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

measuring out

Check The Tag

“Something is wrong…. Something is really really wrong” I said to my mom from behind the fitting room door.

“What do you mean? Let me in.”

I welcomed my mom into the overcrowded stall with me, stepping around the clothes on the floor like hot coals. She looked at me. Up and down. Down and up. I did a little turn and stretched out my leg.

“That just isn’t right. Take em off. Let me see” she said through giggles.

I handed my mom the colorful, silky goucho pants (remember that terrible fashion trend from 2005?). One leg was too tight – the other too loose, and they seemed to crawl up in a way that isn’t flattering on anyone.

She held up these pants that I was convinced had a manufacturing flaw. We looked at the pants, then to each other, then we burst into laughter. What I thought to be a pair of goucho pants, turned out to be a single-sleeved blouse.

We laughed and laughed until we cried. It was truly one of those “stop it before I pee” moments, and to this day my mom and I retell that story with just as much laughter.

As I smile back on this moment, I can’t help but make a connection to our expectations and disappointments in life.

That blouse didn’t work as pants because it wasn’t designed to. I was asking them to fulfill a need that they were never meant to fulfill.

And isn’t that true for so many other items and areas in our lives?

You’ve got the sweet boyfriend, but still deep feelings of loneliness.

You’ve worked off the freshman 15 but still feel inadequate.

You’re approaching the first anniversary at your dream company, yet still feel a sense of discontentment.

What were once good gifts have spoiled, due to unmet expectations. This world has gotten us to trust in the illusion that we’ll be satisfied by receiving our hearts’ desires. And if we aren’t satisfied, there must be a flaw with the manufacturer. But I’m here to tell you something different: that boyfriend, the career, the ideal body weight – they weren’t designed to serve your deepest needs.

Like pre-teen Kelsee in the department store fitting room, we’ve overlooked the tags, and have mistaken the manufacturers design.

So what is the truth?

God gives us good gifts, not to satisfy our needs, but to bless us. The Bible says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). God is our provider – our Heavenly Father – who loves to gives us good gifts and treasures. But He also desires for our satisfaction to come from Him, and for the real treasure of our heart to be found in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-20).

I’ve heard a number of good Bible teachers say that we each have a God-sized hole in our hearts that only the Lord can fill. Your boyfriend might fill some of the hole, but not all of it. Your favorite foods to binge might fill up the space for a little while, but the satisfaction does not last.

Not only does the Lord give us good gifts, but when we seek our satisfaction in Him instead of other people and things, He will not only fill that God-sized hole, but He will leave it overflowing (Psalm 23:5). He alone has the ability to satisfy us fully and abundantly.

We’d be less disappointed if we sought satisfaction in the Giver or good gifts, rather than the gifts themselves. We’d also be less disappointed if we acknowledged the intended purpose of those good gifts in the first place.

If I had looked at the tag on the “pants” I tried on, I would have realized what the manufacturer had intended them to be- not pants at all, but a blouse.

In addition, I would have discovered where they came from, what they were made of, and how to take care of them. Everything I would need to know about those pants would have been right inside the tag. If I had taken a step back and read the tag, I would’ve missed out on a good story (that’s for sure) but I also would’ve saved myself some disappointment, because I really liked those pants.

Likewise, if you were to look at the tag inside of whatever person, or object, or life circumstance you are seeking satisfaction in, you would discover the intended purpose of the item, how to care for it, and where it came from.

I believe this tag would have the words from Romans 11:36 printed on it:

“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36 ESV)

 You see… that job offer, those good grades, the sweet relationship…you didn’t receive those on your own. Every good and perfect gift comes from above.

These riches are made possible through Him – through the grace of His Son, which makes the unworthy, worthy enough to receive good gifts. Hold them with an unclenched fist and a grateful heart.

And finally, the purpose: The purpose of these things, stated clearly, is to give glory and honor to the Lord. Not to satisfy the hole in your heart, but to point a spotlight of honor towards the Giver of good gifts.

When we have this awareness and conviction about the good gifts we have in our lives, we begin to see them as such- good, underserved gifts. We don’t expect these gifts to satisfy us- rather the One who gives the gifts instead.

So next time you’re feeling dissatisfied and something just feels “really wrong” check your heart and check the tag, and give glory where glory is due.

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

 

 

 

Help My Unbelief: The Link Between Jealousy And Doubt

“I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24 ESV).

These were the words of a desperate father, seeking help for his child who was tormented by an unclean spirit. This man had heard stories of the miraculous Jesus. He may have even seen a miracle or two firsthand. He knew that if anyone could help his son, it must be this powerful man who proclaimed to be the Son of God.

But he did not approach Jesus with confidence. “…if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”

“If you can?” said Jesus. I imagine him saying it more like, “IF you can? IF? I am the Son of God! There is no IF.”

Jesus continued, “All things are possible for one who believes.”

The man replied, “I believe; help my unbelief.”

I believe; help my unbelief.

In saying this simple phrase, the man was confessing to Jesus that he believed in him and his power, but only to a certain degree – that while there was great belief within him, doubt also filled his heart.

Isn’t that so relatable? I think it especially rings true for a girl with her heart caught in a cycle of comparison – jealousy – bitterness – shame.

She wants to believe God is good. She even confesses His goodness with her mouth. But like the man in this story, her heart is filled with doubts.

When we look to the left and wish we lived a different life, or when we gaze over to the right and resent the gifts of others, we ask questions that give birth to doubt.

Is He really good?

If He is good….then why don’t I have this job?

Why am I single? Why can’t we conceive a child?

Why is my life less exciting and joyful than so-and-so’s?

If He is good, then why am I facing this adversity?

Why is my nose shaped like this? Why can’t I keep the weight off?

Why can’t I please others around me? Why am I lonely?

Why are my thighs so spongy?

If only I had ___________ like _______________.

I believe; help my unbelief. 

What I love about this encounter with Jesus in Mark 9 is that Jesus still answered the man’s request, despite his doubts. Jesus rebuked the impure spirit in the boy, casting it out, and healing him.

Although scripture doesn’t tell us exactly what happened to the man after Jesus cured his son, I like to think that witnessing this life-giving miracle gave the father a lot more faith and a little less doubt.

The Bible teaches us to ask, seek, knock; and we will receive (Luke 11:9) according to God’s good and perfect will. So here’s my challenge to you:

Approach the throne with confidence.

Confess your insecurity.

Pray for a faith that’s unwavering.

And look – not to the left or to the right, but straight forward with eyes that expect to see His glory.

With Love & Freedom,

Kelsee

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

From Fear To Freedom: Trading A Jealous Heart For An Abundant Life

 

That woman is so much more beautiful than me. Her skin is soft; her waist is slender… I wish I could carry myself with the same kind of natural elegance.

Why can’t I be as organized, smart, and successful as that lady?

She is the life of the party. If only I were as funny and quick on my feet as her…

If you analyze these statements of comparison and jealousy, you’ll notice an underlying presence of fear in each one:

The fear of worthlessness… of not being seen as attractive

The fear of failure… of not being a top performer in your field

The fear of loneliness… of not being accepted for who you are

If you remember the last time you felt jealous due to comparison, I’m sure you’ll notice the same kind of underlying fear. The moment we start to compare ourselves to others, we invite fear to dwell deep within our hearts. This fear takes root, and begins to grow something green inside- jealousy. And before long, we begin to take action on the jealousy in our heart.

The bitter fruit of jealousy can take many forms:

It shows itself in our attitude and the thoughts we have toward an individual.

It can be seen in our habitual behaviors, like drawing on perfectly symmetrical eyebrows each morning and cutting out carbs.

It wiggles its way into our interactions with others – the way you suddenly developed a new laugh, one that might draw a little more attention to you in the midst of your funny friends.

What seemed to be simple nuances that are very normal in our culture, become the jealous habits of a woman who is living out of fear.

But we weren’t meant to live this way. I mean, draw your eyebrows on if you want, and hit the gym of few times a week if that makes you feel good, but the moment you start to do these things out of fear, you are locking the shackles of slavery around your ankles, restricting yourself from experiencing an abundant life. The Lord has good things in store for his people. Therefore, the fear of man is not from God.

Timothy writes, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

According to God’s word, we weren’t meant to live out of fear, but out of power, love, and self-discipline.

So what does it look like to live this way, in a world that has convinced us we have to compete for our self-worth?

Living in power: Living in the power of the spirit means proclaiming truth, with authority, over the lies you hear. It means declaring the victory you have in Jesus, and boldly condemning the Father of Lies (John 8:44) back to Hell. Living in power means not living as a victim to “the typical experience of womanhood,” but living victorious, as a gal who knows her worth and stands in biblical confidence.

Living in love: Living in love means reminding yourself of the gospel everyday – that you are incredibly broken, but even more loved. It means trusting that despite your imperfections and flaws, the Creator of All Good Things calls you “my beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). Living loved means finding your hope, confidence, and security in God’s love for you – rather than striving for worldly approval. Living like you’re already loved eliminates the hunt for acceptance because you’ve already found the love your heart longs for.

Living in self-discipline: Living in self-discipline means taking strategic steps to live loved, live powerfully, and live free. It means penciling in the time for quiet meditation on God’s word. It means praying before making a decision that is fueled by emotions. It means choosing God’s love over a hook-up that’ll give you a brief ego boost, and trusting more in your divine acceptance than what the number on the scale can provide. It means not stooping to the level of competition, but living in humility that is birthed by a confidence in Christ.

You see, when you live from a spirit of fear – you’ll be a slave to mankind, media, and the culture we live in. But when you live from a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline, you will be free – able to enjoy every blessing God has for you.

So my challenge for you today is to choose one: power, love, or self-discipline. Choose one attribute of the spirit to intentionally start living in, and notice how your fear begins to dissipate, and the abundance begins to flow.

With Love & Freedom,

Kelsee

2 timothy

Want to learn more about your self-worth as a woman in Christ? Check out my new devotional workbook, Worthy: 10 Days of Remembering Who God Says You Are, now available on Amazon!

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!

kelsee