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IMG_2316_at beach2



joy is the realest reality,

the fullest life,

and joy is always given,

never grasped.

God gives gifts and i give thanks and i unwrap the gift given: joy.


Ann Voskamp One Thousand Gifts

IMG_2325_beach date


{again, still soaking up Ann Voskamp! May you unwrap the gift of joy today, unwrap it with thanksgiving, my friends! the photos are from a recent trip to a “beach” on the Chesapeake Bay.} 



yesterday i was running around frantic and breathless all day. it was like time was just slipping through my fingers and i had so much i “HAD” to do. i was stressed through the roof!

do you ever have those days? at one point i was driving on my way to one of the many errands and i was thinking of why i feel so overwhelmed. seriously?! i mean, i’m doing a little contract work and i’m trying to study but overall i should have plenty of time. how is life still overwhelming me? how do i still feel like i can’t catch up?!

then a little whisper, ” I’ve missed you. Do you have time for Me?”

yikes. how is it that when we get busy we put aside our quiet times with the Lord? shouldn’t this be EVEN MORE important when i’m busy? don’t i claim that HE is my main purpose in life?

then i started thinking about how my “word of the year” is JOY and i started to wonder where my joy is? how have i lost focus on my pursuit of God’s joy? how is it that life is seems to be just sweeping over me and taking over every little thought and moment?


i’ve really missed Him too. i’ve realized that since i’ve been so overwhelmed with little things of this moment my heart just isn’t at peace. i’m not feeling “right” if you know what i mean. so this morning i picked up Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts again. {seriously, have you all read this? if not, go get it RIGHT NOW. just two chapters in and i’m convicted and inspired. it’s beautiful}

this morning i was quickly reminded that for true joy in this life comes from real thanksgiving.

“Satan’s sin becomes the first sin of all humanity: the sin of ingratitude. Adam and Eve are, simply, painfully, ungrateful for what God gave.  Isn’t that the catalyst of all my sins?” (pg.15)

um yes. more days than not it’s hard to be grateful. i mean, maybe i’ll say i’m thankful for something but in my head i’ve usually made a list of everything else that could be better…

“As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible. Joy is always possible. Whenever, meaning -now; wherever, meaning-here. The holy grail of joy is not in some exotic location or some emotional mountain peak experience…The only place we need to see before we die is this place of seeing God here and now.” (pg 33)

what i’m reminded of this morning is that thanksgiving is the beginning of the joy that i’m seeking. of that seeking feeling that my life is so overwhelming but i’m missing something! of the peace that surpasses all understanding. my focus is wrong. and it all starts with thanksgiving.

“the one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me.”

Psalm 50:23

thanksgiving =  glorifying God = real joy


may we all find moments today to notice God and to be thankful.  i’ll sure be thinking about this a lot today. i’m thankful for so much but i forget to think about it, ya know?!  to actually thank God for each little thing. really, i DO want to glorify God with my life! with my every day. even the crazy days i’ve had lately! to start that, i need to remember to be thankful.

have any of you had those kinds of days? have you noticed that your Joy is missing when you’re ungrateful or there’s a lack of gratefulness too? how do you remember to be thankful?

xo-kimberly renee

ps- in my “free printables” you can print off your own copy of my Joy painting above. tape it to the mirror or hang it by the front door to remind yourself to seek His joy! 

IMG_1317_tondabayashi flowers

“The interesting thing about a heart which concentrates on honoring and thanking God is that it becomes a naturally joyful heart. It becomes resistant to discouragement, negative thinking and cynicism. Nothing is dull or routine to such a heart, everything has value”

Gail MacDonald,

High Call, High Priveledge. pg.181


sometimes it takes a little perspective to remember.

to remember God’s goodness.

to remember His promises.

to remember that you’re here for a reason.Photo Mar 02, 9 17 29 AM

this weekend, that perspective came from a short walk along the Atlantic ocean. Photo Mar 02, 9 17 34 AM

winter can be dreary and dark. but going for a walk, getting fresh air, seeing the sun out, hearing the waves crash… all these things are good for the soul. Photo Mar 02, 9 21 22 AM

to remember that life is good. that God is good. and that He is working. sometimes i just have to take a little walk to remember that. Photo Mar 02, 9 21 25 AMoh  how easily i forget,

“… what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Eph. 3:18-19 {emphasis mine}


remembering  how big, how long, how high and how deep God IS–  is so important. i have to remember that to be  FILLED with the FULLNESS of God.

sometimes all it takes is a walk to remember.


{warning: a bit of heart and honesty coming right up}disney at sunset

so far, this winter has been pretty dark for me.

yup, i’ve had some AMAZING adventures! but i haven’t mentioned that i’ve also faced some serious tears. some serious stress and some serious depression.

there have been moments when i’ve just wanted to quit my job, just pack up and leave new england. my plan is to just crawl back into my parent’s basement and wait until husbuddy has a job and has life all figured out. i’d join him again then. i think that might be easier some days…

it’s been hard partly because i feel so temporary. i’m continually reminded that we are only here a couple more months…

but i’m trying to make lasting relationships with other seminary wives or with people at church…

i’m trying to be a good employee in a super stressful environment…

i’m trying to be a good, supportive wife, who keeps the house clean and makes dinner for my hardworking man.

AND i’m failing at all those things. big time.

disney flower

i feel like relationships feel forced.  i feel that i don’t belong mostly because i’m not pregnant or have a baby(like practically every wife i know)  or maybe  i live too far away and everyone knows i’m leaving soon, so why bother getting to know me?  i’m failing at being a “good wife” big time…i’m complaining or crying so much and i don’t have time to clean and usually husbuddy is the one who ends up making dinner…{seriously-he is amazing to put up with me!}

i’m failing at so much, you guys! so that’s making me depressed. {*i think i also get slightly seasonally depressed too… just a hunch*}

winter is sometimes so dark, isn’t it?

and if you think about it… it’s kind of funny that i’m struggling so much with depression when my word for the year is JOY. {see blog post here} haha. hilarious. you see me laughing right? ok…slight sarcasm.

it all came to a clash the other day, after a 6am flight when we needed a nap…go figure… but as soon as husbuddy fell asleep, i just cried.

disney at sunset2

i cried out to God. i was so ashamed for my depression -especially after such a loud statement of faith saying that i was going to be joyful this year! and especially after such wonderful trips! i felt so much guilt and shame for so many things. and i told Him all about it.

mostly in my journal. i haven’t journaled much since getting married. i try to tell myself that a journal helps me process things-a lot like this blog- but i still put it off or avoid it… until all of a sudden i just feel compelled to write and write and write… like the other day.

the great thing about keeping a journal is that if you flip back through the history, you can be reminded about how God spoke to you…He prompted me to do just that after i spilled my guts.

disney castle

i flipped back to the day that i discovered this verse Psalm 16:6-11 {that i blogged about here}. i remember that day was full of tears and contemplation too. that day, God gave me such hope with these verses.

and then, He gave them again just by looking at those journal pages.

i was struck:

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of JOY;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Psalm 16:11 {emphasis all yours truly}

there is only FULLNESS of JOY when i am IN GOD’S PRESENCE.

could He hit it over my head any clearer?

i won’t find joy in all the “things” i have to do… even in my work. i can’t find fullness of joy in “being” a good friend or a good wife… all these things i’ve been trying so hard with and feeling so stressed with… i can’t conjure up my own joy.


i feel like i’m pretty dumb and God has a lot of work ahead of Him to pound this Joy thing through my thick skull…

but i’m SO thankful that He is taking the time to pound it. He is teaching me about JOY and i’m truly thankful. it may take reminding with how thick my skull is, but God’s mercy is new every morning, and He delights for me to be in His presence to find His joy.

 God is so good! can i get an amen?

xo-kimberly renee


{thanks for listening, friends! it’s my goal to totally be honest about things around here, so i appreciate it that you’ve taken the time to read! hopefully God will continue to teach me a lot more about Joy this year}

{ps- if you’d like to print off your own copy of my JOY print, go HERE or to the *printables* link above. thanks!}

joy4x5today’s sketch is actually a free printable! i made this sketch this weekend as a labor of love as i prayed about it being my word of the year. and i fell in love with it. {it’s kinda katie-daisey-esk, isn’t it?!}

it makes me so happy to look at, i think i’m going to print it out large and keep it visible throughout the year! and i decided that today i’d love to share it with you.

Click HERE for an 8×10 PDF of my JOY sketch to print and enjoy wherever you want!

be joy-filled this year, my friends!

xo-kimberly renee

my word for the year is:

after spending the weekend thinking about it and worried that the word sounds too flippant and trite… I prayed about it some more and it still stuck. i think it sounds too trite because iI don’t think we, as Americans, really understand what Joy means. i’m afraid that when I say my word is JOY you all will think it’s my goal to be some fake-happy-all-the-time kind of Christian. that is NOT what JOY means to me.

joy does NOT equal happiness.

how do i know this? because God calls us to be Joyful ALWAYS.  He says so multiple times in His word. {James 1:2, Phil. 4:4 for starters} He means all.the.time. even when life is good…and even when we’re walking through the impossible. Rejoice. even when we’re facing the worst things imaginable, we’re still called to be joyful. And that’s hard.  even impossible at times.

but He doesn’t say, “be happy”.  even Jesus got angry and even Jesus cried. these things aren’t wrong. But that is why Joy doesn’t equal happiness.

see, i am a pessimist.  i hate it about myself but i know it’s true. i always have wanted to be an optimist, but i just can’t make myself be one. i don’t see life that way. so for me, it’s really easy to live with a negative attitude all the time. It’s really easy to come home from work, and say the day was “just fine”. it’s really easy to think about all the things that should have been better.  i’m REALLY good at pretending to be joyful all the time and even desiring it, but i don’t usually have a very joyful attitude if I’m honest with myself.  but I know, and hope, that God has some things to teach me about living in Joy this year.

living in joy to me is about living in thanksgiving, living in hope, and living in peace. i know, it looks like i’m cheating by incorporating more words. HA. But i’m not, i promise!

the dictionary defines Joy this way:

a : the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires :delight

 b : the expression or exhibition of such emotion : gaiety

I am going to say that the first definition:  the emotion evoked by the prospect of possessing what one desires -is the closest that it comes to what I’m trying to say:

I possess the love of God. I possess the hope that HE has a plan and purpose for me! I possess the overwhelming feeling of thankfulness at what HE has done for me on the cross! And I posses true peace because I know that HE has me in the palm of His hand. These possessions will never be lost. They are my treasure that i delight in . And because they are my treasure, through everything , I can have joy.

this year, as i explained last week, is making me nervous. it is going to be another year full of new changes, new places and uncertainty as we wait for it all to come to fruition. but through it all, i pray that JOY will fill my heart and soul because i already possess everything i need. i want to be a girl who looks with Joy at the moment instead of the pessimist who can so often be filled with bitterness.

God has a lot of work to do in this heart of mine this year. may i learn how to truly live in HIS JOY.

thanks for being here, friends! have you decided on YOUR  “word of the year” for 2013?! i’d love to hear!

xo-kimberly renee


last year at this time, I decided to spend 40 days(well, actually 46 if you count sundays) taking 1 picture a day. this was to help me focus on the beauty and gifts around me that God has given.  You can read more about it HERE. anyway, I found it very fulfilling and it was really cool to see, through the lens of my new camera, something new every day. it also was to help me get better at taking pictures :)

So, this year, I was sitting here thinking about what I wanted to focus on this year for lent. you see, rather than give something up for lent, it seems that lately I’ve been adding something to my every day routine. as usual, I have the option to make life easier (one less thing would be easier, right? ha)  and I go and decide to complicate life by adding something.  this is what I was thinking, do I give something up? or add something?

or how about I just do the exact. same. thing. as last year?

um… LAME you say?

yea, that was my first thought too.

But then I thought back to how interesting that experience was for me. I really was able to focus, even if just for a moment every day, on something artistic. I was able to see how I got better at using my camera. AND I was able to give thanks to God every day for something…through my camera.

and you see, this may come as a shock to you… but I’m still not very good with my camera… (I know, gasp!)

so I could really use the practice ;)


and I could really use the focus.

does anyone else seem to be running around like crazy these days? I really notice how out of it I am when I’m wandering around the house, trying to clean… I grab one thing, get distracted and set it down someplace else to be lost to the mess… somehow, next thing I know, I have a sponge in one gloved hand for cleaning the toilet and in the other I have the nail polish because somehow I’ve decided that it’s time to paint my nails! eek. out of control spaz over here!

so I feel like a routine like this would really help me to focus. to focus on God. to focus on thanksgiving and joy and what that means in this season leading up to Easter.

the other day, I shared this post with a quote from a book I’m reading. I’ve read two chapters of “one Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp and I’m hooked. Anyway, in the second chapter she talks about the meaning of life. ha. yup, just the second chapter and we’re that deep. hee hee. hang with me. She talks about seeing someone reading “1000 places to see before you die” and wonders if maybe that is the point of life… 1000 things by going to 1000 places, then you will have a full-filled life.  But that can’t be it. What about all of us who will never go anywhere? Will we not have a full life? Then she says this, and I love it, "

“The only place we need to see before we die is this place of seeing God, here and now.”

And I’ve been asking myself… how am I seeing God right here, right now? Do I live in Thanksgiving for all He has done for me? Rejoice in the Joy of all He is doing? Do I see His GRACE around me every day and in every thing?

thought provoking, no?

And that’s kind of what I’m stumbling at here. Through these silly little pictures I desire to see more of God in everything, HERE and NOW. This Lent season my focus(as really, it should be all the time) is going to be on Him.

day 1

{so yes, it made perfect sense to take a picture of my amazing birthday “cake” because that is what I’m thankful for today :) hee hee. thank You, Papa, for providing me with such a thoughtful Husbuddy who picks out just the thing to make me smile}