Reversing the Rat Race ~ Five Minute Friday

Can I share something with you?

Sometimes, I just want to write
Without worrying if it’s right or not.

Would you believe I’ve found a place that offers me that kind of grace?
Over at Lisa-Jo’s.

So I will join others and write unabashedly
for five minutes time.
Without editing or backtracking
On one word alone:

RACE

It never ends. From the rise of the sun to the moon’s final descend, we fight it: Time. We wring it dry, trying to savor every drop and lay our heads on the pillows wondering if we succeeded.

Something about this makes me wonder if we misinterpreted this gift of time…

Is it just me? Are we too busy?

Busy is a four-letter word now widely accepted.

And excuses are busy’s cousins.

Friends, I want out. This race is not for me.

I wish I remembered where I read that if we’re too busy to spend time with God, we’re busier than He intended. Oh how that makes me cringe as I think about how many times I’ve let busy’s cousin in to reason with my lack of time for Him.

No more. I’m taking Him up on His offer and trading in that four-letter word for a better one: REST.

Yes, I’m letting go and letting God…

So my child may not become a black belt. He may not be a pianist savant by age thirteen. We might miss out on a few fun things…

I might not even get 3 blog posts done some weeks. And I might miss out on a few fun things…

But I can assure you, friend. I’m not missing out on Him loving me. I’ll be taking my time in the pool of grace. Trying to wring it dry. I’ll show my child how to stop and see His gifts all around. For that’s where true joy abounds.

Friends, I plan on savoring long whatever the time right in front of me holds. And thanking Him for each moment it brings. So when I lay my head on the pillow each night I can not wonder but know I’ve spent this gift of time well.

This upside down Kingdom of grace is one I signed up for. I’m going to start living like it.

Let’s reverse this rat race! Who’s with me?

STOP.

What keeps many of us growing is not sin, but speed.
We lose God in the blurred landscape as we rush.
We don’t struggle with the Bible, but with the clock.
Michael Yaconelli ~ Messy Spirituality

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

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How about you? Will you trade in some busy for rest? How do you? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

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Worship {Through the Eyes of a Child}

Flickr Credit: Tarviews

Friends, I’m so excited to be over at 5 Minutes for Faith today because I cannot wait to introduce you to my Sunday School class. Well, their child-like hearts, anyway.

I share what they taught me about worship.

Here’s a sneak peek:

My knees practically touch my chin as we sit in a rain drop of little chairs. That’s what we call it now, this circle made by their own 4 and 5 year-old hands. When one notices most of us funneled together on one end, she comments “We took the circle and made it better. We made a rain drop.”

We decide then to worship in the rain here every Sunday. And my cup overflows…

I can’t help but laugh when I think of how I prepared for this lesson. How I expected to teach them new discoveries. New words to use in everyday conversations. My how He must have smiled, knowing the plans He had in store for me.

Will you stop by 5 Minutes for Faith and read the rest? I’d love to know you did.

Simply click on the button below!

How about you, friend? What does worship mean to you? How do you practice worship? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

FOCUS ~ Five Minute Friday

You all know this by now. I’m certain.
But I’ll say it anyway.
Sometimes, I just want to write
Without worrying if it’s right or not.

Would you believe I’ve found a place that offers me that kind of grace?
Over at Lisa-Jo’s.

So I will join others and write unabashedly
for five minutes time.
Without editing or backtracking
On one word alone:

FOCUS

It didn’t make sense to me at first. This passage in A Circle of Quiet where Madeline L’Engle shares about love. And how you know you love someone when you don’t see them as clearly as the rest of the world does. You see beyond their profile picture/avatar if you will (she used icon I believe?). You don’t see their features as much as you see their “self”.

Friends, I long to see you that way. The way God sees you.

And I think of all the ones I hold dear in this world. I think of my roommate in college…when I close my eyes and focus in on her alone, I see an indescribable shade of cerulean blue illuminating her beautiful frame. Her gleaming smile shines brilliance and when she speaks I see the most perfect font I have yet to find on paper. Just the hint of her voice warms my heart immediately and I feel right at home. Yes…I picture her and know I’ve seen love. Because I see Christ in her. In every flawless feature, a deluge of grace…

We all want to be seen like that, don’t we? So out of focus all anyone can do is hone in on Him. The One who’s paid our ransom.

Friends, I want you to see me that way. I want you to see beyond the smiling avatar. Can you look passed my profile picture and see Him? Oh I’m striving. For He’s the reason I live and breathe. He’s all that’s beautiful within me.

So I will keep striving to focus in on His face. Seek the features He has created just for me. And I pray one day. When we do meet face to face you’ll see beyond me, too.

STOP.

NOTE: I really wanted to tell you what I see when I think of my hubby, but knew it would take me longer than 5 minutes!  Since my roomie is so plum full of grace, I knew she wouldn’t mind if I used her as an example…Love you, girl!

Would you like to see what others thought of the prompt?
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And I just have to tell you. Each week, a number of us from this Five Minute Friday community gather together Thursday evening on Twitter to lift each other up as we wait for the prompt. I’d love it if you’d stop by and say hello. Just follow #FMFParty sometime! (and psst….we trended on twitter this week! WOOT!)

How about you? Do you see beyond features on those you love? How do you focus in? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Are we friends on Facebook? I’d love to be…

The Art of Discipline

The lower, even tone of my voice makes him aware. His bottom lip quivers as he blinks the hurt of regret away. And it takes all I have to persist through the pain my own heart feels. This tough love stuff is hard.

The questions start pouring in now as I have learned to expect. His 4 year-old curiosity astounds me as he nearly manages to leave me without words. Every. Single. Time. The striking blow this day:

“So, Mom, are you disciplining me or teaching me discipline?”

I look deep into those bright blues, trying to see where these questions come from.

“I’m not sure there’s a difference, bud.” I reply softly.

“Sure there is, mom. One of them makes me cry.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Friends, my dear friend Christina at To Show Them Jesus is allowing me to share the rest of this post for her “Teach Me Jesus Thursday” post this week. I would say I can’t believe it, but I do because she is just that selfless.

I met Christina through a blog link up…has it been 6 months now or more? We started visiting each other every Wednesday and I remember thinking every time I stopped by her placed I left refreshed. Inspired. Pointed directly towards Him. I soon started looking forward to it so much I started following her blog more formally. Reading every post in my email.

Now, we’re kindred friends. She holds my hand when I worry about homeschooling. Even checks in on me to offer encouragement.

Friends, won’t you stop by Christina’s place today? I’ll share with you the one thing I want my boy to learn from me. Along with a few other disciplines I intend to use along the way.

Simply click on the button below!

How about you, friend? How do you show your children the art of spiritual discipline? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Graceful {or With Grace I am Full} ~ Five Minute Friday

Can I share something with you?

Sometimes, I just want to write
Without worrying if it’s right or not.

Would you believe I’ve found a place that offers me that kind of grace?
Over at Lisa-Jo’s.

So I will join others and write unabashedly
for five minutes time.
Without editing or backtracking
On one word alone:

Graceful

He asks me every day. One of his 12 favorite songs is guaranteed to come on the radio and there’s no stopping him. His four-year-old frame moves with reckless abandon as he fearlessly portrays what his heart feels. My heart bursts as I witness glory right there on the frieze.

It seems we’re all born to worship this way, for he didn’t learn that from me. He does it so well and still he asks me to join in. Oh how I strive to. I want to. But there’s no masking it. Friends, I dance how I live. And graceful is not an adjective used to describe it.

Yet he offers grace. “Mom, just try to do what I do! You can do it, I know it!”

And I wonder if he’ll ever stop believing in me.

Father, do you ever doubt I can do it? Here I am clumsily wandering through life all the while I hear You saying “Child, follow Me. I know you can do it!” And I try to keep my eye on You. I’m learning to find comfort in the awkward. I’m beginning to realize You really mean it: All is grace.

I fail and still He offers grace. I am a mess and still He covers me with grace.

Around the 3rd stanza of “Mighty to Save,” I feel it. Bubbling up from within. And I know one of these days I’m going to blow my boy right off his feet. That grace is going to take hold of me.

Some day I know the fullness of grace will sustain me. And I hope he’s around so I can hear “Wow, mom. Look how graceful you got!”

STOP.

UPDATE: For those who continue to wonder, I don’t want to leave you hanging. I do dance with my boy. I simply make sure the shades are pulled first. ; ) one day I pray I’m able to leave the shades open wide…

Additional UPDATE: It happened again today and would you believe my boy said, “Mom, you’ve got some moves after all!” I’m a work in progress! Father, thank You for continuing Your work in me….

Would you like to see what others thought of the prompt?
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Join in on the Five Minute Friday Flash Mob!
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How about you? Have you learned to dance/live life like grace has got a hold on you? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Pssst…Are we friends on Facebook? I’d love to be…

The Fluidity of Wisdom {Five Minutes for Faith}

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Friends, can you believe one of my favorite sites, 5 Minutes for Faith, allows me to shed words there monthly? I still can’t wrap my head around it but am not letting that stop me.

I’m over there today sharing about something I observed in a surgery waiting room this summer. And how God used that moment to speak to me about soaking Him in. So much so that I pour Him right back out.

Here’s a sneak peek:

They share the common armrest, leaning in close to exchange childlike whispers. Soon the adult daughter rises to check with the nurses. I catch the wristband-clad mother smile so wide she tears as she watches her child handle the hard with dignity. Wearing pride so radiant it nearly washes away the lines of worry.

Later I witness the same daughter leaving the doctor-assigned room with tears of knowledge. Dignity still in hand as she proclaims “At least we know. We’ll get through this.”

And I want to tell her mother: All she has poured into her daughter shows. She has every right to pool joy from her eyes while she watches the roles transform.

~~~~~~~~~~

Would you like to read the rest?
It will take less than 5 minutes I assure you!
Simply click on the button below:

How about you, friend? How has He transformed you lately? How do you soak Him in and pour Him out? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

My Homeschooling Journey {Another Let Go and Let God Post}

After fulfilling my dream of becoming a wife, I had nine years to decide what kind of mother I was or was not going to be. I spent those years wisely. Observing, making mental note of what I would or would not do. Oh yes, I was going to be the best. mother. ever.

Let me be the first to tell you, homeschooling was on my not-going-to-do list. It’s now become proof that God truly does have a sense of humor.

You see, I neglected to consider some key factors while creating my mother equations:

  • God has made each child unique with individual needs He has asked me to meet while in my care.
  • God loves my child more than I ever could. And knows what’s best farther than I can see.

We all have heard “He broke the mold when He made ____” and I’m certain it’s true with each and every child I meet.

My oldest son is no exception as he has busted every frame I had wrapped around him.

Friends, my son loves to learn. He’s good at it, too. Even at the age of four he’s methodical, extremely inquisitive, has to know the how and why every. single. time. And he’s been begging to go to school since he was two.

To say I wrestled with God on this would be an understatement. It wasn’t a part of my master plan. Yes, my son reads chapter books, writes his own stories, and meets every marker used to gauge kindergarten readiness with flying colors. Except age.

He’s still too young I would tell myself. I don’t want to force him to grow up too fast. We’ll just coast this year and do another year of preschool and he’ll simply be more than ready next year. Yes, that’s what we’ll do. This can work with my plan.

But it wasn’t working with His plan. And I’m learning I need to let go and let Him take control.

To say He’s given me the writing on the wall seems like an understatement.
And I’m going to let go and let Him lead the way.
Starting with kindergarten.
Starting with homeschooling.
Starting today.

What He’s showing me is I’m not making my son grow up too fast. I’m simply giving him an opportunity to thrive.

God has given him a desire to learn and who am I to stand in the way.

Sorry I’ve been kind of quiet here lately as I was preparing to be obedient today and create a platform for my son to grow, friends.

It’s taken me awhile to get my ducks in a row.

Can I share with you what I’ve learned from this experience so far?

  • He was right when He told me to want Him more and less will want me. It’s proving to be the solution to all my troubles.
  • Leaning on Him through this has made it so easy. Why, He even took care of the expense of it all (another post perhaps?)
  • I can do all things through Christ who truly does strengthen me.
  • Homeschooling is so not what I thought it was. Wow.
  • I thought homeschooling would cause me to be more controlling–which is something I struggle with (again, another post). But I was wrong. It’s completely out of my control as I need to lay it in His hands every single day.

Father, when I look at my son, I see You. Thank You for giving me the opportunity to be a presence in his life as he discovers what plan You have for him.  Prepare the way for my child, Lord. Reveal Yourself to him in fascinating ways. Captivate his heart. Whisper love in his ear when he feels alone. Guide him on the right path when he is faced with choices.  Keep the spark of curiosity alive in him as he expands his perceptions. Oh Father, stay in his sights…
Use me in whatever way you can, Abba. Keep my heart pliable so I can conform to whatever You need me to do for my son. To You be all glory and honor in my family, Lord. All that we have is because of You, Jesus…
Jesus, thank You for changing my master plan and making it bigger and better than I ever dreamed…
I’m ready. I’m willing. This day’s for You.

How about you, friend? How has God changed your master plan lately? What has He asked you to do that you wouldn’t have dared dream years ago? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Linking up to the Heart & Home Gathering over at mercyINK as well as:

alifesurrendered.com

CHANGE ~ Five Minute Friday

Can I share something with you?

Sometimes, I just want to write
Without worrying if it’s right or not.

Would you believe I’ve found a place that offers me that kind of grace?
Over at Lisa-Jo’s.

So I will join others and write unabashedly
for five minutes time.
Without editing or backtracking
On one word alone:

CHANGE

Some days I’m certain I could burst. I brush my vision beyond the long lashes and gaze upon those baby blues still so full of life’s sparkle. And I want to plead with him….with Him…Make them promise. Please. Don’t ever change.

Some days I’d like to avoid it altogether. Gazing into the truth teller of change. And I wonder if I really got those lines from worry like they say? Or is life just pressing down that hard on me?

Some days I want to quit. Beg Him to put out the refiner’s fire. Ask Him if these growing pains can be enough.

Friends, change hurts…

I look again at my 4 year-old blue eyed wonder, still so full of light. Gleaming with the kind of faith children are known for. And I see it. I see what He’s begun in me. How He’s putting me back together again.

Some days I wonder…maybe He’s not flipping me upside down but is turning me right-side up. Maybe He’s not changing me at all. Could it be He’s bringing me back to what I once was? The original plan He’s always had for me?

Some days I wonder…and every day I want gaze at the Teller of Truth and hear how He’s going to change me. Bring me back to the faith I’m capable of. Draw me closer to Him. Use me for His glory….Lead me Home.

STOP.

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How about you? What does change look like to you? How do you claim that childlike faith once again? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

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A Lesson in Trust

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My head spins, temples pound as I hear that three-letter word for the umpteenth time:

“Why?!?”

Before becoming a parent, I vowed to always respond honestly. I was never going to say “Because I said so.” No, I was going to take the time to reply wholeheartedly before they started looking for why’s answer elsewhere.

Keep in mind, this was before I was truly introduced to the age of four and fully grasped what children were capable of.

And I gave this day my very best shot. I went round and round, answering the same question multiple ways. My words few, my answers as honest as I thought he was capable of understanding.

Friends, I don’t want to make him grow up too fast. Some questions deserve to be left unanswered until his faith can catch up with the solution.

I finally exacerbated every reason I felt comfortable giving and still he wanted more. Out of sheer desperation I said,

“Can you just trust me on this one? I’d love to explain more and some day I hope I can; but right now, I need you to trust me. Okay?”

His limbs freeze as he studies my face. I hold my breath and pray for another answer I can give. Then I hear “Okay, mom!” And he skips out of the room, diving deep into legos….

~~~~~~~~~~

Friends, I’m sharing the rest of this post over at 5 Minutes of Faith. Will you stop by? I’ll share with you how God used my child to speak to me once again. And be raw about how the inner child within me isn’t as complying. {{SIGH}}

To read more, simply click on the button below!

And I would love to know you’ve visited…

How about you, friend? Does trust come easy for you? How have you learned to let things go and trust God to take care of you? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Can You Teach One to Pray?

Photo credit: David-O

His big blues search my hazels for a clue. And my heart is doing the very thing he is questioning.

“But, mom, what are you doing when you pray?
Why do you do it?
How come I can’t hear you when you pray and sometimes I can?
How do you know He hears you?
Are you talking to the guy in your heart again?”

I never would have guessed how much wisdom it takes to explain something so profound in terms a 4 year-old will understand.

Yet that’s what He expects from all of us. To know it so well we obtain the enormous faith a child is capable of.

“I’m talking to God. The One who made me and blessed me with you.
He’s all around us and will even live within us if we let Him.
Don’t worry, He always hears when we call. And stops everything when He hears His name.
God sees our heart. Where our feelings live. So He knows what we’re feeling before we even think it. I don’t have to talk out loud to Him. He knows it before I say it. So really, I’m saying it for me. That way, I know it, too.
I talk to Him every day. As often as I can. He helps me all the time.”

I smile wide and wink when I see his mind spinning, searching for more questions. Knowing he’ll come up with more, my prayers turn fervent. I pray that I can answer them for I have so many questions of my own:

How do I ensure He understands the power behind prayer?
How do I teach Him to listen to His voice?
Should I make him practice praying?
How do I show him the joy behind it?
If I push it on him, he will recoil. Where’s the balance?

And I quickly reflect on Jesus’ life. The example He’s placed before us. The one I strive to portray to this impressionable boy.

Sometimes I forget Jesus was a practicing Jew. He knew and abided by the formalities of ritual. I’m certain He prayed the Shema twice a day. And still He sought solitude. Would go out of His way to have alone time with His Father. Where He could lay His heart open wide and simply be.

It’s this very reason I try to emulate both practices of prayer in my own life. Those structured around ritual and those grafted from pure intimacy.

Friends, we can study to our heart’s content. I have. We can read the plethora of books on the subject. I’ve read a bunch. We can follow all the formulas, acronyms, rituals, written out examples every day and still miss the basic truth. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

Our God is a God of relationships.
And He wants nothing more
than to have heart-to-heart conversations with you.

Just you. Behind closed doors. Where you can let all your guards down and simply be with Him. Uninhibited.

So how do I show this to my children?

The alarm of sirens lead me back to my present reality. I glance down and see my boy setting his toy down, looking at his hands. I stretch in to hear his whispers, hoping I don’t distract him. And I hear him:

“Dear Jesus, please help the firemen
put the fire out and everyone be okay.”

And just like that he’s back to playing trains.

My throat wraps tight around the newly formed lump. I swallow hard as I hear His response to my unsettled heart.

Friends, my prayers were answered right then. He showed me the way. And reminded me it had been hanging around my neck the whole time…

I don’t need to defend my beliefs or become a Drill Sargent. I simply need to live for Him unabashedly. My smart boy’s watching. I can trust God to do the rest. Why, I can even talk to Him about it…

Father, what a gift you have given us through prayer. This open invitation to linger long in Your presence and discuss what’s pressing on our hearts. Thank You so much for the opportunity You give me every day. I so want my boy to know what a delight it can be. May my life resonate the power of prayer. So much so that he wants it, too. I know what You can do with little, Father. I’m offering myself to You to do just that. Work Your wonder, Lord. Show my boy the way…

How about you, friend? What steps have you taken to teach your child(ren) the power of prayer? What habits have you formed for your own prayer life? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

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