Hosanna! {Now and Forevermore}

palm branches

He came as predicted. (Matthew 21:4-5)

And still they did not see. For their hopes were not set high enough. Wrapped tightly in political bondage, they were simply asking for a new leader. One to overthrow the Romans.

So when they shouted “Hosanna,” they were taking it literally. “Save us now.” Now. From the Romans. Not from forever. Not the world. Just us from the now.

But God knew.

God saw their need. And He promised to fulfill it.

Through Jesus.

Friends, Jesus took ‘Hosanna’ to a whole new level.

I’m sharing more about it this over at my 2nd home: 5 Minutes for Faith. Won’t you join me? Simply click on the button below!

The time is coming…Can you feel it?I hope to see you over there so I can hear how you are preparing…

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

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When Christ is In You {Who Am I, Anyway?}

Lenten Journey

Lent wasn’t what I expected. And yet, it was everything I had hoped. For He met me in my darkest state and didn’t look away. Then He proved what He’s capable of…for He took loving me ’till death do us part to a whole new level.

Wow, does He love me. And my goodness, does He ever pursue me.

There was one night in particular. Shortly after Lent began. I went to bed too late, utterly exhausted…still I couldn’t sleep.

Friend, do you ever get that desperate, parched feeling? Just a dire need to read The Word? I hope you say no for the only good reason–you get your fill every day. And that was the thing. I had been in The Word every day. More than normal, in fact. And yet, I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling. I have no idea how to describe the urgency I felt…but, friends, I HAD to read James.

I snuck out of bed and I told God (I’m so embarrassed at how many times I say that…) I did, I told God I would read the first chapter only and the rest tomorrow when my mind wasn’t hazy. I promised Him at the first crack of light, I’d read the entire Book. Oh, and I gave Him the obvious reasons–so I could hear Him better and apply it deeper. Yada, yada…

Some day, friends, some day I’ll learn this lesson He repeatedly tries to teach me: I don’t know better…ever.

You have figured this out already, but still I can’t believe how hard the Book of James hit me. How much I needed those words. Right then. I was sobbing by the end of the first chapter. And there was no stopping me. I had to go on. Twice.

For the remainder of Lent, the Book of James showed up and walked me through. Friends, I can’t even make this stuff up. I would find it in a blog post here, in a tweet there. Twice it was the Bible verse chosen for my Sunday School class to memorize. It was also in the very books I was reading. James was everywhere.

Because of God…Because God…He knew better.

A great portion of Lent for me was spent in self-reflection. And this year was different from last. For last year, I couldn’t get beyond my own sin and unworthiness. This year, I was desperate to figure out who I really am for Him. What I can be. do. live. I know I’m His child, but which one? Where’s my place?

Would you believe I found every answer I was looking for in James? It took me weeks of reading it daily. Over and over. It took flat-on-my-face prayer time to soften this heart of mine and hear what He had for me.

I’m still trying to figure out how and what to share. And I’m not even done learning, that I know. But we’ve gone this far together, friends. I have to share a bit of it with you. Do you mind just one example now?

Holey Wholly Holy -- LIFE

It’s been an excuse of mine for decades. And I struggle with this in my own parenting, trying hard not to do the same for my son. For He deserves what God has to offer, not me. And friends, God never puts us in a box. Ever. We’re too valuable for that. So who am I to say what my son is capable of…

Still, I’ve convinced myself what I’m capable of. I’ve labeled my own limitations and have accepted my place low in the ranks of God’s army. What’s worse…I’ve been okay with this for quite a while.

Then I read this:

Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!
James 5:17

To think…Elijah. The one we hear about as a child in Sunday School and stand in awe at the very thought of him. He was just like me: Fully human. Fully His.

Who am I to say what God will or won’t do through me, friends? Who am I to think “Fully His” isn’t enough?

That part alone took me days to sort through. Then, He hit me with this:

Who am I to think my time isn’t best spent in prayer?

Elijah…just a guy…prayed earnestly. He asked God to show up with His power. Not with Elijah-power. No. He fully believed God showing up would be enough to prove who reigns. And God did. In rain. Show up.

Who am I to think God won’t show up and use me or use me up for His glory?

Friends, I can tell you now. This Lent, God showed up. What’s even more mind-boggling is He simply showed up for me. Just me. Not to impress an audience or give me something blog-worthy to share. No. He was focused on me.

Who am I to not love Him back like that? Fully His…

I catch myself now, looking in the mirror, asking myself the same question: Who am I? And I answer it with ease:

I’m fully His. And I know enough to believe that’s more than enough for Him. For He knows better…

This is the last post of my Lenten series using Holey, Wholly, Holy by Kris Camealy as a guide. You may check out the entire series HERE.

Friend, if you need to talk about refinement more, please email me at simplystriving (at) gmail (dot) com.

NOTE: If you have not read this book, I highly recommend you click HERE.

How about you, friend? How did God show up for you this Lent? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

The Cost of Much Forgiveness {Fed Up With Flat Faith}

drift-wood-Courtesy of Greg Abel Photography

“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown Me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Luke 7:47-48

This “sinful woman” had no right…who was she to invade on such a respected home and its elders. Yet nothing could stop her from loving on Him. All else faded into the backdrop. It might as well have been just the two of them.

“She did not care what her actions looked like to others.
Her love for Jesus made that inconsequential.”
~Kathy Howard, Fed Up With Flat Faith

I’ve fallen that hard before. I remember the very moment I fell flat for my now-husband and made the conscious choice to stay smitten. How I could tune out everything in the room but him–when I could calm down the pounding of my own heart that is. I’d often have to remind myself to simply breathe…

Yes, I want that. Again. With Jesus…my First Love.

Friends, I want to be able to drown out this world and focus on the Home I’ll have with Him… I want to recall the nicest thing He’s ever done for me…and hear His voice saying, “Father, forgive her…she didn’t know…”

I want to gasp for air at the very thought of Him.

“We must remember. We must go back to the beginning of our salvation, contemplate our sin, and once again consider Christ’s saving act for us. Then we must not forget.”
~Kathy Howard, Fed Up With Flat Faith

The tearful woman in Luke…the one who drowned her sorrows right on the very feet of her Savior. The one who didn’t let the expectations of this world stop her from pursuing Him. The one who didn’t deserve a response from Him let alone a pardon.

That woman…who gave all, shed all, bore all, confessed all… The one who held no position of authority or decent resumé…I aspire to be her. She got it. And because of it, she got Him.

I’ve been reading this book lately, Fed Up With Flat Faith by Kathy Howard, and I have to tell you, friends, the author–she gets me. Some of you might know my One Word I chose for this year. I haven’t talked about it much, as I couldn’t wrap my mind around how I was going to achieve it yet, but now I see I don’t have to…this book covers it all.

“No substitute will ever permanently  quench our spiritual longing for God. Only an intimate, passionate relationship with our Creator can fully and completely fill us up to overflowing.”
~Kathy Howard, Fed Up With Flat Faith

  • You see, I want to live out a vibrant relationship, not practice religion.
  • Forget less of me and more of Him, I want NONE of me and ALL of Him.
  • I want Him to use me or use me up for His glory.
  • I don’t want to watch what He’s doing, I want to be involved in it.
  • Temporal activities overwhelm, I want to focus on eternal matters.
  • I don’t need more once-in-a-lifetime memories. I want moments that impact eternity.
  • I don’t want to read the Bible, I want to absorb it.

Which are exactly some of the things Kathy talks about on pages 40, 55, 64, 81, 90, 97, and 104.

“Jesus willingly gave His life so we could be forgiven, but we hesitate to give ours to Him. If we have truly received forgiveness of our sin through the blood of Christ, then how can we have any response other than surrender to Him?”
~Kathy Howard, Fed Up With Flat Faith

Friends, when I started reading this book, I desired to be this woman in Luke Kathy talks about a couple chapters in. Now that I finished the book, I realize…I am that woman.

For my sins are many. I don’t deserve a second glance let alone a pardon. And yet…my First Love proved otherwise.

I’m starting to see how my word “Radiate” could look on me, friends. I invite you to stick around and join me on the journey.

And by the way– this book, Fed Up With Flat Faith by Kathy Howard, I recommend.

How about you? Are you fed up with flat faith? How do you remember what He’s done for you? How do you pursue Him? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

NOTE: I jumped on the chance to get this book for free when offered in exchange of a review of some kind. But please know, this post above comes straight from my own heart. No coercion necessary.

Redeemed {And A Giveaway}

My hands were drenched in play-dough, colored markings, and confetti stuck on with glue droppings when the doorbell rang. My senses shifted from the task at hand as I noticed the familiar whirring of the delivery truck. My son joined in, trying to yell out the letters on the truck before it raced out of view. I sprang down the steps like it was Christmas morning. For I knew this package was for me. For me to share with you.

I had no idea what was inside, but I knew I was going to love it. For I had seen Dayspring’s Redeemed line online and was encouraged by the intent behind it. When (in)courage invited me to take part in the redeemed journey, I happily obliged.

The vase was opened first. It glistened in the sun breaking through storm clouds and I instantly knew what I wanted to place inside it. Hydrangeas. Full bloomed, color-dripping hydrangeas. But there are none to be found. Not yet anyway. I reached for a tall candle instead and my thoughts started stirring when I surrounded it with polished rocks.

For isn’t that what happens with redemption? We are polished clean by His scarred hand. Our ordinary is made extraordinary with His unfailing love and unfathomable grace.

My preschooler oohed and aahed alongside me and said “Mom, I’m so excited! You love rocks as much as I do! Can I pick some rocks to put in your beautiful thing?”

The long, thin, heavy box was next. When I opened it and saw the caption on the back, I was captivated.

Life is a patchwork of the meaningful things we keep with us…
daily reminders of where we’ve come from
and who our loving Heavenly Father says we are in Jesus.

And my finger traced along the lines of the patchwork design on the package. Inside it were amazing coasters glazed with glory. Perfectly selected Bible verses adorn each one. Except the one graced with one of my adored hymns: Blessed Assurance. And I scanned quickly to ensure my favorite stanza was on it:

♪♫ Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my Saviour am happy and blest.
Watching and waiting, looking above,
filled with His goodness, lost in His love. ♪♫

Yes, this is my story. My song. One I am striving to live all the day long.

May you discover how to celebrate the way “God, in His generous grace, sews together every beautiful bit of our lives to form one masterpiece creation after another.” For every piece of every day is stitched together perfectly with grace. Every note of every lifesong is an essential part of the great score.

And so I choose to delight in the journey. I strive to get lost in His love. And as I sit down to play the hymn glazed on my new favorite coaster, I praise the One who chose to redeem me.

~~~~~ON TO THE GIVEAWAY~~~~~

Friends, Dayspring is allowing me to give away my favorite item of the entire Redeemed line to one of you! PLEASE NOTE: You do have to pay shipping.

Would you like to have this Redeemed “Beautiful in It’s Time” Tabletop Mirror?

I adore it. And would love for you to win.

TO ENTER: Simply leave a comment letting me know where the mirror would go if you won.

FOR ADDITIONAL ENTRIES: you may follow Simplystriving on Facebook, Twitter, or via email. Simply leave an additional comment(s) letting me know which one you chose. (Feel free to choose all if you don’t mind hearing me jabber.)

Winner will be chosen via random Friday, April 20th at 12pm Central Time. I will email the winner a coupon code to redeem your prize soon after.

UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed. Winner is #3: Kris! You can visit her at one of my favorite blogs: AlwaysAlleluia . Thank you, everyone, who participated!


{DISCLAIMER: I was given these products for my review, but was not told what to say. These thoughts are my own. There are numerous links in this post that allow you to purchase these items and more. Please know I am not an affiliate of anything and will not be rewarded if you do.}

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

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!

A Legacy of Praise

Jesus has risen! He has risen indeed. He has done His part. He has shown us what love is capable of. What’s God’s grace brings. And has made it possible for us to experience first hand.

Friends, until He comes again, or until we meet face-to-face, the rest is up to us. We are His legacy. And as I face the dawn after Easter, I ask myself:

What am I going to do? What legacy for Him can I leave?

I’ve tried to come up with something enlightening. Astounding. New. I’ve got nothing. All that ever comes to mind is one word:

Hallelujah.
I am simply welled up with worship.

And when this song began playing in my internal playlist, I realized what God was trying to show me.

The greatest legacy I can leave is that of praise.
May my life be a melody of praise. To Him. For Him.
Resounding His glory.

By acknowledging my need for Him, by delighting in His amazing creation, His miraculous grace, I find my heart wells up with worship. And to Him? There is no greater praise than this.

It’s worth striving for. It comes easier over time. It finds you in His presence, soaking in His grace. Savoring His majesty. Proclaiming His wonder.

And that is a legacy worth leaving.

I’m striving. Are you?

(Email readers, click HERE to listen in to this oldie but goodie)

“HALLELUJAHS” ~ By Chris Rice

A purple sky to close the day
I wade the surf where dolphins play
The taste of salt, the dance of waves
And my soul wells up with Hallelujahs

A lightning flash, my pounding heart
A breaching whale, a shooting star
Give testimony that You are
And my soul wells up with Hallelujahs

Oh cratered moon and the sparrow’s wings
Oh thunder’s boom and Saturn’s rings
Unveil our Father, as You sing
And my soul wells up with Hallelujahs

The pulse of life within my wrist
A fallen snow, a rising mist
There is no higher praise than this
And my soul wells up, oh my soul wells up
Yes my soul wells up with Hallelujahs

Oh praise Him, all His mighty works
There is no language where you can’t be heard
Your song goes out to all the earth
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Oh Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I’m going to be talking a bit more about this throughout the week. As it is the main premise to the last lesson I learned while on my Lenten journey. I hope you’ll join me.

How about you? How will you strive to leave a legacy of praise? I’d love to hear. 

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

The “Good” of Friday

Flickr credit: 50%ChanceofRain

Even in my optimistic-wired mind, I have never been able to grasp the concept. I’ve never seen anything good about it. For what we did to our Savior on that tree? Well, good is not the first thing that comes to mind.

Until now.

I’ve taken a different approach to the Lenten season this year. A new challenge for me. It started with a simple plea:

“Lord, help me to become less so You can fill more of me.
Show me what I need to get rid of. What I can leave at the cross for keeps.”

If you’ve been following along, you know a number of things He’s asked me to leave behind. And as I’m sitting here, reflecting on the things I’ve shed these last few weeks I can’t help but smile. For what seemed like huge sacrifices then have turned into tremendous blessings for me in the long run. I don’t miss a single one! Not one…It’s been good.

My destination to the cross has now arrived. The Day of remembrance has come. And as I reflect on what my Savior has done. What He endured simply to give me an option of salvation. I’m left with one last plea.

Lord, please show me the “Good” of Friday.
It doesn’t feel good. All I feel is hurt. Sorrow. Mourning. Guilt.
For what Jesus did for me.

My favorite Bible, the one I received for my 16th birthday, sits in the ready position on my lap. Its delicate pages now play a well-worn tune to my ears as I flip towards the verse I feel led to read yet again:

For Christ also suffered once for sins,
the righteous for the unrighteous,
to bring you to God.
He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.
I Peter 3:18 NIV

And today I see it. The main premise of it. The calendar is right. Is is good. Christ brought me to God.

My wage of death? The one I owed due to my sins? He paid it in full.
(Romans 6:23)

Today on that cross, Jesus showed me what God’s love is capable of.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:8 NIV

And on Sunday? God will show me what His grace is capable of.

But God raised Him from the dead,
freeing Him from the agony of death,
because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him.
Acts 2:24 NIV (read on in Acts 2 to learn more)

Friends, there’s nothing bad about that. It’s all good.

My sacrifices in this world have stung, but have been miniscule in comparison. No matter how much they hurt at the time, however, the pain is soon forgotten.

I have to believe Jesus feels the same way. The sacrifice He bore for me on Friday? He doesn’t regret it.

It. Was. Good.

How about you? Do you feel the good of Good Friday? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki