Today, Kimi Joy speaks to us about spiritual discipline, feeling God’s presence in the darkness and some great tips for staying spiritually strong.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: Growing up, my parents were pretty stable, taking me to church and VBS, as a kid. I grew up in a small, small town in a middle class life. I was a very fortunate kid being able to be put into things such as horse-back riding, dance, and theatre. I grew up homeschooled my entire life, which rocked me a little once I got out into the world as it does any young teen, but I would have to say I adjusted and grew up relatively smoothly, even though I was a late bloomer. I didn’t always have stable relationships, growing up, with my family and lost a lot of friends in middle school, but I maintained a relationship with my parents and my best friend, which helped to keep me grounded. I was a very creative kid, loving art, music, games and imagination. I think that’s all translated to me now; being creative is how I express and live my life.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: A couple days ago, I read Romans 5, and these verses really stuck out to me differently: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has given it to us.” Romans 5:1-5
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: I would have to say fasting and prayer are my two focuses right now. The last few months, the concept of fasting has come to me through various forms such as books I’m reading, sermons I listen to, or people I meet in my small groups. I know God has been speaking to me and encouraging me to grow in this spiritual discipline. I would also say that He has been focusing me on growing in prayer in that last year. I am working to develop continuous prayer habits that will ignite my relationship with Him and keep me focused throughout every single day on God.
Profession: I am currently in school for dance and songwriting. I am a dance teacher and wish to continue in that field, as well as create and publish my own music.
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? “God Bless This Mess”.
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? I said a prayer of salvation at my church vacation bible school (VBS) when I was six years old. My only memories of it were getting on my knees in front of my chair and bowing my head to the floor asking Jesus to come into my heart. However, since then, I would say my first distinctly memorial encounter with God was freshman year of high school when I attended a Christian summer camp. That was when I remember finally realizing, “Wow, God is real” and my value comes from Him. We had to do an activity where we wrote down something we were ashamed that we’d done in our past and then we lit them all on fire. In the moment, it was an example of how Jesus takes away all our sin. After I realized the truth and wonder of Jesus’ love, that He died for me, I recommitted my life to the Lord.
“After I realized the truth and wonder of Jesus’ love, that He died for me, I recommitted my life to the Lord.”
How has your relationship with Him changed you? Our relationship has been the single most consistent thing in my life since I was young. God has changed me from a small unsure girl to a known treasured daughter and given me confidence. I’ve been changed from bitter to forgiving, and from hurt to loved. I see Him in everything I do, which has made me realize that I matter and that has changed the actions I take, and how I live my life.
“I’ve been changed from bitter to forgiving, and from hurt to loved.”
What has been the darkest time in your life, and how did you see God in it? The darkest time in my life so far was sophomore/junior year of high school, shortly after my grandmother had died. I fell into depression that had been coming for about a year prior and was until the middle of my senior year. I always used to be very anxious and self-critical but during this time my thoughts about myself were increasingly more unkind, and I struggled with body dysmorphia and a binge eating disorder. God was always with me. When I was crying myself to sleep, I knew that he was still there despite how utterly alone I felt from not telling anyone about what I was going through. The summer after my junior year, I was back at the same Christian summer camp I mentioned earlier and my life was changed yet again. The last message of the week was about releasing all your burdens to the Lord and going all in for Him. That was the first time I really gave my depression to God. I knew at that point it had to be Him because I wasn’t going to be able to save myself. I look back now and although it was a slow process, the next six months, God took away that pain and that depression and I know it was a miracle. If I hadn’t had God during that time I don’t know where I would be now, and I know it could have been so much worse. But God preserved me, and once I gave it up to Him, He healed me.
“I knew at that point it had to be Him because I wasn’t going to be able to save myself.”
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Communication, with others and with God. Staying in touch with others and having deep conversations about God and faith with them has really grown me this season. As well as communicating to God about everything and through and in everything.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): I’m currently reading a book my mom actually suggested I read by John Bevere called A Heart Ablaze. I’m learning about the power of God and how when we obey Him and draw near, He’ll do incredible things. I’ve even witnessed this in my own life very recently. That being close to God means receiving His power and His passion; it’s not some weak little faith we are living in, our God is mighty and His people possess His favor to do his works.
“That being close to God means receiving His power and His passion; it’s not some weak little faith we are living in, our God is mighty and His people possess His favor to do his works.”
Top three essentials: Bible, pen, note-book, friend was a saying that my church camp used to say and honestly I live by that. If I had to pick three essentials in my life, besides food and water, it would be my Bible, a pen, and friend(s).
How did God speak to you recently? Recently, He has spoken to me through other people. I have been getting repeated messages coming from multiple people who didn’t even know the circumstance or the situation but they said what I believed to be what the Holy Spirit breathed into them to speak to me.
Hobby: When I’m not dancing or singing, which is almost never, I love to read. Fiction, historical, biographies, self-help, religion, you name it.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: First: Community. It’s essential. Being alone while trying to fight a spiritual, unseen battle is never a good plan. God encourages us in scripture to be surrounded by the body/community of Christ to feed each other and to be fed. God can also use people to speak to you and if you just ask for help, you will receive both physically and spiritually. Do not try to go your road alone. Second: Seek. Ask. Knock. Never go spiritual dormant. Keep learning, growing, striving. Read all the books that you can, listen to all the sermons you can. Third: Rest in God’s presence, regularly. Resting in God means taking a break from the world. Go away from social media and noise and get quiet and still with God. Ask Him to restore you through His rest. There is nothing else in this world like God’s rest, nothing else will ever fill you like He will. Trust me.
Favorite person in scripture? I honestly relate to Moses a lot. So I don’t know if I’d say he is my favorite, but I see myself in his story. His mistakes, his doubt in himself that God could really use him and then the glory that God receives through Moses’s obedience. It really encourages me.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? Oh, that God is full of compassion. That He loves and loves and loves and loves them and He is kind.
How do you engage with your community? At my university, I engage with my community by attending small groups and Bibles studies with my peers, as well as I attend worship nights and chapels. I am also involved with a community builders group that helps serve the needs of our local community through building repair and construction. And I’m a part of a church in the area.
Favorite holiday? 100% Christmas. The birth of our Savior and the happiness of the greatest time of year. The snow, the hot-cocoa and carols. It’s the best.
A goal you have? To learn and be fluent in a language. I’m attempting French, but my ultimate goal would be able to go to France one day and have fluent conversations with the natives.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: We don’t have a lot of original traditions in my family, but one thing I always love that we do is watch a bunch of Christmas movies after being stuffed up on Thanksgiving dinner. Charlie Brown is my family’s favorite.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? Oh I don’t know. I’ll probably just ask why God made spiders, honestly. Any big philosophical question would probably have an answer too big for my little human brain to understand.
Thing you want to raise awareness about: There are so many things. Sex-trafficking is something I feel very emotionally strong about and want to do whatever I can in my life to stop it. But something more specifically I found out in the last year about the one-child/two-child policies in China and how women are being forced by their families to abort their children if they are having a girl because they don’t think girls are as good as boys if they can only have one or two children. There is an organization called Women’s Rights Without Frontiers that goes in to help the women be able to save and keep their baby girls, they also help widowed women who have been neglected by society.
What does your morning routine consist of? My morning routine, if I’m honest, changes frequently and especially with the seasons but as of late it has been getting up around 7am. If I have time and ambition, I will stretch to wake myself up and do some sort of mediation whether it be 5 minutes of guided or 10 minutes of on my own. Then I will be spending the next bit of time I have in alone/quiet time with God reading my Bible, devotions such as “Jesus Calling” or “100 Days to Brave” I’ve been using lately, and I’ll pray (all with a cup of coffee in hand of course). Then, I will get ready for my day, eat some breakfast, and then head to one of my morning classes.
What is on your nightstand? Water, always, hydration is key. My phone, and usually a book and/or my prayer journal and a pen.
Define Christianity in a sentence: Being loved and treasured children of the ultimate creator of the universe receiving salvation/redemption into heaven when the world comes to judgement with the power to cast out evil in Jesus’s name.
For more Kimi Joy:
Instagram at: @Kimi.Joy
Blog at: Kimberleejoy.com
Until next time, keep witnessing!