Soon to be a family of THREE!

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As we anticipate the arrival of the newest family member, I can hardly believe that we’re going to meet our SON so soon!

Looking back on the past nine months, I’d say it went fairly well.

Although, having nothing to compare pregnancy too, I’m not sure what my expectations were.

I knew my belly was going to get huge, but it actually didn’t get as big as I’d imagined. I knew morning sickness could be hit-or-miss, and for me, it was exactly that. Mornings were difficult, however I was still able to cope and function my way to lunchtime.

Did I have cravings? More like aversions! If my husband would simply say “broccoli” out-loud it would make me gag. The same gag that happened every day while trying to swallow my pre-natal vitamins… Who knew, the supplement queen and veggie-lover would struggle with these two very things? As it goes, these are the things women are told to increase in their diets during pregnancy, both of which I found problematic and near to impossible!

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Despite eating meat and potatoes (usually in the form of french fries) for the majority of my meals, when blood test results came back, my iron level was an 8! While this explained the low energy and dizziness I felt throughout the day, it stressed me out since I thought I was eating enough red meat as it was.

So my sweet husband went out and purchased a cheap coal grill, and I feasted on delicious home-made burgers and kebabs. We also splurged and made special trips to Shake Shack as well as frequented a mini burger eatery a few Sundays in a row…

I added an extra iron supplement, and after a month finally began to feel its effects. Unfortunately I ran out a week before the due date and have to wait for my parents to bring more with them when they visit after the baby is born.

 

Pregnancy, aside from the general aches and pains, was quite an enjoyable first-time experience. It helps that I have the most incredible, loving husband who is just as excited as I am about the bundle growing inside me. It’s clear, I picked a good one:)

And he’s going to be the best dad. 🙂

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Yes, I realize I’m wearing the same outfit for these pictures as I did for the pictures we took in Spain… I guess I didn’t feel the need to buy more than one “picture-taking” maternity dress!

Let’s be Real

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A couple weeks ago, my husband asked if I would speak during the message portion of a prayer and worship night. My initial reaction was a big loud “HECK NO!”, followed by a million excuses for why I’m the last person he should ask to speak.

I mean, c’mon, nobody wants to hear a story that doesn’t have a happy ending yet… That was the first lie.

Besides, God and I aren’t really that tight right now. Lie #2.

I can’t say anything meaningful while I’m still battling with my own doubt. Lie #3.

I don’t have any spiritual insight worth hearing. Lie #4.

I don’t want to burden others with my own suffering. Lie #5.

Need I continue? You get the picture.

My husband challenged me to pray about it, and as I sought for an answer, the Spirit lead me to 2 Timothy 3: 14-15

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

and then I turned back to 2 Timothy 2:13 and read outloud,

“If we are faithless, He remains faithful still.”

Even though I feel like my faith has been rocked, that I failed God as soon the road got tough, I KNOW IN WHOM I BELIEVE. My God has a relationship with me, and He has never once let me go.

And for that reason alone, I share with you now what I shared with them on that anointed Saturday night.

If you’ve got 30 minutes, sit down, grab your Bible and some coffee, and listen HERE.

While I do apologize for the blubbering and for the poor recording quality, I will not apologize for being REAL.

May God receive all the glory.

 

 

Give Thanks

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You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

Psalms 30:11-12

Even after a hard year, I can’t help but give thanks. In fact, on many accounts it’s the only thing I CAN do.

It’s been nearly 11 months since being diagnosed nutrient deficient. The healing process has been longer and slower than I anticipated, but because I was lacking the nutrients my body needed to survive, it was shutting itself down.

A recovery from such takes time, and every day I have the chance to push it along via greens and whole food supplements. But that’s about all I have control over. How my insides respond is up to God, and from what I can see, He’s not quite ready to heal me just yet.

See, I’ve had more than my share of dreaded down time, meaning I’m on the coach with a headache clawing at my eyes and stomach about to turn. However, it’s been in some of those most agonizing moments where God decides to have ‘us’ time.

Whether it’s a word of truth through a song I have playing softly in the background, a peaceful Presence during a burst of silent (or not-silent) sobs, or when He shouts out a sudden halt to my negative spiral of thoughts, the Lord continues to pursue me.

Wherever I am, however I’m feeling, Jesus wants to MEET. WITH. ME.

But God, I haven’t been reading my bible…

Kimmy, just be with me.

But I’m in so much pain…

Beloved, give me your burdens. Let me help you.

But if I were healed I could do so much more for you…

My daughter, do you realize I already did everything for YOU?

There’s been many of these conversations where, in result, I end up turning my heart upward in gratitude to my Savior. Physically nothing has changed, but inwardly my soul has been renewed, washed clean by one who underwent more torment than any human ever could.

It’s basically an understatement to say that Jesus gets it. He truly understands. And although in His darkest hour the Father and the entire world turned their backs on him, Jesus never has and never will turn His back on me.

For that, I give thanks.

Achieving Awareness

We make plans, and we make goals. On a vary rare occasion are we without them. What would happen if we just lived moment by moment. Is it even possible? How, then, would we accomplish anything?

Accomplishment. Ah, there’s the root issue.

Most people derive a sense of proud ownership over a completed task. We’re driven to finish what we started. And once we finish, to start something else.

Why do our hearts beat so?

I may not have the answer to this question, but I do know that humanity thrives on it. Our flesh has to constantly be “DOING” something. Our entire time on earth is filled with a history of prior achievements and dreams for future successes.

Is this wrong?

Not entirely.

I think there are healthy paths towards achievement, but there are also plenty of harmful paths that disguise their way unto our road map.

For instance,

Motivation.

One fat word that carves itself into each and every day.

You wake up. What influences your motivation for how you start your morning? Did you have a breakthrough the night before? Or a break-up?

If the first, you might have your heart set on following your new lead with a powerful ambition to explore the concept thoroughly and completely until you arrive at the best possible answer and (ahem) end up saving the world. If the latter, perhaps there’s a hidden vengeance in your agenda that day as you step on people to get what you want, or present a careless idea that could domino into a cycle of destruction.

While those examples might have been a little extreme, it shows how our motivation is what sets the standards we use for progress and how we define our success. Our level of success largely depends on the attitude and manner of how we acquired it.

Why do I write all this? Because I am one who likes to DO DO DO. I like to push myself and push others to ACHIEVE.

So, the big question is this. What happens when your motivation seems to be pure, but your progress is hindered? What does success look like then?

Before I answer this question, let’s add some more perspective.

When my life recently took an unexpected turn down a road that appears to have no outlet, my progress was brought to a halt. With no way out, my plans, goals, and dreams all immediately crashed into an impenetrable brick wall. Stuck, I was forced to step back and check my overall aim.

Was what I was trying to accomplish so terribly important? Who am I trying to impress? What would achieving this do for me? For others?

Road blocks provide us with the opportunity to pause and look at our game plan from new angles. Often times they reveal stained motivation, and recognition of this can then lead to a higher path with a better outcome than we had first envisioned.

As I peered deeper into the well of motivation I was drawing from, the questions I asked myself helped me to see clearer than ever before. What did I see?

I saw my worth.

Although my ambitions had outwardly well-meaning intentions, quite honestly, everything I had my heart set on accomplishing was so I would feel worthy. Worthy of love. Worthy of salvation. Worthy of friends’ and family members’ support. Worthy of my career.

As is the greatest temptations to all do-ers, by losing myself in a cycle of works, I lost sight of WHO and WHAT makes me worthy. And it’s definitely not me or anything I can do. With that kind of motivation, thank God He stopped me in my tracks.

So, let me re-ask that previous question. What does true success look like when progress is hindered?

Even with the purest motivation, I truly think it’s not what you accomplish but how and why you do it. (As I write this my inner achiever self is cringing!)

Still, my newfound opinion of success now steadily streams out of the way I handle the hindrances thrown my way. For, when obstacles jump in the way of my goals, I see it merely as a chance to reassess and reflect on what’s motivating me and how I got here in the first place.

Perhaps it will transfer me to a different path entirely.

Wherever it brings me, I’m succeeding in something we’re often too goal-oriented to achieve:

AWARENESS.

Though I may not see be seeing progress to the degree of which I had hoped, I believe this type of success isn’t dependent on how much gets done, rather, the success of inner reflection, trust, and grace along the way.

 

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Making Us Holy is His Aim

The ongoing battle for joy has become a bit easier these days.

No, health-wise nothing has visibly improved, and on top of everything else I caught a nasty virus that’s been going around, putting me in bed for a week. However, I’ve been practicing. Practicing Jesus’ joy.

I can’t say I’ve perfected it, but by God’s grace my spirit and my mind have come to terms of circumstantial acceptance and true Biblical application.

According to Oswald Chambers, the true oswalddefinition of Jesus’ joy is His absolute self-surrender and self-sacrifice to His Father- the joy of doing that which the Father send Him to do.”

“…who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross…” (Hebrews 12:2) 

I’ve touched lightly on this in a previous blog. But since then, I can truly say the Lord has been maturing my understanding of joy.

I’ve focused on the evils of my suffering. Of the discomfort. I’ve been hanging onto the hope of one day being healed- trying to look past the pain instead of surrendering to the purpose God has for me during my current situation: to bring me closer to Himself. In any and every situation, God always declares His seal on my life.

Although my physical body is achingly in distress, my soul is content. In His Word He says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Though I may not know why I’m undergoing such inconvenient pain, I know Who is in control. I surrender to Him alone. I lean into Him and long to know Him more. He tells me to“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)  Oh, I’m still alright.

I continue to pray for healing every day, and I pray for more faith to pray with. I remind God of His promises for me. Do I desire to live like this, with non-stop headaches and nausea? No. But more than that, I do NOT desire to live outside the will of God. And for now, this is His will. I need to preside in it.

The last thing I want is to be caught up in my own cares. I want to instead be caught up in proclaiming Jesus and what He has done. I don’t want to merely be aware of my life, but to FIND my life in Christ. To be ONE in Him.

This is the purpose of my life. How easy it is to become distracted by circumstance. Is health the most important thing to me? No. Have I made it the most important? Close to it.

Oswald Chambers reminds us that We are not destined to happiness, nor to health, but to holiness… the only thing that truly matters is whether a person will accept the God who will make him holy.”

Whoah. My self-inclined sympathy and resistance to my health issues definitely don’t belong in my relationship with God. I can’t imagine Christ complaining on the cross. What a whiner I’ve become. Yes, I know He cares for me. But my prayer of “God please take away my pain” doesn’t look anything like “God please make me holy”.

He commands it, “... it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.'” (1 Peter 1:16)

How have I missed praying in His will??? He wants to make me exactly like Himself. I mean, that’s how He created us- in His image. Then He sent Jesus to save us so He can restore us to Himself in complete holiness.

That’s His plan. That’s all He wants for me.

When I can’t see purpose in my sickness, there is greater purpose beyond because I have joyfully surrendered to whatever my Father has for me to do. I am filled by Him to be used by Him. “I delight to do Your will, O my God…” (Psalm 40:8).

It’s encouraging to understand that as I continue to embrace relationship with Him, He is making me holy. No matter the circumstance- even when I’m sick at home- His goal is unconditional. And He does it in His grace. I don’t deserve it, yet He wills it.

Such a joyful concept. What more could I ask for?

Thank You Lord Jesus for Your rule and reign in my life. Thank You for Your plan to make me holy as You are holy. Thank You for making me Yours and for revealing Yourself to me. Help me to find fulness of Joy only in You that You may be glorified in me. I will praise You still. 

Celebrate the Good Days

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My husband and I celebrated my progress with mugs of decaf Americanos and chocolate chunk gluten free oat cakes. Being that I’ve been off caffeine and sugar for the past 3 months, this seemed an appropriate way to commemorate stepping stones of success.

I didn’t totally go wild, however- thus the decaf- and I’ll still be sugar free/caffeine free until my body totally rebuilds its systems.

But for now, a minor cheat deemed a worthy cause.

What’s the progress?

At my last doctors appointment, it appeared that my chemical toxin detox has been completed. There are no lingering amounts of the chemicals my body had been affected by. This means I’m able to stop taking 3 of the supplements I’ve been on. Hooray! Good job body!

We really do have an amazing Creator. He designed our bodies with the ability to heal themselves when given a chance.

Thank you, Great Physician, for the organic healing you’ve administered throughout my physical being.

Healthwise, the good days are finally outnumbering the bad. Remember when it seemed impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel? Well, I can see it now. Encouraged beyond all hope, my anticipation only grows.

With glimpses of a healthy and uninhibited lifestyle in the near future, all I can do is pray that my body continues to move forward. Although there will still be a few more relapse hurdles to jump over, I know that as I push off the ground, my strides are steadily bringing me closer to the finish line.

The exhertion I spend getting there won’t be anything in comparison to the energy I’ll be rewarded with.

I’m turning the bend. Homestretch here I come.

The Key to Successful Suffering

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

When I begin to think that nobody can understand the suffering I’m in, I must remind myself that I am not the first one who has suffered. Neither am I suffering to the extent of others before me nor others who are also currently suffering. Everyone suffers from something at some point of their life. It’s inevitable.

In a book of conversations by Brother Lawrence, he says something about suffering that rattled my mind anew. In summary, he declares his surprise over how there isn’t more suffering the world. Considering the weight of sin and power of evil still lurking on earth, he thinks there should be greater levels of suffering than there actually is. At the same time, he bothers to not be concerned over the existing suffering with knowledge that God could change everything in an instant.

What an incredible reminder to those who are suffering. There could be more – there SHOULD be more- suffering. But no. For we walk in the kingdom of an alive and gracious God who chose to rescue us from life void of love, compassion, and miracles. Instead he brought us into a family of forgiveness, mercy, and hope.

The Way to this Kingdom has suffered what no one ever will. A Father sending his Son into the gloomy depths of an excruciating death, betrayed by those he came to save. Yet he fought for us, conquering hell’s grip over our lives by paying the price we ourselves would have otherwise paid.

Hebrews said it was “for the joy set before him.” Jesus walked willingly towards that suffering cross- with JOY.

I’m guessing the joy Jesus had was no ordinary joy. In light of our salvation, Jesus decides to give us his joy too!

“These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11

These things were his revelations to his disciples. His revelations of Joy.  What did he say was the key to obtaining this joy? Remaining in the love of the Father.

But how do I do this in suffering? I don’t have the superpowers Jesus had… Ah, but I do.

And so did those who suffered before me.

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” John 16:13-15

Paul, in prison, could’ve allowed depression to sink in. He was basically cut-off from all physical ministry. Physically speaking, I can relate. Me, chained to my home due to illness; Paul, chained to his home due to persecution. I’m sure he was suffering from injuries due to countless beatings as well.

Being in such an exhausted state, the lies decided to take my chains as prime opportunity to attack….

What a waste. You’re not an asset to Gods Kingdom laying sick in bed at home. God can’t use you here. You’re worthless….

I can imagine Paul wrestled with those lies as well.

How did he overcome his suffering? How did he shut out the discouraging circumstances? Through praise and worship, Paul creatively served his booming young churches by writing effective letters that all believers are still encouraged by in Scripture today. He gives credit to his writings as inspired by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 9).

What did I do that was Holy Spirit inspired? Every ounce of strength, every period of relief, by God’s grace I would offer up meager thanks and praise. Did it result in literature that changed the history of the early church? No. But it resulted in the changing of my heart. The lies no longer taunted me when focusing solely on Gods presence. By remaining in his love, yes, I received the freeing

GIFT OF JOY.

As I practiced being in His presence while experiencing pain, I gained a cheerful stamina. Once I even fooled my husband, who saw my happy demeanor and asked if I felt better. “Nope. My head is pounding and I feel nauseous and dizzy, but, I found Jesus’s Joy!”

The key: to always, ALWAYS remain in the love of the Father.

 

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Hand Unlocking Old Fashioned Lock ca. 2002