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,


When Pain’s Worth It {Beyond the Cross}

FOG09- Courtesey of Greg Abel Photography

“A great many times in our Christian life we will endure hard times.
Those times are always a preparation for the next thing. The unseen.”
~Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

She slides the charm on her necklace just like I do…when I’m tugging for more room to breathe. Her eyes focus on my left shoulder and I want to hug her for making it that far. After one last gulp she releases the confession weighing heavy on her chest and she was right…it’s a big one.

One might think it’s not a big deal and a part of me wonders if she’s hoping I will slather on the salve of complacency. But she deserves more than that. For I know one gust of life will remove it all and leave her skin cracked underneath. What I long for most is to hold her and have a good cry. Simply because I know she’ll need it later.

After asking the obvious “Are you sure you never have?” I lovingly ask her the hard question I know has been keeping her up at night.

“Are you ready for refinement–to go through something hard? Is your heart prepared enough to ask for it? Because you could, friend…you could ask Him for those growing pains…”

That’s the thing. In this upside down Kingdom of Grace, the growing love affair often hurts. Cupid’s arrow does not make your heart flutter–it penetrates leaving you forever changed. And you soon realize this lover’s road is not paved in gold. No.

You have to
cross many
lashes, thorns,
nails and hammers,
vinegar stained lips and downright bloodshed…
You have to stare death down and face the very
murder in your heart
to get wrapped
in His warm,
eternal embrace.

“This journey through Lent is a journey that doesn’t end at the cross. No!
This journey ends at the empty tomb…in the victory of grace for sinners and
redemption for those who believe.”
~Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

And she mentions the what ifs we all fear. The ones that affect more than ourselves and possibly include an unbearable trial–even a death. As if dealing with one death isn’t enough. Surely she can’t ask for that kind of hard journey. Can’t she just ask for your everyday, basic trial? For even those are hard to come by in her near 3 decades…

“How can we serve and love and reflect Christ
when we begin and end with ourselves?”
~Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

I search her green eyes and wait for the light within to calm before I whisper what she already knows. For only He does…only He…only. And I remind her what waits on the other side. How glory holds no constriction of time and what we see as important now is confined to the present…these temporal joys–they seem to pull us away from eternal glory.

Holey Wholly Holy -- Glory

We read the words of Jesus’ brother. For surely he knows what he’s talking about. And she makes note right then that it’s the most important thing he wanted his loved ones to know…for it’s the first thing he wrote in his Letter…

Dear brothers and sisters,when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
James 1:2-4

I then confess how, last Lent, I had to ask for the hard. I had to pray that prayer. And there were brief moments when I regretted it. Because. It. Hurt. This year, I didn’t ask. I was expecting a road worn down smooth from the scars only to realize those had merely scratched the surface…

“The call to refinement for the Christian is not about making us look better,
it’s about us reflecting Christ better.”
~Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

She starts naming the scars of trial she’s seen on me. And as she’s listing, I see it…what James was trying to share. I grab both of her hands as I proclaim it for me more than her:

It’s true! Joy can be found during faith-building. I’m living proof.

In this upside down Kingdom of Grace, the love affair often hurts. Cupid’s arrow pierces through Christ, then you, leaving you forever changed. And you soon realize this lover’s road is paved in hard-won glory.

And when you
get there,
He wraps you
in His warm,
loving embrace
adorning your garments of salvation with
an eternal robe of holy righteousness…
For beyond shame
and pride,
beyond death,
is found
is accepted
is obtained
is revealed.

We let it sink in, praying it takes root as we stand there in the comfort of silence. Our eyes meet and we hug tight, knowing it’s only the beginning. And as I work my way home, walking around the puddles of thawing snow, I can’t help but smile as the street light’s reflection glitters my path…

Father, I’m but a shadow…but thank You…Thank You for letting me dance in Your Light…

This is a part of my Lenten series using Holey, Wholly, Holy by Kris Camealy as a guide. You may check out the entire series HERE. I’ll be back next Wednesday to finish up the series.

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

How about you, friend? Have you discovered the joy found in refinement? How has your faith grown this Lenten season? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,


NOTE: This story was told with permission. Her name was withheld out of love. But if you think of it, please pray for her…for her painful, refining journey has begun…

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,


Thank God for the Dying {Even to Self}

Holey Wholly Holy Dying to Self

It goes against every instinct within us. And yet, when we submit to His Nature, that’s exactly what’s required. It makes sense, really, because grace goes against our human nature, too. If we want to dwell in His presence and experience holy firsthand, friends, we must bend until we break. We must die to self.

Jesus showed us this path to Holy.

Then He said to them all, “If any want to become My followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for My sake will save it.”
Luke 9:23-25

We must deny ourselves. Forfeit what we want to save. I can do that. In fact, I have… But do you see the word I struggle with? DAILY…

Jesus knew I would. But in Godly form, He didn’t leave us stranded. He used many examples and preached countless sermons in His 3 years of ministry to show us all the ways we could accomplish this daily task — to become less than any standard we place on ourselves.

I came up with 27 examples in the book of John alone, but I’ll just give you the one that spells it out the most for me:

The King of Kings –our very own Messiah– took a servant’s job and washed feet. Including the one who betrayed Him. And told us to do the same. (John 13)

But your life is not just about you–your life is about Christ in you–about the work He can do through you, when you yield to His will.
~Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

Jesus explained why.

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.”
John 12:24 NLT

Friends, nothing tells His story better than living the most important part of His story in our everyday life. Daily.

And I’m learning how to embed my story, my seed, in everyday soil while planting my feet on His solid, holy ground. It’s really more simple than I imagined and yet hard enough that I need to make the daily, conscious choice.

We fail to give up the one thing that stands between us and Christ. Ourselves. Only when we have given up our own ambitions and desires, from that death to self, can we be used to produce much for His kingdom.
~Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

Jesus taught us how.

“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Luke 22:42

Something within makes us feel we need to be spotless, flawless before we present ourselves to the King of Kings. Friends, in this upside down Kingdom of Grace, that’s the furthest from the truth. We should come to Him bloodied, bruised, broken. Just as He came for us…

Don’t forget how Jesus presented Himself to God here in Gethsemane –the Crushing Place. He was sweating blood and rightfully so. Friends, I’ll never be that stressed. He made sure of that. You see, Jesus will never ask for more than what He has already given.

And while there’s pain in the lessening of ourselves, the deeper blessings more than fill the holes we’ve spent years trying to cover over. God is big enough. His love is rich enough…
~Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

Paul applied it.

I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally,
experience His resurrection power, be a partner in His suffering,
and go all the way with Him to death itself.
If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.
Philippians 3:10-11 The Message

So how am I living this out today?

Every day is different, or this would be my last post. But I’m finding common ground with the good days —where I do lay my life down and follow — and the bad ones — where I chose myself over Jesus.

I’m discovering I simply need to live like He’s in the room, because that keeps my focus on Him. And some days I do need to come to Him broken and helpless. Other days, I just need to bow at His feet in holy reverence. Every day I need to kneel at Gethsemane and pray the following prayer — some days I need to repeat it often until it sinks in:

Jesus, I choose You today. Because You first chose me. And I realize I’m getting the better deal here, so let’s do this thing called life together. Let me live Your story for Your glory. Show me how to make more room for You here…Jesus, let me die so You may live right here in me…

I like to think, some day, maybe I’ll be able to spend less time at Gethsemane. Maybe not and that’s okay, too. Because I know Who was here first. I know what He did for me. And I know He’s worth dying for…so I’m choosing to pick up my cross and follow. The cost? I’ll be paid back ten fold in the end…

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 “Metanoeó” portion of this book as we will talk about All or Nothing.

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? How have you learned to die to self daily? 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,


Exposed — A Self Reflection {Let Him Look}

The cover crinkles as I try to use every square inch to my advantage. Instinctively, I grab hold as I see the doorknob turn; my cheeks flush just thinking about the breeze giving it flight. She greets me with a smile and holds out her hand for mine. And I wonder if she knows it takes all I have in me to return the generosity.

Right away she rises concern over my blood pressure. My eyes focus on the curling wallpaper seam as I make my own diagnosis — it really is hot in here… I confess to her it’s only because I’m nervous. I’ve never seen this woman before and now I’m going to show her all of me and trust my precious cargo to her care.

Her smile would be contagious, if one would allow themselves to look at it head on. She touches my knee gently as she whispers “It’s okay, dear. I’ve seen it all before. You won’t have anything that will surprise me.”

I meet her gaze as I barely whisper “You may have seen it before, but you’ve never seen me…”


Fast forward to last year and you’d find me in a similar position. Face down. Focused on the curling the heat was bringing. Confessing my nerves as I stood before Him…fully exposed.

“Trust me when I say you’ve not got anything He hasn’t seen before. Stand in this fire, let Him purify you–this is how He loves us. This is the process of sanctification.”
~ Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

Friends, God saw things in me I didn’t believe were there until He showed me a mirror. I looked at my reflection and didn’t even recognize myself. For I saw pride. greed. resentment. distrust. No. This wasn’t the Nikki I presented to the world. Surely, this wasn’t really happening. For how could He even look at me? Why would He bother trying to save me?

What was I worth to Him when I looked like…sin?

“His desire is for us to be complete. He longs to restore us, to strengthen us for the call He places on our lives…Though He accepts us as we are, He has even better for us. He loves us too much to leave us in our mess.”
~ Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

I fell down and beat myself up over allowing myself to get that low. To be that bad. To look that ugly in light of His redemption. Let me tell you, I can throw a mean pity party.

Friends, I realize now most of the pain I felt was self-inflicted. And my, did it ever hurt.

“Yet, here, in this painful, holey place — this is where the healing begins. The renewal comes through the wringing out of the soul, through the pulling and dragging out of the ugly — through the sacrifice.”
~ Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

But I had to. I needed to see my unworthiness. I had to look at my sin-soaked self and truly grasp how far love came down to save me. Because only then could I live out these verses:

God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him. It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
I Corinthians 1:28-31

And let me tell you: All I have. All that is good within me and all I hope to be comes from Him. It’s all because of God. And the only reason I can claim it for my own is because Christ paid for it and then gave it to me as a gift.

All I am is dust. But that medium is one of my Master Creator’s specialties.

There’s no telling what He can make out of me.

This year, I’m going to stand the heat again–only longer. I’m going to let Him look…really see me as I lift my hands and say

“Do Your best, Father. And please, let me see the work You do in me so I can share how amazing You truly are…”

“‘Suddenly They Saw Him the Way He Was’
The way He really was all the time,
although they had never seen it before,
the glory which blinds the everyday eye
and so becomes invisible.
This is how He was, radiant, brilliant,
carrying joy like a flaming sun in His hands.
This is the way He was–is–from the beginning,
and we cannot bear it.
So He manned Himself, came manifest to us;
and there on the mountain they saw Him,
really saw Him, saw His light.
We all know if we really see Him we die.
But isn’t that what is required of us?
Then perhaps we will see each other, too.”
Madeleine L’Engle, The Ordering of Love

How about you, friend? Have you let God look at you lately? Has He shown you the work He plans on doing with you? 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 next Wednesday. If you’d like to prepare, please read through “The Crushing Place” of THIS BOOK as we will talk about confessions. ::GULP:: If you have not gotten this book yet, please do! 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,


NOTE: If you have time, I’m sharing some thoughts over at Soul Stops today about a familiar passage that has become personal to me in a post titled: We All Have Nets. Would love to share my heart with you there, too! CLICK HERE to read.

Waiting in the Wilderness {You Can’t Hurry the Holy}

“Our life’s purpose is to give God glory. We do that by reflecting His image to the world through our worship and our service to His kingdom. By His death He justified us, and through the refining fires He sanctifies us for the work of His purposes.” ~ Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

I didn’t grow up practicing Lent. Sure, I had given up things over the years, but only to be a part of what my friends were doing. Last year, however, was the first time I went in to Lent with intention as I offered to become less so He could fill more of me. (You may read some of those posts, HERE.)

Kris, in her book Holey, Wholly, Holy: A Lenten Journey of Refinement, explains the history of Lent as well as the intention behind it and helped me figure out what it was all about.

You see, even if you don’t practice Lent, chances are you have been through a Lenten experience while submitting to Christ. You have given parts of yourself up. For it is more about the journey of dying to oneself.

“We are called to live as Christ lived–willing to suffer as He suffered and to be stripped of the excesses and pride that prevent us from living a life that more fully glorifies Him.” ~ Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

We’ve all heard Lent compared to Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness. The period He spent preparing for His ministry. My mind whirls with the examples in the Bible of others who have spent time in this fashion…Moses. Isaiah. David…

Friends, I wonder if we find ourselves in this wilderness more than we realize. Maybe we’ve had seasons of waiting…of seeking…that were intended for periods of preparation like this. like Lent.

I think about the desert and what Jesus went through. How He was pressed but not crushed. Tempted but not destroyed. How He relied on God for every little thing…things I take for granted today.

“Man shall not live on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” ~Matthew 4:4

Jesus claimed this after His own refining period. After He faced death head on. After He discovered how good the enemy is at his job. And when you contemplate it in that type of context…friends…does it grip you like it does me?

It’s in the times of wilderness we realize how little we can live without. It’s in these periods of waiting…seeking…we realize He is all we need.

So that brings me to wonder:

What if we treated our 40 days here in desert fashion? What if we shed what we didn’t need? Lightened our load? What if we stripped ourselves bare so we could bear the heat of the refining fire a bit longer?

“…we fail to give up the one thing that stands between us and Christ. Ourselves. Only when we have given up our own ambitions and desires, from that death to self, can we be used to produce much for His kingdom.” ~ Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

Friends, what if we became the desert ourselves, allowing our ambitions to wilt, our desires to burn, our landscape of “stuff” to be blown away? What if we did really die to self this Lenten Season and allowed Him to do His thing. Quench us with the Living Well of His Word. Fertilize our hearts with overwhelming grace and abounding hope. What if we allowed Him to draft our landscape of life, our viewpoint. Could we do that?

To most of my friends reading this — we live in a rich culture. We were raised to believe we deserve some basics in life: shelter. food we can tolerate. clothing we like to slip into. children who follow.

It scares me to think how rich we really are. That we may be who Jesus was talking about in Matthew 19:24.

Who am I to think I deserve anything? Who am I to think I deserve to be rescued from this wilderness? Who am I to think this thing I chose to fast from makes me any more deserving of His glory?

Who am I?

Maybe after these 40 days with you, I can answer this question with certainty. That’s what I’m going after.

How about you, friend? Are you prepared to step into the wilderness? How are you planning to bare all to Him this Lenten Season? I’d love to hear.

Please know, I’ll be back next Wednesday with more thoughts on my journey. If you would like to feel prepared, please read through the “Ache” portion of Holey, Wholly, Holy as we will be talking more about “Letting Him Look {A Self-Exam}”.

If you do not have the book I am referring to and would like a FREE pdf copy, please visit here soon as Kris is giving them away as a gift to you this Lenten season.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,


* Click Photos for Photo credits

Friends in the Fire {Holey, Wholly, Holy}


A year ago found me flat on my face, bent in submission, desperate for Jesus. And for once it wasn’t because of a life altering event or a significant trial. No. I went into the refiner’s fire intentionally as I asked Him whole-heartedly to make me less so He could fill more of me.

Through the entire Lenten Season, He chipped away at what didn’t belong and polished the dark corners of my heart.

Those of you who have joined me on this journey awhile might remember a few posts during that time of refinement. I tried to share some of it with you, but wow was it ever hard. I struggled with finding words to portray how low I had to become before He could pick me up again. And let’s face it. I wasn’t brave enough then to share the horror I saw when God held up a mirror before we began.

But I had to talk to someone. I needed to spill out the ugly, the pain, and the holy found in-between. Friends, I needed to reveal the work He was doing in me. Primarily because I needed prayer.

It started as a gut whisper. A feeling deep down that maybe Kris knew what I was going through. I had been reading her blog during Lent and, call me crazy, but it felt as though her road was paralleling mine.

Last June, I finally got brave and decided to reach out. I sent Kris this exhaustive email spilling my whole heart on the page. I shared my refining journey. Friends, her response was the epitome of grace as she made her own confessions to me and revealed the construction zone of her present state.

Kris showed me that I wasn’t the only one in the fire.

I look back now on the ashes of 2012 and see the gift(s) God gave me. Through many emails, phone calls, tweets, and comment exchanges, Kris became my Meshach in the furnace of refinement. Because even then, God knows we need a tangible friend to help us see Himself through the flames (Daniel 3:25).

This year, I’m looking forward to the Lenten season. For I know what awaits for me on the other side. And because now, thanks to Kris again, I can take the journey with you.

Holey Wholly HolyYou see, that construction zone God built around Kris last year has turned into a work of art.

And as an offering to Him for what He has done for her, Kris is sharing her discoveries with you in a book titled: Holey, Wholly, Holy: A Lenten Journey of Refinement.

Over the next 8 weeks, scattered throughout blog posts, I plan on sharing what God has shown me through the journey of refinement. And because of the Biblical truths Kris’ book was based upon as well as my experience through the refiner’s fire, I expect to use her book as one of my guides. It would bless me so if you would follow along and share with me your own experiences.

Friends, Kris is offering this book in PDF form FOR FREE right now. I would be thrilled if you would stop by her place and sign up for your copy. And I would be honored if you would come back and let me know you’re willing to walk through the fire with me this Lenten Season.

For your reference:

  • This amazing eBook, Holey, Wholly, Holy: A Lenten Journey of Refinement may be acquired HERE free for a limited time.
  • You may purchase a hard copy of the book, read reviews and even the foreword I was blessed to write for Holey, Wholly, Holy HERE. (Simply click the “To Look Inside” to read the foreword)

How about you, friend? Have you experienced the refiner’s fire? Do you know what Lent is really all about? (If you don’t, this short, insightful read is a perfect place to start!) I’d love to hear from you.

And because I’m sharing this with you on Music Monday, may I share a song with you, too? I have many in mind, but keep going back to the one that started it all for me last Lent: “Give Me Jesus”. Subscribers, you may click HERE to be taken to that original post, read the lyrics, and listen to this amazing song.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,