul” (Psalm 23:2-3).  Sometimes we sheep feel the hunger and thirst; we know we are empty and in need of filling, but we depend on a Shepherd to guide us to the perfect place for refreshing and provision.

And when He has led us beside the waters so perfect and the green pastures so filling, we have a testimony to share with others, a story to help them along the way as well.  Like the Psalmist, we declare:

“Return to your rest, my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.
For you, LORD, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living” (Psalm 116:7-8).

We who have received encouragement, in turn encourage others through our testimony.  This encouraging truly is the giving of courage, placing it into the heart of another.  Isn’t that what this cheerleading does? It renews our strength so that we persevere and press on.  God asks us to do this for one another, to stand on the sidelines of a race and cheer, shout, and applaud for the runners: Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV).

How can you be a cheerleader for someone else today?

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com 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 © 2011 Heather King

What Does the Lord Require?

A few weeks ago, my husband had a day off work.  So, as a treat for me, he drove my older girls to school and picked them up when it was done.   When he arrived home at the end of their day, he asked me, “Do you realize you spend 1-1/2 hours of your day driving to school, waiting in line, driving home and then doing it all over again?”

Do I realize?  Oh yeah, do I ever!

There are parts of my every day that seem unimportant and yet time-intensive, of little value and yet essential for life, easily overlooked and yet totally overwhelming if left undone.

Like  doing dishes.  I washed every dish this morning and stood back to admire my empty sink and clean counters.  Then, I fed my children breakfast and lunch and baked some goodies for Bible Study.  I had happy children, hopefully happy ladies at Bible Study, and full sinks.

Sigh.

Last night I washed every piece of clothing, towel and bedding that exists in my home and placed them all neatly washed, dried and folded into everyone’s drawers.  But today, because we are not nudists, we put on new clothes that will need to be washed—-again.

Sigh.

I’m a task-oriented, to-do list making, productivity kind of person.  If I realize I’m not accomplishing enough of the items on my to-do list, I just add in the things I’ve done that weren’t on the list.  So what if I didn’t get around to scheduling that appointment.  I did do laundry, make lunches, exercise and answer emails.  Check, check, check, and check.  It makes all these little things seem more important somehow when they appear on my official list with a check mark next to them.

All of these daily tasks are totally essential to life.  They are acts of service for my family, who I love, and the opportunity for me to pour myself out to them every day, hopefully reflecting Christ in my humility and selflessness.

Or they are a reason to whine and complain and feel pretty unimportant in this world.MIaca

It just depends on my focus and my attitude.  Even the daily can become worship if I’m doing it for God.

Sometimes I watch my favorite Christian teachers speak to arenas full of women and read the bestselling books of my favorite authors and feel like my everyday acts of service seem unimpressive.  So, I washed dishes.  These ladies ministered to 10,000 people at one sitting.  I drove my kids to school.  That person spent 6 months in Asia helping orphans.

In Micah 6:6-8, the prophet writes:

With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

God doesn’t overlook our everyday.  He sees us at work when we do our best, not for earthly glory, but because we want to please Him.  He sees us at home as we make meals, place Band-Aids on scratches, and help with homework.  He sees us when we visit the nursing home even though it isn’t an “official” ministry in the church.  All of these are ways to “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

And that is what He is asking us to do.  He isn’t look for elaborate offerings of fame and worldly success.  He is looking for cheerful obedience to serve where He has called us to serve at this moment in our lives.

The Bible is filled with the stories of prophets, kings, apostles, and angels, but in one brief moment in the Bible, we get a glimpse of a simple woman serving Christ in practical and essential ways.   Luke 8:1-3 says:

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out;  Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means (NIV).

If you blinked while you read that, you might have missed her–Susanna, one of the women who helped support Jesus and his followers as they traveled all over preaching the gospel.  Was her ministry high profile?  Not at all.  Was she personally impacting the massive crowds that gathered around Jesus?  It’s unlikely they knew she existed.

Yet, she kept on ministering to those practical, oh-so-essential needs of her Savior.  It must have been hard work and often overlooked.  She may at times have struggled with being the one washing dishes while the disciples prayed with people in the crowd.  But she didn’t give up.  She just kept on serving.  It was an act of worship, this daily ministry of life and it is the same for us in our homes, in our churches, in our communities and at our jobs.

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com 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 © 2011 Heather King