Katie Elizabeth Kemp. Goodness gracious ladies if you haven’t already sought her out please do so now at Katieelizabethkemp.com, follow her on instagram @katieelizabethkemp, and find her on Facebook.
Katie’s message about blooming in the midst of our messes has stuck with me since she spoke. So many pieces of what she taught and encouraged us with are relevant to our Mom journeys so I want to take this opportunity to rehash and expand on a few of the beautiful truths she imparted on us.
It is no joke that Motherhood tests us daily. As Katie said, we’re in a position that requires us to be pouring into our children constantly for a span of nearly 20 years and in the end we don’t even get to keep them! In the midst of this we’re surrounded by the toxic temptation to compare ourselves with other mothers while factoring in what the books are telling us, while listening to what the church says, what our mothers say, and what we ourselves criticize ourselves with. As a result, at the end of the day we end up exhausted trying to base our worth as mothers on the performances of our children- what we are producing. It’s just gross. It robs us of our joy and freedom. Katie showed us and challenged us to recognize that in the middle of the hamster wheel of believing our production determines our worth- we have been given an opportunity to draw nearer to our creator. She showed us that we can embrace the freedom God’s been offering all along if we’ll just stop looking side to side at others and begin looking up toward him…. even when we’re smack dab in the middle of poop, vomit, and hormones.
I love Katie’s reminder that we were preselected for the children we’ve been given. God knew just who we would Mother and that there is no mistake in it. Katie’s sweet daughter Hallie stands as a testimony to how beautiful and challenging motherhood can be. Her daughter’s blindness has been a challenge so great that it has given way to a story equally as inspiring. One that left us all feeling empowered last Thursday.
What if in the middle of the diarrhea on the crib, the vomit and blow-outs, broken glass and blood stained ER visits, we could remember what the Lord spoke to Katie. “How much more do I take your messes time and time again. Hand them over to me; let me show you how I turn them to fertilizer.”
In this invitation Katie recognized that God had never tasked her to perform up to a standard, he never intended for us to desire to be “good enough.” These demands are not from Him. God showed Katie His upside-down kingdom; that in cleaning poop, in mothering a child with disabilities, in fighting illnesses, in the seemingly uninspiring and mundane- God hold us higher. He invites us nearer to Him. As Katie said “there is a place in us that cannot be measured, our foundation. From this place is where God sees us and from there is where He brings life.” God encourages us to give our messes to him, allow him to turn them to fertilizer and watch as they make us bloom.
As Katie painted in front of us, I watched so intently as she seemingly threw paint on the canvas and then followed behind it with a simple tool that transformed thin lines into flowers at full bloom. I watched as she shared such a vulnerable piece of herself in live-painting in front of 100 women and because she shared something that makes her feel alive, I left feeling more alive myself. Next time I am frustrated, knee-deep in my messes I will remember Katie’s daughter, joyful that milestones are reached period, regardless of their timing- set completely apart from pressure to perform or expectations of what things should look like. Since writing makes me feel alive, I will pull my journal out when I feel like crying and recall in vivid detail how gross my messes might feel in order to consciously identify the beauty God is inviting me to enjoy in the middle of it.
Our journeys may look differently than Katie’s but she challenged us to look at our messes and to seek God within them. To reframe what may seem hopeless and frustrating right now as opportunities to allow God to till our soil, turn our messes into rich fertilizer and to set us into full bloom.
What are your messes? What do you need to turn over to him? And what steps can you take toward feeling more alive?