No Buts About It {How My Prayers Have Changed Pt. 2}

This is the second post in my James Prayer series — on how my prayers have changed. You may read the first post HERE.

My elbows dug into my knees, palms firmly planted on my chin. And I rocked slowly, trying to soothe my pounding chest as I searched for words. I have no idea how much time fled as I started over and over, determined to get it right…I realized then I was doing exactly what the verses warned me about. Finally, I relented and told Him outright:

Lord, I don’t even know how to pray…I know how to praise and thank You, but I don’t know how to bring my worries to You. Because they seem to bubble with doubt…

It stung as it rolled off my tongue. I’ve considered myself a prayer for years, with prayer journals to prove it. And here I sat on this moonless night realizing I’ve completely lost my way, drifting off to sea.

I’d become a “But Christian”.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, Who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
James 1:5-8

For how many times have I said

“Lord, please heal _____, but if it’s not Your will…”
“Father, help me _____, but if You have other plans…”

Oh mylanta, I’m as wishy-washy as they come. How can He even look at me let alone listen…

I opened my Bible, hoping I missed something. Where does it say how to believe firmly when you know not every prayer gets answered with hoped-for results? How do you decipher between needs and wants? Do I admit how big of a deal these things are to me when in the grand scheme of grace, they are so very small?

Then I saw it…how I’ve been complicating prayer all these years. How I’ve tried to act double-minded, like I can read His mind, how I’ve presented pleas instead of just presenting myself.

  • I’ve asked for solutions and not answers.
  • I’ve treated Him like a taskmaster — focusing more on the gifts than the Giver.
  • I’ve acted as if I know better…and then tried to cover it up with a ‘but’…

James shows us how to get our buts out-of-the-way. What to ask when we’re deep in need: Wisdom. Ask for His wisdom. Every time.

And he even promises…God gives that out generously to all (vs. 5). I have no reason to doubt His will in this regard.

Solomon knew it–all one really needs to get through this world that’s not our home is wisdom. Intimate life-knowledge. And He is the Bread of Life. He is the source of wisdom we all seek. He is all we need.

If I want to gain life-knowledge, I need to know the One Who Is…I need to see Him.

Doubt holds no weight when all we seek is to know Him. When all we ask for is what He’s promised to always freely give.

So when trouble comes and I’m grasping for a way out, I can pray:

“Father, I’m sinking, yet You’ve never let me go… Here, You take this ____. Give me wisdom, Lord, so I can see You and know You’ve got this. Show me how You want me to respond. For I know and believe fully–You are all I need.”

When cancer/illness plagues someone who owns a piece of my heart, I can pray:

“God, You are bigger than this cancer cell. Let us see You, Lord, right here right now. Rest Your healing hands upon ___ and overwhelm them with Your comfort. Peace. Gives us eyes of wisdom, Father, so we can watch Your glory unfold and know You’ve got us in the palm of Your hand. We’re right where we need to be.”

I go through my prayer list and put it to practice as I seek this intimate life-knowledge He freely gives. And smile wide as I realize…there are no buts about it.

My back straightens as I pick up pace. My shoulders relax as I chat easily with my Creator. And for the first time in my tenure of claiming His name, I can pray with confidence and know He’s heard me when I call.

How about you, friend? Do you ask for wisdom when you pray? How do you tackle those areas we so desperately want to go a certain way? I’d love to hear.

P.S. I’m just getting started with what I’ve learned from the Book of James lately. I hope you’ll stick around. You can catch up on other posts HERE.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,


Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist {From Someone Who Didn’t Think She Was}

I was steaming veggies when my husband opened a package and set the book down where I could see it. Its arrival was expected, as I had agreed to write a review, but wasn’t anticipating the author’s name to stop me in my tracks.

Before cracking the book open, I felt I knew her. Turns out I kind of did…

While I am not well-known for being a perfectionist, I am a bit of a control freak–though I prefer to claim I have a leader personality…

Do you think there’s a difference?

I like to pretend I don’t associate with the perfectionist side of control, because I strive to exude grace. And I don’t need perfection. I just prefer you try to do things the best way…my way.

This is embarrassing. It gets worse.

When I agreed to review this book, I assumed it would be a light, quick read, possibly funny, with great tips to bullet point in a review for all my dear readers-turned-friends who have caught this perfectionism bug. Me not being one of them, but one who gets it enough to share the light on the other side.

It was that. I just wasn’t expecting there to be so much more.

Friends, the way He keeps pursuing me…how He insists He has better things in mind for me…the way He has never given up on me…May I never get over it. It is truly amazing grace.

“But God knows our need, which is ultimately to experience and know more of Him, and He gives Himself freely and generously. And constantly.”
~Amanda Jenkins, Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist (Learning to be Free)

You all know the name of my blog, so it is no secret I am striving to become all He has made me to be. But He keeps showing me in places unexpected…His goal isn’t the same as mine. For He’d rather have me get to know Him and what He can be in me. What He can do for me…not the other way around.

Oh mylanta, does He ever love me.

I remember Amanda from college (this is why I will call her by her first name). Which is rather bizarre as I don’t believe we ever had an actual one-on-one conversation. But I could tell you where she sat in chapel each day. A few rows up from my now-husband and I. Now that I’ve read her confessions, I regret I never made a point to truly see her when I had the chance.

Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist is written in a way that feels as if you are reading Amanda’s personal journal. She doesn’t share her discoveries, she walks you through them. She doesn’t tell you the answers, but rather shows you, through scripture, how she came up with the solutions. She doesn’t shy away from sharing the ugly realities we all have in the caverns of our souls…she surfaces them and hands them over to her Savior for us to see. For His glory.

I loved it.

Some of the places she’ll walk you through:

  • How we often misplace our worth (pg 12)
  • Money doesn’t satisfy. It’s never enough. (pg 17)
  • The stuff we’re good at pales in comparison to the stuff God’s good at (pg 28)
  • When it comes to intimacy, God follows our lead. (pg 37)
  • God is not the taskmaster (pg 73)
  • God’s bigger than the scary stuff. He’s got it covered –worry doesn’t work (pg 50-52)
  • God is the only good in me. That’s it. He’s it. (pg 59)

And the thought I lingered on for days:

“Little did I know how filthy my righteousness was” (pg 87)

I’m not even bringing up all that I gleamed from a few of my favorite chapters, as they deserve a blog post all on their own. (The Chapters on Obedience, Testimony, and if I’m brave enough, Pride)

Friends, God spoke loudly to me through Amanda’s words.

If I had to pick the best part about this book, I would say the discussion questions in the back. She doesn’t hold back and challenges you to answer the hard. I’m tempted to take some of the most difficult ones and share my answers here in this space — my simply striving confessions.

Questions like:

  • What do you want to be known for?
  • Who do you work hard to impress?
  • What weakness do you try to hide? And what would it look like for you to delight in it instead of hiding it?
  • What does God see when He looks at you? (I’ve answered this one HERE).
  • Who do you love more than God? (ouch)
  • Why is it difficult for you to put God first? (she’s killing me here)
  • What are your current expectations of God?
  • What are the attributes unique to you that make you beautiful in God’s eyes?

Don’t you think we should talk about these?

I’d love it if you would put this book on your must-read list. I’ll tell you what–you can get started now by reading the First Chapter for FREE HERE. (When you’re done with it, let me know and we’ll talk about how beautiful your feet are. Oh yes, I’m serious.)

There’s also a wonderful Q/A with the author found HERE that’s worth your time.

Some more reviews and one place you can purchase is found HERE. (I’m not an affiliate–just trying to make it easy.)

And you can expect to hear more about this from me sometime soon. I’ll let it sink in a bit as I know (and Amanda talks about it), God’s not done writing my story.

How about you, friend? Are you a perfectionist? Are you intrigued by anything I mentioned above? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,


Note: I am a part of the Tyndale Blogging Network. I have received this book for free in exchange for my review. All opinions and thoughts listed above are my own.

All or Nothing {Living With Him in Our Scope}

Holey wholly holy

This portion of Kris’ book won’t leave me. I’ve spent weeks trying to figure out why.

When God kindly asks us to set down our bundle of wants, it’s not likely that we refuse Him outright. Rather, we’re often very good at pretending to submit while grabbing for the goods when we think He’s not looking…we live as if we can operate outside the scope of His vision. The truth is, He doesn’t just want our bag of dreams and longings. His desire is for us to be wholly His that He might make us holy for Him.
~Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

In typical Nikki fashion, I attempted to determine what was bothering me on my own, trying not to make it worse by “pestering Him” with it. For the record: this NEVER works. Ever. It wasn’t until I prayed about it that things started to unfold.

We’re going through the Book of Mark on Monday nights, all nestled cozy in an apartment living room, the 9 of us. It was already an hour into the discussion and still we were on these verses. You know the ones–the greatest commandments. The instruction to love Him, heart/body, mind, soul and strength. And then do the same to others, including yourself.

This sounds doable until you realize He’s talking agape love –the selfless kind of love, and not phileo–the friendly kind of love. And when I consider the scope of what He is asking for: My heart/body, mind, soul, strength…

Wow, friends. He wants ALL of me…a complete, loving surrender.

She got to the conclusion before the rest of us. On how this might or might never be achieved. And I do plan on sharing more about it in another post. But this is the most important lesson I’ve taken from it:

I’ve said it countless times, but it’s worth repeating:

Friends, God would never ask anything from us
He hasn’t already given to us.

And Jesus gave it all.
His heart/body, soul, mind, strength.
A complete, loving surrender.

Gazing upon the cross we find our own place in this story…We see that we are not mere spectators in His suffering and death, but in fact are the cause of it.
~Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

He did all that…for me. He had to do it because of me, but friends, He exhibited that kind of love for me. for you. Oh how He loves us.

The nine of us, we decided it might be easier to love Him back like that if we focused on how He loves us like that. Because, when you think about it, the reason I can love is because He first loved me. For He IS…love.

Chasing dreams, following the rules, doing the work–this distracted me from pursuing Him, and then I flat forgot exactly who He is.
~Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

So maybe if I use my mind to learn, discover His characteristics. His character. His mannerisms, my heart would naturally follow. Maybe if I treat my body like the gift it is, a gift from Him. Maybe if I use all my efforts, my strengths, on seeking Him out, my thoughts will naturally be consumed by the very hint of Him.

Maybe then will I achieve it. Live it. Experience agape love the way He wants us to.

Because let’s face it. He wouldn’t ask us to love Him with all heart, mind, soul, and strength if He hadn’t loved us that way first.

If I focus on how He loves me,
I won’t want to live outside of His scope of vision.
If I focus on living the way I shared earlier
like He’s in the room
with Him in my scope of vision,
I might actually see His desire
for me to be wholly His transform into being holy for Him.

I tell my 4 year-old all the time: “These rules are for your benefit.” And I’m starting to see…our Heavenly Father feels the same way.

NOTE: This is a part of my Lenten series based on my experience through Lent last year and my reading Holey, Wholly, Holy by Kris Camealy this year. You may check out the entire series HERE. I’ll be back next Wednesday. Please read through the “By His Strength” portion of this book as we will talk about Atonement.

If you do not have this book yet, Kris is giving away FREE PDF COPIES HERE for a limited time! Or you may purchase a kindle or hard copy (highly recommend) HERE.

How about you, friend? Have you figured out how to love Him with all your heart/body, mind, soul, and strength? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,


Faithful Fasting {How to Become Less So He Can Fill More}

Holey Wholly Holy Quote

Fasting isn’t about food. Fasting is about faith. It is about consciously choosing Christ when we want nothing more than to stuff ourselves with that which is temporary.
Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

Although my childhood church believed in fasting, they did not practice the Lenten fast. I understood why. But I had so many friends in school that did, I would generally give something up anyway. Just to encourage them in their spiritual journey…to be a part of something greater…oh who am I kidding. Truthfully, I did it because everyone else was doing it. As I grew older, my choices of Lenten fasts gained momentum in difficulty, but all failed terribly.

We fast from these little things, like dessert or caffeine, and we struggle and crave. Lent teaches us about sacrifice and we think it to be so hard, and while it is, because we are human and frail, our small giving-up is nothing compared to the ultimate sacrifice. Harder than the fast, is the turning the eyes inward, the sifting of filth that settles in the heart, in my heart.
Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

The reasons they all failed? They were all about me. And not in the turning my eyes inward type of way…

But I’ve been blessed to witness fasting in many forms. The intentional fasting while my parents sought God’s guidance; the fasting of others who really understood the significance of the sacrifice. When I realized I needed to seek out my intentions around fasting, I had formulated basic principles to the task:

  • Fasting is a faith practice. Not a food practice.
  • Fasting requires sacrifice — you becoming less. Not more.
  • Fasting should draw you closer eternally. Not temporarily.
  • You have to want the outcome. Not dread it.

“Remember your heart behind the fast is what matters, not the fast itself.”
Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

Last year, during my first true Lent, I asked God what He wanted me to sacrifice. And I struggled with what I felt He was saying, because I wasn’t hearing a thing. A food. An activity. A tangible item I could forego. No. What I was feeling was He wanted me. He wanted me to clear the clutter in my own heart so He could fill it with more of Him. {Read More Here}

He wanted me to fast from myself.
It was the hardest thing I have ever done to date.
And the most rewarding.

We find fasting difficult because we have grown unaccustomed to the hollow feeling in our bellies. We fill our empty with various things, food or otherwise — anything to mute the pangs that rise up and remind us of our unworthiness, our incompleteness apart from the Father.
Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

I didn’t realize how consumed I was with myself — I don’t consider myself selfish. Oh, but I am. The fast taught me as much and so much more.

Friends, I don’t care if you fast during Lent. But I sure hope and pray you opt to become less so He can be more. The most effective way I’ve found? Fasting. Any time, any place, any way, any form.

Because when we neglect a comfort — and let’s face it, we have many comforts — we search and grasp for something, anything to fill that hole. And friends, Jehovah Shammah is always right there. Willing. The challenge lies in accepting His offer over the easier option.

Jesus knew this temptation well. We all know what He faced in the desert — the very reason the Lenten fast began. What many of us don’t know all that well, is what happens when we make the same choice Jesus did. When we choose to put our relationship with God first. Foremost. Over all. Especially that thing we crave immensely when it’s not in front of us. Friend, do you know what it feels like to put Him before that thing?

Let me be very clear here:
God’s not after your coffee, your television, your sugar or your social media.
No. Friend, He’s after you.
He loves you so much He wants all of you. Your heart of hearts. Your very soul.

This is why the Lord says,
“Turn to me now, while there is time.
Give me your hearts.
Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.”
Joel 2:12

And whether you offer just that this Lent or another season is up to you. Because it’s you who has to be ready to give up more than the one thing you choose to symbolize the task with.

  • Is it hard? Oh my yes.
  • Does it hurt? In more ways than one.
  • Is it worth it? A thousand times over.

What do you say…Will you join me in the challenge? Will you find what’s standing in the way of Him filling you up and get rid of it? Will you live out Matthew 4:4 with me? We won’t be sorry. I’ll bet my life on it.

NOTE: This is a part of my Lenten series based on my experience through Lent last year and my reading Holey, Wholly, Holy by Kris Camealy this year. You may check out the entire series HERE. I’ll be back next Wednesday as we talk about dying to self.

If you do not have this book yet, Kris is giving away FREE PDF COPIES HERE for a limited time! Or you may purchase a kindle or hard copy (highly recommend) HERE.

How about you, friend? What has your experience been with fasting? How has it changed you? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,


The Need of Confession {Telling Our Story}


“Confession is a conversation where we remember that
He is over all and our place is under Him.”
~Kris Camealy, Holey Wholly, Holy

David sinned *big*. We also know he tried to cover it up. Make it go away on his own. Deal with the people affected privately.

Anyone else might have believed the circumstances surrounding the events were just that–circumstantial. People might have even stopped gossiping about it sooner rather than later.

It’s in Psalm 51 we see David knew better. He knew this sin would haunt him until he faced the One it affected the most — the relationship that held his life in His hands.

I recognize my rebellion;
it haunts me day and night.
Against You, and You alone, have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in Your sight.
You will be proved right in what You say,
and Your judgment against me is just.
Psalm 51:2-4

That line used to bother me — Against You, and You alone, have I sinned. Because rarely does a sin only affect ourselves and our Creator.

Until I got to thinking…

We all know it’s sin that separates us, it’s sin that stands in the way between us and glory. (Isaiah 59:2, Romans 3:23)

What I forget is God is jealous for me. He’s after me. Me alone. He’s not after how I stand in society. How neat and orderly my social circle is. No.
He wants my attention. My focus. My eyes fixed on Him.
He wants my time. My resources. My life devoted to Him.
He wants my heart of hearts. The space that dictates my eternity.
My true breath of life.

And when I sin, I create clutter in my very path. The road He’s already paved with loving, amazing grace. And it becomes exhausting. I lose focus easy as I strive to scale around it, over it, through it. But it’s too *big*. No matter the sin, it’s too much for us to handle alone.

It will kill you if you try.

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Oh, give me back my joy again;
You have broken me
now let me rejoice.
Don’t keep looking at my sins.
Remove the stain of my guilt.
Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Do not banish me from Your presence,
and don’t take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Psalm 51:7-11

David knew it. Felt it happening. Saw the only way out was with God’s intervention. So he did what any of us should do in his shoes: He bore all. The honest truth.

Truth is, we’re nothing. He’s everything.
Truth is, we’re sinners from birth (Psalm 51:5). Broken from the very beginning.
Truth is, He’s the only solution.

You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.
You do not want a burnt offering.
The sacrifice You desire is a broken spirit.
You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
Psalm 51:16-17

And when we get over ourselves and our incapabilities. When we stop trying to do and simply be. When we admit we’re not God but know who is. When we confess before Jehovah Jireh that He is indeed our Provider, and place Him in His rightful place, before us, He’ll clear the path.

Because it’s us He’s after. Not the sin soaked version of us, no. He wants the pure of hearts, the beauty within a broken soul with a repentant heart.

Friends, this is all so much harder for me than it sounds. I’m a lot like David. I’d rather beat myself up over it and deal with it privately. And I’ve even convinced myself that I serve Him best by looking the part of a perfect Christian. That I meet these expectations society places on us.

How soon I forget.

“There is no shame in brokenness. We are all shattered pieces of the body,
just trying to heal up and close the holes that sin leaves behind.
Replacing the darkness with light.”
~Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

What serves Him best is if I point people to that source of light. If I show them how grace is sufficient. How hope lives. Resurrection awaits.

I’m not here to show that I’m holy. I’m here to reveal His holiness.

Admitting my need of His grace to others is a double blessing. It helps me die to self, and bring His glory to life.

Father, break my heart for what breaks Yours.
Starting with me…that You might be glorified through me…

It’s Music Monday. Mind if I share a song related to this?

All the Poor and Powerless

by All Sons and Daughters

To listen to this amazing song, CLICK HERE.

All the poor and powerless
And all the lost and lonely
All the thieves will come confess
And know that You are holy
All the hearts who are content
And all who feel unworthy
All the hurt with nothing left
Will know that You are holy
All will sing out, Hallelujah
Will will cry out, Hallelujah
Shout it, go on and scream it from the mountains
Go on and tell it to the masses
That He is God


How about you, friend? How do you profess He is God? How do you confess your need for Him? I’d love to hear.

NOTE: This is a part of my Lenten series based on my experience through Lent last year and my reading Holey, Wholly, Holy by Kris Camealy this year. You may check out the entire series HERE. I’ll be back on Wednesday. If you’d like to prepare, please read through “Feasting and Fasting” of THIS BOOK as we will talk about fasting. If you do not have this book yet, Kris is giving away FREE PDF COPIES HERE for a limited time! Or you may purchase a kindle or hard copy (highly recommend) HERE.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,


Confessions {A Challenge of Submission}

Holey wholly holy

The slow burn of sanctification melts away the edges, and as the fire slips in, we begin to crack. A confession swells and resisting will only lead to more pain.
We must bend.
~Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

Stubbornness runs through my very marrow. And I’ve told my Creator it’s the way He made me. He should expect nothing less than me refusing to bend.

Friends, it took over 30 years to catch a glimpse of how He’s really made me.
As it turns out, I’m rather flexible.

Nearly 14 years of marriage has taught me many things. Some lessons came quick and sharp. Like ripping off a bandage. Others came long and slow as I agonized over how far from the truth I could really be.

I remember one evening like it was yesterday. We’d lost count at how many times we’d had the same discussion. Frustrations ran rampant. My stubbornness at its boiling point. When finally the boils burst and I saw clearly. Wow. How could I have been that ignorant?

It took all I had within to meet my hubby’s gaze. I worked my way up. Aiming my apologies first at the frieze. I focused on one particular carpet strand as it seemed to be twisted the wrong way, standing out from all the rest. Suddenly, my shirt felt too tight. I pulled it away from my vocal chords while gulping for air. My husband in all his grace asked me to repeat myself. Not for him. For me. Because somehow he knows me down to my marrow.

My glance rose to his torso as I repeated my confession. It surprised even me that I got it out, although it was softer than the first. My better half showed love in all its glory as he whispered my name in matching tone. Without thinking, my eyes rose to meet his. And like a deer in headlights, I stepped over my wall of pride to get closer to his call. Love surged as I looked at his welcoming eyes. Suddenly, nothing else mattered but him and my desire to be pressed firmly against his chest. The sound of his heartbeat calming mine…

I don’t regret it and have experienced it many times since. Friends, it’s true. Love requires you lay your own life down.

His Word tells us this process is how He really loves us. By loving the filth right out of our hearts, He draws us ever closer and when we release, when we lay low, we can finally hear His heartbeat.
~Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

My thoughts turn to Jesus…a convicted (albeit innocent) criminal forced to carry the weapon used in His murder. We look at the cross today and cry holy. Which has always confused me as it was merely a means to an end. But I see it now…I do.

This is His gift. His sacrifice. We cannot fathom this love. This gift is undeserved, yet still, He’s offered up…even as we pretend not to need this saving.
~Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

While Rome was using this action as a means of submission to their rule, Jesus was using it as a means to submit to our actions. The burden of us. Revealing who rules as He opened the floodgates for love’s grace to enter in.

Friends…Jesus paid it all. All our sins, regrets, pride woven tightly in slivers and thorns. You see, love will never ask for more than it will give. And He gave it all. Oh how He loves us.

Jesus shed all, bore all, bled all, died for all. And invites us to do the same.

The difference? Jesus did it for Every.One. He’s only asking we do it for ourselves…Not for Him. For us.

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
Proverbs 28:13

It took me over 30 years to realize confessing was not for Him but for me. As I laid there, drenched in my own sin, wailing my own failures, I heard His whisper. His invite to come. And like a deer in headlights, I never looked back. I simply pressed hard into His chest and let mercy calm my softening soul.

Oh how I pray we all take advantage of grace freely offered.

Dying to be remade requires confession. Confession of pride and failures dumped out into the light to be washed away into redemption’s gutters… Beyond the confession…awaits resurrection. This is the gift, the prize of the hard confessions….

He is risen, and, in Him, we rise.
~Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

You should know I have more to say about confessions. I will post the second half sometime before next Wednesday. You will be able to find it under this tag HERE.

NOTE: This is a part of my Lenten series based on my experience through Lent last year and my reading Holey, Wholly, Holy by Kris Camealy this year. You may check out the entire series HERE. I’ll be back next Wednesday. If you’d like to prepare, please read through “Feasting and Fasting” of THIS BOOK as we will talk about fasting. If you do not have this book yet, Kris is giving away FREE PDF COPIES HERE for a limited time! Or you may purchase a kindle or hard copy (highly recommend) HERE.

How about you, friend? Do you struggle with submitting? Are you able to freely confess your failures? How do you repent? I’d love to hear.
Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,


Incompetence at its Finest

Someone once told me we see God with utmost clarity when we are at our lowest point. To which I’ve always said ‘Thank God’.

Thank You, Lord, for showing up, especially when we need You most.

But the stubborn bone in me has always tried to prove that’s not the only time we can see Him vividly.

To no avail.

When I lost my child, I plummeted hard. When I laid flat in the sea of grief, He wrapped His loving arms around me like a life preserver. When I would convince myself it was all my fault, He would wipe my eyes and let me see the writing on the wall being erased. And when I finally found my footing and thanked Him for getting me there. For saving me, He said as clear as crystal:

It doesn’t have to end.
Our time together.
I’m willing to save you every day.

And I’m starting to understand what He meant. I’m starting to realize what was causing me from having this close relationship before. I’m starting to see He’s there in the high points, dry points, plateau points, too.

So, what holds us back from seeing His redeeming love, overwhelming grace, and unjustified mercy most vividly?

Adam, Eve, Noah, Moses, Jonah, Esther, Rahab, and especially David provided clues. Jesus gave us the key. Peter finally figured it out after he did the unthinkable. Saul learned it the hard way, too, and then while living it out as Paul, shared the secret with us.

Have you figured it out?

I’ve read about these men and women of faith for years and missed it all this time. And to think, it was the faith part that made me blind to reality.

Friends, it’s not how big your faith is that makes you see Him clearly. It’s your realization of how much you need Him that brings His love, grace, and mercy into view.

Each time He said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best
in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses,
so that the power of Christ can work through me.
That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the
insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NLT

I’ve lived my life like I have had something to prove. Almost as if I was trying to show I was worth the debt Jesus paid for me. When the truth of it is, none of us are.

Fact is, I’m entirely incapable of living the life God has willed for me alone.

I’m not made to be self-sufficient. My brain is not wired to have all the answers. Being flawless is impossible for me. I’m soiled in sin. Saturated with doubt. And can easily become lost in the blur of choices.

Friends, I’m a prime example of how capable God is to make something out of nothing. His grace upon my life shines brightly among my dirty imperfections.

I’m designed to be incompetent. Like a child. And it’s about time I accept it. Because when I do, I receive the solution and see Him in ways I could never imagine on my own.

And that, I’m finding is the secret. It’s as simple as accepting yourself for what you are. Standing in front of Him every day saying plainly, “Here I am, Lord. Here’s all of me. I’ve got nothing to offer, but that’s nothing Your grace can’t fix…With You, the possibilities are endless. Work Your wonder.”

Do we really have something to prove as Christians? Nah. We have something to give.

Our weakness shows His power.
Our troubles show His redeeming grace.

So accept yourself for what you are
and take the handout of grace He freely gives.
Then, share it for His glory.

Yes. I’m a mess without Him. I’m nothing spectacular by myself. And I’d have it no other way.

Father, I humbly take You up on Your offer.
Thank You for making something out of nothing in me.
Every day.

Now I’m simply waiting for someone to tell me. Say to me we see God most vividly when we are at our lowest point. So I can agree with them and say, “Oh yes. That’s why I bend low every day….”

How about you, friend? Have you learned this lesson yet? Do you see God in your everyday? What does He look like to you? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,


NOTE: This is part of my Back-to-the-Basics Redemption series. You may find other posts HERE.

Linking with:

All Fall Short

I’ve read the portion hundreds of times. My memory has retained it for more than 20 years. So when I read the Bible in 90 days recently, I expected to breeze through it. Smile even, at reading something I knew so well.

What I didn’t expect was for my lungs to fail me. For my heart to stop me from reading any further. But I’ve grown to appreciate when it happens. Those moments where He manages to get through to me even when I’m not looking.

You know it, too. It’s one of the first verses you memorize on the Christian journey, wouldn’t you say?

Friends, this is a verse I believe in wholeheartedly. We are all sinners in need of His grace. So I was shocked when He whispered to me:

See, my child, everyone falls short.
Stop trying to prove it wrong.

Read it again.

You might remember I had decided to read the Bible through in a new-to-me translation. So this time, I actually read the words in front of me instead of reciting the ones in my head.

For everyone has sinned;
we all fall short
of God’s glorious standard.
Romans 3:23 NLT (emphasis mine)

I read it over and over again until what He was saying sunk into my thick skull. And oh my goodness was He ever right. I had been trying to prove it wrong.

You see, for nearly 30 years I’ve tried to prove I make a great Christian. I would set standards for myself and work at meeting them. When I passed those, I would set more challenging expectations and try to reach them. And I was certain this was what the Christian journey should look like for one who was striving to be like Jesus. Always improving. Stretching. Climbing higher up the proverbial ladder. Why, just look at the title of my blog.

What I had missed was the tense of this verse. We’ve all sinned, yes. But it doesn’t say we’ve all fallen short. Like it is a one-time event. No. We all fall short. Time and time again.

My pride was ripped right then and there. Torn from my flesh in a million little pieces. One by one. The sting of ashamedness pulsed with each scale discovered.

Friends, I had missed the point entirely. All these years…years I had spent trying to prove I deserved the gift He was offering me: Grace. Striving to show Jesus didn’t die for me in vain.

When the truth is: We are all hopelessly flawed. There is not a one of us that deserves what He offers. Not one. And no matter how hard we try, none of us will succeed at deserving it: Grace.

We have nothing to offer Him. There is not one thing I have or am capable of that He needs enough to pay for. With His own Perfect Son.

That’s why the Word of God can say Jesus paid it all. (2 Cor. 5:21) Because He did. He paid for us in full. We didn’t contribute one penny. And we can never pay Him back.

We’re hopelessly flawed. That’s a guarantee.
But we’re also hopelessly forgiven. That’s a promise.
Given by the only One who deserves it.

If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.
If that doesn’t describe grace, I don’t know what does.

{Deep breath}

My cherished readers, God’s been doing an overhaul on me. It started long before this event. But this is the one that made me realize I need a do-over. I need to be born-anew all over again.

I need to see redemption for what it truly is.

And I need to share it with you.

Do you mind, friend, if we go back to the basics here for awhile? As I sort out what God has been trying to show me? Will you share with me lessons You have learned on your own journey that might help the rest of us here in this space? Because I still believe it. We’re all striving, stretching, sometimes struggling. Why not help each other along the way?

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,


Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners
and proved that we are utterly incapable
of living the glorious lives God wills for us,
God did it for us.
Out of sheer generosity He put us in right standing with Himself.
A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in
and restored us to where He always wanted us to be.
And He did it by means of Jesus Christ.
Romans 3:22-24 MSG

My Natural State

Confession: I’ve written approximately 8 drafts trying to share what I want to share today. One was rather eloquent. One shared a poignant story. One was filled with Bible proof and conclusions. One confused even me. One painted a rather personal portrait. And none of them passed my pray-before-hitting-publish-to-get-the-final-approval test. Not one.

I think I’m trying too hard.

Would you mind if I just share it with you like we were sitting down together in a coffee shop? I just ordered a chai tea latte skim, small, and you ordered something much fancier than that. After some small chit-chat, you lean in, look me square in the eyes and say, “So, tell me what’s on your heart? How are you?”

My shoulders sit back, alarmed at how well you see me (even though it was a fairly basic question for a good friend to ask). Because I can sense your heart and know how you’ll treat mine, I breathe in deep. And tell you everything the rest of this post reveals.


Something I read recently will not leave me. It didn’t hit me right away — I didn’t even write it down. I do know it was in Brennan Manning’s book All is Grace. But I’ll have to ask for grace, because I cannot quote it exactly.

What I remember of it is:

Joy is what happens when we let go…
It is indeed our true natural state
and like everything, joy is a gift.

My mind keeps saying “Joy happens…it’s natural…a gift” over and over again.

At first I was trying to figure out what happened. When my normalcy changed. When I began grasping for joy instead of simply receiving it as His gift. After praying about it I now see what step I was skipping over.

Letting go.

You see, friend, I like to think I do this easy. I’m quick to forgive. I don’t harbor ill feelings of anyone. You might remember all that I let go over Easter this year. I honestly thought I was doing good in this area.

I was wrong.

This is where I would take a sip of my steamy chai and try to regain my composure. Pull my thoughts together as you ever so politely ask me to continue with

“What do you think you need to let go of?”

Myself. I’m clinging too tightly to…me. My need to control. The love of my family. My ambitions. My dreams. Take your pick, it all boils down to…Me.

I need to come undone.

Now I’d be starting to worry about you becoming uncomfortable. Thinking I expect you to have something to add that could contribute to my solution. That could help me with my uneasy state.

I would reach over the table to touch your arm and say “Aren’t you glad for new mercies?!? What grace, I get to lighten my load! I get to shed more of myself and give more of me to Him! Oh, sure it won’t be easy, but He’s promised to help me. And wouldn’t you know, He’s still giving me joy through it.”

We would then go through our gift lists together. Sharing moments of joy we gave thanks for through the week. Here would be some of mine:

  • Curtains delaying dawn
  • That I’m hopelessly flawed and hopelessly forgiven
  • Great garage sale finds
  • “Heroes don’t always make the best parents” ~ Brennan Manning so I don’t have to be one
  • God never tempts us (James 1:12-18)
  • Playing scrabble with my hubby
  • My sin shows God’s righteousness (Rom 3:5)
  • The gift of joy and that it is intended to be our natural state

How about you? Can you help me finish the conversation? What moments of gratitude have you had this week? How do you let it all go? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me. I’ve loved our date.

Simply striving,


Linking With:

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,


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