How to Redeem Your Morning Routine: Stepping Out of Insecurity & Into The Confidence of Christ

It was your typical morning routine- nothing special. You might even say you were just going through the motions…

You slip out of your pjs and into the new jeans you found on sale last week, pair them with your favorite tee shirt, and find some earrings and a bangle to finish off the look.

You contemplate a few hairstyles and plug in your straightener.

You cover your face with a moisturizing primer, then a layer of foundation, some eyeliner and smoky shadow, wiping off the accidental splotch of mascara on your cheek.

You brush your teeth and choose a pair of shoes – the hardest choice of them all – pack your purse, grab a protein bar, and make your way out the door.

Just a normal morning in the life…

But what if I asked you to take a deeper look? What if I asked you about each move, each product, and every choice you made while getting ready?

I’m certain that your heart might reveal something like this:

Those new jeans…I didn’t really need them. In fact, I’m trying to save money. It’s just that I wanted something new – something that might get complimented by my co-workers.

 That purple tee shirt…I actually tried 3 different tops on before settling on that one. It disguises that little roll when you sit down better than the other tops I tried.

 My hair just wasn’t meant to go untamed…its frizzy and dry, and doesn’t fall in order like I’d like it to.

And the makeup…I know it makes my face break out, but I just feel pasty without it.

When taking a another look, we realize there’s a deeper purpose and motive behind the way we get ready each morning. Maybe you’re dressing a certain way to fit in… covering up things you’re ashamed of… flaunting your favorite features in order to gain attention… or putting on a mask in order to hide your insecurities… following a “foolproof” prescription to look like the girls you admire and envy.

The way we get ready is about more than our physical appearance; its about the state of our hearts.

There have been times in my life when I dressed to impress a certain group of people and there were times when I dressed for the attention of guys. And to this day, I wear blue to make my teeth look whiter; I prefer tunics to standard sized tops because I think they’re more flattering on me; I obsess over how quickly my eyebrow hairs grow back; and I’m still working my way through “all natural remedies” for the dark bags hanging under my eyes.

I’d like to smile, adjust my posture, and say, “Yes. I find my confidence in the Lord” but the way I get ready in the morning reflects the opposite. My morning routine often reflects a heart that’s trying to find security in this world and find it all on her own, by her own strength. It shows a heart that is troubled by comparison and competition. And this is contrary to the life of freedom God has for us.

Because when you step into an overpriced pair of jeans, bought by insecurity, you become a slave to the shackles of if only and I wish. And this is all a part of the enemy’s scheme. He wants to distract you into spending more time looking in the mirror and less time looking into your soul.

I want you to know that you don’t have to let insecurity control your wardrobe. You don’t have to be consumed by every mirror you walk past or every girl you wish you looked like.

Do you know what you can do instead? Each morning as you get ready, invite God into that space. He’ll provide the armor you need to step boldly and confidently into battle each morning.

The Belt of Truth, to proclaim your real value and that you are fearfully and wonderfully made by a creative God who makes no mistakes.

The Breastplate of Righteousness, to reflect Jesus in all that you do – not some girl you see in a magazine.

The Sandals of Peace, to calm your anxiety of impressing others.

The Helmet of Salvation, to be confident that this small spec of time is a tiny dot on the grand scheme of eternity, that this place is not your home, and that we have not really seen beauty until we’ve looked in the eyes of Jesus.

The Sword of the Spirit, to fight for love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and forbearance – the most attractive qualities you could ever show.

The Shield of Faith, to block the attacks of the enemy. When you start to think, “if only I had this” “if I could just change this” “if I could lose this amount of weight” “I wish I looked more like her,” lift that shield and block those thoughts.

(Ephesians 6:10-18 The Armor of God)

The bottom line is this: the body image struggle you’re facing…it isn’t actually about your butt in those skinny jeans or your arm flab. It’s not about your acne or your skin tone. This is a spiritual battle for your heart. And you won’t win this battle with smaller thighs or perfect eyebrows. Those attributes will fade, while your heart remains eternal.

You see, you have a choice in how you start each day. You can step into your shirt that will shrink up, and jeans that’ll fade, following the trends that’ll eventually become outdated (and then come back again – hello, jelly shoes), or you can step into eternal beauty that far surpasses the value of anything found in the aisles of Target. You can still look cute and express yo self. But deep down, you’ll have a confidence that no fashion statement can come close to.

With Love & Freedom,

Kelsee

Ready to gear up with the Armor of God like I talked about in this article? I’ve got a free download to guide you through “praying on” this armor each morning while you get ready!

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My Talents, His Glory: How To Stop Comparing Your Gifts To Everyone Else’s and Own The Unique Person God Has Designed You To Be

“Where are all the creative people in the room?”

My heart skipped a beat as I wrestled with this question.

Yes. I am creative person. I start to raise my hand- pausing to adjust a flyaway hair back into place.

No. They’re talking about true artists. Not someone like you. Real creative people.

 I change my mind, tucking my hand between my thigh and the chair as I watch 1, 2, 3, 4…7 people raise their hands.

8. I should be number eight.

 I shift my weight, start to free my fingers, and look at the faces of the “creative people” in the room.

You’re not as good as her. You’re an amateur. She has a creative vocation.

 The 7 hands go down.

“Next question.”

______________________________

I often hear women talk about how small comparison makes them feel inside. I think this is especially true when we consider our gifts and passions. Comparison often tells us we aren’t worthy of the things we love most. It tells us we aren’t good enough to raise our hand. We aren’t talented enough to identify ourselves with the hobbies we are passionate about. But since she’s better, she is.

I personally struggle with deciding if I am a creative person or not. The truth is, I am totally a creative person. Most people who know me would tell you that. However comparison, like a murky puddle, stands in the way of my ability to own this aspect of my personality.

I think about my friend who is a professional videographer, and convince myself that because my level of creativity doesn’t compare to his, my creativity is invalid.

I look at the projects of my entrepreneur photographer friends and believe this lie that I am not creative at all, and that passion is only a real passion if I’m making a living from it.

Yet alone on my couch, cranking out an article or designing new marketing materials, laptop hot on my legs from getting lost in the work, I know in my heart that I am creative.

Maybe you love to run, have broken a couple of PRs and are training hard towards your next race. You would identify as athletic, even calling yourself a runner…that is until you make friends with the BIG10, 800-meter champ. Suddenly, you’re embarrassed to talk about last night’s run.

Perhaps you are musically inclined, but tuck that part of your life away when you’re around your music major friends. With them, your shower singing is nothing to be proud of.

Comparison always leads to worship- worship of oneself or worship of another person.

Hmm, let’s see, who gets more glory here? Who is worthy of worship…that girl or me?  We often end up worshipping someone else- the person who is better than us. So we start to look for someone who we compare better to- so that we can finally be the worshipped one.

 This is why comparison is such a problem: only God is worthy of worship and glory. When we begin to worship ourselves, we are essentially claiming to be our own personal gods.

We’ve got to change the position of our hearts if we want to overcome this constant comparison.

First, we’ve got to first realize where our gifts come from.

James 1:7 (NIV) tells us that “every good and perfect gift is from above.”

We really don’t have any ownership over the gifts and talents that we are claiming. I’m a writer, but that’s only because God created a passion for words and the creativity to use them inside of me. Further, He is the God who gives and takes away. He gave me the gift of writing, but He may just as easily take it away at any time. Realizing this automatically puts me in a more humble position.

Second, we’ve got to remember the intended purpose of the gifts God has entrusted us with.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17 NIV)

God did not intend for you to worship yourself with the gifts and talents and passions he breathed into you. Your gifts were not given to you to as a gateway to validation in this world. You were given the gifts to give God glory and worship Him.

By taking these truths to heart, our internal dialogue changes from I must use my special talents to earn the praises of those around meto…My creator gave me these gifts so that I would worship Him- not myself- while using them, and point others to His glory.

When we flip the switch and start living in light of this truth, we suddenly care so much less about our own success and start giving credit where credit is due. We start to forget about who’s the best & start giving our best to the gift-giver.

Those gifts that you have…those passions stirring in your heart…they were planted there by a loving, creative, passionate God. And He didn’t put them in your heart for you to compete with others. He put them there for you to worship Him and give Him glory. So own who you are. Raise your hand high- not boasting in yourself, but in Christ.

If you love to bake…call yourself a baker, for the glory of Christ.

If you like to run…call yourself a runner for the glory of Christ.

If you’re creative….own that for the glory of Christ.

Do what you love & claim it- not for your own glory, but for the glory of the God who breathed that very passion into your heart.

With Love & Freedom,

Kelsee

What To Do When Comparison Doesn’t Lead to Confidence

I recently explored a sunflower patch with my mom. There had to be thousands of flowers (most of them taller than me) uniquely contributing to a yellow blanket, stretching out to meet the sunrise. Some were bigger than others. Some stood perfectly straight. Others had a curve in their spine, while some had a smaller array of petals. The sunflowers seemed almost human to me- so vibrant and lively. Each one stood at its own height, displaying a unique beauty and quiet confidence as if it were the only flower in the field.

As I stood surrounded by the golden beauties, the saying, “A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms” came to mind and I thought of you.

I recognize your search for confidence – wondering what the magic formula is and why she has it and you don’t. I understand your desire to walk into a room and easily strike up conversation with complete strangers. You want to spend less time in the mirror, adjusting every feature and just walk out the door, satisfied. I can relate to the struggle. The temptation of Insta filters, tanning beds, teeth whitening cream, eyebrow pencils, and the perfect camera angle, all intended to make us feel beautiful, ironically, have a way of highlighting our greatest insecurities. Until one day, “If only I had her ________.” becomes our theme song.

Unlike the sunflowers standing tall and proud, we ladies have a tendency to get bent out of shape by looking to our left and our right for assurance – seeking confidence through comparison.

I might not like my legs, but if there is just ONE girl at the gym who’s thighs rub together more than mine, I’ll be alright.

My eyebrows might not be symmetrical, but at least I’m not __________.

If we’re lucky, we won’t be the worst looking gal in the room. But often, this twisted method of finding confidence leaves us feeling worse than before. We play this off as “just a part of being a woman.” But I don’t think we have to settle for this kind of womanhood.

A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.

Did you know that sunflowers are called sunflowers because they follow the sunshine? In the first half of the day the flowers face east- looking to the rising sun. In the latter half of the day, they focus their attention to the west- facing the setting sun. And when the sun is gone, they gently close their petals; only to stretch them back out when the sun returns. They don’t waste any energy looking to the other flowers because the sun gives them life. It gives them a purpose. Its where their beauty comes from.

Maybe we need to take a cue from the sunflowers and adjust our focus – finding confidence in the SON above us rather than the girls around us.

What if we had our gaze fixed so tightly on Christ that we had no room for side-to-side glances of comparison? What if we stretched with all our might to lock eyes with our God- focusing on who He is, and who He says we are? I’m convinced we’d have no choice but to stand tall like the sunflowers, fully embracing the Truth of our unique design and Designer.

Each morning I have the power to decide where I will find my confidence: Am I going to spend time with the Lord, digging into my bible, focusing my heart on His Truth? Or am I going to scroll through social media, comparing her waistline, her smile, her collarbones to my own? When I walk into class am I wondering how I’ll ever measure up to those around me or am I resting on God’s promises about who I am?

You have the same power to choose. So here’s my sunflower challenge for you:

Fix your eyes on Jesus. Fill your heart with His Truth. Embrace who He says you are. Leave competition behind. Plant yourself among sisters. And BLOOM. Because confidence isn’t born out of comparing ourselves to the girls around us; confidence comes from fixing our eyes on the God above us.

With Love & Freedom,

Kelsee

P.S. Do you want to find your confidence in Christ, but still not entirely convinced of your beauty? Click HERE for a free download that’ll help you see the Truth about just how lovely you are.

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Clinging v. Conquering: Why The Difference Matters

As my feet hit the floor, I released the carabineer attached to my harness and made my way to my water bottle. My forearms were pumped- burning and swollen. I still had a lot of climbing I wanted to do, but my arms were already so fatigued.

In rock climbing, getting “pumped” is sometimes a symptom of climbing inefficiently, or using too much energy. I thought rock climbing was all about upper-body strength. To my surprise, climbers use their legs a great deal. I’ve been learning that using my legs can help me climb more efficiently and avoid the pump.

Picture this: You’ve climbed halfway up a wall. Your legs are bent and you are looking for the next place to grab with your hands. You find two handholds and pull yourself up using your upper-body strength. While this isn’t necessarily wrong, your legs did not do any work, which caused you to exert much more energy and tire out your arm muscles.

Now, imagine that you are in the same position as before. Except this time you straighten your bent legs, growing taller as you grab onto the next handholds. This time, you used your leg muscles, which are very strong. You distributed the energy you needed to use and as a result, your arms are not so tired. This is climbing efficiently.

As a new climber, I’ve been trying to focus on climbing like this. Despite my best efforts, on my way up a wall, it’s just not my natural instinct to look down at my feet first. I’ve got my eye on the prize, but ignore the foundation that will help me ascend.

I think this imagery reflects the lives of many women today.

Today women are reaching and desperately grabbing onto something- anything– that will help us measure up to those around us. We’ve expanded SO much of our own energy trying to give our lives meaning, only to arrive too exhausted to even enjoy it.

-Working insane hours for an extra paycheck that’ll buy us the designer handbag.

-Canceling plans with girlfriends to study all weekend in order to keep a straight-A streak.

-Spending more minutes staring in the mirror, hopping on and off the scale, than time in the Word.

We’re clinging on with sweaty palms and pumped forearms, neglecting the solid base beneath our feet. If only we would straighten our bent legs and embrace the solid foundation of Christ. Then we would be propelled up into the life that He intended for us to live. Because we weren’t made to desperately cling- we were made to conquer [Romans 8]. We weren’t meant to grasp at whatever was within our reach. We were meant to be confident in our standing.

I need this reminder as much as the next gal- Jesus didn’t die on the cross for us to continue in our old ways, earning love and manufacturing joy. Jesus died so that you and I could freely receive God’s love and grace. He died so that we could find a deep joy within that cannot be mass-produced and slapped with a Made in China sticker. Christ died to set us free from identities that never really did us justice, so that we could fully embrace the identity He uniquely and wonderfully designed for each of us.

Rather than striving and reaching, we have the opportunity to press into the firm Rock that is always holding us- we just have to pause long enough to look at our feet.

With Love & Freedom,

Kelsee

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. ~Proverbs 3:5-6

 Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. ~Psalm 62:5-8

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Happy For You, Unhappy For Me: When Jealousy Ruins Celebration

“Congratulations!” I squealed, as I went in for a big hug- the swaying back-and-forth, making weird noises kind of hug. Judging by the exterior, one would assume I was ecstatic for my friend who just earned her “fiancé” title. On the inside, however, my heart just couldn’t take it. I was jealous, wondering when it would be my turn.

Have you been there before?

Smiling on the outside, wincing in pain on the inside, when you know you’re supposed to be happy for someone? Another bridal shower…your bestie’s new job offer in the big city…you put on the smile, send a nice card, and even though you desperately want to be happy for her, you’re jealous, resentful, sad, and angry; wishing you were standing there in her happy little wedge heels.

Somewhere along the way in the adventures of womanhood, we’ve believed this lie that there’s not enough love to go around; that there’s not enough happiness for us all; and that celebrating someone else means mourning for ourselves. We are convinced that in order for one gal to be happy, another has to be unhappy.

I’ve believed this lie too- even a few times this week.

Despite my own stumbling, the Lord has been at work, etching something new on the walls of my heart, and I want to whisper it to you today:

If you’re competing for happiness, that isn’t true happiness at all. That is man-made, artificial, temporary happiness that will run out and fall off just as quickly as a plastic Band Aid. But the Lord’s happiness is everlasting, overflowing, and not contingent upon your circumstances.

You see… her happiness only steals away your happiness if your happiness comes from this world- because man-made happiness only runs as deep as our circumstances. But happiness that comes from The Spirit depends on the Lord, not on ourselves- therefore, her happiness would be no threat to yours.

Many, Lord, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?” Let the light of your face shine on us. Fill my heart with joy when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:6-8

When we find our happiness in Christ alone, we are then able to truly celebrate alongside a sister. We’ll find that sharing in her joy actually increases our own joy. And when we celebrate her win, we become winners too; because that’s friendship, and friendship is the greatest prize of all!

Our response to a sister’s success or celebration can be a great litmus test of the heart. If I find myself unable to cheer her on, I may be finding my happiness in circumstances of this world rather than in Christ alone.

Where is your heart with happiness this week?

What worldly success markers do you need to release in order to find true happiness that runs deeper than circumstance?

Who can God help you celebrate this week?

Wherever you are with jealousy and happiness this week, I’m rooting for you in prayer.

With Love & Freedom,

Kelsee

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If this was encouraging to you or you know a sister who might be encouraged by this message, would you share it? I truly believe that we’ve got to be in this together. The more women who know where their true identity and happiness come from, the stronger we’ll be as sisters together.