A Life Lived Beautifully: Valerie Keinsley
Valerie Keinsley and I met at the Influence Conference last fall and I immediately knew how genuine she was. After talking for a while, I could see the joy of the Lord evident all over her life - from designing for her shop, to being the creative director at The Archibald Project, to being a wife and soon-to-be momma, Valerie loves well and lives life with a deep purpose.
Introduce yourself like we are having a cup of coffee together. What kind of coffee/tea would you drink?
Hi! It's so nice to meet you. If we were sitting down to coffee together, I'd definitely order a 1/2 caff vanilla latte....or iced carmel macchiato if it's warm out. That's the tell-tale sign to myself that warm weather has arrived :)
What is your definition of a "life lived beautifully"?
To me, a "life lived beautifully" is one lived in daily, constant communication with Jesus and a life where you are completely surrendered to His will for your life. I used to believe a beautiful life meant a life filled with all the things the world tells us to chase--nice clothes, a nice house, a nice car, expensive vacations. I don't think any of those things are wrong or evil in and of themselves, but when they become the object of our affection, they can distract us from a TRULY beautiful life--which is one lived in total surrender and out of that surrender, immense gratitude and contentment. That's the kind of life I want, one marked by being completely sold-out for God and getting my strength and peace and fulfillment from Him and His Word alone.
When did you start following Jesus?
I grew up in a Catholic home, and am so grateful for my parents' giving me the gift of faith and church from the time I was born. I attended Catholic school for middle school and high school and was surrounded by examples of faith, both in my peers and adults around me, but I think it wasn't until college that I truly embraced my faith as my own and made a conscious decision for myself about how I wanted to live. I went through a really hard break-up my freshman year. I had chosen my college based on this boy, and truly thought we'd get married. Looking back, it's so clear how God used all of that--all of the heartbreak and confusion--for a much greater and more beautiful story! After that break-up, I decided not to date again until I dated the man I would marry. For the first time in my life, I longed to have Jesus fill my every need. I wanted to be satisfied in Him alone. I think that year and a half between the break-up and meeting my husband was the turning point in my faith.
What are some verses you constantly cling to and bring life to your soul?
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. I've always loved that verse as a simple and concise summary of how to live! And lately, I've really been digging into Philippians 1:6 - "...he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion..." That verse especially has brought me so much peace and hope as I wrestle with feelings of inadequacy and doubt in this new season of motherhood and awaiting the arrival of my husband and I's firstborn child. It's such a sweet reminder that it was God who put me on this journey and called me to this vocation of marriage and motherhood, and he absolutely will not leave me to do it alone.
How did God direct you to start your Etsy shop Vallarina Creative?
I really took a winding road to get to this point! I think the short version is that God used a lot of super wise and truth-speaking women in my life to show me that the talents He'd given me weren't pointless, and the things that make my heart come alive have a purpose. It was a mixture of friends, mentors and experiences such as The Influence Conference and Making Things Happen workshop that He used to show me that I could glorify Him through my passion for stationery design and desire to be a business owner. I used to think that "God's will for your life" could only include being a missionary or having some kind of religious-type shop. It's so silly to think about that now! God gives us all good gifts and He wants us to do the things that make us come alive! For me, that is stationery design. I think if you're intentionally pursuing God, and making time to talk to Him and more importantly, listen to Him, He'll direct your steps. The little whisper of a dream in my heart grew to a roar and God just kept opening doors to take the one next step. Even now, every day it is totally apparent to me that God is the one allowing my shop to stay open and directing each of my next steps in business. I'm so humbled and amazed to do this work together with Him!
As the creative director at The Archibald Project, how do you integrate the Gospel with creativity?
Really, it's almost impossible to separate the two with this job, which is SO cool! The Archibald Project's mission is all about the Gospel call to care for the orphan, so any work we do as an organization stems from this mission. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that reality, because as with any job, the tasks pile up and can feel just like that--tasks. Work, to-do lists etc. But then I remember that I get to truly care for the fatherless all over the world, simply by designing infographics or making updates to the website or brainstorming social media campaigns. It feels little and small sometimes, but it's not. Nothing is insignificant when done for the Kingdom.
What life lessons are you learning in owning a small business, being a wife, and soon-to-be momma?
The biggest lesson I am learning right now is that God is not interested in perfect. I am a perfectionist and have been striving to be the best at everything for as long as I can remember. I am always piling my plate far too full, and saying "yes" far too often because I feel obligated, don't want to let anyone down or feel bad that someone else is in a pinch. But what I'm learning recently is that God really isn't interested in how many things I checked off my to-do list in a given day or if my house is perfectly clean or if I'm wearing a shirt for the third day in a row and am embracing day-five hair (thank you, dry shampoo.) I've simply HAD to let things go, especially since becoming pregnant, because I don't have the energy or time to do everything I was doing before. And that's okay! I'm learning to be able to let my lists go and focusing on giving my best each day--whatever that looks like. It's definitely a process!
What are some books you are currently reading?
I am wrapping up In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan right now, which has been really interesting! I was diagnosed with wheat and dairy allergies a couple years ago, but have been struggling ever since to find a groove with eating well and appropriately for my body. Although this book was super research-heavy, it was super eye-opening and I feel re-energized to make progress in this area. I'm really excited to dive into Hands-Free Mama and The Best Yes next! I've heard great things about both and am really striving for balance and margin in this season, so I think they'll help a lot with that. Oh! I recently finished The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner, and I highly recommend it to every woman. It's really encouraging and motivated me to embrace the tiny pockets of time throughout my day and week to care for myself so I can be my best self for others. Super encouraging read!
If you could tell every woman reading this blog one thing God has laid on your heart, what would it be?
I just want to tell you that you are enough. I know you probably hear that a lot, but it's true! God doesn't need your striving. You don't have to earn His love or His grace. It's right there, ready for you. It'll never run out! Oh, what a sweet gift that is.