Bold Beautiful Perfect: Kimber
“Beauty is love, kindness, and being exactly who God has created us to be. When we are utilizing all of our talents and our gifts, trusting in HIS plans, and shining our inner light on the outside — that is beautiful.” – Kimber
We are excited to share Kimber’s beautiful story today on the blog!
Hey y’all, I’m Kimber!
I was born and raised in Laurel, Mississippi. I am the youngest of 3, the baby girl with an older sister and an older brother. I could not have been blessed with a more loving and supportive immediate and extended family. We all love big, big… really big!! I’ve been told by those closest to me that my heart loves SO big, that I actually “broke” it. I had to have open heart surgery at 45 years old. I thank God that I was with a doctor that did not leave anything unchecked, or dismiss any of my symptoms. My daddy had a massive heart attack at 36, and sadly we lost him at 54 years old to another massive heart attack. He is missed every single day of my life.
Genetics are such a huge factor for heart disease, and his side of the family is unfortunately full of it. My stress tests and echocardiograms were always normal, even with a 99% LAD (“the widow maker”) blockage and 80% blockage in another artery that was a branch off of my LAD. The ONLY test that showed anything abnormal in my heart, before my angiogram, is called a “CT Calcium Scan.” (If you are at high risk for Heart Disease, or are having symptoms, I highly encourage you to have this simple test – it truly saved my life.) When my Cardiologist performed my angiogram, he also found that I was born without a left main artery. Along with my own cardiac issues, my husband, David, is a 2 time stroke survivor at only 51 years old. He has Atrial Fibrillation. He is still currently in recovery and therapy from his most recent stroke from July of 2019. He had a 100% blockage in his left main cerebral artery. We spent over 2 months at Ochsner Hospital and the in-patient rehabilitation in New Orleans ensuring he received the very best care and rehabilitation. He could not walk, talk, and was paralyzed on the right side of his body.
The therapists that worked with him were amazing! My guy is truly a walking, talking miracle! He tells everyone he meets that he had a stroke, and tells them how blessed he is. He carries a smile on his face, and hope and determination in his heart every single day. He is definitely shining his bright light for all others to see. He has his own law firm that has continued to run during his healing process, thanks to amazing friends that are like family to us. He is also a Major in the JAG Corps for the Army Reserves. David is determined to make as close to a full recovery as possible. He amazes me with his positive attitude and his faith. He continues speech therapy 3 days per week, and he will tell you that he is “better and better every single day!”
God’s Unexpected Plan for Our Family
David and I are blessed with 3 beautiful children. Dawson is 23, and serves in the National Guard just as his dad did (even in the same unit!). Zachary is 18 and is graduating from high school this year. Our baby girl Mia is 17, and she is excited and ready to head in to her senior year. We also have a house full of fur babies, because again, we love SO BIG!
Our oldest son came into our world the old fashioned way, and he filled our lives with more joy than we ever thought possible! We could not wait to give him siblings and to grow our family. However, at 28 years young I was diagnosed with severe Endometriosis and had to undergo a complete hysterectomy. It wasn’t part of my plan; it was completely devastating.
The Endometriosis affected pretty much every organ in my pelvis and abdomen, not just the female ones. Many hospitalizations and surgeries later, and it was time for me to be a healthier Momma for our son and wife for my husband. It was an extremely difficult time for me, both physically and emotionally. Multiple surgeries left me with chronic pain, and I could not help but think I had let both of my guys down, even though I knew I could not control what was happening to my body. I cried and prayed so much during that time. I was begging God to please help me understand the “why,” and to please show me HIS plans for our family.
Our son had brought the greatest joy to our lives, and we wanted to give him the gift of siblings. David and I are so close to all of our siblings. Deep down I knew that God would not have the strong wanting in our hearts for more children if HE did not have another plan for us. Four years later, HE showed us HIS “why”. All in His plans and His timing!
David and I could not wait to begin the international adoption process! After much prayer and research, we felt led to Guatemala. We received the referral of our beautiful baby girl, Mia, and began the incredibly difficult wait to bring her home. Our agency was headed to Guatemala when she was only 4 months old, and asked if I wanted to travel with them. I booked a flight! I was headed to meet our daughter for the first time!
The week before my scheduled trip, I received a phone call. Mia had a brother who was 10-1/2 months older than her, already in the adoption process with another case, but there were complications. Did we want both children?!
There was NO question! There are no adequate words to describe the emotions and the pure joy I felt in that moment. Our sweet Zachary, another son and the baby brother that Dawson kept asking us for. No greater gift that we could give to our children than each other!
I met both of our little ones on my trip. Mia came home in December of 2004, and we became our complete family of five in July of 2005 when Zach came home. Both of our babies finally HOME with us and their big brother. This Momma’s heart and hands were beyond full in the best possible way! God had shown us HIS plan, and to see it all come full circle is indescribable. I truly cannot imagine our lives any other way. My already strong faith grew even stronger. God knew that I would need that strong faith to carry us through the storms that we would face in the years to come.
Discovering My Inner Beauty
Having bifocal glasses and a gap in the middle of my two front teeth did not make for the easiest childhood years. I was picked on… A LOT. My Mother always reassured me and told me that I was beautiful, but I mean, she was my momma — she was supposed to think that, right?! I eventually had my teeth fixed, but the glasses didn’t go until junior high. (I am so thankful that glasses seem to be a “cool” thing now with kids. All 3 of mine wanted glasses!) I pushed myself beyond my insecurities and became very involved in junior high and high school. I was a good student, a cheerleader, and I loved to perform in plays and musicals. I joined as many clubs as I possibly could. I was surrounded by amazing friends, and I always tried my best to be a friend to all. Even though I had so many positive things going on for me, I still never felt pretty enough, and far from beautiful. I know now that I was just carrying those hurtful words of others from my younger years with me in to my adolescence and adulthood. I was much too concerned with how others saw me on the outside. Thankfully, as I continued to mature and grow, so did my self-esteem and my confidence in myself.
I attended USM for one year, and met my David at 19 years old. In January of 1996, I got to marry the amazing guy that has always made me feel like the most beautiful girl in the room (he still does, 25 years later!). Everything that I do in my life comes from a place of love, and straight from my heart. I know now that is where my true beauty lies: it is in my heart.
What is Beauty?
To me, beauty to me is letting your inner light shine that is in your heart. God has given each of us a beautiful light within us. I know that so many of us probably sang about it at church when we were little. ”This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine….!” God has a plan and a purpose for each of us, equipping each of us with our own special and unique gifts and talents. When we are fulfilling that purpose, trusting in HIS plan, utilizing those gifts and talents to shine our bright light for HIM — THAT is BEAUTIFUL!
After struggling with my own insecurities through the years, I finally began to understand my purpose, and my own beauty being a bright light for Jesus. I am much stronger than I ever gave myself credit for, but it is only because of HIM. I’ve been told that the way our family has handled the storms and difficulties in our lives has touched people’s hearts and inspired them. I have prayed that God would please use me, use our suffering to provide help to others, and to inspire others to trust in HIM. One moment, one day at a time, and one foot in front of the other. If our story can help just one single person, then every scar that I have on the outside and on the inside is worth it. If you continuously lay down all of your worries, your anxiety, your sadness, your pain, your heartache, and your difficulties at the foot of the cross, He will always be there to help you carry them. “He will never leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
“Beautiful” is a precious friend that brings hot soup to your door when you are sick. ”Beautiful” is the face of a mother when she looks at her precious child with the utmost joy and pride. “Beautiful” is friends rallying around you when you are anxious and scared about a life changing diagnosis. “Beautiful” is my precious mother, who has been bed bound for the last two years due to vascular dementia and alzheimer’s. She still has a smile on her face daily, and you had better believe when she can find the words, she still tells me that I am beautiful, just as she has done my whole life. “Beautiful” is my sweet mother-in-law. We lost David’s dad to cancer when he was only 46 years old. My mother-in-law has been a light of strength through the years for all of us, and she herself has recently completed surgeries and radiation for breast cancer. She has always poured her whole heart and soul into her “babies,” her precious grandchildren. “Beautiful” is the true grace and enormous strength of a friend that is fighting a terminal disease, but she has always trusted in HIS plans, even though she and those who love her most just cannot understand. “Beautiful” is showing kindness to a stranger, knowing that everyone around us has something that they are struggling with that we cannot see. “Beautiful” is love and kindness, and being exactly who God has created us to be. When we are utilizing all of our talents and our gifts, trusting in HIS plans, and shining our inner light on the outside — that is “beautiful.”
It is not only being a bright light when you are in the best times of your life, but also during the most difficult times. HIS strength is made perfect in our weakness. Let others see HIM through you always! Shine bright from your heart, and remind yourself every single day that “You ARE beautiful!” You are fearfully and wonderfully made, perfectly by our Heavenly Father. He loves us the most, and “He already thinks you’re beautiful. He loves you just the way you are… and nothing you can do, could ever change his point of view. He already thinks you’re beautiful.” (Micah Tyler)
Being a Part of the Bold Beautiful + Perfect project
Being chosen to participate in this project has been a true gift and blessing for me. I have been praying that God would “use me” and give me the chance to share our story in a big way with others. I submitted my paperwork without telling anyone. There was not a doubt in my mind that I wanted to do this, and that I was meant to do this.
Being chosen was truly an answered prayer! When I found out, I looked up and said, “This is all for you, Lord!!!” (“…and maybe just a little bit for me!”) I mean, who doesn’t want (and deserve) a day to themselves, to have professional hair and makeup done, to be pampered, and to look and feel their very best on the outside as well as the inside?!
The day with Kasper and Brandi is one that I will never forget, and I will always be grateful for this opportunity! We were 3 kindred spirits for sure. I’m always amazed how God places people and opportunities right when and where we need them. We just have to be still.
If given an opportunity to do something like this for yourself, to share your heart and your life, and to give all of the praise and glory to our Lord and Savior… JUST DO IT!!! Get out there, and go shine that bright, beautiful light for the good of others — and most importantly, for Jesus! We never know the true impact we can have in the lives of others. Take all of your heartache, your pain, your suffering and your sorrow, and turn it in to something beautiful.
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Shine your light!
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International Award-Winning Portrait Photographer
Brandi Stage is an international award-winning portrait photographer based in Bay St. Louis, MS. She creates an exceptional magazine-style photo shoot and timeless heirloom portraits for women, men, children and pets in her studio or on location.