Introducing gospelthread contributor
Imagine the moment in 2010 when Kimm Crandall sat down at her computer and started erasing posts from her blog—years of writing, tens of thousands of words about homeschooling, housekeeping and “life with littles,” as her site was named at the time. Four hundred deleted posts later, her slate was clean. It was time to run in the opposite direction.
What would cause a writer to do something like that? What had gotten into her?
She had started posting in 2005, “telling women basically how to dress modestly, what to cook, how to school their kids,” Kimm recalls. “It was all law. There was no gospel, no grace at all.”
The truth is that there was an inherent hopefulness in Kimm’s decision to keep her blog in business, even while wiping it clean. She didn’t want folks to read her previous writing because she had something better to say.
So much better. And she’s been saying it ever since.
In Kimm’s words, God was calling her “to minister to people within the church who have been beaten down with the law of ‘Try Harder, Do Better.’ I felt like I had my testimony of the cross to share with them.”
After the arrival of her fourth child, Kimm struggled with depression and was encouraged to seek counseling.
“I had a counselor who would just not shut up about the gospel, to the point where I was like, ‘If she talks about the gospel one more time, I’m getting up and walking out of this room,’” she recalls. “I didn’t. I was too scared of her, thankfully. That was a big turning point, as far as starting to understand this is not about what I do, but what Christ has done.
“I fought against that,” she adds. “I was really offended that there was nothing I could do to pay for my sin.”
Kimm started journaling “to bring myself back to the gospel,” she says. “I would write out what I was struggling with, and I made a deal with myself that I would not put my notebook down until I’d brought it back to Christ—how does the gospel apply to this?”
That was the moment when she went scorched-earth on her previous writing. She moved her journaling online, rebranding her blog and pouring her efforts into telling her readers how the gospel had rescued and revived her.
“Especially with women, there’s so much pressure in so many areas—your kids, your husband, your looks, whether you’re going to have a career or be a stay-at-home mom,” she says. “Women are just dying, and I hear from them all the time. But Christ died for all of this. I no longer have to prove myself. He proved it all on the cross. I don’t have to prove that I’m this super mom and super Christian and super wife.”
So Kimm deleted most of the content on her blog. That act of repentance was the snowball that picked up mass as she kept echoing the theme: Only Jesus can save. Soon, she was gathering her writing into a book, which became Christ in the Chaos. A small circle of friends read her early drafts and encouraged her to keep going. Then she was ready to show it to someone with a national, gospel-centered teaching ministry: Elyse Fitzpatrick.
Before the gospel got a hold of Kimm, she recalls, “I had heard (Fitzpatrick) speak and couldn’t stand her, because her message made me really angry. We both ended up at Valley Center Community Church, in the same group, and over the years, God just brought us together.”
Fitzpatrick read her manuscript and said, “I’m going to give this to someone.” Soon, Kimm was a published author.
When Christ in the Chaos came out, Kimm found herself being courted by online ministries with national platforms. She never stopped writing about the gospel, and over the course of several years, God walked her through a gauntlet of difficulties—none of her own making—that resulted in her pulling back from every website except her blog, which is now called “Beloved Mess.”
After a period of intense ministry, life has slowed down, which Kimm says “has been really good for me and good for my family.”
“It’s not how it used to be,” she says. “I used to think that I was somebody, and God has stripped that away. It’s been very humbling, and I’m thankful for it.”
Kimm and her husband, Justin, live on a few acres in Valley Center with their four children, ages 9–15, and a horse (Kimm grew up riding competitively and wanting to be an Olympic equestrian).
In the aftermath of some painful experiences, “My counselor suggested that I try writing more objectively, and I was like, ‘I don’t even know how,’” Kimm says.
That’s where we come in: “It doesn’t get any more objective than a commentary.”
“I definitely see a need for gospelthread,” Kimm tells us. “I think that it will be immensely helpful for laypeople. When I think of ministry to moms, they don’t have a lot of time or mental energy to sit down and read Luther, or sit down and dissect their bible. So I love that gospelthread is concise.”
You can see why we feel privileged and humbled to have Kimm on our team. We know you will be blessed by the way she reads her bible.
But for readers who are accustomed to the spit-shined, Instagram-filtered image put forward by many Christian bloggers, Kimm writes with a transparency that can be jarring at first. She does not try to make things look or sound pretty if they aren’t.
“I’m just being honest and real—not for shock value, but because that’s what the law does, it exposes us,” she says. “And I have nothing left to hide, because the gospel comes in and rescues us.”
- Current City: Valley Center, CA
- Home Church: Community Lutheran (Escondido, CA)
- Job Title: Author
- What was your introduction to the gospel-centered movement?
My husband, Justin, was the first person to introduce me to gospel-centered resources. He was strongly influenced by Steve Brown at Key Life Ministries. Being the hard-nosed legalist that I was, I thought he was going off the deep end. Every time he turned Steve's program on the radio I would turn it off, but something kept drawing me back. Once I started to become set free there was no turning back.
Tell us about someone who has been influential in your Christian life and what you learned from them.
There have been so many people who have loved me and encouraged me throughout the years, but I would have to say that my friend Elyse Fitzpatrick has been the most influential in mentoring me in the love of Christ. Elyse and I have walked through some really dark times together and through it all she has continually pointed me back to the gospel and the work that Christ has done, is doing, and will continue to do on my behalf. She has helped me to see that Christianity is not about me and what I can do for Christ but about what Christ has done for me. She has also been really kind to repeatedly remind me not to make the gospel a new law, which has helped me to be more gracious with my fellow brothers and sisters.
- What challenges has the gospel overcome in your ministry?
The last few years in ministry have been some of the hardest in my life. Dealing with the moral failures of pastors, mentors, and friends really shook my faith. But God showed me over and over that people are going to fail, sometimes in really horrible, life-altering ways, but the sin of the messenger never negates the message if it's true. I had to come to a place where I was absolutely sure that the gospel was true, not just for me but for everybody. The gospel has freed me to forgive and it frees me to move on.
- What part of the gospel message and its implications are dearest to your heart?
I tend to be a deeply introspective person which causes me to be perfectionistic and hard on myself, always judging my actions, always over-thinking everything. The comfort that I find in the gospel is that it continually points me away from myself. It's good news that my view of my self is not who I am. I am who Christ has declared me to be, forgiven and loved. No matter how badly I have screwed things up, or how disappointed I am in myself, he is there, loving me and calling me his own. He loves me right in the middle of my mess.
- What do you see God doing in the gospel-centered movement that is exciting?
Sometimes I cringe when I hear the phrase "gospel-centered movement." Not because it is a bad phrase but because there are too many ministries that slap the gospel-centered label on their products without much thought to what they are doing. Adding the words gospel and grace to your sermon or book title doesn't make them gospel-centered. What does is proclaiming the good news that Christ has done it all and there is nothing left for us to do.
Over the past year, I have seen God do some major refining in the gospel-centered movement, and as hard as it is to watch, I think it's a good thing. I'm excited to see what good God will bring from it.
The message of the gospel is not new news, but I see it being rediscovered. One of the most exciting things for me is to see or hear from someone who's life has been changed because they read a book or heard a podcast that really freed them. And what's great is that those resources are becoming more and more available to people.