When All You Want to Be Is Angry {Letting God Change the Composition of Your Heart}

notebookBlack marble composition notebooks.

They have been my prayer journal of choice for as long as I can remember. But it was many years before God showed me something hiding in plain sight, right there on the front cover.

I had come to Him with my journal in hand and a whole lot of hurt in my heart. Tears and angry words mingled on the lined paper as I poured out my pain. And instead of being met with a reprimand for the brutal honesty of my feelings, I sensed God’s “yes.”

“Yes, Kimberly. This is exactly what you need to do. Bring your hurt to Me first. Bring your pain and your questions to Me. When you do this, you’re doing what’s right there on the cover of your notebook.”

And that’s when I saw it. Plain as day. The two “i’s” in the word “composition” look like two little people, and between them is a “t”… a cross. And while I know it may sound a bit simplistic to some, it was exactly the encouragement I needed.

When I pray out my pain with God first, I’m positioning the cross between us. I’m putting Jesus between me and the person who has hurt me. I’m giving Him permission to remind me…

Of my own sin that placed Him there and my own need for grace.
Of the forgiveness I’ve freely received and must also freely give.
Of the truth that He loves us both and willingly died for each of us.
Of His ability and desire to do a deep work – not just in them, but in me.

And it’s what Jesus came to do. He came and positioned Himself between sinful me and a holy God, taking the wrath I deserved. Making a way for restored relationship. For restored hope and peace and joy.

And He’s Who we need to position between ourselves and the ones we want to pour out our wrath on. Letting Him do His healing and grace-filled work. Letting Him stand in with His love when we are struggling to drum up any of our own.

Because when we position Jesus between us, He changes the composition of our heart. Taking our bitterness and resentment. Healing us and making us whole. 

I don’t know who has hurt you. I don’t know who has caused you searing pain. But I do know it’s hard to stay angry when we’re brought to our knees by the tremendous love and sacrifice of Jesus.

Put the cross between you, sweet friend. And let Jesus speak first. Speaking love and hope and truth into your hurt before you utter words that will only serve to make things worse.

Truth I’m continually having to live out myself.

The Best Thing to Do at the End of a Hard Year

img_1684The Lord has had something stirring in my heart for a few weeks. Something that feels like a word of encouragement for the end of this year.

Because I think 2016 has been a hard year for a lot of people. I know it certainly hasn’t been the easiest one for my own family.

And whereas I sensed 2015 was a year of “leaving” – a year of asking God to unpack our bags of the heavy burdens we didn’t need to carry with us into the new year – I believe THIS is a year of “taking.”

Because while this has been a difficult year, God tells us that there is GOOD to be had in hard places. He strengthens us in those places. Gives us wisdom in those places. Reveals His faithfulness in those places. Pours out fresh hope in those places.

And it would be so tempting to look at 2016 and say, “Good riddance! Bring on a new year. Bring on a good year!!” But I sense God telling us not to leave this year without what is rightfully ours. To PLUNDER the dark places for the good He has provided.

Yes, the enemy tried to plunder our joy.
Yes, he tried to rob us of our strength.
Yes, he tried to steal every bit of our hope.

But our God is greater! He helped us keep getting back up. He helped us keeping moving forward. He filled our hearts and our mouths with fresh praise even though we felt sure we might never have reason to rejoice again.

So let’s not dare leave this year too quickly. Let’s not carelessly label it a loss and hastily move along. Let’s not leave empty-handed.

Let’s PLUNDER the year for all that was good, for all that was lovely, for all that is rightfully ours to carry on with us. Hard-won wisdom and hope and strength that will now carry us through when the enemy tries to steal from us again. Precious treasures that darkness tried to hide. The ones that are rightfully ours because we are beloved children of the Lord Most High.

Yes, friends. Yes. Let’s plunder the darkness and take what is ours.

I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden riches of secret places,
That you may know that I, the Lord,
Who call you by your name,
Am the God of Israel.”
Isaiah 45:3

{More verses to consider: James 1:2-4; Romans 5:3-5; Romans 8:28; Genesis 50:20}

Love & prayers,
Kimberly 

When It Feels Like God Is Taking Your Dreams

img_1682Blessed and highly favored.

That’s what the angel Gabriel called Mary when he showed up with the news. The news that God was about to turn her whole life upside down.

And I can’t help but wonder what she had been doing in the moments before he arrived. Had she been thinking about Joseph? Was she wondering what life with him was going to be like? Was she planning out how she would make their home a sanctuary? Maybe even pondering how many children they would one day have?

When she heard the news from Gabriel – when he told her that she, a virgin, was going to conceive a child – she had to know. She had to know in an instant that she stood to lose everything.

Not just any dreams she had of being a wife.
Not just any dreams she had of bearing Joseph’s children.
Not just any dreams she had of a home spilling over with love.

She would possibly lose her own life – stoned to death by those who would question the swelling abdomen of a young girl not yet married.

And her “yes”… her full surrender … it humbles me more than I can say.

Because who among us, when God asks us to stretch ourselves, when He asks us to lay down everything we have been dreaming of, when He asks us to exchange our plans for His, consider ourselves blessed or highly favored?

No. We don’t tend to deal well with detours from our carefully laid out plans. We don’t tend to respond with joy when we find out God may possibly be taking away the very thing we’ve been longing for, for years.

But Mary.

She chooses to believe. She chooses to trust. She makes this holy exchange. Her willingness a kind of prophetic foreshadowing of what her Son will one day say in His own exchange. A “not My will, but Yours” kind of moment.

And, oh, the power and the beauty of her exchange.

Her will. Her plans. Her dreams. She empties herself of every single one. All to make room for His. And in the space of her surrender, God is able to bring forth the One who will not only be our salvation, but Mary’s as well.

All because her heart’s response to Him is one of trust.

I trust You. Completely. Even though I can’t see how this will all work out. Even though I stand to lose everything. Even though my heart is full of ideas on how I want my life to turn out. I trust You.

Oh, to trust Him like this. To believe we are BLESSED when He asks us to relinquish our plans and dreams. To see that giving up actually leads to gaining. That turning our world upside down for Him really means finding ourselves better off than we ever were before. That what seems like the end to all that we hoped for is actually the beginning of more than we ever would have dared to dream.

I love Eugene Peterson’s version of Ephesians 3:17-20 in The Message:

“And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.”

We can hold on to our own plans. We can give God our firm and fear-filled “no.” Or we can trust His love for us completely. We can experience the breadth of it and test its length and plumb its depths as we humbly say “yes” to Him.

What we’ll end up with is what Mary ended up with – a fullness beyond what we could have ever planned for ourselves.

Because God isn’t asking us for everything so He can leave us empty.
He’s asking us for everything so He can make us full.   

Much love, dear friends.
Kimberly 

Why We Don’t Have to Unwrap God’s Presence This Christmas

img_1589There are Sundays where I know as soon as worship starts. I can feel it like a weight. A sweet heaviness in the air. God waiting for our worship to go up so His words can come down. Because worship, it has this way of opening our ears to hear and our hearts to receive.

And as I sang my own song to Him, telling Him how much we want to unwrap His Presence this Christmas, He dropped truth in my heart that left me undone. Truth that started with two images.

The first was of Jesus as a babe, tenderly wrapped by Mary and placed in a manger. {Luke 2:7}

The second was of the empty tomb, nothing left but the cloth they had wrapped His broken body in. {John 19:40; John 20:4-5}

And I sensed God’s holy whisper – “I’ve already unwrapped My Presence for you.”

Oh. My. Heart.

Jesus was wrapped in flesh for us… wrapped in swaddling cloths for us… wrapped in strips of burial cloth for us… and then freely and fully unwrapped when He rose from the grave… paving the way for unbroken intimacy with His Father for us.

Intimacy we get to experience not just in eternity. But here. Now.

And oh how I pray that we let this sink in deep. How our God is nothing like what has become engrained in our minds about gift giving. This Santa Clause mentality of “you’d better be good or you don’t get a thing.” We didn’t have to earn the gift of Jesus, and we don’t have to go to great lengths to unwrap the gift of God’s Presence.

We don’t have to be good enough.
We don’t have to work hard enough.
We don’t have to jump through holy, flaming hoops.

Jesus came as a gift. His body was given as a gift. And now we can enjoy the gift of His Father’s Presence. Purely because of grace.

This Christmas, we can simply sit with Him. Worship Him. Soak Him in. And freely receive the love and grace and mercy and hope we find there.

Because we don’t have to unwrap His Presence.
It’s already been done for us.

Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.” Ephesians 3:12

Merry Christmas, friends!
Kimberly 

When Life Feels More Frustration Than Song

img_1218I prayed recently that God would let my life be a song to Him. A beautiful one that continues to echo even long after I’m gone.

His reply to me in the days that followed caught me a bit off guard.

“Practice your scales.”

My scales?

Memories of my childhood and the brief amount of time I spent sitting in front of a piano began to surface. God had truths He wanted to impress on my heart. Truths to help me keep going when faith feels too hard and I just want to give up.

So grateful my sweet blogging friend, Leah Adams, invited me to share at her blog! You can read my post “When Faith Feels More Frustration Than Song” HERE.

Practicing My Scales,
Kimberly

 

Are We Divers or Swimmers? {For the Ones Who Long to See God}

Image-1 (12)It was about a year ago when God asked me a question I haven’t been able to shake.

Do you want to be a diver or a swimmer? 

Not totally sure what He meant, I sat down to journal for a little while. I quickly scratched out a few of their characteristics.

Swimmers are very “seen” – making a big splash and gliding across the surface of the water. But while they are seen, there may be a lot going on beneath surface that they never see. They miss out on a lot of discovery.

Divers, however, go “unseen” for long periods of time. Bystanders may not even realize they are under the surface of the water – going deeper and deeper, discovering the beauty and mystery awaiting there. They are unseen, yet seeing.

And I knew immediately what the Lord was asking me.

Kimberly, do you want to settle for skimming the surface of My Word, maybe even making a big splash and drawing a bit of attention to yourself with it… or do you want to see the DEEP things about Me? 

Of course, my answer was and still is that I want to be a diver.

I want to see Him.
I want to hear Him.
I want to know Him. 

Not just what I can grab in a quick few minutes here or there. I want the deep things of Him to settle into the deepest parts of me.

And not just so I can write a few Facebook posts or a good blog post or two. I want to see Him because I need Him. Because I love Him. Because He changes me and loves me like no other.

And I don’t want to cause any confusion or discouragement. I’m not talking about God requiring us to dive into His Word for hours upon hours every single day. That’s not what I’m saying at all. This post is about the position of our hearts, not performance. It’s about the attitude we carry with us all day long. An attitude that stirs us to seek Him.

So, what IS a diver? 

D – A diver is someone whose heart cry is “DEEPER.”

If scientists are continually discovering more about the natural world… if there are places in this world I have never seen with my own eyes… then how much more must there be to still see and discover about God? We have yet to plumb the depths of His wisdom and majesty and creativity. We have yet to see all of His wonders and His beauty. So I don’t want to settle for what I have seen and what I now know of Him when I know there is infinitely more.

{Lord, I know I have only seen the mere edges of Your ways and heard mere whispers of Your voice. Because I know there is more, I want more. I long to experience the deep things of You. Job 26:14, Psalm 42:7}

I – A diver is someone who says, “I am willing to be INVISIBLE to the world for a while so God can become more visible to me.”

A diver doesn’t dive to be impressive. A diver dives to discover. To see. To experience. And they block out the rest of the world, hiding themselves in deep waters, so they can see the things only visible to those willing to be invisible for a while.

{Lord, more than I want to be SEEN by man, I want to SEE You. Help me to set aside time each day. Not to just talk TO You, but to listen FOR You. And help me to seek You with a pure and hungry heart. Luke 5:16, Luke 6:12, Mark 1:35, Matthew 6:6 (MSG); Isaiah 50:4-5}

V – A diver’s appetite for the things of the Lord is VORACIOUS, insatiable, unquenchable.

Divers dive because they hunger to see more. It’s the same for all of us. What we hunger and thirst for, we go after. If I want a sandwich, I go fix myself a sandwich. If I’m thirsty, I go in the kitchen and get myself a drink. And if I truly want more of God, I don’t just sigh and wish I could have more of Him. I pursue Him. I seek Him. And the more I taste of Him? The more I want.

{Lord, You are the sweetest thing I have ever tasted. So I don’t want to settle for just one helping. I want more and more of You. Help me to continually taste and see that You are good. You are the only One who can satisfy my soul. Psalm 63:1-5, Psalm 42:1-2; Isaiah 55:1-3, Psalm 34:8, Matthew 5:6}

E – A diver’s eyes and ears are open and EXPECTANT.

Divers dive with purpose and on purpose, believing there is beauty to be seen and discoveries to be made. I want to walk through my days with purpose. And I want to live each day expectant. Eyes and ears open, believing God has things He wants to show me, things He wants to say to me, things He wants me to experience.

{Lord, I know that You still speak, and I believe You desire to speak to me. I am watching for You. I am listening for You. All. Day. Long. Help me to wake up each and every day with a heart of expectancy. John 10:27Matthew 11:15, Revelation 2:7aPsalm 119:18}

R – A diver’s heart is REVERENT and repentant.

Divers have a deep respect for the sea. They are in awe of it’s majesty and power. Am I living continually in awe of God? I love Psalm 25:14 in The Message translation: “God-friendship is for God-worshipers; They are the ones he confides in.” If we want to see Him, we must humbly honor Him. God responds to our worship – moving closer, inhabiting our praises, revealing more and more of Himself to us. He cannot resist a humble heart. Nor can He resist a repentant one. He draws near to us when we draw near to Him (James 4:8).

{Lord, I am in awe of You. And I remember who IS God (YOU) and who is not (me). May I never lose my sense of wonder before You. And may I quickly confess any sin in my heart and life. I long to live a life of unbroken intimacy with You. Psalm 96:9, Isaiah 43:11Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Acts 3:19, Revelation 3:19-20}

Oh, how I want to be a diver. Not a woman who stands on the shore and simply lets other people tell me how amazing God is. Not a woman who skims the surface of the things of God and walks away a bit refreshed but never deeply changed.

I want to be a diver. I want the cry of my heart to be DEEPER. I want to be willing to be INVISIBLE. I want my appetite to be VORACIOUS. I want to live EXPECTANT. And I want to remain humbly and sincerely REVERENT.

May seeking Him be our sweetest and greatest pursuit.

Because the seekers? They will be the seers. 

~ Kimberly

Why Doesn’t She Like Me? {When Hints of Haman are Hiding in My Heart}

When Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow or pay him homage, Haman was filled with wrath.” Esther 3:5

I want to identify with Esther. Purpose-filled and created for such a time as this Esther. Humble, strong, beautiful Esther.

But how many times am I found with hints of Haman hiding in my heart? Haman. A man whose blood boiled to the point of plotting the destruction of all of the Jews in the kingdom of Ahasuerus simply because one man would not bow to him.

And I can’t help but think of the times I have gotten hurt, offended, or even angry because people haven’t loved me like I thought they should… responded to me like I thought they should… honored me like I thought should… jumped on board with whatever I was doing like I thought they should.

And, oh, how it makes me cringe to even type out a single one of those words.

Because I don’t want to be that prideful.

I don’t want to admit I’m easily wounded when I feel ignored. I don’t want to admit that my whole day can get thrown off when I feel neglected, unnoticed, unappreciated. But I realize I need to call it what it is so I can deal with it. Because it’s pride. It’s sin. And it’s dangerous to let it set up camp in my heart.

And I’m not saying I’m as bad as Haman. I’m not saying anyone else reading this is either. But I am saying we had better check our hearts.

Because while we certainly aren’t doing anything as extreme as plotting murder simply because someone won’t notice us, we need to know that envy and pride will absolutely kill our joy and steal our peace.

Sometimes all it takes is one quick scroll through social media. Next thing we know, the joy is leaking right out of us. All because we don’t understand why this certain person won’t friend us or why that person always likes “her” posts but never ours or why so-and-so never seems to care about what we are up to.

{Hello, Haman.}

And we can’t miss this. How it was one person.

Haman’s undoing was ONE person.

Even though he had great riches…

Even though he was blessed with many children…

Even though he had been advanced high above many others by the king…

Still he paved the way to his own death because of one man.

Yet all this avails me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate,” (Esther 5:13).

Who is your “one person?” Who are you driven to distraction by because they won’t notice you? Won’t respond to you. Won’t love you.

I know mine.

And while I’m not “filled with wrath” like Haman was, I do know how forgetful I can become when I feel slighted by her. Forgetting about the blessings of a family that loves me like crazy, friends who pray for me and encourage me continually, and a life overflowing with the goodness and love of the Father.

So why exactly is it that I need her attention?

{Sigh.}

Oh, friends. This isn’t how we were made to live. Blind to the blessings that are already ours. Ungrateful for the love that we already possess. Demanding of attention that will never in a million years fix us or fill us up.

And so we must fix our eyes on the Lord once again and ask Him to fill our hearts to overflowing with HIS love.

Because if we are filled with the Father’s love, it really won’t matter if people like us. And if we are bowed in worship before Him, we won’t even be able to see who is and who isn’t noticing us.

Lord, forgive us for any and all of the places in our lives where we are basically demanding to be worshipped. You and You alone are worthy of worship. And forgive us for being shortsighted. For focusing on one person not liking us instead of being overwhelmed by the breathtaking scope of Your love that is immeasurably high and wide and long and deep. We say today that we love You and that Your love is enough. Root out every bit of this sin, every hint of Haman, hiding in our hearts. Because we don’t want it stealing from the beauty and the purpose You have tucked into this day. Amen.