Soul Nourishment {And How God Wraps Us In Community}

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We stood in my kitchen, sipping large mugs as we talked small. Our kids were within eyesight and I couldn’t help but marvel at how well they played together. Like they simply picked up where they left off…long time friends enjoying contact and conversation. It didn’t matter that their lives were so completely different. Within seconds they had found a common bond…

I offer spiced zucchini bread because that’s what I like to do–nourish others. And we enjoyed the next few minutes as we swapped recipes.

Cooking talk turned to daily task chat. Routine conversation evolved into what we do in our free time…

She asked me then how long I’d been blogging and I nearly gagged on my lemon tea because I knew we had never gone so deep. And she mentioned our mutual friend, the one who had let her in to see the real me. I pulled the warm mug close and blew soft, hoping to bring color back to my cheeks.

This is the moment where my kitchen should have felt smaller, more confined. This is where I would have uttered one of my many change-the-subject lines I had tucked away for safe keeping. Only I didn’t…and for the first time in my blogging journey, I realized my real-life skin felt comfortable on me.

We talked about how I got started. How I’m the last person you’d ever expect to write. How I share my journey out of obedience to His request. And I told her that’s all I’m doing. I simply say ‘yes’ to Him every day and document it so I can see how far I’ve come. Maybe others join me. Maybe she’d like to as well, but it won’t hurt me if she doesn’t. This is my journey. I just offer you come along…for the love of Him.

Never once did I realize by me loving on Him, He would love more on me and give me more than I ever knew I needed…a deeper community.

And she asked the expected question. The one I know so many are thinking, but rarely have the guts to ask: “But you can’t really get to know these people, right? I mean, it’s the internet. How far can it really go?”

I set my empty mug down on the counter and glanced over at our kids gathered ’round a musical robot. And as they began to chime in to Alphie’s song, I see it in movie clip form:

  • The first blog comment from someone I didn’t know. My pulsed raced wildly and yet God shaped her in to my life so tight…I can’t ever imagine letting go.
  • The first time my phone rang from someone I felt I knew deeply yet had never heard her voice. And how God brought the relationship full circle. I prayed her through her first book of many and will always be amazed at how she allowed me to share in her journey so selflessly as my name/story fill the foreword.
  • I play back how Michele-Lyn — someone I love like the soul-sister she is — video called me from Allume and brought me around the room on her phone…introducing me to other sisters I have yet to hug proper. Simply because she wanted me to be there.
  • I remember when my journey turned painful and how countless cyber-friends wrapped their arms around me. Sent cards. Called. Wrote notes. Checked in. Prayed over me and for me. They held me tight when I needed it most. And I felt it in real-life form.

Maybe it takes experiencing it yourself to understand it fully, but I shared it with her anyway.

You would think real community couldn’t happen in cyber-world. Friends, I’m living proof of how God can reach hearts through back-lit screens. I’m an example of how God doesn’t let zip codes interfere with glory. I’m one of many He has drawn closer to Himself and soul-nourished via lives I have yet to meet in person.

She nods politely because what else can a friend do but try to understand? And maybe God will nourish her soul another way, but I’m glad I was able to tell her my story.

Because I have to believe God pursues you as much as He does me. And there’s no stopping how high or how deep or how far His love will go to reach you fully.

Now that I’ve received a taste myself, I choose to wake each day and say “Yes. I’ll go where You lead me…even if it feels virtual. Even if virtual turns reality. Even if my real-life mixes with this internet world I don’t really understand. Only if You, Father, receive all the glory….”

Friends, in just a couple short weeks, I will be joining other women who find encouragement and see God through a site I love: (in)Courage as they host their annual real-life meet up. (Details HERE).

To see if there’s a FREE real-life meetup happening near you, you may look HERE.

And on this Music Monday (thank you for some grace here) you may hear voices of these women I’ve met online only and see for yourself how God is using this cyber world to encourage simple women like me. Just watch THIS VIDEO. And the others if you have time…

How about you, friend? Where do you go to find encouragement? What does your community look like? How has God nourished your soul lately? And are you participating in an (in)RL meet up? I’d love to hear. 

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

(in)couraging Homeschool Mamas

A treasured story has been on my heart lately. You know the one simply by their names: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Do you ever wonder if they doubted their decision to stand firm? I tend to picture them looking at each other for clues on how they were going to respond first before they uttered their own life sentence…

Friend, may I confess something to you? I’m not a homeschooling poster mom. I still struggle. I doubt my capabilities. My decisions. I wonder if I’m giving enough, teaching enough, showing enough, laughing enough. I fear how fast I could fail. How fine the line is between blowing it and getting it right…I mean, it’s my child’s life we’re talking about here.

May I share something else? It sometimes feels like I’m the only one making this decision to homeschool. I’m often the only one I see in the flames. The lot of us is very small in my personal circle of encounters. And when questions roll my way and when doubt creeps in, it’s easy to start feeling the blaze of fire on my heart.

You know what I’m figuring out? No matter the cost of my decision, God has a way of making sure I’m not alone. He always manages to give me a friend to help me see Him clearly. Because He’s always there next to me.

Thanks to social media and the wonderful (in)courage community team, I now can link arms with other homeschooling mamas. Together, we can claim this path God has for us no matter the cost. And if one of us starts to feel the heat, we can encourage to look beyond the flames–help each other see the One we’re walking towards.

Friend, you can too. Even if you’re not a homeschooling mama, there are dozens of community groups to choose from! Check it out HERE!

How ’bout you? Would you like to be my Abednego? Would you like to help encourage other homeschooling mamas alongside us? We’d love to have you.

Thanks to (in)courage, here’s how:

  • UPDATE: This group is now full to capacity. But there are other (in)courage groups waiting for you! Please check them out…

I’m honored to be co-leading this group for (in)courage with some amazing homeschooling mamas. To find out more about us, click the image below.

Please know we don’t claim to have all the answers. We aren’t expecting to alter any of your homeschooling decisions. We simply want walk with you. Encourage you by letting you know you’re not alone. Share Biblical truths to show the solid ground beneath our feet.

How about you, friend? Could you use a friend in the homeschooling fire? We’d love to get to know you. Share some virtual tea as we talk about all things Kingdom related. And if homeschooling isn’t your thing (and believe me, it’s not for everyone), what community group do you see yourself in most? I’d love to hear. You may check out all the groups HERE.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Redeemed {And A Giveaway}

My hands were drenched in play-dough, colored markings, and confetti stuck on with glue droppings when the doorbell rang. My senses shifted from the task at hand as I noticed the familiar whirring of the delivery truck. My son joined in, trying to yell out the letters on the truck before it raced out of view. I sprang down the steps like it was Christmas morning. For I knew this package was for me. For me to share with you.

I had no idea what was inside, but I knew I was going to love it. For I had seen Dayspring’s Redeemed line online and was encouraged by the intent behind it. When (in)courage invited me to take part in the redeemed journey, I happily obliged.

The vase was opened first. It glistened in the sun breaking through storm clouds and I instantly knew what I wanted to place inside it. Hydrangeas. Full bloomed, color-dripping hydrangeas. But there are none to be found. Not yet anyway. I reached for a tall candle instead and my thoughts started stirring when I surrounded it with polished rocks.

For isn’t that what happens with redemption? We are polished clean by His scarred hand. Our ordinary is made extraordinary with His unfailing love and unfathomable grace.

My preschooler oohed and aahed alongside me and said “Mom, I’m so excited! You love rocks as much as I do! Can I pick some rocks to put in your beautiful thing?”

The long, thin, heavy box was next. When I opened it and saw the caption on the back, I was captivated.

Life is a patchwork of the meaningful things we keep with us…
daily reminders of where we’ve come from
and who our loving Heavenly Father says we are in Jesus.

And my finger traced along the lines of the patchwork design on the package. Inside it were amazing coasters glazed with glory. Perfectly selected Bible verses adorn each one. Except the one graced with one of my adored hymns: Blessed Assurance. And I scanned quickly to ensure my favorite stanza was on it:

♪♫ Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my Saviour am happy and blest.
Watching and waiting, looking above,
filled with His goodness, lost in His love. ♪♫

Yes, this is my story. My song. One I am striving to live all the day long.

May you discover how to celebrate the way “God, in His generous grace, sews together every beautiful bit of our lives to form one masterpiece creation after another.” For every piece of every day is stitched together perfectly with grace. Every note of every lifesong is an essential part of the great score.

And so I choose to delight in the journey. I strive to get lost in His love. And as I sit down to play the hymn glazed on my new favorite coaster, I praise the One who chose to redeem me.

~~~~~ON TO THE GIVEAWAY~~~~~

Friends, Dayspring is allowing me to give away my favorite item of the entire Redeemed line to one of you! PLEASE NOTE: You do have to pay shipping.

Would you like to have this Redeemed “Beautiful in It’s Time” Tabletop Mirror?

I adore it. And would love for you to win.

TO ENTER: Simply leave a comment letting me know where the mirror would go if you won.

FOR ADDITIONAL ENTRIES: you may follow Simplystriving on Facebook, Twitter, or via email. Simply leave an additional comment(s) letting me know which one you chose. (Feel free to choose all if you don’t mind hearing me jabber.)

Winner will be chosen via random Friday, April 20th at 12pm Central Time. I will email the winner a coupon code to redeem your prize soon after.

UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed. Winner is #3: Kris! You can visit her at one of my favorite blogs: AlwaysAlleluia . Thank you, everyone, who participated!


{DISCLAIMER: I was given these products for my review, but was not told what to say. These thoughts are my own. There are numerous links in this post that allow you to purchase these items and more. Please know I am not an affiliate of anything and will not be rewarded if you do.}

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki