In Need of Refreshment? {Here’s Some From Sherrey}

She found me some time ago. I don’t remember how…why…when… Not because it didn’t matter, but because it feels as though she’s always been here encouraging me. I can’t picture this place before her…

We became friends.

And I’m so blessed to be able to share a bit of her heart with you here this Music Monday! Thank you, Sherrey, for taking me up on the invitation.

Friends, will you please welcome Sherrey?

Thirsty, parched, dry, dehydrated.  Even the words make you long for something cool to drink, don’t they?

A hot day in summer working outside and the throat is so needy for some liquid refreshment. Something to trickle back on the tongue, down the throat and cool as it goes.

But the throat on a hot summer day isn’t the only part of me that grows thirsty. Sometimes my heart and yes, my spirit, feel thirsty, parched, dehydrated.

Why you may ask, and the reasons are many.

Busy, too busy to soak up His Word waiting to be read in my Bible or daily devotional.

Busy, too busy to soak up His Word whispered in my ear.

Why so busy?

Busy, too busy trying to finish the first draft of a book.
Busy, too busy catching up on emails and the ever-present reading of blogs and commenting on them.
Busy, too busy using social media to build what the book gurus call my “platform.”
Busy, too busy with the necessities of life — cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, cooking.
Busy, too busy reading books, but not those in the Bible.

Do you see the picture unfolding here? It’s all about the busyness of my life, so it’s all about me. Yes, I said it — all about me.

When I focus on me and what I want to do, I become oh, so thirsty and parched. Longing for a watering to my soul.

The first time I heard the song, As the Deer Pants for the Water, I was in a dry period in my life several years ago. Living 2200 miles away from my family and my older brother’s wife was dying. How I longed to be there. I hungered and thirsted to be there, but I knew I couldn’t go. I had a family of my own and a job I needed to keep.

The next Sunday morning the Praise Team in our church brought this new song to us. As I listened and read the words, I felt the Source for replenishing my dehydrated soul and spirit. He would fill my cup once again with whatever I needed.

No matter how often I lose my focus on Him and look to the world and my busyness to keep me refreshed, God still steps in with unconditional love and replenishes my soul and spirit.

So, today whenever I feel myself slipping in the direction of dryness, the desert, a parched place I think of the deer longing for water and how God takes care of the deer and you and yours and yes, even me.

Inevitably, this song comes to mind, As the Deer Pants for the Water. Based on Psalm 42:1, it redirects our focus on our true need:

As a deer gets thirsty
for streams of water,
I truly am thirsty
for you, my God.
Psalm 42:1 (CEV)

Take a moment to listen to this beautiful message set to music. I’m sure many of you know this song well. But take time to listen. Refresh your souls and spirits today. And then remember to step back from the busy, too busy parts of your life to soak up God’s goodness.

sherrey2013A retired legal secretary, Sherrey Meyer grew tired of drafting and revising pleadings and legal documents.  She had always dreamed of writing something else, anything else!  Once she retired she couldn’t stay away from the computer, and so she began to write.  Among her projects is a memoir of her “life with mama,” an intriguing Southern tale of matriarchal power and control displayed in verbal and emotional abuse.  Sherrey is married and lives with husband Bob in Milwaukie, OR.  You can reach Sherrey on her websites:  Healing by Writing and Found Between the Covers or via email at salice78 @ comcast . net.

How about you, friend? How have you quenched your soul’s thirst lately? We’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with us.

Simply striving,

Nikki (and Sherrey)

Do I Know Holy? {After All}

BENDOCK2-M-002

He asks me innocently enough. His silver-toned eyes glistening in the afternoon glow. It’s as if he won’t even blink until he’s heard my reply. And my heart races as I ponder what to say next.

For how can you describe the word ‘Holy’ in a way childlike comprehension can understand?

I close my eyes, as I often do in hopes I can visualize it well enough to explain; but this time is different as I wonder to myself: Do I even know “Holy”?

My mind races through the pages of proof. The Book hallowed enough to claim the word in its title. I contemplate how it’s revered in the text.

Friends, maybe the beauty of Holy is one can never describe it enough. It can’t be encapsulated in to a simple explanation. A summary will never do justice.

So my boy and I…we do our best to decide what awes us the most. Me–I think of the womb. The one cursed with pain and still brings forth such miraculous beauty…despite of us… My boy reflects on recent discoveries involving metamorphosis and new life all the same. And I tell him then — The One who made all that possible…He Is Holy.  He…Is.

It’s because of His wonder I’ll join the shepherd boy, the one penned in Psalm. I’ll dance in the field of dreams. I’ll sing my heart out and shout to the heavens of glory…

I’ll cry Holy.

And I know I’ll never dance well enough. I’ll never sing pure enough. I’ll never shout the right things loud enough. I’ll never BE enough. But friends, do you know what I’m discovering? He doesn’t care about that.

After all… He’s the Holy One.

He came to take my place. Not so that I would take His.

He is enough.

Which makes me wonder: Maybe Holy doesn’t need a definition. For the meaning is found in its infinite wonder. It’s unmatchable beauty. It’s overwhelming grace.

I realize then it’s the eyes of a child one needs to see Holy in all its Splendor. Unadulterated faith is required to revere the only one worthy of such a Title. And I tell my boy he could probably describe it better than I could.

His eyes glance to the frieze. His breathing shallows as he whispers simply,

“Mom, I think Holy is something you just know…”

My lungs freeze as I swallow the lump brewing. I squeeze out quietly,

“Oh, bud…I hope you know…I pray we both do…”

Friends, I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever want to stop striving
To know Him
To see Him in all His glory
May I never rest until I’ve given honor and praise to the One I know as Holy.

After all…He is Holy…I just know it.

This song is worth your time. Subscribers — CLICK HERE to listen in.

After All (Holy)

by David Crowder

I can’t comprehend Your infinitely beautiful and perfect love
Oh I’ve dreamed dreams of majesty as brilliant as a billion stars
But they’re never bright enough after all

You are Holy

I will sing a song for You my God
with everything I have in me
But it’s never loud enough after all

You are Holy

Heaven and earth are full of Your glory
My soul it overflows full of Your glory
Oh blessed is He who reigns, full of Your glory
My cup, it can’t contain all of Your glory

Hosanna we are found after all You are
Holy

I can’t comprehend
You’re infinitely beautiful

How about you, friend? Do you know Holy? What comes to mind for you? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

RED {How it Speaks to Me} ~ Five Minute Friday

This is the post where I
Link arms with others who like to
Write on the wild side –unabashedly
Over at Lisa-Jo’s.

DSCN3799

For five minutes time.
Without editing or backtracking
On one word alone:

RED

It invokes strength, determination, passion, desire, love. That’s what they taught us in design school.

I decided to paint my kitchen with it.

Not because of any scholarly advice, but because it speaks to me in ways other colors don’t.

Red has always been one of my favorites. My closet proves it. But mostly, I hope and pray my life shows it.

They also teach you in school that red is the color or war. Of blood spilled. Of lives lost.

Friends, it’s that life lost for me I want to honor most.

And I like to think when I crack my Bible open with His words shed in red, it should invoke strength. Determination. Passion. Desire. Love. Due to the war fought for the love of me. Because of the blood shed in my place.

So maybe when I stand at the kitchen sink, His color reflecting upon my face, I’ll think of Him lovingly. Maybe His strength will find me in the suds. Maybe passion will percolate from my soul and I’ll worship Him right there on the woven mat as I scrub away the dirt and crumbs of my everyday.

Father, I love how red speaks to me in ways other colors don’t. Thank You… May that never change.

 

STOP.

Would you like to see what others thought of the prompt?

Would you like to play along?
Join in on the Five Minute Friday Flash Mob!
Simply click on the button below!

How about you, friend? How does red speak to you? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Always a Reason to Sing {Carefree in the Care of God}

Consider the Birds

Have you ever had the experience of scripture (one you’ve read a thousand times) jump off the page as if you’re reading it for the first time? I did recently…just a phrase I can’t get out of my head — and realize I need desperately.

No wonder they call His Word living…it breathes new life into our gasping souls. It penetrates our dry bones and percolates within…

Friends, I’m sharing my recent experience with this over at 5 Minutes for Faith today. Would love to share it with you. Won’t you stop by? Simply click on the button below!

And for those who don’t have time, I’ll share the verses I mention here for you to chew on:

He continued this subject with His disciples. “Don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or if the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your inner life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the ravens, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, carefree in the care of God. And you count far more.
Luke 12:22-24 The Message

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve read this passage in numerous translations. It was the last portion this time that stopped me in my tracks, as if I was reading it for the first time.

The ravens, free and unfettered…carefree in the care of God.

Friends, I think I’m finally getting it. And would love to have you stop by and share your thoughts with me, too!

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

Those that have visited recently know the question burning on my heart
My friend, Vanessa, didn’t know when she sent me this Music Monday guest post. And I can’t help but see it for what it is.
A gift. From Him.
For He knows what touches my soul, and this post…this hymn…does.
Friends, I’m honored to share Vanessa’s heart with you. Won’t you give her a warm welcome?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The organ began to play, and my heart leaped into my throat as it recognized the familiar tune.

The toddler pulling at my dress. The preschooler climbing, jumping, hanging upside down in the pews.

All the struggles of that morning wrangling these two simply melted in the low hum of that organ.

I held the hymnal and my man wrapped his arm around my waist. When I whispered “this is one of my favorites” half-way through, my man just squeezed me tighter, and in that moment I knew he had heard every tear-choked word I had been belting out with my imperfect voice.

Music has always had a powerful affect on me.

Luther Music

I picked up my first instruments at the age of ten, learning two or three more before entering college.

Handel’s Messiah always brought chills during the holidays.

The trumpet during This is the Feast of Victory for Our God every Sunday morning at our first church was the highlight of the service, and my man and I would sing the words throughout the rest of the day.

During tough times, the Lutheran in me even found peace in the words of praise songs… and Mighty to Save and Desert Song are still difficult to sing through the tears and the catch in my throat.

But there are a handful of hymns that undo me down to my core.

These hymns dig deep, to loosen all the junk I’ve been carrying, forcing me to dump it all at the cross.

These hymns break open wounds to allow for the healing I need.

The words. The melodies. They pierce my soul and release my heart of stone so I can be once again renewed with the clean heart He promises.

On this particular Sunday morning, the hymn that undid me, the hymn that erased all the struggles of that morning and let me release it all to Him, was this:

What a friend we have in Jesus
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.

Yes, there are two more verses, but I will leave you with these along with this amazing performance by Alan Jackson.

I pray this is a blessing to you today as it was for me that Sunday.

Hearts On GuardVanessa writes to inspire, to encourage, to lift up and to celebrate God’s love for you at Hearts On Guard. She is a proud Army National Guard wife and a working mom of two toddlers. She seeks community, fellowship, and the sharing of God’s mercy and grace with all. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

How about you, friend? How have you released it all lately and taken it all to the friend we have in Jesus? We’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with us.

Simply striving,

Nikki (and Vanessa)

LAST {The Best View} ~ Five Minute Friday

This is the post where I
Link arms with others who like to
Write on the wild side –unabashedly
Over at Lisa-Jo’s.

For five minutes time.
Without editing or backtracking
On one word alone:

LAST

When it comes to being picked, no one wants it. It’s the greatest dread in junior high phys ed, I’m certain.

Crazy how some things never change over time.

I remember once our Youth Pastor attempted to put a Junior High spin on Matthew 20:16

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

He tried to encourage us to not worry so much about it…I wish I could say it helped. That I took his words to heart.

But that is one thing that has, over time, changed as I’ve begun to figure out this upside down Kingdom of Grace more and more.

Friends, sometimes I think God wants us to be last because it has the best view.

It’s from the back we get to see His glory unfold. Watch His Majesty in action.
It’s when we’ve suffered that we truly see the simplest blessings as the greatest gifts.
It’s how we learn to lay our lives down, pick up His cross and follow His lead.

And in Upside-down Kingdom fashion, being last by no means means we linger behind. No. We still strive, and push, and run and race our hearts out towards that finish line — Paul was right. But what we realize along the way is no matter how hard or how fast or how well we run, we’ll never beat Him to the punch.

You see, Jesus picked us first.

And finally I see clearly… I can now say wholeheartedly:

“Thank You, Jesus…for making me last by choosing me first.”

STOP.

Would you like to see what others thought of the prompt?

Would you like to play along?
Join in on the Five Minute Friday Flash Mob!
Simply click on the button below!

How about you, friend? What do you think about being last? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

What Kind of Friend am I? {The Longing of Jesus}

The Bench

You are My friends if you do what I command.
I no longer call you servants,
because a servant does not know his master’s business.
Instead, I have called you friends,
for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
You did not choose me, but I chose you
and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit
—fruit that will last—
and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.
This is my command: Love each other.
John 15:14-17

The sermon wouldn’t leave me. And I told her as much. For there is plenty I want to achieve…do…be…in these verses alone.

Today, I wanted to help her see what I’m learning. What I’m striving for. She listened so well. Nodding in all the right places. Smiling with each new discovery. Encouraging me as I made my way through the text. Success seemed imminent.

Her soft, worn hand enveloped mine when I was through. And as she searched my hazels for my soul, she said plainly:

“This seems overwhelming to tackle all at once. Don’t you think? I’m guessing, though, we can get to the heart of things by answering one question posed here…”

The pause was planned, I’m sure, as I scanned my Bible quickly, trying to come up with the question before I heard it. She said finally,

“What kind of friend are you to Jesus?”

Her grip firmed when my defenses rose. And it took all I had in me to meet her gaze and allow this question to sink in to my marrow.

She tilted her head skyward as she recalled her childhood best friend. The time spent, the laughter spilled, the secrets kept…and my heart warmed as I thought of those in my lifetime who have been in this category. We both became lost in thought as we reflected on how close we’ve allowed another to come…

I believe it was Aristotle who said friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies. And I can’t begin to fathom why Jesus would want to have that kind of relationship…with me.

Still…He says plainly: He chose me. Has held nothing from me. And longs to call me not a servant, but a friend.

It seems He could care less with how much I could do for Him, rather He aches to be one with me.

The King of all Kings. The Son of The Most High. My Jehovah in every way, calls me friend.

And she’s right. It’s worth asking: “What kind of friend am I?”

Friends, I know what kind of friend He is…and I wonder…could I be the same for Him?

Could I hold nothing back? Make my presence known to Him each day? Could I stand boldly in His corner when the bullies come and try to denounce His name? Could I be so encapsulated by the very thought of Him that I think of nothing else but loving Him?

Could I know Jesus, the way He knows me? Enough so that I prove Aristotle was right?

Could I give my life –all that I have– simply for the very thought of His?

She’s right, you know…it’s worth asking. For it is at the very heart of things. And above all else, it’s worth striving for.

How about you, friend? What kind of friend are you to Jesus? What kind of friend do you allow Him to be for you? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

The Scandal of Grace

Grace Perfected

I’ve done things I regret. Said things I shouldn’t have. Thought the unthinkable.

Some days I try to picture how dirty and decrepit I must have looked while Jesus was on the cross.

Still He chose to save me. His love broke my fall.

No one can make sense of what He saw…in me…in you…in any of us to choose to die in our place. Because there is no sense to pure, raw, unadulterated love.

That, my friends, is the scandal of grace.

And I don’t know about you, but I pray I never get over where His grace has brought me.

For Jesus has taught me how to live…in scandalous grace.

I’m free because of Him.
My life is a gift…from Him.

I can praise Him, rest in Him, find shelter under Him, thank Him, bring all I have to Him, strive to emulate Him…all because of grace.

He. Is. Enough. What scandalous grace.

Scandal of Grace

Hillsong UNITED

Subscribers, CLICK HERE to listen in to this wonderful song below:

Grace what have You done.
Murdered for me on that cross.
Accused in absence of wrong.
My sin washed away in Your blood.
Too much to make sense of it all.
I know that Your love breaks my fall.
The scandal of grace.
You died in my place.
So my soul will live.
Oh to be like You.
Give all I have just to know You.
Jesus there’s no-one beside You.
Forever the hope in my heart.
Death where is your sting.
Your power is as dead as my sin.
The cross has taught me to live.
And mercy my heart now to sing.
The day and its troubles shall come.
I know that Your strength is enough.
The scandal of grace.
You died in my place.
So my soul will live.
And it’s all because of You Jesus.
It’s all because of You Jesus.
It’s all because of Your love. That my soul will live.

How about you, friend? How has grace captured you lately? How do you face the scandal of it all? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Who Am I? {Can’t Get Over Him}

Held by Christianity

It can become a mundane chore. An everyday task we do out of…obligation? respect? tradition? Maybe all of the above.

Regardless, we walk the road of life wearing “Christian” on our lapel.

The part that worries me the most: It can become so embedded in our culture we lose the significance. We forget how it first came to be.

Friends, He chose us first.
(John 15:16)

All we choose is to walk to those arms spread wide as He says, “Come.”
(Matthew 11:28)

It’s not a birthright. It’s a commitment.

And then there’s the doer in me. My controlling nature kicks in to where it becomes a task. A duty as I serve those around me. As if any sacrifice I make allows me one step closer to completing my goal.

My to-do list of glory.

I forget. It’s not a competition or a service. It’s a relationship.

I’m not competing for glory. I’m fighting for His.

Simply for the love of Him.

If I’m not careful, I’ll miss the mark completely. I’ll lose my way if I think I can win by simply acting justly, loving mercy, walking humbly…
(Micah 6:8)

Because He’s not after what I can do. He’s after what we can be. Together.

I don’t need to prove myself, He’s done it for me.

Here’s what gets me right in the gut:
He doesn’t want to call me servant. He wants to call me friend…
(John 15:15)

And that’s something I can’t get over. In fact, I’m going to have to talk about it more…have you help me sort it out.

But right now, as I stand in wonder of what He’s done for me. Of what He asks of me. Of those arms spread wide, offering a safe place of rest, this song comes to mind.

Because it’s true. I can’t get over Jesus and this scandalous love affair He offers. 

Can’t Get Over You

Anthem Lights

Subscribers, CLICK HERE to listen in to this amazing song on YouTube
Or HERE on Simplystriving.

I love the way You love like no other
It’s got nothing to do with anything that I do
Time and time again You forgive me
So this time I choose to stay here with You
Hold me
Pull me just a little bit closer
I don’t wanna lose this moment
Your love has covered me
And now I can’t get over You
Here in the arms of my Father
Only grace can be found
So I lay my fears down
Nothing is the same anymore
You’ve changed me from the inside out
Now my heart is beating and it’s singing won’t You…
Hold me…
I can’t get over the way
Your love stays the same, oh Lord
I can’t get over the way
Your love stays the same, oh Lord
Even through the good and the bad times
You stay the same
So my song will remain
Lord…
There’s nothing I can’t do
I just can’t get over You

How about you, friend? Servant…friend…lover…which do you associate with most while contemplating your own Christianity? Are you Jesus’ friend? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Which Needy Am I?

P1760683~ Courtesy of Greg Abel Photography

I’ve been thinking about the rapport we have with Jesus…more specifically the relationship I have with my Redeemer. And I believe fully there is only one kind worth having: Hot. Don’t you think? Revelation 3 comes to mind…

I have to ask myself: Am I hot for Jesus?

Do I love Jesus or am I completely in love with Him?

Am I Head-over-heels, can’t get enough of Him, smitten?

Friend, a part of me thinks we either realize how much we need Him on a daily basis or we rely on Him only when we feel we need Him.

I have to ask myself: Which Needy Am I?

Do I have moments where I need Jesus to intervene, or do I realize I am nothing without Him, downright needy for Him?

Do I merely call upon His Name at my convenience, when I can’t seem to find my own way, or do I ache for Him throughout my everyday, clinging tightly to His promises…chatting with Him like the friend He wants to be. John 15 comes to mind.

It goes against human nature — to be needy. But in this upside down Kingdom of Grace, that’s a good thing.

Friends, Jesus thought we were worth dying for…I think that qualifies for being smitten.

He is head-over-heels in love with us. He just is. He. Is.

And He wants nothing more than to lighten our load, love on us relentlessly, give Himself to us. He has everything we could ever want. He Is everything we’d ever need.

I don’t know about you, but I realize and want to remind myself daily:

My, do I ever need Him. I’m head-over-heels, completely needy for Jesus.

Everyday. All day.

This week, I want to focus on this in my daily walk. You all know how music speaks to my heart in ways words cannot. So I’m committing to starting each morning with this song. For it sets the tone I want to walk into each day with. And I wanted to share it with you.

Friends, I just gotta have Jesus.

Lord, I Need You

Matt Maher, feat. Audrey Assad

Subscribers, CLICK HERE to listen in to this incredible song.

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me
Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, you’re my hope and stay
Lyrics provided by KLove HERE.

How about you, friend? Are you needy for Jesus? How do you live that out in your everyday? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki