Weekend Rerun: The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Moms

In just over a week, all three of my kids will be heading back to school.  Yes, all three!  My baby girl is starting preschool this year. 

So, in the days ahead, I’ll be sharing some new thoughts and re-running some of my past posts about school and life and all the lessons therein.  I hope you enjoy!
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The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Moms

Originally posted on September 1, 2011

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Luke 22:42

I’m a mom who likes to think she knows best for her kids.  So, with all my “Mom-Knows-Best” skills, I signed up my middle girl for our church’s private kindergarten the week that registration opened.

For months I prayed the kindergarten class would reach the necessary enrollment.  I stressed and worried and spilled over all my freaked out mother concern to anyone with a listening ear about how my daughter’s life would be destroyed at five years old if they cancelled the class.

Slowly, I transformed my prayers.  I whispered what started as an uncertain and half-hearted, “Not my will, but yours be done.”  Over time, I began to actually mean what I prayed.  It was a radical shift for me and not a holy place I often reach in this always-in-control life of mine.

Then I picked up the ringing phone and heard the official news. No kindergarten due to low enrollment.

Off I sped to the local public school and registered my little girl in a building and system that seemed too big and unknown.

And I prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

Then began the stress over her teacher.

I prayed for that one special teacher who would connect with my daughter and make her first year of elementary school as exciting and engaging as possible and who would expertly work with her strengths and weaknesses.

We walked into the classroom on open house.  I wasn’t sure what to think and my child did what I had feared all along—she fell back into herself and shut down in an instant.  (Followup note: We ended up loving this teacher.  God answered my every prayer for Lauren).

In that moment, I was ready to do anything—unregister her, ask for a move to a different class.  Right away, I prepared to step in and assume control from a God who seemed to be messing this all up.

Then I asked myself–-Had I not prayed all along for the best possible teacher and environment for my daughter?  Could I trust my God to know what is best for my precious girl? Could I place her in His hands?

I whispered in my daughter’s ear as we sat in that kindergarten classroom, “Lauren, I have prayed for you every day that God would give you the right school and the right teacher.  He has brought you here so we will trust it’s going to be perfect and wonderful.”

And I silently prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

We so often model our prayers on The Lord’s Prayer, the “our Father who art in heaven” that Jesus taught to the disciples.  And so we should.

That prayer with its “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” echoes Jesus’ own words.  We can thus imitate the very prayer of our Savior Himself as He bowed low in Gethsemane, submitting His own desires to the perfect plan of the Father.  “Not my will, but yours be done,” He prayed that night.

It’s unlikely that you are struggling with the same issue as me.  Maybe your kids are grown and married.  Maybe you’re single.  Maybe you’re still rocking an infant at night.

Even so, perhaps you and I are in the same place.  We, with all our knowledge and expertise, think we have formed a perfect plan and then God intervenes.  He declines to give us what we want.

He tells us “no.”

Maybe you, like me, are less likely to react with the submission of Jesus and instead throw temper tantrums like Jonah.

The prophet Jonah had a plan, too.  He had a successful prophetic ministry to the Hebrew people.  Yes, Jonah had a good thing going and his plans for his life probably included retiring after a fulfilling career as the voice of good news to his own nation.

Then God commissioned him to be an evangelist to a pagan nation that had long been the brutal enemy of the Hebrews.

You likely know the story.  He ran away from God, spent three days in a fish’s belly, and then after being vomited up on shore, finally obeyed God.

To a pagan nation, he preached coming judgment and they repented.  Even the king donned sackcloth and ashes.  It was one of the largest revivals in history—a whole nation turning to God in the course of one day.

Did Jonah rejoice?  Did he give praise?

Jonah 4:1 says, “but it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry.”

We could get angry, you and I, when things don’t go our way.  We could stomp away from God’s plan and cross our arms in defiance.  We could run, fast and hard, jumping onto the first ship out of this place.  We could obey, but with an attitude.

Or we could pray, “Not my will, but yours be done,” and trust that our Heavenly Father knows best.  We could remember His promise to work “for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

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Live in my area and want to pray for your kids’ school year?  Everyone is invited to are invited to Newington Baptist Church on Tuesday, September 4th at 10:30 a.m. for First Pray–a time of encouragement and prayer for our kids, their teachers, principals, and school staff.  Won’t you join us? 

For working moms, you can email me your child’s name, grade, school and homeroom teacher and we’ll pray for them, as well: heatherking@cox.net

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.

Momma Said There’d Be Days Like This, Part III

“Then those who sing as well as those who play the flutes shall say, All my springs of joy are in You'”
Psalm 87:7, NASB

Years ago, I fell in love with a song we used to sing at church called Jesus, Lover of My Soul.  The song begins with a simple, worshipful declaration that, “It’s all about You, Jesus.  And all this is for You, for Your glory and Your fame.  It’s not about me, as if You should do things my way.  You alone are God and I surrender to Your ways.”

Frequently, I would belt out the first line of this song with an impassioned Freudian slip, crooning, “It’s all about ME, Jesus.”

Oops!

I didn’t really mean it, of course.  There are just some lyrics I manage to mix up at times.  None of them, though, quite as telling as that mistake.  Sadly, but truly, there are so many days and moments when my focus is on me and not on God at all.  It’s those days and seasons of my life when I wish God would just do things my way and when “surrender” becomes my least favorite word.

I began this week struggling, fighting to have a good attitude and a smile when my day was difficult and downright yucky.  During that bad day, though, God spoke truth to me and drew me in closer to Him.

You can read the previous posts here:

And now, Lesson Three: It’s Not About Me; It’s About Him

Part of my struggle on my bad day was wondering how I could possibly minister to others when I was working hard at basics like keeping calm with misbehaving children and not stressing about my calendar.  When I felt so empty, how could I pour out to another?  It’s one thing to serve and encourage when we’re overflowing; God’s goodness just sploshes over the tops of our lives and refreshes all who cross our paths.

But, what about when our cup seems dry?  What happens then when a thirsty neighbor lifts up needy hands in our direction and we ladle out empty air?

And that’s where I was.  All day I met up with those hurting and thirsty; I sat at the computer looking at drafts of devotionals, knowing I couldn’t complete them for the day.  Then, I heard it– my own voice echoing in my head, singing “It’s all about ME” from years ago.

Wasn’t that what I was saying?  That when a friend has a problem, the source of my answer is Me?  That when I sit to write this devotional, the words and the thoughts are dependent on Me—my ability, my ideas, my inspiration, my quiet times?

It carries over into my everyday life, too.  As I lift my baby out of the crib far too early in the morning and she’s tired and cranky and she doesn’t even know why—I could depend on Me to be calm and cheerful or comforting or I could depend on God.  When I pull my older girls close as they cry out tears of disappointment and I scan the house and see all of the cleaning I’m not accomplishing in that moment, I could stress out because I’m not sufficient enough, but then I’d be depending on Me once again.

Sitting on my desk (on top of the paper stacks), is My Utmost for His Highest, with the words from today’s reading underlined and starred.  Oswald Chambers wrote: “Jesus was saying, ‘Do not worry about being of use to others; simply believe on Me.’ In other words, pay attention to the Source, and out of you ‘will flow the rivers of living water’ (John 7:38).”

Similarly, the Psalmist wrote, “Then those who sing as well as those who play the flutes shall say, ‘All my springs of joy are in You‘” (Psalm 87:7, NASB).

God is the Source, the Spring from which comes all my joy.  He’s not an immovable Fountain either, located at only one place or accessible at only certain times of the day.  He is my Portion and Provision every moment of every day.  When I find myself carrying my cup back to Him like Oliver Twist in the orphanage, asking shamefacedly, “Please, Sir, can I have some more?,” I’m forgetting that I serve a generous God, who longs to pour out His grace on me.  He isn’t stingy and doesn’t want me thirsty or starving.  The more times a day I lift my cup to Him, the more times He will fill it.  If that means I’m having a quiet time every five minutes all day long, then that’s what it takes to fill up at the Fountain of God.

When I’m running back to the well every few minutes, I know it’s because I’m a leaky person, with holes punched all in my heart from stress and busyness.  Yet, it’s also because I’m pouring out to others and God is willing, even joyful, to replace what I’ve spilled over into the cups of my husband, my children, my friends, my Bible Study girls, my church members, the Wal-Mart cashier and the girl who cuts my hair.

The frequency of my visits to the Well doesn’t reveal my weakness or failure.  It reveals my dependency on Him. 

Yet, when I peer into my empty cup and think I’m too dry to walk this Christian life, too empty to share with another, then I’m forgetting that It’s All About Him.  None of the ministry I perform in my home or outside of it is contingent on my ability, brains, beauty, education, character, or godliness (thank goodness!).

At Iconium, Paul and Barnabus “spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of His grace by enabling the to perform signs and wonders” (Acts 14:3).  The ministry they performed was only possible because God enabled them to do it.  He empowered them, He directed them, He filled them up, and then He blessed what they gave.

He is enabling us, as well.  Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5) and Cliff Richard wrote, “The more we depend on God, the more dependable we find He is.”  On the days when we feel like everything is good, we’ve got everything under control and our cups are filled to overflowing, it’s hard to tell whether we’re depending on God or on us—whether it’s all about Him or all about Me.  But, in the tough times and on the bad days, there’s no question about it.  We’ve got nothing to offer.  He’s the only Source.  He’s what fills us up.  He’s what provides what we need for our own cup and also for the cups of those around us.  It’s all about Him.

So, if you’ve had a bad day this week and need a pick-me-up moment and a chance to refocus, I hope you enjoy some songs with me! 


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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

Do I Mean It?

Today, we sang a song at church with these lyrics:

Jesus, lover of my soul
Jesus, I will never let You go
You’ve taken me from the miry clay,
Set my feet upon the Rock, and now I know
I love You; I need You
Though the world may fall I’ll never let You go
My Comfort, My closest Friend
I will worship You until the very end.

I love that song.  Sometimes, I can sing it with my whole heart, unreservedly, because I really mean it.  “I will never let You go.”  “Though the world may fall, I’ll never let You go.”

Recently, I’ve been asking myself if I really mean that.  It’s not something you can just decide one time.  I think it’s a continual growth step.  You surrender “everything” to God, and then He asks you to step closer and you have to choose to surrender again.

Yesterday and today, I’ve been reading 2 Timothy, Paul’s final epistle before his execution.  Unlike his first imprisonment in Rome, where he had his own place and could have visitors and people to care for him, this second imprisonment was lonely, cold, and excruciating.

Not that Paul was a complainer.  If you read 2 Timothy, you have to read closely to glimpse the setting.  He writes:

  • “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God” (1:8)
  • “For this reason also I suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed” (1:12)
  • “This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me” (1:15)
  • “but when he (Onesiphorus) arrived in Rome, he sought me out very zealously and found me” (1:17)—Note how hard Onesiphorus had to look for Paul.  No one really even knew where he was being kept!
  • “For which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains” (2:9)
  • “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.” (4:6)
  • “Be diligent to come to me quickly, for Demas has forsaken me . . . only Luke is with me. (4:9-11)
  • Bring the cloak that I left” (4:13)—-He must have been so cold!
  • “At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me” (4:16)

Can you imagine?  At his defense hearing, not one person stood up to defend Paul.  Not one. After a life filled with ministry and sacrifice to others, no one came to his defense.  He’s then cast into a prison in an unknown location where his friends have to struggle to find him.

Beth Moore writes in To Live is Christ,

Paul was held under conditions like those of a convicted killer.  He was bound by heavy chains–the type that bruise and lacerate the skin.  He was almost 60 years old and had taken enough beatings to make him quite arthritic.  The lack of mobility greatly intensified any ailments or illnesses.   He most likely was reduced to skin and bones.  The cells where the worst prisoners were chained were usually filthy, wet, and rodent-infested dungeons.  Paul was cold.  He wanted his cloak and begged Timothy to do everything he could to come before winter.

And yet, despite all of this, Paul never questioned his call, never questioned his faith.  He trusted God no matter what.

This year, I’ve felt very much like God is waiting on me.  He’s giving me the chance to decide whether I want to know Him more, walk with Him more closely, and trust Him wholly with my future. Am I willing to take another step?

Honestly, it’s not as easy as you might think to say, “Yes, Lord.  Totally.  Send me, God.”  Sometimes it’s scary.  I think about what Paul endured, and I’m afraid.  I listen to the testimonies of Christian authors and speakers and I’m scared to go through what they’ve lived through–like financial hardships, the death of loved ones–even their children, and physical harm to themselves.

And then there are the not-so-big hardships that still paralyze a people-pleaser like me, like hurtful criticisms and people oh-so-willing to share their opinions on how you’re messing up.

Sometimes, as cowardly as it is, I’m so afraid that I just want to say, “Not me, God.  Don’t ask me.”

But, God is so gracious.  I know He’s being patient with me and He’s been bringing verses and quotes across my path that remind me to trust Him and not fear.

Two of my favorites are:

Deuteronomy 31:8 : “The Lord is the One who will go before you . . . He will not leave you or forsake you.  Do not be afraid or discouraged.”

Joshua 1:9:  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I’m not saying that I sang the words, “I’ll never let You go” this morning without any fear of the future.  While I was singing those lyrics, though, in my mind I was singing, “I’ll never let You go; thank You for never letting me go.  Thank You that You’ll be with me even if my world may fall.”

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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