The Wholehearted Hero: Kamri Phillippi

Whenever I initiate with people for this series, I am always drawn to people who are vulnerable and open with their personal stories. Kamri does this so gracefully and sets others at ease with her blunt honesty, wit, and tact for making others laugh in the process. 

Kamri and I lived in the same neighborhood growing up and played soccer together for several years (although "playing" for me looked more like sitting on the bench... ;)). We "produced" plays with our neighborhood friends and had our own little girl gang going for a while. I also went to high school with her husband for a few years. Though we haven't connected in several years, I've been inspired and encouraged by her honest writing on her blog, Musings of a Mixex Wifey and new podcast series, Letting the Light In

1. Hi Kamri! I love following along with your life on social media and have been so inspired by your blog and podcast series! Can you give us a little snapshot into your life? How did you end up back in Wichita and what is this season of your life defined by? 

Hi Tori :) Thank you for your kind words. I would say this season has been characterized by rest. My husband, Taylor, and I moved back to Wichita (where we are both from) in August 2016 after living in Kansas City for two years. I taught middle school mathematics at a charter school there and it dramatically altered my perspective on race, our country, and the power of education. As incredible as that experience was, the days were long, and I carried a constant sense of not doing enough for my students. Ministry wise, we were also spending time in the projects weekly through an organization called Freedom Fire, which led to Tay and I spending more time pouring out, neglecting our need to be filled by the Lord. My husbands job brought us back here, and as much as the Lord knew I needed rest, He also knew I would have a hard time receiving that gift He was trying to give me. Its been a lot of beautiful tension in learning how to receive what He knew I needed after an intense two years. We also found out we were pregnant in early December, so a lot of that rest has been in preparation for a new sort of demand in the form of an infant! 


2. A few weeks ago I listened to your podcast on pregnancy and was so inspired by your vulnerability. What makes you passionate about sharing so openly with others? And what is your vision for bringing others into the Light (like your podcast title suggests)? 

I am so honored you listened! I was a little long winded ;) I think it was C.S. Lewis that said the most powerful two words in the English language are "me too." I can only use these words after someone has shared something with me, and I can recall countless instances where I felt less lonely or embarrassed after someone was just honest with me. Specifically with pregnancy, I think because it took Tay and I a year, I try to share that as often as possible to normalize the struggle of waiting. The waiting is lonely enough, and it can be even rougher when you feel as though you're in isolation in that waiting, so my hope in sharing so much is to cast a little light into the dark places. I think Satan works most craftily when we believe we're alone. Lastly, I am most moved in both my marriage and in friendship when confessing and forgiving are a consistent part of our relationship. It's so terrifying, because you think that revealing these terrible, selfish, manipulative actions, words or thoughts will drive you further from the person, but it ALWAYS humbles me to do the same.

3. Can you let us into your pregnancy journey? I remember you saying you have long anticipated being a mother - where did this desire come from and how have you stewarded this through years of waiting? 

Through some common trends in friendships, both in high school and college, I started to realize that I am a (sometimes way overboard!) nurturer. I went to Zambia to intern at an orphanage the summer between my junior and senior year of college, and it was there that my desire and vision for being a mama took color. Ironically, that vision also included a man, and for all the years leading up to that, I just assumed I would adopt on my own. Teaching for two years gave me the sweetest gift of 60 kids each year that really felt like my kids, and it also taught me that my gifts aren't necessarily in drilling math content in a creative way, but rather in smothering them in love. We also got to "foster" a couple of kids we knew from our project ministry on the weekends, so that was sweet to have some trial and error experiences as their care givers, too. As soon as we got married, I would've been ready to start trying ;) but, of course, He knew exactly when and where to give us baby #1. It took a year to conceive, (I actually had an appointment scheduled with a fertility specialist when we found out we were pregnant), and I really cannot believe how fast the 9 months have flown. I've felt like my body has spoken more clearly about what it wants/doesn't want in order to grow this child, (like I started eating meat again after 9 years!) and feeling him move is the coolest thing. 

4. What does anticipation or expectancy mean to you? And how have you found peace and encountered God in the midst of it? 

Ahhh - such a good question. Obviously waiting for a spouse/child/answers to big prayers are easy examples to point to, and I learned SO much about His character through that waiting, but I think the more meaningful examples come on the smaller scale each day in my time with the Lord. To be blunt, I would say about 80% of the time I am not "jumping for joy" to get in the word or pray or journal. There have definitely been other times in my life that its looked a little more like 50/50, but right now, it is so much more out of expectancy for Him to come and change my heart and mind and spirit in that time. There are truths about God that allow me to believe He will show up every.single.time. Usually the first few lines of my daily journaling contain something like 'Come, Jesus. I know that you will, because you tell me that if I call to You, You will answer me." Now, I think that can be tricky, because He doesn't always show up in the way I am hoping or expecting. But simply knowing He promises to show up and change my heart and mind in the process is security and intimacy I crave. I think the times I am most anxious or lacking peace, it's simply because I have forgotten who He is. That in my waiting, His character doesn't change. 

5. Can you identify a life event that prompted you to start living in the Light and opening your doors (both spiritually and physically) to others? 

Hands down, 100%, my eating disorder my sophomore/junior year of college. I have never been more aware of my sin/wickedness during that time, which allowed me to experience and know God to the sweetest depths. Like literally, waking up each day, needing Him to get me through the day, because the desires of my flesh were to appease the idol of my body. There's a visual that the girl that discipled me in college showed me during that time, which I think put a picture to what I was feeling. At the top is God's holiness and character, and at the bottom is our sin and depravity. Connecting the two is the cross. As the our knowledge of the distance between the two expands (aka the more I see my sin, the more I realize how much I need God), the cross has to grow bigger to connect the two. There are trillions of miles between God and me, and the cross bridges that gap. I finally started to realize the truth behind 2 Corinthians 12:9: sufficient grace and His power made perfect in my weakness. I think that weakness also breaks down barriers between our relationships on earth too, because then we see people as vessels God shows His power in, instead of these amazing, talented, brilliant facades we so often put forth. When I share my crap, you see that everything good in me is Jesus, instead of Kamri. 

6. How do you practically bring others into your process? Or, in other words, what does walking in community mean to you? 

Oh, Tori. I wish I did a better job of this. Life on life contact is so much easier said than done!! I also think it is way less glamorous than people think.

I would say the truest example of this in my life lately is my in-laws living with us for the past couple of months. It has been incredible, and I feel like when you live that closely with people, you have no choice but to start carrying each others burdens. Also, your sin just shows. And there are so many more opportunities to talk about it.  I experienced community for the first time my freshman year of college through a bible study, so that has been something I have sought to cultivate living here in Wichita. Giving women a place to see what God says about the things we are experiencing on a weekly basis, and encouraging each other in the process. I've felt convicted with that though, just because that is only weekly. How much more powerful would it be to walk with those women daily, seeing their sin, and confessing to each other, kind of like the church in Acts. Tay and I try to hang weekly with another couple in Wichita, and I think thats important just as wife. Nan can call out things she sees me doing and hold me accountable because she seems us interact on a weekly basis, which has been sweet. 

7. What's it like being in an interracial relationship and marriage? I've seen you comment #whitehusband on many of your posts before and find your blunt honesty refreshing. What's this dynamic like for you? 

I love this question!!! I am so thankful you asked it :) Thankfully, I had one modeled my entire life (my mama is white, and my dad is black!) and I have been largely immersed in white culture for as long as I can remember, so I think we have had a few buffers.

My intention in using the #whitehusband hashtag is exactly how you phrased it; it's meant to be refreshing! Race is certainly a HEAVY topic, but I try to find little ways like silly hashtags to soften people's hearts a little to the discussion. I believe so fervently in what God does through difference. I think it demonstrates His power, since our comfort draws us to people that believe and live in ways similar to us.

My favorite podcaster, Jamie Ivey, always says that God does something incredible when races mix, using her mixed son Deacon and how stunning he is as an example. We haven't really experienced a ton of push back in our marriage thus far,  but I think a lot of that is because of where we live. Truthfully, I think if we lived in the South, it would be a different story. I still giggle when every now and then, the cashier at the grocery store will ask if we are "together" when checking out at the grocery store. But I am hopeful that when people see us, they'd ask, "Have I ever been attracted to another race? Why or why not? What does that reveal about how I value that particular group of people?" 

8. I always ask my guests about what sort of rhythms they put in place in their lives. It seems to me, those who are wholehearted aren't just simply floating through life, but walk with intention and purpose. What are some daily, weekly or even monthly rhythms you put in place to help facilitate the process and journey you've been on so far? 

Firstly, time with Jesus. I've been pretty flexible about the exact time of day, as I've heard a lot of mamas talk about how it has to be flexible when you have a baby, so most days it looks like 30 - 45 minutes in the afternoon. 

Secondly, I love to move my body and sweat. Up until 26 weeks, that looked like running, but now its walking, and it is magical. I really value that time, and will listen to podcasts/worship and feel like I have a full cup to start my day. 

Lastly, I love to cook. For the longest time, I didnt think I was creative because I couldn't draw/paint/play an instrument etc. But I've begun to embrace that creativity in cooking and experimenting with things you wouldn't typically put together. The podcast and blog have also been precious creative outlets that I am so thankful for. Writing has often felt worshipful, and interviewing people and hearing people's stories and seeing how sharing them with other people makes an impact has been really fun. 

9. What does living wholeheartedly mean to you? And how have your views on this sort of lifestyle evolved over time? 

I think living in surrender to Jesus and His Spirit is when I am living most fully. Seeing Him show up amidst my tendencies to choose the things I want to do or the way I want to spend my time. Also, embracing how He made me, and running confidently in that. That has certainly evolved over time. For the longest time, I would question why He made me a certain way, or focusing on the things I lacked, instead of realizing the unique Kamri ingredients He used to make me and using those to live more fully. I think He is most glorified when we are so satisfied in Him and how He made us. It's so beautiful to see people who know who they are and have accepted their strengths and weaknesses and live out of His affirmation instead of the world's. 

10. Is there anyone or anything that's been inspiring you to live wholeheartedly recently? Maybe a favorite author or podcast? 

The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey is always a weekly highlight :) 

C.S. Lewis always seems to be able to put words to things we experience in life in a way I haven't seen replicated, so I adore him. 

I’m Kamri. I love a lot of things; Jesus, my husband, dancing to dirty rap while being creative in the kitchen, wit, writing, nicknames, and a mixed baby that is due to appear in August. ’ve been to and lived in hundreds of places and have somehow landed back home in Wichita, Kansas and (wo)man is it sweet. I fought its goodness and the magic of roots planted for far too long. 3 words have themed my life; Relationship, Reflection, and Redemption. I pray my life continues to be a humble expression of those things daily at work.