That Time I Did Spontaneous

mark 14I did spontaneous.

This miracle happened right here two weeks ago. Yes, this Planning-Mom-Extraordinaire did spontaneous.

My son woke up from his afternoon nap and I loaded my kids into the minivan for a trip to the beach.  The library’s summer reading program is hosting a ‘drum circle’ every Wednesday evening along the beachfront.

So, we went.

They had drums of every size and variety, egg shakers and rain sticks, tambourines, maracas and more.  My son claimed the upside down 5-gallon bucket that he could beat on with a drum stick.

We played music.  My kids climbed on the playground.  We explored the library truck and found the exact book we’d been looking for since summer began.

Spontaneous trip success.

Then we headed on to our evening activities at church, driving through the KFC to grab a quick dinner first.

Now, I have yet to master the drive-thru ordering at KFC.  The options seem endless and I’m an overwhelmed soul feeling rushed by the mystery voice on the other side of the order screen.  “Hi!  May I take your order?'”


I squint my eyes because they have all these meals with chicken and biscuits and sides and half gallons of lemonade and who knows what else and I can’t see the tiny little print underneath all of that.  I want chicken. I just want a bunch of pieces of chicken to feed all the people in my family.

Try ordering that through the little noise box, though.

Finally, I collect myself enough to order food, but I realize as they hand it out the window that I forgot to order a large lemonade for my kids to share.

Still, I had taken them to the beach.

I had let them play on the playground.

I had ordered them food from a drive-thru.

Surely, I still had some claim to supermom status.  I had Caprisuns and cold water.  Would that do?

No.  Not hardly.

A child (who shall remain nameless) could not get over the fact that I hadn’t ordered a drink.

Could. Not.

She glared.  She huffed.  She whined and complained and confronted me with my oversight.

Nothing makes you feel like a Mom-failure so much as an ungrateful child.

Really, it’s a struggle for me anyway.  Maybe it’s that way for all moms.  No matter how much we are doing, it just never feels like it’s enough.

It seems like others are doing better.  Other moms are more….more fun, more wise, more crafty, more creative, more gentle.

I’ve been working really hard this summer to improve my spontaneity, flexibility, and effort at playdates.

But every single time I do something spontaneous, flexible, fun and playdate-ish, they want to know when they can do it again. What about tomorrow?  What about a sleepover?

However much I’ve done, it’s just not enough.

Today, as I read Hope for the Weary Mom, I suck in my breath because she’s describing me:

“Communication is her best asset, but she often feels like she’s not good enough at having fun or coming up with creative ways to laugh and be spontaneous with her children”  (Brooke McGlothin).

And, she tells me the best way to combat that weariness and insecurity is to stop focusing on my weakness and start recognizing my strength.  She says, “Live freely in who God made you to be.”

I’m still thinking about this as I read the Scripture. Right there in the middle of 2 Chronicles of all places, I find it:

Ahaziah also followed the evil example of King Ahab’s family, for his mother encouraged him in doing wrong (2 Chronicles 22:3 NLT).

I’m not the perfect mom. None of us are.

But we also don’t have to be perfect.  God doesn’t expect that of us or require it.

I read about Ahaziah’s mom, how she actually encouraged him to do wrong, and I breathe deeply of grace.  Because if there’s one thing I do, it’s love Jesus and His Word.  Spontaneous might not be my thing, but encouraging my kids to do what is right—yeah, I’m totally into that.

So, I’m working on teaching my kids gratitude and appreciating what they have instead of greedily demanding more, more, and more….

But I’m also teaching myself that I don’t have to be the mom their friends have or the mom on Pinterest or Facebook.  I have to be the mom God has called me to be.

When the woman broke that alabaster jar and poured the perfume down over Jesus’ head, those at the table criticized her offering.  It wasn’t perfect, right, acceptable.

But Jesus said this, “She has done what she could” (Mark 14:8 NLT).

Dear Mom, God isn’t expecting you to be perfect; He finds your heartfelt, all-in offering beautiful.  He knows when you’ve done what you could and that is indeed enough.

Heather King is a busy-but-blessed wife and mom, a 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.

Bleeding Words: An Offering

Ernest Hemingway said:

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.

Now we’ve graduated to Word Processors, but still the pouring out of self onto paper burns painful at times.

But not when you hoard it or hide it away in safe shadows.  I can sit here typing away sentiments, thoughts, emotions crammed into words, hit the save button and tuck it away just for me. There’s no danger in that.

It’s in the sharing with others that you open your heart all up, vulnerable and unprotected.

So, I sat at that computer screen and had to breathe in and out a few times before opening the attached file.  It seems forever ago that I sent my editor the complete manuscript for my book, one file ask-me-anything-lord_kdattached to an email that read: Heather King-Ask Me Anything Lord.

And now here she had sent it back, this time marked as edited.

Sometimes in a wave of anxiety I think, “Oh, it would be so much easier to just end the exposure and hide myself away again.”  No more writing and hoping others like it, hoping no one criticizes or critiques.  No more posting to a blog or sending in articles to magazines or submitting manuscripts or book proposals to editors and waiting for the replies to come.

But in my heart, there is also this desire for growing and learning and for obedience, and this is my hope as I finally assume enough bravery to open up my editor’s attachment.  After all, don’t I want to hear what she says?  Don’t I want to mend and amend and improve all the time so every single day I’m more useful to God?

Yes.  I want my offerings to God to be ever more beautiful. When He asks me to lay it down, I want to have the gift in my hands to give, not locked away.

So, I double click the attachment in one quick act of bravery and scan through the comments.

I sigh out one heaving release of a held breath.

What she says blesses me.  I learn.  I edit here and understand there.  Really the changes aren’t so hard.  And instead of working alone, surreptitiously typing away on a private document, now I have shared the work with another.  We’ve united in our effort and it is better for the working together.

Sometimes, that fear of being hurt and the desire to be safe keeps us from ever raising our hand to volunteer or making the phone call with an offer to serve. Maybe instead of shining ourselves, we’re content to linger in the shadows so no one will see us in the light.

Yet, obedience means accepting the danger and willingly giving anyway. It means preparing our gifts, tending them, investing in them, honing them, learning from others so we can offer up what is a “pleasing aroma” of sacrifice to our God.

Shortly before Jesus’s betrayal and arrest, he dined at a man named Simon’s house in Bethany. A woman entered the feasting room and broke an entire jar of expensive and fragrant oil over Jesus’ head. Her prophetic gift to Christ, anointing him before his burial, was a public act of worship, not a safely private and hidden offering.

And she was criticized. The men at the table scolded her and evaluated her offering. They complained it was a waste of resources, unnecessary and without purpose. Others may have judged her, but Jesus quieted them saying:

“Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a noble thing for Me….She has done what she could” (Mark 14:6, 8 HCSB).

The offerings we bring to God are never about our glory or about competing with others or meeting expectations. It’s not about numbers, not about ‘success,’ not about being the best or at the very least being better. It’s about giving what we have, the very best we can indeed give.

Jesus’ is the only opinion that mattered at that table, and yes, it should be all that matters to us.

And He is simply pleased when He can say of us like he did of the woman with the alabaster jar, “she has done what she could.”

With what He’s given you, in the way that He’s designed you, using the passions, past, personality and gifts that He’s placed within you, are you doing what you could?

Not what anyone else could do.

Just what you can do.

If that’s what matters to Him, that’s all that should matter to us.  So despite the danger of exposure or the fear of critique, we offer back to Him what He has given us.

Heather King is a busy-but-blessed wife and mom, a 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