My Lightened Load

The day was challenging and my husband knew it. No matter how hard I try to conceal my frazzled nerves for his sake, he sees right through me. It’s a hidden blessing. And this day, he didn’t even hesitate. Simply offered to take our son out for a bit alone. Before I knew it, I was nestled in my chair catching up on my Bible in 90 days reading. With just the tick of the clock to keep me company.

Looking back, I see how God set the stage perfectly. How He ensured my undivided attention while I read it. The census sin of David summarized in I Chron 21.

I don’t expect you to remember the story. It’s mentioned a couple of times in the Old Testament, but is generally just that: mentioned. To recap in my own words, satan tempted David to take a census of the people of Israel. When David instructed his army commander Joab to do just that, he was warned it was a sin. David insisted. And the Lord was not happy.

God was very displeased with the census, and he punished Israel for it.
Then David said to God,
‘I have sinned greatly by taking this census.
Please forgive my guilt for doing this foolish thing.’
I Chronicles 21:7-8 NLT

No sooner did I get to the 8th verse and the churning started. My hands turned clammy and I knew. God wanted me to take a second look. There was a lesson for me here.

I read it over and over. My Lenten journey had just begun and I was certain this was something God wanted me to leave at the cross this year. But I didn’t know how it pertained to me.

My first thought was obvious. A census has a lot to do with stats. Am I focusing too much on my stats? Maybe blogging stats or Facebook/Twitter friend stats?

I was sure that was it and prayed for forgiveness. I offered to ignore those stat pages. They don’t mean anything to me, anyway, as I have no idea how many people God wants me to reach. And I went to bed thinking this would be my easiest sacrifice yet.

When I woke the next morning, I knew I was missing it. I only had part of it. There was still more lesson to be learned.

Friends, it took my entire journey to the cross this year to see it. After finally asking for help from a few friends (thank you, friends), I came to discover what God was trying to show me.

When my heart was really ready to hear, this is what I felt Him say to me:

“My child — you matter to me. You can bring Me glory by being the way I made you to be. I don’t need the multitude, I need you. You to show up and be my voice. Don’t worry about who you’re speaking to, just have your words come from me. Don’t worry about making mistakes, I see your heart. And intentions do matter.

“My beloved, it is you I want. I have big plans for you. And how many friends, readers, posts, even children you have doesn’t change the way I feel about you. You see, it’s you I want to have the relationship with. And if you will give me your whole heart, I can do wonders through you. Let me take care of the details. That’s not where joy comes from, anyway.

“My love, leave those worries at the cross. Give them to me and I’ll replace them with a peace that passes your understanding.  Keep your eyes on Me, child, and I’ll take care of the rest.

“Let Me delight in taking care of you. Let Me show you what I’m capable of. Let Me bring you closer to Me. For you matter. You are not just a number to Me.”

On Good Friday, I did just what He asked of me. I left those worries at the cross. I don’t intend to pick them up again. Thank You, Lord, for carrying my burdens. With this light load I can be what You’ve made me to be.

How about you? Do you have a load that needs to be lightened? Do you have any worries to leave at the cross? It’s never too late. He’s ready and waiting. For you matter to Him.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Back at my friend Emily’s today for Imperfect Prose!

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My Whole Life Long

I wake just before the sun bursts forth for another day of splendor. My eyes open wide when I remember what I intended to do this morning. And I ease out of bed on my tiptoes. I just want to read it once more to ensure I haven’t forgotten.

I’m asking God for one thing,
only one thing:
To live with Him in His house
my whole life long.
I’ll contemplate His beauty;
I’ll study at His feet.
Psalm 27:4 (MSG)

My heart stirs once again with reading David’s example of true worship. Oh, do I ever want to praise my Father like that. To be so in tune to Him that I can scale down my intentions to one thing, only one thing.

I must have read it dozens of times, trying to fully grasp what David was after. This man who had it all, and all He wanted was to soak in more of Jehovah. To study every detail. To never be apart from Him. His whole life long.

David’s son asked for wisdom. Another fine thing to scale down to when offered one request. But my heart leans towards David’s. I’m not one that needs to know all the details. Just as long as I know the One leading the way. And if I’m spending my days studying at His feet, I’d be certain to pick up a thing or two, anyway.

Yes, I’m with David. This is what I want, too.

And I know he was wanting to live in the actual temple. The one that, at the time, still needed to be built. For this was the literal House of God then. The only place he knew.

But friends, the curtain has been torn.
The veil has been lifted.
And My Bridegroom has come.
This one request David asked for is now entirely possible!

Me, a homemaker from Midwest USA, can commune with the King of Kings every hour of every day. I don’t ever have to be apart from Him. I can meditate on His glory. I can memorize His words. I can relish in His splendor. I can bask in His awesome creation. I can reminisce on the gifts He’s given me my whole life long and would never reach an end.

“O LORD my God, you have performed many wonders for us.
      Your plans for us are too numerous to list.
      You have no equal.
   If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds,
      I would never come to the end of them.
Psalm 40:5 NLT

I cannot think of a better time than the present to grasp that which David could only then dream of. He was on to something. And I want in on it, too. So as the sun peeks up from the horizon, I pray:

Father, what a joy it is to be able to spend another day with You and all You’ve blessed me with. I don’t ever want to take Your gifts for granted. Lord, You have given me all I need. You have taken care of every detail of my life. A life I will only enjoy if I can spend it with You. Please, don’t ever leave my side. I want to get to know You better. I want to hear You. I want to sense Your presence. I want to enjoy You. And I want to praise Your name. My whole life long. How ’bout it, Father. You and me. We’ll show this day what we’re capable of…and tomorrow, we’ll begin again.

How about you? Will you seize the opportunity of spending the day with Him? How? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

And so I Write

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His baby blue eyes were first to give it away. As he drew back in anticipated regret, I knew. My boy had it, too. I breathed in deep as I witnessed a trait being passed down. And struggled to exhale while realizing he would possibly need to fight this through every season of life.

This fear of failure. This yearning for perfection. This tendency to doubt. It doesn’t matter what you call it, they’re all the same to me.

They all hold you back.

Instinctively I reached for imaginary gloves. What else is a mom to do when she sees something that could hold her child back from his greatest achievements? I began to swing. Throwing punches of encouragement in hopes of knocking this roadblock down.

With my last swing I found myself saying, “With God, all things are possible” and that’s when I felt the blow. Just below the ribs. The Holy Spirit seems to get me in that sweet spot every time.

It blew me back. I wasn’t sure where I was struggling with this at first. But He used the Book of Job as my mirror. For while reading it I discovered what God had been trying to show me:

That I was guilty of what Job was found guilty of. I had my eyes on the issue, not the answer. I was focused on my weakness, not His strength. I was quick to give answers, excuses, defend my position, give up, not ask for help. It doesn’t matter how you look at it, it all means the same.

I had put God in a box. I had confined Him.
Held Him back from working through me.

Once again, my eyes were on me and not where they should be.

I needed to take action and begin erasing proof of my doubts. My self-proclaimed limitations. That which held God back.

The part where I mention I’m not a writer on my welcome page? It’s gone.

You see, that wasn’t for me to proclaim. It seems God has other plans. For He’s asked me to write what I’m striving for. I’m not sure why. I’m not sure for whom. I’m not sure who’s reading, but I am sure it’s happening. I’m writing them down. One-by-one.

And who knows how He’ll use me through this outlet. Maybe I’m the only one that needs to hear these words I find within. To Him, I know that’s enough. I know He’d go to these great lengths just to get closer to me. He pursues me like that. Oh how He loves…

So I’m going to strive to get out-of-the-way. No more limiting what He can do through me. No more clinging to the comforts of doubt.  No more proclaiming that which He has not made me yet.

Instead, I will write. I will share what I’m striving for in hopes I bring Him glory. And if others find me along the way and want to join me on this journey, praise God! If we are striving for common goals and can encourage each other, praise God! If these words are intended for me alone, praise God! For it doesn’t matter how you look at it:

He’s worthy of praise.

He’s worth getting out of my comfort zone for.

It’s worth proclaiming that which I can only do through Him.

Friends, God made me a writer.

How about you? What has God done through you lately? How do you stop yourself from putting God in a box? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

I’m linking to:

Such a Time as This

If you keep quiet at a time like this,
deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place,
but you and your relatives will die.
Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?
Esther 4:14 NLT

~~~~~~~~~~

I had to read it five or six times. For some reason, my eyes kept going back to this verse. I finally had to write it down, word-for-word, and carry it around with me for a couple of days. Tucked neatly in my pocket, pulling it out every chance I could to breathe it in.

And this is what I feel God is telling me through it:

I can sit still. Watch the world go by. Be witness to God moving around me.

For God’s plan will prevail. With or without me.

But if I’m willing to surrender to Him. He will use me. He will work through me.

This is my time. Right here, now, to be used for His kingdom.

This is the moment He made for me. It’s my time to shine for Him.

And who knows what God could do through me if I let him. If I rise up and risk it. If I lay aside my fears and follow.

Who knows if perhaps I was made mother of my boy
for just such a time as this?

Who knows if perhaps I was made wife to my husband
for just such a time as this?

Who knows if perhaps I was made to be a friend to _____
for just such a time as this?

Who knows if perhaps I was made to share my words with you
for just such a time as this?

Who knows? He does. God knows. He knows what I’m capable of. What I could do to bring Him glory.

He made me for just such a time as this.

I pray I risk it. I pray I don’t hold back.

Lord, make me an Esther. I want to be used by You, for You. For the very reason You made me. I want to set fear aside. Throw caution to the wind. Pay no attention to the repercussions of following You. Let’s do it. I’m ready for just such a time as this.

How about you? What will you do with your time? Will you allow Him to work through you? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Will be linking up to:

Author Unknown

The word “UNKNOWN” caught my eye as I was flipping pages. Pages between Esther and Job. I guess I was unaware we weren’t sure who wrote this masterpiece we call Job.

At first I thought, “Oh, that’s too bad. Because this Book is brilliant. They deserve the credit.” Then I heard what my head said. Who deserves the credit?!?

I circled the word and found myself writing in the margin:

I may be unknown, but my words matter.

Yes, Lord. Let’s keep it that way. May my words speak Your name. Not mine. May my writing be so that the author is forgotten, but what is remembered is You. Your glory. Your grace. Your love. Your works.

I am but a vessel. Your handiwork. Nothing more than a piece of clay. Nothing less than a masterpiece.

And when people look at me, may they see who made me. May Your style resonate so that my face is forgotten. For all they see is You. I cannot think of a greater legacy than that which leaves Your fingerprints on everything I’ve left behind.

Lord, make me unknown.
Known only to You.
And while You’re at it,
can You make me okay with that, too?

~~~~~~~~~~

I cannot tell you how thankful I am for doing this Bible in 90 days challenge. Aurie, thank you for encouraging me to do this.

It’s reasons like this I fall behind some days as I get so wrapped up in what God is showing me. But it makes me want more. It brings excitement for each new day of exploring His Word in this type of format.

And for this Thankful Thursday, that is at the top of my list.

Because I’ve never had a post less than 200 words, here are some other things that made my ThanksLiving list this week as I continue to count with Ann:

  • Sounds of snow melting off roof. Like grace pouring down.
  • Safe travels
  • The comforts of goulash
  • Being able to stay-at-home
  • Brief moments of grace (Ezra 9:8)
  • That in spite of us, there’s hope (Ezra 10:2)
  • A good night’s rest
  • God = great power, a strong hand, and tender love (Nehemiah 1:10)
  • Wedding ring found
  • A 57 degree day in March. Unbelievable!
  • Trader Joe’s natural creamy peanut butter
  • Doing Pinterest crafts with my boy

How about you? What are you thankful for today? Are you okay with being unknown? Will you join me in striving to leave a legacy filled with Him? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Am linking up to:


Timeless Praise

Let the whole earth sing to the Lord!
Each day proclaim the good news that He saves.
Publish His glorious deeds among the nations.

Tell everyone about the amazing things He does.
Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!
He is to be feared above all gods.
The gods of others are mere idols,
but the Lord made the heavens!
Honor and majesty surround Him;
strength and joy fill His dwelling…
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.
His faithful love endures forever.

1 Chronicles 16:23-27, 34 NLT

David sure knew how to worship. He sure knew how to praise.

After reading through his legacy, knowing full well he wasn’t perfect, I wonder if that’s why God loved Him so. David always gave credit where credit was due. If his army won a battle, he would make sure everyone knew it was the Lord that won, not himself. Even when he didn’t get his way, David still worshiped.

And I can’t help but notice every time we get to read how David praised Jehovah, his words are applicable today. These words were penned thousands of years ago and can still be proclaimed in the 21st century.

It seems any tribute of praise towards God is timeless.

For God’s faithfulness has stood the test of time.

His love truly does endure forever.

And The Great I Am hasn’t changed one bit.

That in and of itself is something worth praising. That’s worth proclaiming.

I kinda like David’s way with words. I’m sure David wouldn’t mind if I praise Jehovah myself while quoting him. In fact, I often do.

But I really like the idea of writing down my own words of worship. Somehow. For if any words will stand the test of time, it will be those of praise to the Most High.

How about you? Do you write your worship? Do you pen praise? If so, how? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Linked up to:


A Fool-Proof Promise

God’s way is perfect. 
All the LORD’s promises prove true. 
He is a shield for all who look to Him for protection.
II Samuel 22:31 NLT

~~~~~~~~~~

Every God-direction is road-tested. 
Everyone who runs toward Him makes it.
II Samuel 22:31 The Message

~~~~~~~~~~

As for God, his way is perfect: 
The LORD’s word is flawless; 
He shields all who take refuge in Him.
II Samuel 22:31 NIV

~~~~~~~~~~

I could go on and on. No matter which translation you use, the verse is no different. It says it all.

God’s way, God’s promises are perfect. They’ve been tested time and time again. He does not make mistakes.

And if we run to Him…If we focus on Him and seek Him…He’ll protect us. He’ll guide us. He’ll make sure we make it.

That’s a promise.
That’s His promise.
To me. To you.

And His promises are fool-proof. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to run to Him. That’s what I’m striving for.

How about you? Are you running to Him? Are You finding refuge? How are you seeking Him today? I’d love to hear. 

Thanks for sharing your time with me. And thank you for your patience in this delayed post!

Simply striving,

Nikki

I’m late, but I’m linking up to Barbie on: