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.

What if Your Dreams DON’T Come True?

Image-1 (3)Have you ever felt offended on behalf of someone in the Bible?

I know. That sounds like straight up heresy.

Because shouldn’t we read every line of Scripture through the lens of “God is good. God is sovereign. And who am I to question how He does things?”

But when it’s just you, the Word of God, and all of your hurt and mess, sometimes your gut-reactions may not be so neat and tidy. I confess that was me as I sat with the story of Moses not too long ago.

Me, Moses, and my messy reactions.

In the portion of Scripture I was reading, Moses was speaking life and encouragement over Joshua, the man who would get to lead God’s people into the Promised Land instead of Moses (Deuteronomy 31:1-8). Telling him not to fear. Encouraging him to trust God and keep on keepin’ on. And I found my insides starting to feel a little bristly.

Honestly, I would have struggled with that assignment. And not just the part about being an encourager in the face of my own disappointment thing. I would have struggled with not getting to enter the Promised Land. Because while my head knows a case of disobedience on the part of Moses is what kept him from entering in, my heart cries out, “But he worked so HARD. He deserves to go into the Promised Land.” {Yikes. Entitlement issues, anyone?} 

And Moses had worked hard. He had gone in front of hard-hearted Pharaoh again and again and again. He had led a stiff-necked, complaining bunch of people for forty years. But did he pout, shake his fist at God and throw in the towel when he first found out he wouldn’t be the one to officially lead the people in? Nope.

He. Still. Followed.
He. Still. Led.
He. Still. Encouraged.

And I felt the Lord impress some motive-checking questions on my heart…

Kimberly, if I told you right now that the dreams you are holding onto will never come to fruition, that the things you think you want, even think you deserve, will never come your way – would you still follow Me? If I told you that you will never reap for yourself some of the things you are sowing, would you still obey Me?

And while I wanted to immediately answer, “Yes, Lord. Of course!”… the truth is, I know my heart and flesh would struggle. In great big ways.

This struggle demands I take a closer look at Moses. Search for clues about what kept him following and serving the Lord in the midst of a disappointment that could have shut him down. And what I discovered are truths that I believe will help me keep pressing on with God no matter what too. Truths that make me ask a few questions of myself.

Here is what I discovered:

1 – Moses had truly experienced God.

Not someone else’s story. No. He had his own burning bush, sea parting, mountaintop meeting, face glowing story. Am I experiencing God for myself? Not just once in a while, but continually?

2 – He trusted God.

Seriously. If you read all about Moses, you will see that God asked Moses to do some crazy things. And Moses obeyed. There was obviously a deep level of trust there. Do I really and truly trust God, His plans and His love?

3 – He cared more about God’s presence than “arriving.”

See Exodus 33:15 – I will not go without Your presence. What is it I want most? God or a certain place/achievement/position?

4 – He made God’s will his goal instead of his own personal glory.

Not only would he not be the one to lead the people into the Promised Land, he had to purposefully encourage the next leader. Am I encouraging people who may go farther than me?

5 – He was willing to carry a vision that was about someone other than himself, thinking and acting generationally instead of selfishly.

Ummmmm… Wow. Am I willing to sow where I may never see the harvest this side of heaven?

How these truths challenge me in the best of ways. They tell me that Moses wouldn’t want me to be offended for him. He would want me to learn from him. Because this life? It’s not all about me and my own personal pursuits. And there is no destination, no dream, and no personal desire that will ever fill me like an intimate, daily walk with my God.

Father God, how thankful I am that You love this stiff-necked woman. Forgive me for all of the times I have pulled back from You when things haven’t gone my way. Help me to be more like Moses, Lord. Help me to follow You even in the midst of disappointment. Help me to willingly sow into others – even when they’re doing what I long to do. And help me to delight in You daily instead of living with my eyes fixed on some distant destination. I want to live a life where I am less “entitled” and more obedient and faithful, less “arrival”-minded and more right now presence enjoying, less about me and more about Your Kingdom, less grumbly and more life-speaking no matter what. Today, I say “yes.” Even if the dreams I am carrying right now are never realized, I will follow You. Amen. 

Praying for us all today. That God would indeed be our deepest desire and our greatest pursuit. Because the promise of His presence is far sweeter than any “promised land” where we may long to go.

Much Love,
Kimberly

Close Enough to Conceive {A Call to Intimacy with Our Savior}

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“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20

I positioned myself near the front of the sanctuary as we worshiped on Sunday morning. I wanted to be close to Him. I longed to hear His voice.

When He spoke, it was a reminder. The reminder that we have as much of Him as we want. And as I continued to worship, I sensed a call to “open wide.” And with His nudge to open wide, He showed me the image of a door. I was standing on the inside of the door, and there was a chain lock on it. One of those small ones that allows you to open it just a crack. One where you can peek out at whoever is knocking, but they still can’t come in. One where you get to determine whether or not the person is safe before you grant them entrance. And I felt like He was saying that is what we so often do with Him.

We open our hearts and our lives to Him just a crack. Just enough to catch a glimpse of Him. Just enough for our hands to brush His while He passes us small tokens of His love. Just enough for our ears to hear His gentle whispers of love and affection.

But He wants us to open wide the door.

To let Him in fully.

Because Jesus did not save us for glimpses and mere hand-brushes; He died for the FULL EMBRACE.

He died so we can have intimacy with Him. So we can know Him and be known.

And I want to stop with the imagery there. I want to stop at a nice, neat and clean illustration that won’t offend anyone.

Hey, Jesus wants to dine with you – so let Him in.

But He wants even more than that. He wants more than a casual cup of coffee and a stale slice of coffee cake with you.

He longs for intimacy.

Deep intimacy.

Heart to heart intimacy.

The kind where seeds are planted and dreams are birthed.

And just as there cannot be conception with my spouse if there is not some {ahem} “closeness”, the Lord cannot plant the things He desires to plant in my heart if I do not have totally honest, heart-fully-bared times of intimacy with Him.

And while I may hesitate to share this next bit of revelation with you, I feel it is too important to keep to myself.

You see – this world provides methods of “protection.” Ways for a husband and a wife to be intimate but not conceive. And the Lord tenderly opened my eyes to see one day that, even though I have been choosing to spend intimate time with Him, I have been placing a protective layer around my heart.

“Birth control,” so to speak.

Yes, Lord, I love You. Yes, Lord, I long to be close to You. But I’m going to draw the line right here. Because I’m afraid. I’m afraid to dream with You.

 I’m afraid my dreams might be selfish.

I’m afraid my dreams might fail.

I’m afraid I might look foolish.

I’m afraid I might make YOU look foolish.

I’m afraid to get my hopes up.

So I’ll spend intimate time with You, but I’m still going to guard my heart. So no dream planting, okay?

This is such HUGE revelation for me. Because deep down I DO want to dream with God. I DO want to be all that He purposefully designed me to be. I DO want Him to do exceedingly abundantly above and beyond all that I can possibly ask or imagine according to His power at work within me (Ephesians 3:20-21).

Apparently, though, there are still days I keep a chain on my heart. One that only allows for small exchanges with my Savior. A chain with the word “fear” written on it. And on the days I do take that chain down and let Him close, apparently I still have another layer of protection up. One that is also spelled “f-e-a-r.”

And since that isn’t the life I really want – a safe and sterile one where I never experience true dream-planting intimacy with the One who loves me the most – I am going to have to choose to trust Him. Trusting His love. Trusting His plans. Trusting His ways. Trusting Him enough to spend times of true heart to heart intimacy with Him.

And when I unlock the door to let Him in? I also need to “lock the door” behind Him to keep other things out. I need to protect my time with Him. No phone checking. No computer checking. No allowing distractions to keep me from connecting with Him intimately.

I know this is kind of a risky post. Have. Mercy. Spiritual birth control?!?! But I think it is worth the risk if it causes even one other woman to let her guard down with the Lord. It is worth it if it encourages even one other person to get close enough to Him to “conceive.”

Today, I pray we will remember these truths:

He loves us. He loves us with a love that is safe and good and holy and pure.

He’s for us – always working all things together for our good. 

And His intentions towards us? They can be trusted.

I love you, dear friends. I pray that you will take some time to ask Him today what is keeping your heart locked to Him, what is keeping Your heart guarded when it comes to Him. Is it fear? Doubt? Past hurts? Offense? Lies you are believing about yourself or about Him? Past failed dreams? Ask Him. Ask Him to show you. And then ask Him to help you move those things out of the way.

Because you are beautiful to Him.

And He wants to birth great beauty – in you and through you.

He’s standing at the door knocking. Will you let Him in?

Much, much love,

Kimberly

{And if you want to read more about daring to dream, Glynnis Whitwer has an incredibly encouraging devotion HERE.}

A Post For the Invisible, For the Uninvited, For the Ones Who Desperately Want a Seat at the Table

out6hWMI sat down and broke bread with a friend this week.

Flatbread.

Her sandwich involved fried jalapenos. Mine? Chipotle mayonnaise.

And sitting at a small metal table outside of a gas station (we’re fancy people, y’all), both my body and my heart were fed. We laughed and we reconnected and we talked about family and work and faith and…tables. Not the long stretches of wood with four legs attached to them. Not those kinds of tables.

We were talking about the “tables” so many of us long to sit at.

The executive tables.

The tables where the popular people sit.

The tables reserved for the people up front. The people who matter. The people who are big and smart and super important.

Those kinds of tables.

And we talked about how we can fight and claw and work and manipulate and schmooze our way into a seat, only to get there and find out it isn’t all we thought it would be. And sometimes we even look back and see the high price we had to pay (or that our family had to pay) – all so we could get a seat at that table.

And none of this is condemning leaders or those who are high up in whatever field they may be in. This isn’t me saying they got their seats the wrong way and they should be ashamed of themselves. Not at all. We need leaders. I need people smarter than me doing all of the important stuff I can’t do. (See. I just used the word “stuff”. I obviously need smarter people who use bigger words.)

For me, our conversation was a personal reminder that I need to check my heart on what I am striving for. It was one of those moments where you realize you need to decide what it is you really want to spend your one life on.

The Holy Spirit nudged me with a telling question on my way home from lunch.

Do you want to make a difference or do you want to be famous?

I shifted uncomfortable in the seat of my minivan.

Because did you know that there are “tables” in Christian circles?

There are.

And I have felt somewhat like I am in high school – this awkward and invisible girl who doesn’t seem to quite fit in anywhere and who feels so very small. I look around and I see all of the ladies who are the “in” gals. And they tweet out sweet messages about each other’s books and speaking engagements. And they post pictures of themselves together having a grand time doing things that look fabulously fun all while being ministerially important.

And a secure heart would celebrate.

But I confess, this heart isn’t totally secure just yet. And there are days I have had to quit looking at my Twitter feed or my Facebook page because it feels like I am looking at the popular table. The table I was not invited to.

And I told my friend that I know, I know I could push hard and promote and connect and try to make something happen. I could make my way to some table somewhere. But that isn’t God’s plan for me or His best for me right now. I know He will open the right doors at the right time and place me at the right tables. And if I push and move outside of His will, it will dearly cost me and cost the precious people at my table – my sticky, crumb and school paper covered kitchen table.

Do I want to make a difference or do I want to be famous?

Because if I want to make a difference, I already am.

I don’t mean that in some prideful or boastful kind of way. What I mean is that we are all making a difference. Of course, we get to choose whether it is a good difference or a bad difference. But we are all making an impact at the tables where we are sitting. Whether it is where we pull up a chair over dinner with our family and our friends or where we sit across from coworkers with our bag lunches or how we sit down and pull up close to talk about the things that matter most to us in places like this blog.

I – by simply being me and being obedient to Him and by making Him known in all that I say and do – am making a difference.

You – no matter how small you may feel – are making a difference.

And it’s really none of our business to try to count up how big that difference is. God knows what He is doing, and He doesn’t need us to tell Him He isn’t doing a good enough job employing our gifts and talents and abilities in this world. (Oh. My. Toes. Did that hurt anyone else???)

I feel slightly exposed writing this all out. Because obviously I wouldn’t be writing it if part of me didn’t want to be famous. If part of me didn’t want a place at one of “those” tables. If part of me didn’t want to matter in the way the world says we need to matter. But I don’t think I am the only one who has ever wrestled with this.

So, sweet invisible feeling sister out there, I just want you to know this:

You matter.

No matter what table you sit at. 

I have foolishly thought for far too long that to make a difference for His kingdom I had to make it “big”. That I had to have a booming blog with a massive following. I thought in terms of numbers. But God reminded me that He doesn’t think like I do (Isaiah 55:8-9). And His math is nothing like my math. (He would leave the 99 for the 1. Not exactly “make you popular” math. And He can take food meant to only feed one and feed thousands. Unbelievable multiplying math.)

I need to stop counting to see if I count.

I need to stop looking around at everyone else’s tables, pull up a seat and simply rest at His table.  

The table where I am always welcome.

The table where I get to feast on His presence and His Word and His love and His mercy and His grace. 

The table Jesus paid a high price for me to have a seat at (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The table where there is room for everyone but no room for egos (Ephesians 2:8-9).

We keep trying to get the world to tell us we matter, and all the while, there is a table set for us, daily waiting for us to come and feast on all that will truly satisfy. A table that declares we mattered enough to die for.

So this is where this girl repents – for sometimes wanting what the world has to offer more than what the Lord has to offer, for forgetting how precious and amazing it is that I have a seat at the table with the King of kings, for trying to steal a little bit of His glory for myself so the world can think I’m something, for the times I have worshiped the people at those tables instead of the only One deserving of my adoration.

And repentance sounds like some awful thing we should avoid, but it isn’t. It’s a beautiful gift. The gift of being able to let the filth of your choices and words and attitudes and actions slide right off of you so you can sit clean at His table, enjoying His presence (Acts 3:19).

The world’s most exclusive tables?

They don’t tend to welcome the filthy, the broken, the hurting.

The Lord’s table?

He not only welcomes you just as you are, He even offers to wash you clean, to bind you up, and to make you whole (1 John 1:9, Psalm 147:3Isaiah 61:1-3).

What an invitation.

Lord, help us to use our influence well. The influence we have at the tables where You have placed us. Help us to love deeply, to share all that we have and all that we are fully, and to spend our days making You known every chance we get, no matter where we sit. And instead of vying for a seat at some worldly table, instead of waiting for some elusive invitation, may we invite people to come and sit with us. To sit at Your table and to taste and see that You are good. We love you, Lord. You and You alone are deserving of all glory and honor and praise. Amen. 

I love you, friends. That you even come and sit and eat the words I serve up here? It is a gift. It is a blessing. And I humbly thank you.

And if this post resonated with you, I HIGHLY recommend reading Emily P. Freeman‘s new book, Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World, when it comes out in August. This book is teaching me more about actually embracing “smallness” instead of hustling so I can be Big and Important. The Lord is using it to give me so much beautiful permission – to be small, to be me, to be His, to just BE. I love Emily’s heart, and I am loving this book.

Learning to Live for HIS Glory and to REST in His Love,
Kimberly

*** Photo credit ***

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn? {Hope for When Your Heart is Hurting and Your Mailbox is Empty}

mailboxI avoided my prayer journal for a while.

Picking up those bound pages felt like stepping back into the bondage of those days. Hard days. Days I wanted to blot out, not read back over.

I am seeing now that it takes time. It takes time to see hard days as a gift. It takes time to see the days of heartache and hurt for what they can be if we let them – opportunities to grow, chances to find out how good and faithful our God truly is. Because there is something about those days. There is something powerful.

They cause me to press into the Lord like nothing else can or does. They open my eyes to see how desperately I need Him, how utterly helpless I am without Him, and how little control I actually have over situations and circumstances and people.

Those days teach me the truth of Matthew 5:4.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” 

If you had asked me years ago what that verse was talking about, I would have said death. My brain immediately associates mourning with someone dying. But I am seeing we can mourn so much more than the death of a person.

We can mourn the loss of a friendship.

We can mourn the death of a dream.

We can mourn when someone does not meet our expectations – the death of our idea of who we thought they were. 

We can mourn the loss of a job, the loss of our marriage, the loss of anything dear to us.

If we lose it, we can mourn it. 

I confess I have struggled with the Beatitudes in the past, the passage we find our focus verse tucked into. This list that declares we are blessed when we are empty and blessed when we mourn and blessed when we are persecuted.

Blessed? Really, God?

Blessed in this verse means “happy, supremely blessed, a condition in which congratulations are in order.” And it feels like a slap in the face when we are in the midst of red-hot, raw pain. I should be happy? I should be congratulated because my heart is bleeding out and I am pretty sure I am not going to survive this?

I admit it. When the pain first hits, I want to avoid verses like Matthew 5:4 and verses that tell me to count it all joy when I face various trials (James 1:2). Those verses feel like salt in the wound. They feel unkind. They feel like a mockery of all I am going through.

But feelings, they can’t always be trusted. And those verses, they are not unkind. They are not insensitive. They are hope. They are the very kindness of God.

Those verses and so many others like them are His precious promises to us. They are His promise to meet us in the midst of our pain. They are His promise not to waste a single tear. They are His promise to strengthen our faith as we trust and surrender to Him even though it hurts. They are His promise to take what the enemy intends for evil and use it for our good.

They are His promise to bless us with what we truly need most – an ever deepening relationship with the One who loves us the most.

I don’t know what you are mourning right now. Maybe you aren’t mourning at all. But when you do face loss that feels like more than you can bear, I just want to encourage you to press in. Press in to the Father instead of pulling away. I know it hurts. I so, so get it if you just want the pain to stop. I always want that too. But I promise you, He has blessing for you even in the midst of this.

He is our Healer. He is our Redeemer. He is our Restorer. And there is always hope in Him.

I’ll finish with this today. I remember standing looking at greeting cards during a particularly difficult season. Row after row of cards filled with encouragement stood before me. Cards to send to loved ones to let them know you care. Cards to remind those struggling that they are going to be okay. I cried on my way home. I cried and wished someone would send me a card, that someone would please tell me I was going to be okay. I wanted to walk out to a mailbox like the one at the top of this post. One brimming with Hallmark hope.

Ever so gently, the Father impressed a whisper on my heart.

I’ve already sent you a card.

I knew immediately what He meant. He sent me His Word. He sent me page after page overflowing with declarations of His love. He sent me line after line of hope and affirmation.

He sent me words that won’t just cheer me up for a moment but that will change me for a lifetime.

He sent me the greatest greeting card ever, but I have to choose to read it. I have to get into it for myself. And yes, His Word is SO much more than a “greeting card.” Referring to it that way is simply how He got through to a blinded and hurting heart that day.

We need to stir our hearts with His Word. We need to stir our hearts, and we need to give our hearts time. Time to catch up with the truth of what He says to us. Time to look back and see His faithfulness. Time to tuck in close to Him and let Him offer us the comfort and grace and hope that is freely ours in Him.

I won’t lie to you – there is still some pain when I pick up my prayer journal. But the nature of it has changed. What once was searing is now more of a flicker. What I once cried out “Why, Lord?” over I now humbly thank Him for. Why? Because my trust in Him has grown. My walk with Him has deepened. And I wouldn’t trade being closer to Him for anything in the world.

I love you, friends. And I am lifting you up today.

Your sister in Christ,

Kimberly