WRITE {Bleeding Black and White} ~ 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.

DSCN4724

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

WRITE

It’s never been my thing. I didn’t want it to be, anyway. But I’ll never forget the day I felt it. It came during a time I was feeling very little–all by choice. You see, when pain hit me the hardest, I chose being numb over feeling how powerful love’s pull is. Yet, I couldn’t shake the ache. The longing. The choking desire to hold a pen in my hand and let it express what I refused to feel.

Friends, I wrote it which gave me permission to feel it. I wrote its resolve which directed me to His open arms. And in the writing, I was healed.

Ernest Hemingway is quoted saying there is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed. Friends, you don’t know how close he is to the truth until you do just that. Until you risk it all and bleed in black and white.

It’s vulnerability at its finest.

In practicing this art, that which I will never master, I learn to appreciate its value. It’s changed my perspective on what I hold most dear.

I cling to my Bible now as I tenderly trace these Words written with my heart in mind. And as I read the Words spilled of the blood shed for me, I allow myself to feel. To accept His grace described and share it with others.

It’s why I write. Because He wrote to me first. And until He comes back to take me Home, we will continue this scandalous love affair of written exchanges. Just Jesus and me.

STOP.

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How about you, friend? Do you bleed black and white? Do you exchange love letters with your Savior? 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.

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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.

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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

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.

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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

The Gift of STORY ~ 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.

DSCN4724

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

This week’s prompt:

STORY

The bathroom mirror is where I hear it most. Sometimes a splash of cold water will drown it out long enough for me to glimpse reality and see clearly. Other times, I believe it the whole livelong day…

Who am I? No one of consequence…
What have I to offer? Nothing worthwhile…

It’s days like today, though…when I allow someone in and reveal the real me. Days like today when I let others see what He becomes through me.

For no one can tell His story like I can. No one has seen Him the same exact way I have.

And if I didn’t let it happen, no one of consequence would benefit from His grace that percolates through me. Nothing worthwhile would become of the glory discovered on my watch.

Friends, if there’s one thing God has given to each one of us, it’s STORY. His story. And I believe it lives wildly through each of us. Grace runs fluidly through our veins.

That’s the one gift given we get to spend here on earth…

Who am I to squelch the reality that He saves people like me?
What have I to offer but His love…the kind that never fails?

It’s days like today I catch a glimpse in that mirror and see glory glowing on my face. For I saw Him today in my mundane everyday. And I told someone about it.

Oh how I pray they saw His Story through me…

“The Bible sounds different from the mouth of a young mother than it does from the mouth of a widow.
This is because the words do not come straight off the page.
They percolate up through the silt and gravel of real people’s lives
so that the meaning in them is fluid, not fixed.
Listening to one another read/live Holy Scripture,
some of us learn what is meant by ‘The Living Word of God.'”
~ Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church

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Friends: I have a novel giveaway going on now! It’s not a feel good story…it’s more a rip-your-heart-out and give it to Christ kind of story. CHECK IT OUT HERE if you’ve ever said, “Father, break my heart for what breaks Yours”!

How about you, friend? What story has He given you? I’d love to hear and see Him through you.

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.

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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

 

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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.

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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.

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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

HERE {All I Need} ~ 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.

robinspinetree2-M

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

HERE

The rumble jolts me out of REM and I forget to breathe. My eyes try to focus on my surroundings as I put the pieces back in place. It had to have been a bad dream, I reassure myself, as I fight to get back what I once had…sleep.

Sweet Peace.

And it’s barely 8am and already I’m wondering how I’ll make it through the day. For sleep never found me after the snowplow turned reality and I’ve been up for over half a work day. I hear my 4-year-old’s patters as he runs through the kitchen making meal requests and I have to make the split second decision right then…do I acknowledge what I thought I saw in his hands or wait to see what happens next? Who is it I call again? Calgon? I’d like to place my order. To go, please. For I know what I need.

Abounding Grace.

The phone rings and I nearly break down saying hello. My hubby knows me well and rises to the challenge of pulling me back together. Offering directions to what I’m desperately looking for. I thank him without words — just eye contact through the phone — and he knows. I grab my gifts journal right then so I remember… I don’t ever want to picture anything without him and HIM in it. Yes, that’s all I need:

Amazing Love.

Before I know it, the garage door is opening. I take one look around the house and realize my efforts of the day don’t show. Hubby shovels the walk before he comes in out of the April freeze. And as we sit down together, holding hands in thanks, I see what my eyes had been trying to focus on all day.

The world around our home might rumble. We might get dumped on when we least expect it. Chaos might ensue. But no one can take away what we have built here. For the threads of glory never ravel. And as I thank The One who made this all possible, I tell Him what today showed me.

He’s here. And there’s no place I’d rather be.

This is all I need.

STOP.

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How about you, friend? Have you seen how He’s given you everything you need today? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki