For the Pelicans Among the Eagles {Soaring Above the Temptation to Compare}

ofjKX8aIt trips me up more than I care to admit.

Comparison.

And I end up apologizing – to the Lord, to the world – for everything I’m not. For how my faith doesn’t look quite like hers. For how I don’t do things quite the way she does. For how I feel slow and lumbering while she moves about the things of God with such poise and grace.

And I didn’t expect the Lord to encourage me through a bird. Through a long-legged gray heron patiently watching the water for fish. I was simply out for my morning walk. He was simply looking for his breakfast. And I couldn’t help but smile. At his grace. At the slim black mask over his eyes. At the way he would cock his head to make sure I wasn’t going to disturb his hunting. 

My mind wandered to other hunters of fish. Smaller birds like the brilliantly colored Kingfisher. Swift and powerful birds like the bald eagle. Elegantly plumed birds like the snowy egret. And the list goes on and on with glorious variety. Birds like the puffin and the spoonbill and the pelican. Each one a fisher of fish, yet each one designed so differently by our God. Designed perfectly for their own style of fish catching.

And we, we are called “fishers of men.” Those who follow Jesus and make Him known to the world. Those who help the world taste and see that He is good. And I sensed the Lord reminding me… correcting me…

If He delighted in creating such variety and beauty among the fishers of fish – all of those many kinds of birds – how much more did He delight in creating beauty and variety among His fishers of men?

Oh, that we would rest in the knowledge that we are who we are for a reason. Each with our own unique personality. Each with our own beautiful style of doing things. Each with our own God-designed way of making Jesus known. He isn’t longing for us to be more like other fishers of men. He simply wants us to follow Him, to know Him, and to love Him. He simply wants us to let Him fill us up and let Him flow right back out, making Him known to every person we come across.

Today, you can be you and I can be me.

No comparing. No apologizing.

Even if we feel like squat little puffins in a world of graceful egrets. Even if we feel like awkward pelicans surrounded by soaring eagles.

We can simply know we are exactly who we need to be. And we can choose to believe there is beautiful purpose in who God designed us to be.

May our hearts soar today with the knowledge that we are perfectly loved and beautifully purposed.

Much Love,
Kimberly

When Everyone Else Seems Like Fine China {And You Feel Like a Dollar Store Teacup}

communionI have felt such a strong pull to do communion on my own at home recently. To break off a simple chunk of bread, to pour my small cup of store brand grape juice, and to lay my heart bare before the Lord. To thank Him. To remember. To press in as tight and as close as I can. To ask Him to fill and then to pour out.

And as I was heading out to go for a walk one morning, I felt the tug. To pause. To press in. To take communion. So I pulled out the bread, grabbed a fresh bottle of juice, and then reached for a cup to use. A dollar store teacup one of my daughter’s got at a birthday party caught my eye. My thoughts began to swirl as I pulled it out and set up my small time of communion.

It’s not a cup many would find value in. The imperfect floral pattern around the top. The chipped, fake gold paint lining the rim. It is, quite honestly, a cheap cup. Not a cup to grace the tables of kings and queens. Not a cup that would be sold in the finest of stores. Not a cup the world would really find all that desirable.

Except for the thirsty.

When you are thirsty, truly thirsty, you don’t care what vessel your drink comes in – fine china or a dollar store knock off, exquisite crystal or brightly colored plastic. You just want your thirst to be quenched.

And as those thoughts settled in my heart, before bread or juice ever even touched my lips, I was undone.

Because I can still get so caught up in and hindered by thoughts about my own vessel, about what I think I have to offer. Not just my physical “vessel”, but also my personality and my gifts and abilities. I get to feeling small and unimportant, forgetting that what matters is what is going to pour out of me. What matters is what will slake the thirst of those who are parched for hope, parched for joy, parched for living water. Water that will become a fountain springing up into everlasting life (John 4:10-14). People need to taste of my Savior, not be impressed by the woman carrying Him. And He doesn’t just let certain “impressive” people carry Him. Anyone willing, anyone who calls Him Lord, may offer Him to a thirsty world.

Tears slipped past my feeble eyelash barrier as truth set in.

The King wants to use this cup.

This vessel.

The shape, the size, the apparent worth to the world of my vessel, of your vessel? Those things just don’t matter. They don’t matter to the thirsty. We don’t have to be fancy or impressive. We just have to be available to our King.

My dollar store teacup may not look like much, but it is useful. And it is clean. And this woman? While I may not look like much to some, He says I am useful in His Kingdom. And so I pray, asking Him to keep this vessel clean.

Lord, let me be an empty vessel You can pour out of.
Let me be a clean vessel. One where sin, pride, and selfishness do not mix in and pour out as well. 
Let my life leave the sweet taste of You on the lips of the weary. 
Let me be a vessel for the thirsty. 
Pour out of me, I pray. 

Today, maybe you need to stop looking at your “vessel”. Maybe you need to stop comparing yourself with others and simply let the God with whom NO ONE can compare pour out of you. He wants to use you – no matter how plain and unimpressive you may feel.

He wants to bless the thirsty through your life.

May we remain clean and usable hearts before our mighty and loving God,
Kimberly

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 ***

The Truth About Nobodies and Somebodies

red carpetThat Jesus.

He’s really somebody.

The Son of God. 

The Alpha and the Omega. 

The Beginning and the End.

The One who is and who was and who is to come.

The Almighty.

And His list of titles, they can’t get any more impressive – Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

And the One who had every right to show up with cameras flashing and red carpet rolled out grand – because, hey, He’s the Word and He’s the One who was there with God in the beginning and He’s the One through whom and for whom all things were created – He showed up humble and small instead. The Son of God, wrapped in flesh destined to be pierced and torn to pay for the sins of this world. The Holy One, laying aside the advantages of His status, claiming no special privileges, willingly living a servant’s life. (Philippians 2:5-8)

And it hits me hard.

The great Somebody, the greatest Somebody ever, He became a nobody. For me. 

We live in this world that tells us we have to be somebody. We have to get our names up in lights or in the history books or on the covers of our own books. And we pound the pavement hard to make sure we are seen and we are known, to make sure someone can see that we really are somebody.

We can even try do it in in His name – as if only when we are really a somebody will we be able to reach anybody.

I’ve been that woman – working hard to be somebody, chasing hard after other somebodies, wearing myself out trying to make myself into somebody I’m not, into somebody they’ll love.

And I need to stop and say this – I’m not slamming writing books. I love books. I praise God for those who have written books that have fed my soul and helped me grow. Books should be written. Books need to be written. But they need to be written as an act of service, not as a means to be seen.

And I am starting to see –  

The Name above all names isn’t calling me to make a name for myself.

Because my name? It’s already engraved on the palms of His hands. (Isaiah 49:15-16) And my name? It may never make it into the history books, but it is forever written in His book. (Luke 10:20) And my name? It doesn’t hold the power to save, to heal, to set free. Only His name holds that kind of power. The name of Jesus.

And Jesus, the One who became a nobody for me – He isn’t asking me to become a somebody for Him.

He’s calling me to live a life patterned after His.

And He came to serve, not to be served.

He came for the sick, not for the well.

He came for the nobodies, not to try to impress the somebodies too puffed up and proud to even know they need a Savior.

He, the great Somebody, willingly showed up as a nobody. 

And I love this reminder from His Word:

“Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.”
Romans 12:16b, MSG

All of this – it settles my heart. It slows down my frantic pace to be and to do and to achieve and to impress.

It slows me down and reminds me to receive – to fill up on all that He offers instead of begging the world to make me feel like I’m enough.

It reminds me to see – to notice the ones who feel like nobodies, the ones who need to know they are somebody to Him and to me.

And it reminds me to love – to offer freely and fully to others what I have already been freely and abundantly given.

What peace and rest.

He doesn’t want us to wow the world. He wants us to love it, to serve it, to minister to it in His name. 

And we don’t need the world to notice us, because He’s already noticed and He’s always had His eyes and His heart set on you and on me.

So today, if you feel like a nobody in the world’s eyes, I want you to know this – it’s okay. It really is.

He’s in the nobody using business. (see 1 Corinthians 1:26-29)

And He became a nobody for you and you are somebody to Him and He wants to work in you and through you.

Humble, small, right where you are you.

We don’t have to be somebodies. We can be small and we can be His and we can do amazing things in His name. I’m pretty sure we will be amazed when we get to heaven, when actually we see the reach and the impact He had through us – a bunch of nobodies.

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21, NLT

Blessings, dear friends,
Kimberly

When You Stop Apologizing {And Simply Start Celebrating Who You Are}

Thirty-eight years.

It has taken thirty-eight years for me to start to feel it. This settling of my soul. This beginning of being comfortable with who I am and with who God made me to be.

For most of my life, I have been an apologizer – apologizing for anything and everything.

For who I am.

For who I’m not.

For what I’ve done.

For what I’ve failed to do.

And while apologies are meant to be a good thing – a time of expressing our sorrow over our sins and mistakes, a time for asking someone else to release us from the burden of what we have or haven’t done – apologizing for who you are doesn’t bring any kind of release. It doesn’t bring any form of peace.

Apologizing for who we are only brings bondage. 

Apologizing for who we are burdens our souls.

Because when we apologize for who we are, we start tying ourselves to expectations we were never meant to keep. We start trying to be people we were never designed to be. And we get all tied up and tripped up by lies that say who God made us to be isn’t good or needed or beautiful.

Instead of being women walking in joy, women walking in freedom, women walking purposefully in the life God has laid out for us, we become women bound. Bound by fear and disappointment and insecurity. Women bound by the lie of “not enough”.

I know because this has been me. I have been a woman weighed down by discouragement because I cannot get anything quite right. A woman frantically working and striving to be more and do more because who I am just isn’t quite enough. A woman insecure and exhausted and on the verge of just giving up all together.

And as truth is finally settling in my heart and setting me free, I can’t help but wonder…

Why is this revelation to me?

That He isn’t waiting on me to be someone else.

And why has it taken me thirty-eight years to choose to let His Word sink in deep and settle me?  

His Word that declares I am a masterpiece. I am. Not I will be. Not a when/then. As in, when I am more like her or him or her, then I will be one. I already am one. Right now. I am His masterpiece, created anew in Christ Jesus so I can do the good things He planned for me long ago. (Ephesians 2:10)

And why have I carried these apologies around in my soul for so long?

Lord, I’m sorry I’m not a woman who is super organized. I’m sorry I don’t work full-time, that trying to work more than part-time totally stresses me out. I’m sorry that I am not a nurse or a teacher or a missionary on foreign soil. I’m sorry I seem bent towards things that draw attention to me – things like writing and speaking. I’m sorry that I can’t seem to keep quiet in meetings when something stirs in my heart.

And I can’t seem to breathe in or out without saying it in some way.

I’m sorry. 

The Lord called me out last week on apologizing for what I love to do. For loving to put words together in the hopes of blessing others.

I had just dropped all of my girls off at school, and as I drove home in the quiet of my van, He decided it was a good time for us to have a little heart to heart conversation. Questions stirred in my heart.

How much do you love words?

A lot, Lord.

Hasn’t your life been changed and impacted by the words of others?

Yes, Lord. Greatly.

And how thankful are you for others who share their words?

Very thankful.

So why do you keep apologizing that you love to share words? 

Oh.

Right now I am reading Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning, and I love a quote tucked into a passage about the fruitlessness and foolishness of comparing ourselves with others.

“A fledging writer is at peace until he compares himself to William Faulkner. An adequate quarterback is satisfied until he compares himself to Joe Montana. I’m okay until I compare myself to Mother Teresa.
Israel Schwartz was sad because he wasn’t like Moses. One night an angel appeared to him and said, ‘On Judgment Day, Yahweh will not ask you why you were not Moses; he will ask you why you were not his beloved Izzy.'” (pgs. 141-142)

God will never ask me why I wasn’t more like the authors I admire or the leaders I look up to or the moms I feel like I pale in comparison to.

But He very well may ask me why who He designed me to be was never enough in my eyes.

And I keep seeing it more and more clearly – how every apology I make about who I am or who I’m not is actually me telling God He messed up. That He made a mistake. That how He designed me isn’t enough for this world or for the purposes He has for me.

Sweet. Mercy. I’m sorry, but who do I think I am?

And so He keeps encouraging me (through the words of others, no less), that who I am is good and needed and ENOUGH.

Right now,

  • I am a waker-upper and a comber of hair and a fixer of lunches in the morning.
  • I am a helper with homework and a fixer of dinner and a welcome home kisser in the evenings.
  • I am woman who works only two days a week and who fights with finding the desire to keep up with the dishes and the laundry the rest of the week.
  • I am a woman who has a heart that is moved mightily by a good book – fiction or non-fiction – underlining passages, dog-earring pages, taking notes.
  • I am a woman who loves to see God revealed in nature. If it is an illustration from His created world? It. Speaks. To. Me.
  • I am a woman who gets so crazy excited when she hears from God or learns something new that she has to share it or straight up bust.
  • And I am a woman who loves to craft words together. A woman who loves to journal. A woman who loves to write. A woman who loves to share her heart through both the written and the spoken word.

And that’s okay.

That’s all good.

That’s who He made me to be and where He has me right now.

And I can thank Him for every one of those bullet points instead of apologizing for them.

I want to share two quotes with you before I go. One is from THIS post –  a post I linked to before. A post I have printed out and underlined for my own keeping.

“His Kingdom is Upside Down and in Him your part is large and lovely and needed and art.” ~Ann Voskamp

Your part. My part. Whatever those may be. They are lovely and needed and art. I love that.

And then these definitions:

Artist – A person who is brave enough to move toward what makes her come alive.

Art – What happens when you dare to be who you really are; when what is most alive in you is offered as a gift to others.” ~Emily Freeman

Yes.

This is what I want.

I want to live a life of making art. Showing up fully as a wife, as a mom, as a writer. Giving my family and the world the gift of me fully alive.

Art in the way I love my husband and my children.

Art in the way I care for my home.

Art in the way I share my heart through words.

Art because I keep offering the best of me.

Art because I know what I offer is beautiful and good and needed.

Art because it is settled in my heart – I am already a masterpiece.

The art of me being fully me. Me offering all of me – to my family, to my loved ones, to the world, to my God – without apology, trusting that what I have to offer is good.

Emily Freeman wrote a 31 day series celebrating artists who influence at her blog. And you know what? It wasn’t just 31 days of big name people. It was 31 days of all kinds of people. People who inspire by simply being who God created them to be. No apologies. You can check it out HERE.

Today, will you do this for me? If you struggle with apologizing for who you are and for who you aren’t, will you take a minute and ask God to help you celebrate? Ask Him to show you something beautiful and purposeful and wonderful that He has tucked into you. Ask Him to remind you that where you are and who you are matters. Ask Him to show you how your life is art.

I love you, dear friends.

Let’s let Him settle our hearts with truth.

Let’s be who He made us to be. 

With joy.

With celebration.

With purpose.

And without apology.

Blessings,

Kimberly

Be Your Own Beautiful

It’s funny – how you can think you have made major progress in a certain area of your life. How you can think you have grown and that you don’t struggle as much you once did.

And then you get an e-mail.

You get an e-mail that somehow manages to reach down inside of you and find that place where apparently you aren’t totally whole yet. You get an e-mail that hits you where the healing must not be complete, because the old familiar ache shows up with a quickness. You get an e-mail that causes you to slowly push back your computer, lay your head down on folded arms, and let the tears leak out.

Not shoulder-shaking sobs, mind you. Just gentle tears. The ones that declare that you aren’t quite as over your stuff as you thought you were.

So what horrible, tear-inducing things did I find in this e-mail? (I’m almost embarrassed to confess this to you.) It was an e-mail letting me know “she” is releasing another book.

This she who is beautiful on the outside. This she who is continually doing beautiful and powerful things for God with her life. This she who has written book after book after book while I keep saying I am going to write one. This she with her cute clothes and her stunning book jacket photo that seem a million miles from what I see when I look in the mirror.

And I won’t tell you who she is. Because ultimately? It doesn’t matter. There is always another she. There are always other shes we can end up comparing ourselves with. And that morning, as I foolishly held my life up against hers, I suddenly felt small.

Small and anything but beautiful.

Thankfully, I knew this wasn’t good or right thinking. I knew I had entered dangerous territory by comparing myself to someone else. I knew I didn’t need to let my heart settle in and dwell in that place of discouragement. So I quickly typed out an e-mail to a close friend, confessing my heart issues, and then headed off for a morning walk.

I love my walks. They are a time for me to pray, a time for God to encourage my heart, and (more often than not) a time for Him to correct my crazy thoughts and line them back up with His Word. And that is just what He did that morning.

As I walked and poured out my heart before Him, I kept noticing all of the flowers. Bloom after beautiful bloom demanding my attention, making me smile. Each one unique in shape and color and size, yet each one still bursting with such beauty. I couldn’t help but marvel at how creative our God is. At how magnificent all that He has made is. I started making a mental list of all of the many things I find beautiful in His creation, a list that could go on forever – the brilliant colors of the sunset, dewdrops clinging to strong yet delicate looking strands of a spider’s web, the strength and beauty that ripple through the powerful muscles of a horse, the glory of the night sky.

All so very different, yet all still so very beautiful. 

I marveled even more. They are all beautiful at the same time. It sounds so simplistic, but I had never really thought about any of this before. How the beauty of one thing does not negate the beauty of another. And in that moment I heard the loving, encouraging, correcting whisper of the Father.

Be your own beautiful. 

Be my own beautiful. Because worth and beauty are not solely found in a life that looks like hers. Be my own beautiful. Because how she does ministry is not the only way ministry is done. Be my own beautiful. Because He didn’t create me so I could spend all of my days trying to be someone else.

My beauty will never come from trying to be her or from trying to live a life for Jesus exactly like hers. My beauty rests in how He made me. My beauty is revealed in a life lived in humble obedience, a life lived overflowing with His grace and love, a life lived where I joyfully walk out the path He has laid out for ME

I have permission to be my OWN beautiful. You do, too.

Image-1 (16)You get to be your own beautiful.

I don’t know who your she is. Maybe you have multiple shes. Women you keep comparing yourself to. Women you keep wishing you could be a little more like. Women you look at and think, “Man. She is so beautiful.”

You know what. She is. She is beautiful. But so are you. And so am I. And her beauty? It doesn’t negate our beauty.

And I need you to hear me. I don’t mean all of this in some wimpy, hokey “let’s hug each other and make each other feel better about ourselves today” kind of way. I mean it in a strong and powerful “let’s get this deep down in our hearts so we can get on about the business of living the beautiful lives He planned out for us” kind of way.

Because comparisons kill.

They kill joy. They kill hope. They kill purpose. And they are killing me and you. 

Today, you get to be you. You get to be your own beautiful. With all of your strengths and weaknesses. With your goofiness and quirks. With the slightly off way that you smile and the ridiculous way that your glasses never sit right on your face because your ears don’t sit level. (Oops. Sorry. That last one is me.) But you get to be YOU. Fearfully and wonderfully made YOU. Created on purpose and with purpose YOU.

The world wouldn’t be near as wonderful without all of the vastly different kinds of beautiful that exist in it. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to imagine a world where the radiance of the sun stops showing up because she is jealous of the gentle glow of the moon. I don’t want to live in a world where the simple, white daisies quit blooming because they envy the lush petals of the deeply-hued rose.

And God doesn’t want there to be a world without the crazy, unique, just right beauty of me and you. He wouldn’t have made us if He didn’t want us. He isn’t wishing we would just hurry up and be more like her or her or her. What He probably wishes more than anything is that we would simply start to trust.

Trust that He loves us.

Trust how He made us.

Trust that it is okay to be our own beautiful.

Can you imagine if we did that? Can you imagine if we all asked Him what it is that makes us beautiful, what it is that He created us to do, and then we simply started living? As in really living. Rooted in love living. Walking in joy living. Being our own beautiful living.

I’m not going to lie, I think that would be pretty amazing. And I think that is exactly what this girl wants to start doing.

Praying we can each one learn what it means to be our own beautiful. Praying that as we feel secure in our own beautiful, we can even learn to celebrate each other’s beautiful.

Love you, my BEAUTIFUL friends,

Kimberly

How to Live a Fruitless and Frustrated Life

God knew you.

Before He ever formed you, before the world had ever laid eyes on you, before you ever said a single prayer asking Him what you should do with your life – He knew you.

He knew you and He formed you.

He knit you together with joy and with wisdom, with love and with accuracy. No mistakes. Just as He meant you to be. And He was well-pleased to introduce you to the world. You with His plans and purposes and beauty tucked right there into your tiny, squirming newborn frame.

And you started to grow.

Longer. Stronger.

Learning to take steps and form words and dream dreams.

And you didn’t apologize – for who you were or for what you wanted to be.

You were just you.

And I was just me.

And I don’t know when it happened. When that shift took place. When we reached that age where we started measuring ourselves according to everyone else. That point when we started questioning who God made us to be – wishing we could be more like him or like her. That moment we started apologizing for who He made us to be, as if who we are isn’t quite enough.

And I saw it spelled out for me in the Word this week. I saw the key to living a fruitless and frustrated life. And people can raise eyebrows and look at me like I’m crazy, because who in their right mind would sign up for that kind of life? But sometimes, we need to recognize the way we don’t want to go so we can turn around and travel the path we want to. Sometimes, we need someone to wake us up before it’s too late and we end up with a life that doesn’t truly satisfy.

Because I think most of us really do want to be fruitful. We want lives that have meaning. Lives that are significant. Lives overflowing with joy and with purpose. And we don’t have be embarrassed or ashamed for wanting those things. God wants all of those things for us. He wants us to be fruitful. He even goes so far as to say He wants us to bear MUCH fruit with our lives.  LASTING fruit. Why? Because when we do what He created us to do, when we bear much fruit, it brings Him glory. (John 15:1-16)

And therein lies the catch.

Or rather the key.

The key to being fruitful and joyful?

It’s found in us simply doing what He created us to do. 

Not me trying to do what you were created to do. Not you trying to do what she was created to do.

Just us. Back to the basics.

Back to a place where you are just you and I am just me. 

A place where we don’t have to envy each other or compete with one another because we know. We know that who He made us to be is good.

The key to being frustrated and fruitless? 

Compare yourself and end up climbing ladders you were never meant to climb. 

Because comparisons open the door to envy which leads us headlong into lives He never intended for us to live.

We see the success of others, the beauty of others, and suddenly we think we need to be who they are and start doing what they are doing. And we can end up climbing ladders we were never meant to climb to achieve lives we were never designed to live. And God’s Word tells us that kind of climbing is meaningless. Pointless.

“Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:4 (NLT)

Trying to become like someone else because we envy them? Because we long for their fruit, despising our own? All it can ever bring to our lives is confusion and disorder. All it can ever do is steal our peace and lead us to a place of rebelling against God and His plans for us.

“For wherever there is jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry and selfish ambition), there will also be confusion (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices.” James 3:16 (AMP)

And we can miss out on bearing our own fruit because we are trying so hard to grow someone else’s fruit. Pear trees staring longingly at cherry trees, wondering just how they can grow that delicate, red fruit instead of such clunky, odd shaped offerings. And what is ridiculous and impossible in the natural is also spiritually frustrating and fruitless for us.

How easily we can forget:

We were made to be fruit-bearers, not fruit-comparers. 

And I get it. I get the frustration. Some people? They get more attention for their fruit. They get more applause. They get more pats on the back for all that they do and for who they are. And so it can appear like their fruit matters more. Like your fruit must not be much of an offering after all. But that’s when we have to remember this:

appleFruit is meant to be eaten, not to be applauded. 

No one picks fruit to stare at it. To admire it. To applaud it for being so lovely, only to walk away and let it rot.

Fruit is for eating. Fruit is for the hungry, for the malnourished, for everyone.

And when we remember that is the point of our fruit – to serve, to feed, to nourish – suddenly, it doesn’t matter if the world notices. Feeding even just one person with our lives becomes important and worthwhile because we know we were made to bless, not to impress. We were made to bring Him – the Designer, the Creator, the One we can do nothing apart from – glory wherever He sees fit. Feeding many, feeding any, with all that He has created us to do.

I love this prayer from Ann Voskamp. I can’t remember exactly where I found it. It is simply a prayer for her daughters, and it is one I have latched onto for myself and for each of my girls.

“May she be bread and feed many with her life and laughter,
May she be thread and mend brokenness and knit hearts,
May she be dead to all ladders and never go higher,
only lower, to the lonely, the least and the longing,
Her led of the Spirit to lead many to the cross that leads
to the tomb wildly empty.” ~ Ann Voskamp

That’s what I want to be. Who I want to be. Bread. Thread. Dead to all ladders and Spirit-led.

A life that is truly fruitful.

A life that ultimately leads others to taste and see that He is good. 

And not that my life has been utterly fruitless and pointless thus far. Not at all. But I know I have missed out on bearing fruit because I have envied the fruit of others. I know I have brought frustration and confusion and disorder to my life because I have tried to climb ladders that aren’t mine to climb. And I know I have mistakenly thought the point of my fruit was for it to be on display for my glory.

And so I end this post with repentance. And if your life has felt fruitless and frustrating lately, maybe join me in this today? Because we have the choice. The choice to stop. To turn around. To start living the life we really want to live.

Heavenly Father, we come before you today with humble hearts asking for Your forgiveness. We have doubted You. We have looked around at the world and then declared with our thoughts and our attitudes and our actions that how You made us just isn’t good enough. That You have held out on us. That You have loved others more than You have loved us. That You have assigned them the better fruit. Oh, Lord, forgive us. You are loving and perfect and good in all of Your ways. Who You made us to be is good. Very, very good. And we say before You today we want to be fruit-bearers, not fruit-comparers. Today, we come into agreement with You about who You say we are – beautiful, beloved, chosen, purposed, created fearfully and wonderfully. We want to bear our fruit. Our own fruit. And we want to bear it with joy, bringing You glory. We trust You. We love You. We praise You. Amen. 

Today, you can just be you and I can just be me. We can bear our own fruit and enjoy one another’s fruit and trust that it really is all good.

I love you, friends. May we get these truths tucked deep down into our hearts, into a place where they can bloom true joy and produce pure peace.

Much love,

Kimberly