The Great Reveal {my Fears, my Faith, my Father}

The Presence of God

Fear can swallow us whole…

Sometimes, my faith doesn’t feel enough…

Often I miss seeing my Father right here with me…

All of this results in me missing out on The Truth.

Friends, I’m over at my 2nd home: 5 Minutes for Faith today sharing more about this. I’d love it if you had time to stop over as I share my recent thought process.

Here’s a sneak peek:

I gulped hard, forcing a smile as I watched my five year-old slide down the wet strip of yellow. Cold water splashed my shins as he squealed in delight. And still I couldn’t stop thinking about her.

She was too young. She didn’t deserve to go so soon. Yet she’s gone. Just like that.

Try as I might, all I could see was what else I could lose…

Won’t you stop by to hear the rest? Simply CLICK HERE or on the button below!

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

A Journey of Rest {Come to the Well}

Peace of Mind

This promise is one of my favorites:

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

And yet I don’t seize it daily. I’m not sure why it is so hard to master. Why my feet get stuck in the quicksand of fear or regret.

Friends, I’m over at 5 Minutes for Faith talking about this very thing and the new perspective gained while reading a very familiar New Testament account. Stop on by, will you? Simply click on the image below!

I’m honored to be over at 5 Minutes for Faith through Monday. We normally do Music Mondays around here, but not to worry — I shared a song that speaks this message better than I ever could over there as well. In case you don’t have time to stop by, here it is. It’s a great place to start us on our journey to rest….

Come to the Well

by Casting Crowns

How about you, friend? How do you leave it all behind and accept His rest? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Rhythm {Finding my Inner Birdsong} ~ Five Minute Friday

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

IMG_5783

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

Rhythm

Time is fickle. It can wring you dry or leave you drenched in joy. And lately, I’m learning, the choice of time’s outcome is mine.

My mornings begin in sonnet. Between the morning dove’s melody, the cardinal couple’s syncopated chatter, and my everyday sparrows that I’m certain all share the tree outside my bedroom window, I am immersed in song.

I choose to embrace them. Even when their music begins before dawn. Because they know something –from the time they first crack from their egg, they understand something I’ve only begun to comprehend.

Jesus knew I’d need to consider the birds…

Listening to their rising proclamations, I realize they find their rhythm first thing and claim it for the world to hear in unabashed worship.

Not a bad way to start the day.

And I wonder if God has given each of us our own unique birdsong to sing. A sonnet only we can lift high in worship…

Now that’s how I want to use my time.

Father, help me find my rhythm today. The melody You’ve given just to me. I want to shout it out for the world to hear. Unabashedly. For Your glory. Simply for the love of You.

It’s true–time is fickle. It can wring us dry or…or…if we listen to our inner metronome, can overwhelm us with His joy. peace. love. life everlasting.

The choice is mine. And I choose to sing. My story. My song.

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? Have you found your inner birdsong? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

 

Worship Always {Janelle’s Story and a GIVEAWAY!!}

I’ve shared her handiwork here before –the story of the one I wear proudly. But what I haven’t shared with you is how amazing the artist behind it really is. How she radiates her Savior with amazing grace.

Friends, I’d like you to meet Janelle. And hear her worship song.
PLUS, she’s offered to give away one of her pieces of art! Details will follow.

Janelle, I’m honored to have you here. Please, sing your song:

The phone rang loudly, springing me from my restful sleep, the last restful sleep I’d get for years. My husband handed me the phone with a forlorn look on his face. This can’t be good, I thought to myself. I was right. It was the absolute worst news anybody could think of; my brother was on the run for a crime that would eventually land him in prison for life.

For. Life.

Worship always.

Several months after my brother’s crime, my mother attempted suicide. I was 6 months pregnant with my second son when my step-dad called with the news. Walking into ICU I could hardly catch my breath, she looked dead. Hooked up to all kinds of tubes and machines, she could have been dead for all I knew. The doctors gave us little hope. She beat the odds.

She survived.

Worship Always.

While pregnant with my third son, I became seriously ill. I ended up in the ER a few times, and knew in my spirit that whatever was affecting me would affect my growing baby, so I prayed… a lot. He was born apparently healthy. And my own health seemed to get a little better after giving birth. One year later my doctor’s last resort was the Mayo Clinic. She’d run all the tests she could. She sent me to all the specialists she could think of. Nothing was showing up.

I remembered the tick that had bitten me during my pregnancy and asked one simple question: can you please test me for Lyme disease? The test came back positive. An active infection had been inside my body for two long years before being diagnosed. I was in very poor health. Treatment would make symptoms even worse. I would be told by my doctor that I might recover completely, and I might not.

Chronic Lyme disease is very difficult to cure.

Worship Always.

One year after my diagnosis, my youngest son, whom I was pregnant with while unknowingly infected with Lyme disease, began to get sick. His personality changed and grew fatigued. I just knew it was Lyme disease. I got him tested and braced for the results. They came back positive for an active Lyme disease infection. My sweet son had been infected while growing inside my womb, where he should have been the safest; he was actually being attacked by bacteria.

It was a very hard day.

Worship Always.

The thing about life is you never get a free pass. You aren’t exempt from bad things happening in your life just because you’re a good person, or a Christian. Trials will happen but it’s how you handle them that will determine your healing. I choose to worship always. I choose to rejoice in the storm.

I choose joy.

These are some of my favorite phrases I stamp on my jewelry because they reflect the desire in my heart. I don’t always get it right. Some days I am lost in sorrow and despair but more often than not I rejoice in the storm, knowing God didn’t bring me to it, but He will bring me through it.

My brother and I are closer than ever. We talk nearly every day. We write each other often. I see him as much as I can. He’s taught me the true meaning of grace, of unmerited favor, of how to honestly love and honestly forgive and honestly see somebody for who they are and not what they have done. I love him like Jesus loves him.

My mother is a miracle. She had no lasting damage from the suicide attempt. She is alive and breathing when she should be dead. She was there to watch my son be born. And watching my step-dad’s faith for her miraculous healing inspired my own faith for healing when my son and I would end up sick years later.

Lyme disease has taught me that sickness and disease are evil. Their sole purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy. Jesus is the life-giver and He gives in abundance. And because God works everything out for the good to those who love Him, I’ve been drawn closer to the heart of God, learned more about Jesus in these few short years than my entire 34 years of life, have been given my purpose in life. I’ve have prayed for countless others and seen their healings manifest, have been gifted amazing visions, and dreams from God, and have experienced my own level of healing and miracles that I rejoice about.

I believe that, even in the worst experiences in life, beauty can be found. Not that God sent the experience so you would experience the beauty in it, but that God can turn around what was meant for our harm, and give us beauty simply because He loves that much.

In all things rejoice, for we serve a mighty God who performs mighty miracles simply because of His mighty love for us.

Janelle BioJanelle writes about grace and healing. She writes about a good God reflected beautifully in the life of Christ.

She writes about a Savior who is also a Healer and shares her own journey to supernatural healing, offering encouragement to those who believe for their healing also.

You may follow her story here:

http://hestillheals.com/
http://www.facebook.com/astoryofgrace
www.etsy.com/shop/gracetags

~~~~~~~~~~
And now for the giveaway!
Please note: THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.
BUT THE DISCOUNT CODE BELOW IS STILL AVAILABLE!

Grace Tags Janelle

Congrats, Karrilee on winning the giveaway!

Didn’t win, or want more than one?
Janelle is offering all Simplystriving readers 35% off!
For a limited time.
Simply use code “striving35” at checkout.
Seriously, friends, you won’t be sorry — I LOVE mine!

Thanks for sharing your time with us.

I hope you win…but more importantly, I pray you worship always.

Simply striving,

Nikki (and Janelle)

My LifeSONG ~ Five Minute Friday

This is the post each week where I
Link arms with others as we write free
Over at Lisa-Jo’s.

bw_church2

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

SONG

I stand at the brink, my toe teasing the water’s edge. A bird taunts me to jump like it’s her everyday sonnet and I wonder if they’re born without the worry gene or if they learn it quickly with first flight.

The wind picks up and carries my breath off with it. And I gulp in air as the song of my heart swells within. For I’m not ready to release this tune yet. It doesn’t sound harmonious.

Father, she’s not even in double digits…septic? Really? Oh Jesus, we need You…

“There’s not a prayer I’ve prayed You haven’t heard
Not a tear I’ve shed that You didn’t feel”

My knees begin to buckle and I follow suit. My palms open as I begin to grasp for reality. And as the song that’s been buried in my heart all week rises up, I’m reminded…He’s here.

“I’ll lift my hands — if my hands fail me
I’ll bend my knees — if my knees grow weak
I’ll raise my voice and I’ll sing
I’ll sing — I know that You love me”

The water splashes around my legs, the salt rises to my lips, sparking hope once again.

“Sink or swim I’m divin’ in where the river starts rushin’
Where my hearts start beating
For the rhythms of the testing and the songs of the trials
I will live to cry out to You, sung with hope inside my eyes”

Wind swipes the strands away from my face and suddenly I see Him so clearly. And when He’s in my scope, the music begins to play for this lifesong He’s given me.

Yes, Father, I’ll sing. For You…

STOP.

The lyrics above were taken from this amazing song (Subscribers, CLICK HERE to listen in)

Will Reagan & United Pursuit – Give Me A Song

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? Have you sung your lifesong lately? I’d love to hear. And would you please pray for Lanie and her family? They need to feel His healing hands…

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

COMFORT {A Mother’s Super Power} ~ Five Minute Friday

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

swimming-lessons-M

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

COMFORT

There are some feelings you never forget… I was 17 the first time I remember experiencing it. The gaping hole that hurts so bad you catch yourself gasping for breath. And with my fever rising, finals approaching, voice lost, far away from home, I was able to diagnose the main issue myself.

I wanted needed my mother.

She might not have been able to take the pneumonia away or help me prepare for my history final, but somehow in a way only a mom could, she would have made it feel all better.

For comfort is a super power every mom has.

And I think of my Heavenly Father, getting ready to send off His only Son into the wild world… What is the first thing He secures for Him? Who is the first one He goes to … to ensure He will be watched over, cared for, loved, sheltered, until His time has come?

Mary swaddled Him. Soothed Him. Gave a part of herself to Him because that’s what we mom’s do.

I’m closing in on four decades of needing the one God gave me. When roads collide, when answers seem lost, when pain fogs my vision, when babies are born still, my heart still calls to her. Because by His design, the power to wipe away hurt with a single kiss never fades. The strength found in a mom’s embrace always renews. Hope is always found in her simple reassurances.

And now, as I have the honor of being one myself, I realize where that power comes from.

Comfort is found when another lays their life down for you. Always in love, for it’s the only thing capable of such a task. And a mother’s love goes far. deep. wide. It can stretch and mold itself like the soothing balm it is.

Mamas, it’s a gift He gives us. This super power to love like Jesus loves. It may not feel like much, but believe me when I tell you — you bring comfort when all hope is gone.

You are Wonder Woman. Comfort in the flesh.

 

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? Do you remember the first time you felt that ache for comfort? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

BRAVE {Finding the Promise to Endure} ~ Five Minute Friday

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

rianbow-Courtesy of Greg Abel Photography

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

BRAVE

The word makes me look at the floor. You see, I’ve never been, and often wonder if this should fall in my list of regrets. I’ve settled for believing God simply made me to cling. Instead of laughing at danger, I hold on to safety. His arm is my preferred choice. And He doesn’t seem to mind…

I’ve been put in harm’s way, though. This world spins wildly, after all, and I’m living in it. Sometimes, it seems His arm extends beyond what’s comfortable. And though I’m still holding…grasping…dangling…danger finds me. Pain often ensues.

Yet I make it through. I may leave scars on His hands because of it, but He never lets go.

A friend who loves me more than I deserve once told me I was brave. She proclaimed it was the only reason I was still standing after the last blow. I gazed at the frieze as I confessed she was wrong.

I’m not brave, I told her. I just know how to hold on.

She stepped a bit closer and waited for me to look up. When I met her dare, she whispered:

“Nikki, brave doesn’t mean reckless.
It means you endure.
No matter what comes your way,
you know where to go to find the courage to make it through.
And you’re the bravest friend I know.”

My bottom lip began to quiver as I let her words find my heart. She wrapped her arms tight when I lost my breath. My knees wobbled, but she held fast. And I told her then, and have many times since:

“Friend, you bring me courage when hope seems lost.
I’m only able to find bravery when you’re here, reminding me to hold fast.”

And we decide then brave isn’t something you need to be. It’s a promise you need to find.

So when trouble comes your way–and it will (John 16:33), you’ll know the arm on which to cling to. And you’ll find it (bravery) on the other side when you realize…He never let go.

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? Have you found bravery? How do you define it? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

The One Question You Need to Answer {When Trials Come}

Whispers-M

I write it in bold, though I don’t need the reminder. I circle in color to proclaim it deserves a place here on my wall. This space where I display the importance of my everyday.

Calendars share events like no other, yet they are not a place to tell a story…

And I leave words off intentionally. They may be part of the event, even part of the story, but they don’t paint the picture I see.

My pen slows as I write his name in full. I print it out neatly as if I’m teaching it to him for the first time — the name his father and I painstakingly chose for him. The one I hold tightly to my chest and often exhale in stolen breaths.

In my best handwriting, I write the year below. Not to remind me of his stillborn birthday, but to remember the first time I heard “It’s a boy.” I don’t see it as an end date, but rather a beginning. And pronouncing it here helps me cling to the promise that this date of when I first held him won’t be the last.

I step back and look at the statement I’ve made. It’s not enough. These square days are too confined. But a journal… Not only can you share a story in those empty lines, but you can paint a picture. The very one you see imprinted on your heart…

It’s taken many pages, but I now see it. This masterpiece He’s been brushing on in strokes. Some heavy and hard. Others light and quick. Yet they all flow together to form the very pattern of my soul. It’s starting to take shape…the story this day has brought to my picture.

Friends, through every trial I have faced in my “short” life, one lesson has proven to be true:

Answering how, why, when, or where aren’t nearly as pertinent as answering “WHO.”
That’s really the only answer you need to know with certainty.

  • Who will walk through this with you?
  • Who will pick you up and remind you to breathe?
  • Who is still good even when all you see is bad?

And today, as I remember a day where I asked every question. As I look back and see where this pain of loss and longing has brought me. Today, as I proclaim this part of my story, I will celebrate the one answer I received.

For I discovered the answer of “WHO”. And it never changes. I can always rely on its predictability and have found comfort in it since.

Friends, I know Who holds my hand.

I know Who has never let go.

I know Who’s good. All the time. Even still…

And when I remember Who holds tomorrow. Who has overcome. Who has conquered the unbelievable this world can throw our way, I realize:

James was right.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4

I write it in bold for the world to see: JOY. Because that’s what my son has taught me. That no matter why, how, when, where — none of that matters in the end. It can’t steal my joy, because I will always know the answer of Who.

And that answer promises joy in the morning (Psalm 30:5) along with new mercies every day (Lamentations 3:21-24).

He brings hope to days like today.

He is whom I will cling to when the mama inside me longs for more.

He is the answer. Every time. Even still…

How about you, friend? Do you know the answer of who? What have trials taught you? How do you answer those questions when all you see is defeat? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Recipe for Feeding Your Soul {And a Giveaway!}

There’s an amazing series going on over at 5 Minutes for Faith. Through Mother’s Day, we are each writing about what we have learned from the mother figures in our lives. How we saw Christ through them, or what aspects we strive to emulate them in.

Today, I’m there sharing about how I learned a valuable lesson from my Great-Grandma V. May I put it into practice every day–this ultimate recipe. This formula for keeping my soul fed.

Won’t you stop by? If not for that, you will want to see the fabulous Lisa Leonard Giveaway we have going with it! I wear her handiwork on my neck and am sure you or someone you know would love to do the same! Stop on by and see! Simply click on the button below:

How about you, friend? How do you like to feed your soul? Letting me know in comments over at 5 Minutes for Faith will enter you in the giveaway. If you don’t want to enter, you may share with me here. I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Friend {And Why We Fit} ~ Five Minute Friday

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

P1580928-M

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

FRIEND

The label is one I’ve tried to hide behind. Use it as a shield to shelter my heart from the blows this world provides. And the longer I attempt it, the more I realize…being an introvert is no excuse. reason. handicap. shield.

God made us all relational people. We need friends–all kinds.

I’ve often found comfort in the verse “Where two or three are gathered in My Name, there I am” because I can handle two or three just fine. Yet Jesus needed 12. Still, He would need to find a quiet place alone to pray and refuel….

And the longer I allow Him to bend me ’till it’s uncomfortable. Send me where I need to lean hard in to Him. Mold me into what He had planned for me all along, the more I’m beginning to see…

I don’t need less friends…I need more. Because I need Him.

God is so big…we can not fathom the depths of Him. But we can catch glimpses…new aspects of His awesome goodness in each of us.

For He made us. to relate to one another. to all fit together in His Master Puzzle and belong. You and I, living this life as friends brings Him glory.

And let me tell you for the record: I am amazed by you and love how we differ. How we’re the same. How we fit. You are beautiful inside and out. And do you know what? I see Him in you. In ways I would have never seen Him otherwise. Thank you for giving me that chance. It’s no wonder He pursues you…

I’m honored to call you friend.

So I will guard your heart like it was my own. I will seek you out and strive to get to know you the best I can. I will let you in to my vulnerable places.

Because I need more of Him.

And I see Him in you.

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? Have you caught new glimpses of Him in one of your friendships lately? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki