Eyes Above the Waves {Music Monday}

I’ve been wanting to write about some things I’ve discovered about my faith over the last year. Friends, I can’t seem to get the words out when I find the time to sit down and type them out. I’m not sure why…

But I got a bit of it out in this post for 5 Minutes for Faith. I’d love to have you stop by as I also share a song I’ve been clinging to as of late this Music Monday. Simply click on the button below!

Here are some of the questions I pose as I compare my faith to the waves…like Peter, but they stem from one line in the song I share:

  • Can I keep my eyes fixed on my Savior?
  • Could I trust Him with my necessities and focus more on Him than the waves approaching?
  • Is my faith strong enough to survive the waves? Even if I don’t know when my next breath will come?

Stop on by and share with me how you trust Him through the waves of life. I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

 

Hold Tight {Strength in the Pages}

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My life has been a whirlwind lately. I’m sure many people say that for different reasons. Regardless of where your imaginations may take you, please know the tidal wave I’ve been riding has not been a harmful one. Quite the contrary.

Friends, I’ve been gone far too long and have so much to tell you. And even though I have many blessings to share, I must confess I’ve felt the hard winds of doubt and have wavered with insecurities along the way. I have ashamedly tested His truth and discovered He truly is good. All the time. It’s that journey I need to tell you about, for His glory.

For it’s always about Jesus.

And on this Music Monday, when I contemplated which song has been speaking to me most these last few months….the answer was this one.

Because I’ve tried and tested it and now know for certain: I can always fall back on His Promises.

So when I feel myself flailing. When life blows so hard I struggle to catch my breath. When this controlling nature within me spins wildly, I can do what this song suggests.

I can open up the pages and anchor myself on His promises.

Let Him be my strength and simply hold on tight.

Promises

by Sanctus Real
Sometimes it’s hard to keep believing
In what you can’t see
That everything happens for a reason
Even the worst life brings
If you’re reaching for an answer
And you don’t know what to pray
Just open up the pages
Let His word be your strength
And hold on to the promises
Hold on to the promises
Jesus is alive so hold tight
Hold on to the promises
All things work for the good
Of those who love God
He holds back nothing that will heal you
Not even His own Son
His love is everlasting
His faithfulness unending
Oh, if God is for us who can be against us
So if you feel weak
Neither life, nor death
Could separate us
From the eternal love
Of our God who saves us

Friends, I’m going to start this week sharing the spiritual journey I’ve been on lately. (After I share a great giveaway with you tomorrow!) It might take some time to get it all out, but I hope you’ll keep coming back and follow along. Because I assure you, these promises The Word speaks of…I’ve got some tested examples on how they hold true.

I hope to show you how it’s all about Jesus…my living Savior.

He’s the reason I continue to hold on tight.

How about you, friend? What journey have you been on lately? What promise have you been clinging to? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me. Truly.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Christmas is Coming! {Bring Your Inner Child}

Christmas Ornament Collage ~ Simplystriving CC

He plunges into the tinsel bag eagerly. I catch my warning before it’s uttered and sigh in relief when his five-year-old hand retreats with only a few strands. And as he runs to the tree, I hear him humming his favorite Christmas Carol.

With precision, he hangs each silver strand just the way he wants it. His slippered feet patter on the hardwood as he asks his dad if he wants to come and lend a hand.

After much attention, we all step back and admire our handiwork. All six feet of it. The same tree I tried to replace years ago. The one my husband and I joke about — how it’s so fake it’s nearly real as I end up vacuuming up pine needles into spring.

And my boy, all four feet of him, he says it best:

“Mom, it’s the most beautiful tree I’ve ever seen!”

I look again and see the ornaments he’s been making since preschool. I see the carpenter’s nail hung right in front as a reminder. And as I glance over and see my husband and I’s 14 year history together all hung in one place, I couldn’t agree more.

It is the most beautiful tree I’d ever laid eyes on. Thank you, child, for helping me see.

I’m not sure when our perspective changes. When we get too tall to truly see the glory displayed right in front of us…

This year, I’m striving to bend low. I’m approaching the manger on my knees as I reflect on the miraculous beauty that was gifted to me thousands of years ago. And as I contemplate the significance of a lofty manger, a smelly stable, an un-sanitized birthing room, I’ll step back and say:

“Father, it’s the most beautiful display of love I’ve ever seen!”

Friends, do you see it? Will you join me here down low, look up with me and proclaim His splendor? How will you celebrate the Reason of the Season this week? I’d love to hear.

And in true Music Monday fashion, I invite you to join me and my five-year old as we sing his favorite Christmas song:

Christmas is Coming

by Jason Gray

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Hallelujah {The Highest Phrase}

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It took a homeless man to remind me. That no matter what, why, where, when, how, praise always applies.

Hallelujah is truly the highest phrase. (SEE VIDEO HERE)

And this Season, as we proclaim our glory to God in the Highest, I’m striving to put it to practice.

Can my every breath sing hallelujah?

Can I give Him all my Frankincense, Gold, and Myrrh?

Would I travel far and wide, no matter how long it takes, just to follow His Light?

Just to give Him my humble cry of Hallelujah?

Is my hallelujah enough?

Oh how I wish I knew. How I long to say yes to each of these. I’m striving…

But friends, one thing I do know.

HE IS ENOUGH.

No matter what, why, where, when, how, He deserves my hallelujah.

So I will find the hallelujahs of today. I will give all I have to Him–whether it be gold or … my attention. I will proclaim His glory in the highest and allow His peace to rain here on earth. On me.

He deserves my hallelujah. The highest phrase for the highest praise.

Will you join me? This is one of my favorite Christmas songs and its message portrays this brilliantly. I’m sharing this video clip so we can focus on the lyrics, although THIS CLIP is my favorite and official video of:

A Hallelujah Christmas

performed by Cloverton

How about you, friend? How will you bring your hallelujah this Season? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Good to Me {God’s More-than-Enough}

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We hold back. I’m not sure if the clinging is learned or if it’s in our human DNA, but I know it’s safer easier to keep a little in our grasp…just in case.

Friends, how this must hurt His heart, for He has never done the same.

My God gave all to save all.

My Savior sacrificed everything for the mere hope of … me. you. love. Take your pick–He offers it all.

And I know I can put ALL my hope in the truth of His promises. I am assured I can steady my heart on the ground of His goodness. So today, I will rise up and proclaim His glory. I will face this morn fully equipped with all He’s given me.

He’s given me life. love. joy.

And no one. Not one can take this from me. No one can steal what He’s given. (John 16:22)

My God is so good to me…

“Why is everyone hungry for more?
‘More, more,’ they say
‘More, more’
I have God’s More-than-enough,
More joy in one ordinary day.
Psalm 4: 6-7, MSG

These verses jumped off the page this last week and I am making them my mantra this week.

Friends, we have God’s more-than-enough…He will offer more joy in one ordinary day than anything else we could hold tightly to.

Let’s let go and let God…let’s open wide so He can fill high. Let’s bow down and lift up His name. Simply because He’s so good…

Good to Me

Audry Assad

I put all my hope in the truth of Your promise
and I steady my heart on the ground of Your goodness
When I’m bowed down with sorrow I will lift up Your name
and the foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joy

Because You are good to me

I lift my eyes to the hills where my help is found
Your voice fills the night–raise my head up and hear the sound
Though fires burn all around me I will praise You, my God
and the foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joy

Because You are good to me
Your goodness and mercy shall follow me
all my life
I will trust in Your promise

How about you, friend? How has He been so good to you lately? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Without Jesus {All I Have to Gain}

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Sometimes I wonder if we think of our Christian life in resumé terms. If we bullet point our deeds, actions, capabilities, gifts, all on pristine paperstock. And when we get to Judgement Day, we picture handing it over and anticipate hearing the words we’ve longed for.

I’m ashamed to admit I’ve made tallies of others and compared them to my own as I wonder where I fit in this Church we are building here for His glory.

Why would I do that when none of it matters, anyway. Not really. For none of that truly shows what God sees within.

Because when it comes down to it, I’m a sinner. A failure. I’ve made more mistakes than successes. I’m only saved through His grace. And I’m certain you’re not too far ahead or behind…

What God’s looking for is if I’ve prepared a place for Him and His Son in my life the same way He’s prepared a place for me.

It’s not about me and what I can do. It’s about embracing what they’ve done for me and what I can become as a result.

Plain and simple: I’m nothing without Jesus.

I’m nothing in this Act until He takes center stage within me.

He is everything…my everything.

Friends, I need to strive to live like I believe that. I need to live in the reality that I have nothing to gain except His favor. And the only way to do that is actually so simple it’s complex:

I need to invite Him in,
let Him take residence in the primary room of my soul,
and let Him lead the way.
For there’s no telling what He could do in and through me.

There’s this song that’s been haunting me lately. I’d like to share it with you this Music Monday and hear your thoughts on it. Here are the lyrics that linger long in my heart:

You could memorize
Become a Mennonite
You could speak in tongues
And raise the dead to life
You could build a big church
Call it ministry
Teach ’em all they need to know to run a family
You could sell it all
Be burned at the stake
But what in the world have you to ever gain
Without Jesus
If all I ever get out of laying my life down
Is thorns in the shape of a crown
On the brow of a man from Nazareth
And if all I get is what Jesus did,
And said, and put within my heart
Then I get it all
I have it all
Everything is mine

Friends, don’t you think that says it all?

Everything is mine when I’m His.

This song is worth a listen, if only to help you think about what He did for you and what you are with Him. Subscribers, CLICK HERE to listen in.

Without Jesus

Shane and Shane

How about you, friend? How do you embrace your place in The Church? What do you count as gain? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Living Loudly for His Glory {Forever Reign}

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We sat shoulder-to-shoulder, all sipping something hot. I whispered first, as if I didn’t want to believe it myself. Their eyes searched mine while I worked through my thoughts out loud. Her gentle hand patted my knee, encouraging me to keep going…I was on to something.

So I started over, this time with much more conviction. I told them we’re all in a position to influence another whether we feel ready or not. We have daily opportunities to impact another for His glory…His good.

Are we taking advantage of them?

The book in discussion challenges us to take Christ’s example of living/influencing seriously by abiding by our simple calling: to be like Jesus. And I told them outright how not simple and impossible this sounds. How I grow overwhelmed with the task

until one day I realized…

Friends, we don’t need to focus on influencing and being Jesus as much as we need to set our hearts on living out loud Christ that is in us. Because if we do, He will take the little moments we offer and turn them into bigger moments of glory.

It’s not our doing. It’s always His. Every time.

Do we need to be Jesus? No. We just need to let Him be…allow Him to live through us. No matter how incapable we feel to that task.

And I may never fully comprehend how He’s able to use me for His good. How He can craft me with grace and mold me into a useable vessel…it blows my mind. Yet He never disappoints. He’s up for the task every moment of every day. I simply have to stretch wide, deny myself, and let Him lead the way.

I may feel incapable, but He’s not.
I may make a mess of things, but He’s the best mender around.

I may even see how He was able to turn my ashes into beauty. For His glory.

He’s always enough.

And so today, I offer myself to be used. No matter how small, regardless of how big. I’ll admit my own shortcomings while clinging to His promises. And I’ll join the battle of glory and fight for His reign.

Because He is. He does. He always will be.

Would you like to join me? This song sets my heart on the right course. I invite you to worship by my side. Subscribers, CLICK HERE to listen in.

Forever Reign

One Sonic Society

You are good
When there’s nothing good in me
You are love
On display for all to see

You are light
When the darkness closes in
You are hope
You have covered all my sin

You are peace
When my fear is crippling
You are true
Even in my wandering

You are joy
You’re the reason that I sing
You are life
In You death has lost its sting

Oh I’m running to Your arms
The riches of Your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

You are more
Than my words will ever say
You are Lord
All creation will proclaim

You are here
In Your presence I’m made whole
You are God
Of all else I’m letting go

My heart will sing
No other name
Jesus, Jesus

How about you, friend? How do you live out loud Christ that is in you? How do you simply let Him be, through you? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

How I Need Him {And Me Being Okay With That}

Jeremiah 29:13

It’s a simple promise. An invitation, really, to come looking with insurance attached.

Jesus reiterated it in Matthew 7:7 and in Luke 11:9, and my heart warms with the assurance that when I need Him and search for His presence with my whole being, He’ll be there. Always.

Yet how often do I look? How many times in my everyday do I go knocking?

I cannot think of one single day I didn’t need Him. I can’t recall one moment when I should have gone alone. Still I often try.

It was in my devotions a couple of weeks ago I read these verses differently. And something in my heart finally clicked on to the truth.

Friends, God’s expecting us to come looking. He’s fully aware of how much we need Him every moment of every day.

We’re not built to be self-reliant. We may grow old, but we never fully grow up…up to the heights of Him. And He’s okay with that. He’s offering His assistance with a promise that He’ll never turn us down.

And here’s what my heart struggled with: I need to be okay with that.

I need to admit every day I’m useless without His guidance.
I’m hopeless without His promises.
I’m worthless without His salvation.
I’m nothing without grace.

But, friends, just think of what I am in Him…just imagine what I can do with Him by my side or carrying me through…

Oh How I need Him.

So it’s settled. I want to wake up each dawn, see His splendor in the sunrise, bow before Him and knock. I want to appear before the King of Kings each morn and invite Him to my side. Or in front. Or whatever position He deems best for what I’m about to face that day. He knows best. Always.

This morning, it went something like this:

Father, here I am admiring Your masterpiece before me. Just when I think I’ve seen all the beauty there is to behold in a sunrise, you dazzle me with more…more of You. Thank You for showing me You have so much to offer. You have so much to give and You never grow weary of splashing me with surprises. Even in something that happens everyday.

Lord, I don’t know what today holds. I cannot anticipate every incidental or circumstance I’ll need to take on around every bend. Father, please, come with me today. Be my guide. Because You know. You see. You have the best course of action ready. And that’s the one I want. I want…no…I need You right here with me.

Show me the way, Abba, and I’ll go. Lead me and I’ll follow. Carry me and I’ll hold on tight.

So break the dawn, crack the skies, make the way bright before me. For I know in Your light, I will find all I need for today….You.

Oh how I need You…

Then I blast this song and sing along. I invite you, friend, to do the same (subscribers, CLICK HERE to listen in to this amazing moment of worship).

Oh How I Need You

All Sons and Daughters
Integrity Praise

Lord I find You in the seeking
Lord I find You in the doubt
And to know You is to love You
And to know so little else

I need You
Oh how I need You

Lord I find You in the morning
Lord I seek You every day
And let my life be for Your glory
Woven in Your threads of grace

Light glorious light
I will go where You shine
Break the dawn, crack the skies
Make the way bright before me
In Your light, I will find
All I need, all I need is You

How about you, friend? How do you claim your dependence on Him every day? Are you okay with it? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

A Sacrifice of Praise

Worship is a Lifestyle

We gather ’round and join our hearts in praise. Some sit. Others stand. Most sing along with those leading the way.

Just like we always do. Every Sunday.

And I’ve liked it that way — praising with song. An offering, enabling us to lay it all down before truth is spoken to our weary bones. It’s the foundation worship is built upon…

All of us come in different forms. Some broken. Tired. Anxious. Preoccupied. Parched. Yet we all can choose to worship right then. Together as we join in the sweet chorus. We raise our voices high and cry holy. Every week.

I’ve grown accustomed to this place. These people. And I’ve loved worshiping this way.

Just like we always do. Every Sunday.

It was something he said mid-sermon that made me realize I had it all wrong. Some might assume it was simply an afterthought uttered –this phrase that made my world spin upside-down. It doesn’t matter how it happened. The point is, I heard Him. And in this Kingdom of Grace, being turned upside-down or inside-out is a good thing.

His message was on true worship. The kind that pulses from your inmost being. That radiates through your soul until it bursts forth with joy and proclamation.

It’s one of my favorite subjects.

My hearing perked when he described worship as Worth-ship. Because that’s what one does when you worship anything…you give it meaning to your life. You stake its worth in your everyday as you bow low in admiration. And I get that. Even found myself nodding along.

Just like I always do. Every Sunday.

But friends, all this time, I’m not sure I had truly gotten it right.

Ann Voskamp said in One Thousand Gifts that we always live bowed down to something. And if we don’t live bowed down before God, we’ll bow down to something else.

And that’s the thing. Worship isn’t something we can turn on and off. Declare HIS worth one day and live free of Him the next. No.

Worship requires a constant commitment.
Worship demands our attention.
Worship expects a sacrifice on our part.

And in this upside-down Kingdom of grace, that sacrifice of worth can be … praise. A sacrifice of praise.

Not just like we always do. Every Sunday.

Friends, it’s easy for me to sing along in praise. Even on a weekday. But do I sacrifice a bit of myself everyday? Do I bend until I stretch? Do I give Him my full attention. My utmost effort. My complete submission as I cry holy?

What would it look like if I did that every day?

Should I dance as David danced? No matter who was watching?
Could I live as Jesus lived? No matter whom it offended?
Will I offer all I have to His disposal? No matter the cost?

Pastor gave an example of how we give our best cheers and exude immense excitement while watching our favorite team/group/artist as they give their all. But do we put as much passion into watching The Creator of all things as He performs every day?

Not a morning has gone by where He hasn’t painted a truly unique sunrise.
Not a day has passed where I haven’t seen grace present its best.

Just like He always does. Every day.

And I can say with complete confidence: God has never gathered ’round me and sang half-heartedly to my soul. He has never forgotten me a day in my life.

Friends, Jesus proved my worth long ago. And every day since, He has offered the same sacrifice. I don’t know about you, but I can bow down to that.

I can worship Him. Every day.

So this week, as I teach my boy his spelling, arithmetic, and the ins and outs of this world we’re using as our temporary home, I’ll do so in adoration of The One whom has made it all possible.

And I can be His hands and feet to those I encounter this week. If done with Him in mind, it can become an act of praise.

This everyday business we submerse ourselves in, friends, I do believe can be done in complete worship.

Today, I will bring Him a sacrifice of praise.

Just like He deserves. Every day.

How about you, friend? How do you plan on worshiping Him this week? What sacrifice of praise do you offer? I’d love to hear.

And thank you for your grace as I stretched Music Monday’s theme this week. In comments, I’d love to hear what song helps you prepare your heart for worship.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

The Truest Things {I Believe}

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My questions are in the gazillions. I have so many I-wonder-moments I’ll most likely never be able to answer.

I don’t know why He is good all the time.
I’m not sure when/how He’ll answer my prayers.
I couldn’t explain to you how the Trinity works exactly.

But I’ve felt His arms surround me. I’ve witnessed His healing hand — watched Him turn brokenness into beautiful. I’ve seen what He’s capable of creating and I’ve watched His glory unfold.

He just Is.
He just Will.
They just Do.

Sometimes I try to picture Him and … I just can’t…
Even still…I believe.

Because I don’t need to know it all — HE does.
I don’t need to know too far ahead — why, when I haven’t even conquered today.
And some things don’t need to be explained  — they need to be experienced.

Friends, I may not be able to see Him with my sense of sight, but I trust my sense of soul even more. I may not have all the answers, but I am striving to know The One who does.

The One who still calms storms…even in me.
The One who has conquered today.
The One who is the answer to any trouble, trial, tribulation I could ever experience.

And in my heart, I believe that’s enough.

So tomorrow, when I rise and see the sun has done the same,
I’ll experience firsthand how faithful He is.
So good. All the time.
And I’ll remind myself His timing is perfect. He’s worth waiting for.

One day I won’t have to picture Him….one day, I’ll be made whole.

I believe.

It’s because of that I can say wholeheartedly:

I’d rather have Jesus than anything.
I’d rather cling to the hope of His glory than something I can own from a store’s shelf.
I’d rather He led the way, so long as I can hold His nail-pierced hand.

I Believe

JJ Heller

How about you, friend? What do you believe to be true? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki