Lasting Treasure

I was deathly afraid of the dentist growing up.

The nauseating smell that hits when you enter the building, the hair-raising sound of drilling and pulling, the tastes and pain. In fact, the dentist office is still the one place I dread most in the world. I often joke that I’d choose to visit the OB-GYN over the dentist any day, and I like to say that nothing reveals my personal brokenness quite like a trip to the dentist.

But at least as a kid there was a light at the end of the tunnel- a dig through the treasure chest on the way out of the office.

I can still see myself on my hands and knees, digging through that treasure chest determined to find a prize that was worth all the terror that my little heart had just experienced- something to take away the pain and dull the nasty taste in my mouth. If I found a treasure that met all my expectations, my heart would be happy- forgetting the trauma that I had just endured.

Much like 6-year-old Kelsee leaving her dental check-up, many of us are digging for treasure- searching for a prize that might satisfy. You can tell a lot about a person by what they consider gold. And jealousy, if we pause long enough to notice, can be an indicator of what kind of prize our hearts really treasure.

In Matthew 6:21, Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Enter a late night scroll through Instagram: A few weeks ago, a wave of envy hit me as I observed a girlfriend’s success. Once I recognized the unhealthy thoughts I was having, that jealousy began to alert my heart. Like a metal detector on a beach, this jealousy revealed something buried underneath the surface of what appeared to be just another dose of comparison. My jealousy was an indicator of what I was treasuring in life.

In that moment, I was treasuring worldly success- approval of man- self-sufficiency – and self-praise. I felt as though my worth as a person came from what I accomplished on this earth. I longed for others to give me approval. I wanted to be able to create my own sense of significance. I wanted to feel proud of myself. These were my treasures.

The treasure chest of my heart was full of myself, man, and this temporary world. Yet these treasures left me ultimately feeling empty.

Maybe you’ve experience this full-emptiness too….

  • Jealousy of a relationship – treasuring the validation and acceptance of another human being to make you feel loved.
  • Jealousy of another family’s work and financial life- treasuring the American Dream and this world as your home.
  • Coveting another friends physique or personality – treasuring the status quo in order to find self-worth.

The list of potential treasures goes on, while the void grows darker and colder.

This emptiness is no surprise when we consider this warning from Jesus, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

Simply put, jealousy is an indicator that a heart is full of empty treasures that will pass away and never satisfy. But if our hearts are instead full of eternal treasures- treasures of heaven- we will experience the fullness of joy that jealousy cannot steal.

We must treasure peace, servanthood, sisterhood, self-control, holiness, and generosity, making Jesus our greatest treasure, and loving others more than we love ourselves. When these are our treasures, there is no room for the battle of competition and comparison. Jealousy will not penetrate, and resentment will not rust over.

But how do we do this? I don’t have all the answers- and this battle is still one that I’m learning how to fight, but I think there is a key question we can ask ourselves.

Like most of the cheap prizes I pulled from the dentist office treasure chest – a plastic frog, a super bouncy ball, play jewelry, a pencil – our worldly treasures break, lose their shine, get lost, and simply don’t last. In a moment of furry, I can pause and ask myself the same question I asked when carefully choosing my souvenir: Will this treasure last?

If my answer is no…If the treasure of that moment will not follow me into eternity, then I am prompted to redirect my heart to a new treasure. Through prayer and petition, the Holy Spirit will transform my heart with a longing for lasting treasure -treasure that will not break after a few uses or turn my finger green.

What kind of steps do you take to redirect your heart in a moment of jealousy? I would love to hear from you.

With Love & Freedom,

Kelsee

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Finding Light In The Shadows

Hey friend,

I’m writing to you on Groundhog Day- the silly holiday that is supposed to determine how much longer winter will be here. Living in Indiana, I’ve settled for completely unpredictable weather- shadow or no shadow.

As I saw this national holiday printed on my calendar this morning, I wanted to write something to you about shadows. Because like the cute, furry groundhog, I think many of us are running from our own shadows.

We’re running from the darkness of our past, believing that if we close our eyes and don’t look back, we’ll leave behind the pain. We’re sprinting from the darkness inside of us- convinced that if we run fast enough, the regrets, and sadness, and hurt will fall far behind.

The world tells us to run away from anything that hurts, and flee to the next good feeling. We often do this at the expense of ever finding true healing.

But I think that if we spend our whole life running, we’ll spend it exhausted and afraid -worn from the chase, and afraid that if we slow down, even for just 1 mile, the pain will catch up.

Yet if we we did slow down, I think we’d discover that the adrenalin rush has made us numb to the shin splints and blisters that running has brought.

If I’m being too symbolic, let me put it this way: running from the darkness causes just as much pain as sitting in it. One pain is immediate and the other is long-term.

I think so many of us think that by running from the darkness, we’re actually running towards the light. But what if I told you that you’re already in the light? What if I told you that you didn’t need to run- because the darkness is an indicator of light?

There’s an old school, 2005, Switchfoot song that I love. It’s called “The Shadow Proves The Sunshine.”

And I love that image. Because think about it…how do we get shadows? A shadow is formed when the sun- or another light shines on an object. The light shines, and there’s a gentle unfolding of darkness.

You don’t need to fear the pain and regret, wishes, and could’ve-would’ve-should’ves. You don’t need to run from those. Because here’s the thing- the shadow is always going to be biting the back of your heels. And it won’t go away until Jesus completes His total restoration of the earth. There’s always going to be some kind of darkness- the crux to our pursuit of peace and joy.

I think the darkness, like a concrete shadow, is meant to point our gaze further- onto the sun that illuminated it. Only when we truly own our darkness, and recognize it for what it is, will we fully experience the goodness and warmth of the light. The shadow proves the existence of the Son- our very lifeline. And that’s why He shows us our darkness- not to hurt us, but to give us the opportunity to turn to the light.

I love the retelling of the creation of the universe in John 1:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that light was the light of all mankind. THE LIGHT SHINES IN THE DARKNESS, AND THE DARKNESS HAS NOT OVERCOME IT.” (John 1:1-15 NIV emphasis added)

There’s darkness, but in the midst of the black- the emptiness- the pain- the regrets- there’s a more powerful, more persistent light. And the light will always prevail.

I’m not sure where you are on this Groundhog Day, or what you’re going through as you take the time to read this. A broken relationship….an upset in plans….

I’m not sure what your regrets and wishes are. Repeated mistakes…lessons unlearned…

I’m not sure what kind of darkness you’re running from.

But I hope you can find the courage to look through the darkness to find the light. Find the light of Christ shining brightly inside of you- and know that if the darkness cannot overcome the light- then the darkness cannot overcome you.

With Love & Freedom,

Kelsee

View More: http://katherinemei.pass.us/kelseereneekeitel

Wading Through The Tension Of Purpose & Humility

Have you ever felt the tension of preparing for a job interview- wanting to give a vivid and specific explanation of why you’d be awesome for the job, yet not wanting to brag too much? Desperately waving your resume around and shout, “Hire me! I’m awesome!” but at the same time, wanting to give God all the glory? So you give a smile and a “that was all God” response that leaves an awkward taste in your mouth?

The world has cultivated a tension that comes with trying to live a life of both purpose and humility.

We’re told that we can’t have both… that to live a life of purpose, you’ve got to be a go-getter, constantly selling yourself and raving about all that you have to offer. We’re told that a meek or humble individual will always have their dreams snatched up by the loud and proud individual.

So we turn to other humans for affirmation. And without the proper assurance, we find ourselves unfulfilled and in despair.

Why else would someone post a video of his latest random act of kindness? For affirmation and attention.

Why do we broadcast our latest accomplishments all over Instagram? To be affirmed and cheered for.

Before we know it, we’ve got the affirmation of purpose that we needed, but humility has been thrown out the window.

I’m not innocent here…words of affirmation (from The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman) is my number one way of feeling loved, and while that isn’t a bad thing, I’ve definitely teetered the line of receiving love and seeking attention.

But I KNOW that there is a better way.

John the Baptist- or as I like to call him, JB- models how to live a life of both humility and purpose. He shows us that it can be done.

JB was chosen by God to prepare the way for Jesus. He was meant to preach the good news of the coming Messiah, and encourage anyone who would listen to repent of their sins and be baptized.

John’s ministry was thriving. People would travel far from the city into the dessert to see John, hear him preach, and to be baptized by him. He spoke the word of God with conviction, passion, and urgency, and as a result, many people believed that he might actually be the messiah.

But John didn’t take the bait of worldly affirmation.

Listen to what he said…in Mark 1:7 “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to steep down and untie.”

In that time period, untying and carrying sandals would have been the job of the lowest servant. John was saying, “in comparison to the coming Messiah, I am the lowest of lows- not even fit for the job of a servant.”

In doing so, John was living his life like a neon sign, pointing straight to the glory of Christ- not himself. With every blink of the sign, he sent the message, “Don’t look at me. I can’t save you. I’m not the one you’ve been waiting for! But He is coming!”

John prepared the way and proclaimed the way.  But John did not pretend to BE the way.

I think this small picture of JB’s ministry is so rich in wisdom and guidance for us today.

JB’s ministry shows us two things.

  1. A PURPOSEFUL LIFE BEGINS WITH HUMILITY (AKA A RIGHT UNDERSTANDING OF GOD AND MAN)

The world tells us that in order to live a life full of purpose, we’ve got to build ourselves up. Broadcast our best qualities to the world. Stand tall and confident.

But when we find confidence in ourselves rather than in God…we open the door for insecurity and competition to enter in. We start to view ourselves as earners and deservers, rather than recipients of grace.

But John knew where he stood. He knew that despite his good work and devotion to God’s mission, he was still a sinful man in need of a savior. He preached truth with boldness, yet openly and honestly acknowledged his low stature compared to the coming King- unworthy to untie His sandals.

This was a man who was regularly teaching about repentance (or acknowledging, apologizing, and turning away from sin).

When we are regularly practicing the act of repentance in our lives, we are acknowledging two things

  1. God is holy. I am not.
  2. I need a savior. Jesus is my Lord.

This mindset puts us in our proper place. We no longer feel that we deserve praise, attention, or trophies just for participating (thanks childhood athletics). We realize what it then means to boast in Christ, rather than ourselves, because He is the savior that we so desperately need.

The words of the hymn Come Thou Fount express this mindset so eloquently:

“O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be.”

I am in debt to you, God. You owe me noting. I offer you my life.

Jesus later came to have John baptize Him.

John, being the humble guy that he was, said, “I need to be baptized by you, and you come to me?” (Matthew 3:14)

John was essentially saying, “But Jesus…you are Jesus! You are the Son of God, the long awaited Messiah…and I am a poor wilderness man. I am sinful and you are not. YOU should be baptizing ME!”

JB understood that he did not deserve anything from God, except His judgment and redemptive cleansing. The great purpose JB had in his life came from understanding God’s holiness and his own unrighteousness.

  1. AFFIRMATION FROM GOD IS MORE PRECIOUS THAN APPROVAL OF MAN

We often believe that we need others to approve our purpose. I recently read a quote by Steven Furtick that said, “He who lives by the approval of others will die by the absence of the same” and I couldn’t agree more. Relying on the approval of others often leads to the death of our purpose, not the fulfillment of it.

If JB had soaked up all the affirmation and attention he was getting from the people like a sponge, his message would have likely derailed from preparing the way, to pretending to be the way. And we all know that Jesus is the only way to salvation (John 14:6).

The praise of man could have led to JB’s destruction. But John didn’t let the sweet aroma of worldly affirmation distract him.

John had followers. But He didn’t keep a clenched fist on them. In fact, in John 1:35, we see that JB pointed out Jesus to some of his followers, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

In that moment, his followers left his side and began following Jesus instead.

John didn’t consider this a loss though, because he wasn’t interested in advancing his own kingdom. His purpose was to advance God’s kingdom! And the approval of man wasn’t needed to build that kind of kingdom.

I don’t know about you, but JB shows me that living a life of purpose is all about having our priorities straight: Acknowledging my humanity, praising God for his saving grace, and spreading that message more than advancing my own name and agenda.

John the Baptist shows me that a life of true purpose is spent in the waters and at the feet of Jesus. Doing the good, hard, and intentional work of advancing His kingdom with passion and humility. It’s the most purposeful work we could do with our lives.

I hope this was encouraging to you and gives you a few ideas to consider this week as you seek to live a life of humility and purpose!

If you’re looking for an action step to really bring this truth home, here are some ideas:

  1. Make repentance a regular aspect of your spiritual life. Reflect on your day and admit to God when you have fallen short. Thank Him for His forgiveness, and make a choice to turn from that behavior. This will increase your understanding of humility and help to develop a correct view of man and God.
  2. Regularly praise God for who He is and what He has done. Again, this will help with having a right view of God- placing Him on the throne of your life.
  3. Before you post something on social media, ask yourself some questions about why you are posting and what you are hoping to gain from that interaction. If it is for your glory, attention, or affirmation, wait 24 hours before posting, and then decide if it is right.

Now go out and live the life of purpose and freedom that God has graciously given you!

With Love & Freedom,

Kelsee

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Humble Beginnings: A Year In Review

Hi Friend!

Today I am celebrating the first anniversary of the Detangled & Free ministry! One year ago, after a lot prayer and preparation, I launched this website with high hopes that I would be able to walk alongside women, showing them that they’re not alone in their struggles with comparison and jealousy, and that there is abundant freedom to be claimed in Christ.

All glory and thanks to God, for any good thing that has come from this little corner of the Internet!

As I reflect on this past year of ministry, and all the blessings and refinement that have come, there is one single idea that I think sums it all up:

God uses humble beginnings.

And that is what I want to encourage you with today. I’m not sure when you’ll read this, but I’m writing on January 3, a time of the year where many are promising to pursue a passion that they’ve got hidden in their heart, thinking this is my year.

Whether you’re reading in January, or several months after, I want to speak to that silent dream inside your heart- the “passion project” as my friend Kat would call it, that you’re just waiting to pull the trigger on. The one that keeps you dreaming at night (and in the daytime too). The thing you might refer to as your calling- but you’re still waiting to answer the phone.

Maybe you’re afraid to start. Maybe you’re waiting to have more knowledge, better circumstances, or a few more ducks in the row…

Today I want to encourage you that God uses humble beginnings. Humble…as in imperfect, messy, totally human, a little scary, and maybe unbelievable…humble beginnings.

How can I be so sure? I’ve seen it in my own life over the last year. But if my story isn’t convincing enough, let me remind you of someone else’s beginning.

Jesus: son of God, then son of man.

He was brought into this world on the back of a donkey, by the light of a torch, in the muck and yuck of animals, to two frightened young parents with a strange story.

He had a carpenter for a dad, and a virgin making unbelievable (literally unbelievable) claims for a mom. His family was likely the subject of city gossip wherever they went.

From the earliest years of His life, He was a threat to earthly kings. He was raised in the most humbling circumstances, later to be killed in the most humiliating.

Yet His humility and humiliation are what sat Him at the right hand of God, giving Him the most glory, and granting you and I room in the eternal kingdom of Heaven.

Hallelujah for humble beginnings!

He who knew no sin, became sin. His beginning, humble. His death humiliating.

God uses humble beginnings.

So that passion in your soul, that dream in your heart… would you consider for a moment what might happen if you took the first step of your humble beginning today?

It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be fully planned. It doesn’t have to be pretty. All it takes is faith- faith as small as a mustard seed in fact.

If you’re ready to take the plunge, but would like some encouragement, I’ve got 10 Tips, Truths, and Encouragements from my first year of pursuing my own passion project to help you pursue yours. Click Here To Download.

I’m rooting for you, friend. And I’m celebrating because of you.

Thank you for reading, liking, subscribing, sharing, and supporting over the last 365 days. Together we can accomplish so much more, and I know that more women are experiencing freedom and newness in Christ because of our co-laboring together.

With Love & Freedom,

Kelsee

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Comment below what passion project you’re going to begin! I would love to pray over you and your own humble beginning!

P.S. I’m doing a quick year-end survey, and would LOVE your feedback, so that I can serve you even better this year. Here’s the link!

Merry & Meek: How To Ditch The Dining Table Brag & Stop Competing At Christmas

“I was sitting across from my cousin who just started his med. school residency, and next to my newly engaged sister, thinking about how my latest accomplishment was finishing an entire box of mac-n-cheese while clicking Yes I’m still watching Grey’s Anatomy.

“I’ve got to start emotionally preparing myself for the annual, why are you still single questions”

“It’s the baby interrogation for me!”

“What do we want? Grandkids! When do we want em? Now!”

My friends and I giggled as we joked about the dining table conversations we’ve grown to expect over the holidays. You know the ones: your cousins share their latest accomplishments, the aunts raise their eyebrows all in-synch while chiming “So when are you having kids,” and the perpetually singles dodge every mention of new dating apps. While we all roll our eyes and chuckle at this common experience, I think there’s a sting that we’d all like to avoid.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…that often brings with it a hinge of pressure that seems to sit heavier and heavier, as you grow older. As the years go by, you can’t help but to compare your life to those of your loved ones, hoping this year you’ll have something noteworthy to share- that this year grandma will be bragging about you.

Some of us internalize this comparison, taking on an identity of “family fav” or “the late bloomer” while maintaining a chipper outer appearance to mask a wound of insecurity, and an unraveling of contentment.

Others see it as a challenge, striving for the approval and applause of those who mean the most to us- loudly proclaiming our latest success, begging for affirmation like the family dog snooping for crumbs.

Regardless of which camp you belong to, wouldn’t you agree that we’d all just like a little affirmation? No one wants to feel behind and everyone wants to feel accepted.

But what if we changed our approach? What if we ditched the self-brag and left behind competition between cousins? What if instead of measuring UP to one another, we measured OUT big helpings of love and humility? How would that change your dining table dynamics?

When Jesus walked the earth, he taught his followers a revolutionary way to live. He taught that the first will be last and the last will be first (Matthew 19:30). He literally flips the tables on how to come out on top in the world and what true success looks like. In his famous Sermon on the Mount, he says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been conditioned to believe that meek is a bad characteristic. But biblically, that isn’t so. The Crossway ESV Study Bible describes meek as “ those who do not assert themselves over others in order to further their own agendas in their own strength.” In other words, a meek person doesn’t compete with the man across the table from him. A meek lady knows her identity in Christ, plants herself there in humility, and invites others to be their best selves. She isn’t intimidated by another person’s success, but celebrates the goodness of the Lord as she see’s it in others.

This Christmas, I want to challenge you to approach the dining room table talk with meekness, humility, grace, and love.

Here are 5 tips to dish out love and ditch the brag.

  1. Shift The Spotlight. We are so quick to talk about ourselves. We openly spill all that is share worthy- not sparing any details of our most exciting moments. We are quick to speak and very slow to listen. Instead of bringing every conversation back to yourself this year, ask questions.

Try: Tell me what is new in your life? How is your job going? I can’t wait to hear what you’ve been up to. 

  1. Celebrate Others. We’re really good at celebrating ourselves, but not so much at celebrating others. Whether you have something to celebrate or not, perhaps it is someone else’s year to be in the limelight. Instead of lamenting what you don’t have, celebrate what your family member does have. This can be difficult- especially if they’re living out the very circumstance you long for. But imagine for a moment what it must be like to be in their shoes. Celebrate God’s generosity and goodness to your family. It’s nearly impossible to praise God and be bitter simultaneously – speaking from experience.

Try: I love that God has provided you with that blessing. Wow, praise God for that! It is so neat to see what is happening in your life. I can imagine how happy you must be. I’m happy for you!

  1. Give Credit Where Credit Is Due. When given the opportunity to share about what is happening in your life, use this as a moment to point a florescent, neon sign straight to the Giver of Good Gifts. When we act as the heroes of our own story, we leave still wanting more: more praise, more wins, more good things. When we remember our place, and the Father who provides for us, we feel increasingly thankful for His grace. “Every good and perfect gift comes from above.” James 1:17

Try: God has been so generous to me. I’m so thankful and blessed. Yeah, I worked really hard, but God definitely provided everything I needed. 

  1. Remember Your True Identity. When reputations and bragging rights are on the line, it’s easy to lose sight of your real home and true identity. But this place is not your permanent home. It’s a stop on the way to your real residency- the one where you inherit your place in the kingdom of God. You are not Jenna, Best Student Of The Clark Family. You’re not Sam, The Family Disappointment. You’re not Alyssa, Child Of A Damaged Family. While those might be pieces of your story- they are not your identity. You are a child of the one true King, resident of the eternal heavens, and heir of the kingdom of God. Live in that identity and you’ll be less disappointed by mishaps, misjudgments, and measuring up.

Try: Yeah, I’m bummed I didn’t get the job but I know God has a plan for me. Sure, I wish things would’ve worked out with that guy, and my heart is still hurting; I’m trying not to find my identity in relationships though, so I’m not that concerned about [latest dating app]. Thanks for asking though.

  1. Prepare You Heart. If you’re reading this, and you haven’t sat down to the dining room table yet, take some time to prepare for that day! You most likely know what kind of questions you might get asked, and which siblings you might feel inferior to. As you pack your toiletries, bring along some simple answers to those hard questions. Prepare some questions of your own that shed the spotlight on others. And pray. Ask the Lord to give you grace and patience, as fragile spots might get pushed.

Try: Heavenly Father, Help me to give You glory this holiday season. Give me words that are sweet to Your ears, that build others up, and worship Your name. Humble my heart, that it would be grateful. Help me to celebrate others above myself and remove any entitlement within my heart. Remind me of who I am in You. Let Your image be sweeter to me than any identity I could create for myself in this world. Help me to lay my life down in love for those around me, just as You did for me on the cross. In your beautiful, powerful, redemptive name, Jesus. Amen.

I hope these have been some helpful tips and ideas to remember.

If you give others the spotlight, King Jesus the glory; dish out love and laughter and grace, and remember your place; I’m confident you’ll get up from the table feeling fuller than ever.

Merry Christmas! With Love & Freedom,

Kelsee

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