Who Am I? {Can’t Get Over Him}

Held by Christianity

It can become a mundane chore. An everyday task we do out of…obligation? respect? tradition? Maybe all of the above.

Regardless, we walk the road of life wearing “Christian” on our lapel.

The part that worries me the most: It can become so embedded in our culture we lose the significance. We forget how it first came to be.

Friends, He chose us first.
(John 15:16)

All we choose is to walk to those arms spread wide as He says, “Come.”
(Matthew 11:28)

It’s not a birthright. It’s a commitment.

And then there’s the doer in me. My controlling nature kicks in to where it becomes a task. A duty as I serve those around me. As if any sacrifice I make allows me one step closer to completing my goal.

My to-do list of glory.

I forget. It’s not a competition or a service. It’s a relationship.

I’m not competing for glory. I’m fighting for His.

Simply for the love of Him.

If I’m not careful, I’ll miss the mark completely. I’ll lose my way if I think I can win by simply acting justly, loving mercy, walking humbly…
(Micah 6:8)

Because He’s not after what I can do. He’s after what we can be. Together.

I don’t need to prove myself, He’s done it for me.

Here’s what gets me right in the gut:
He doesn’t want to call me servant. He wants to call me friend…
(John 15:15)

And that’s something I can’t get over. In fact, I’m going to have to talk about it more…have you help me sort it out.

But right now, as I stand in wonder of what He’s done for me. Of what He asks of me. Of those arms spread wide, offering a safe place of rest, this song comes to mind.

Because it’s true. I can’t get over Jesus and this scandalous love affair He offers. 

Can’t Get Over You

Anthem Lights

Subscribers, CLICK HERE to listen in to this amazing song on YouTube
Or HERE on Simplystriving.

I love the way You love like no other
It’s got nothing to do with anything that I do
Time and time again You forgive me
So this time I choose to stay here with You
Hold me
Pull me just a little bit closer
I don’t wanna lose this moment
Your love has covered me
And now I can’t get over You
Here in the arms of my Father
Only grace can be found
So I lay my fears down
Nothing is the same anymore
You’ve changed me from the inside out
Now my heart is beating and it’s singing won’t You…
Hold me…
I can’t get over the way
Your love stays the same, oh Lord
I can’t get over the way
Your love stays the same, oh Lord
Even through the good and the bad times
You stay the same
So my song will remain
Lord…
There’s nothing I can’t do
I just can’t get over You

How about you, friend? Servant…friend…lover…which do you associate with most while contemplating your own Christianity? Are you Jesus’ friend? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Thoughts on Marriage {And My Greatest Regret}

Ecclesiastes 4:12

A few months back, my dear blogging friend Sarah asked me to participate in a wonderful series she has over at her place: Wedded Wednesdays. Here are her thoughts on the series:

Wedded Wednesdays arose out of my heart to write candidly and speak honestly about marriage. As a society, we often promote it as the pure wedded bliss or the ultimate unhappy matrimony – two very dangerous extremes. We would serve our friends and communities well to be honest. Marriage can be both difficult and beautiful, both struggle-filled and triumph-filled. We owe it to each other to get real about marriage.

I humbly accepted her invitation to participate, mainly because I couldn’t think of what I would write about and after 14 years of marriage, that bothered me. For I have grown much along this journey of marriage.

We all know the pains that come with growing…

Friends, I’m over at Sarah’s place today sharing an afternoon I had with a soon-to-be bride friend…where I shared my greatest regret in marriage. I’d love to have you stop by. Simply click on the image below!

How about you, friend? What has marriage taught you? Do you have any regrets? I’d love to hear. Feel free to share in comments over at Sarah’s place!

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Jesus Loves Us Where We’re At {And How I Want to Love Him Back}

Agape

There are some things the English language can not explain thoroughly. John 21 is one of them for no matter which English translation you read, you don’t get the full story.

It’s the only passage I can think of where the word LOVE does not do justice.

You know the one–where Jesus asks Simon Peter if he loves Him. Three times (Read HERE).

But the story changed for me when I read the original Greek (and by that, I mean a commentary which explained it to me*). You see there are a few levels of love. This portion of scripture uses two, and it’s what makes the story applicable to you and I.

When Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, Jesus used the form of agapao (agape) love. The selfless, sacrificial kind of love. The same kind of love we find here:

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

Peter responded that yes, he did love Him, in the phileo sense. The friendly, brotherly kind of love. Which, at first glance, I get because let’s face it — I don’t hear too many men confessing love for each other — a radical kind of love at that.

So Jesus asked again. Giving him a second chance…

A part of me thinks Peter was simply being honest with where he was at the time. For he had failed Jesus. He had shown doubt. He had proof he hadn’t given his all — the way agapao love requires.

But Jesus…in grace-like fashion…steps down to the level we’re Peter’s at. And accepts us him where he is as He asks Peter a third time:

“Peter, do you phileo love me?”

Jesus didn’t belittle him like He could have. He didn’t scold him for failing.

Still it hurt Peter. Maybe because it was the truth. I’m expecting he felt guilty. I feel like I get Peter, so I’d even be willing to bet there was a bit of pride blocking the way of him fully surrendering.

This is where love takes hold as Jesus reminds Peter of where he’s been and where he’s going. He showed Peter he had agapao love in him –he displayed it as a child. And He prophesied Peter would achieve it once again, even in his own death. (READ HERE).

Friends, a part of me wonders if Jesus was asking one of His closest friends — would he do the same thing Jesus was planning on doing for him?…and Peter couldn’t, at the time, say he would.

I get Peter. I really do.

Yet that didn’t stop Jesus…from loving him us that way. In agapao form–sacrificial. selfless. relentless love.

I adore how Jesus encouraged Peter by showing he is capable of such love. For, friends, it’s how God’s designed us.

This is the very kind of love we’re made of.

For he chose us in Him before the creation of the world
to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love
Ephesians 1:4

God’s been revealing this Lent what’s been standing in my way of giving agapao love. He’s been peeling back layers of pride, self-doubt and guilt I’ve been harboring for years. And I’m guessing soon, in Peter-like fashion, I’ll be ready to do something about it. In fact, I’ve already begun taking steps the way Jesus suggested in this very passage:

“Then feed my lambs…take care of my sheep…follow Me”

Okay, Jesus. You’ve got a deal. You keep working on me and I’ll keep sharing about You. I’ll feed Your sheep with my story. I’ll stretch myself to help those who need it. I’ll search for the lost ones and show them the way as I follow You Home.

Because, Jesus, I love You, too. I really do. I just need Your help of taking away everything in me that doesn’t.

This song is my Lenten prayer.

Father, burn away the ropes that bind until only agapao love remains… (Subscribers, CLICK HERE to listen in).

Only Love Remains

by JJ Heller

How about you, friend? Do you relate to Peter? Do you agapao love Jesus? How do you show it? How do you feed/take care of His sheep? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

* I wish I remembered which commentary I read this out of years ago so I could give them credit. I can not find it, but do have a book on my bookshelf that talks about this portion of scripture really well: Deeper into the Word New Testament by Keri Wyatt Kent (pg 116-118) found HERE.  (I’m not an affiliate)

A Love Story {The Journey of Independence}

Friends, I’m so excited about this. My friend Jennifer is doing a series on her beautiful blog for the month of February highlighting real stories. Love stories to be more precise. Love stories that only God could have written to be exact.

I knew right away…I had to write about my parents.

Mom and Dad, this is my Valentine’s Gift to you. I hope you don’t mind if I share it with my other family, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as well. For I know they would be blessed to see what God has brought you two through and what He is capable of when it comes down to love.

Won’t you click on the image above or HERE to read my parent’s love story? I’d love to share it with you as it is so near and dear to me (which means it was incredibly hard to write!).

And because it’s Monday and I missed doing a Valentine’s post and because this song hints at the point I was trying to make in my parent’s love story, do you mind if I share one of my most favorite love songs with you? I know I’ve shared it here before (my blog was brand new at the time and I shared it as a birthday post to my hubby). But I can’t waste this opportunity to share it again…

Subscribers, CLICK HERE to listen to the song below:

How about you, friend? Do you have or know of a love story only God could have written? What have you seen love survive before? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Love Never Stops Believing {The Greatest Motivator}

click for photo credit

Sometimes I get so caught up in my unbelief. I get so wrapped up in my faith, or lack thereof, that I forget some basic truths about The One we are striving to believe in in the first place.

Am I the only one?

I’m over at 5 Minutes for Faith talking about this today. I’d love to have you stop by and express your thoughts as well as give me the opportunity to share something heavy on my mind.

And I’m so excited to lay it open, I’ll give you a glimpse of it now:

Friend, God believes in you. God believes in you.

Won’t you click over and let me tell you more? Simply click the button below!

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Cherished {Shaping Hearts} ~ Five Minute Friday

I’d like to list it as a hobby:
Just writing.
Without worrying if it’s right or not.
And then linking arms with others who feel the same.
Over at Lisa-Jo’s.

Please check out the details below on where you can find this beautiful piece of artwork.

Please click or reference the details below on where you can find this beautiful piece of artwork.

Today, I’m joining others
As we write unabashedly
For five minutes time.
Without editing or backtracking
On one word alone:

CHERISHED

Sometimes you meet someone who, no matter how brief, leaves an impression on your heart so deep, you just know…you’re a better person simply from knowing them.

My heart considers my great-grandmother. Her hands had seen more labor than most, but you wouldn’t have known it. She’d make sure of that… Once you touched her softened lines of life, you didn’t ever want to let go. She radiated Jesus and I am honored to have been able to sit at her feet.

I was captivated by my hubby the very first time I saw him (but don’t tell him that…he doesn’t need any more leverage). And every moment spent with him is a moment well spent. It’s been over 18 years of moments now and I can still say it without fail: He points me to Christ and offers to hold my hand along the way.

My list has grown twice its size in the last year alone. And still, no one replicates another.

I like to think with each impression, my heart gets closer to the shape it should be.

And when I think about you…YOU who is spending time with me right here right now, I can’t help but wonder…

No wonder Jesus loves you. No wonder He came down to shape hearts. Because look at you…beautiful you.

I can see why He cherishes you, friend. And it’s no wonder He suggested I do the same.

STOP.

Would you like to see what others thought of the prompt?
Would you like to play along?
Join in on the Five Minute Friday Flash Mob!
Simply click on the button below!

How about you? Whom do you cherish? Have you seen how He cherishes you lately? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

And one more thing I just have to share…

Click for details on this wonderful eBook!

My friend Kris, whom I cherish dearly, has poured her heart into a book that could change your perspective on refinement…redemption…and the sacrifice Christ made for you on that cross.

If you would like to take Lent to the next level this year…if you see the refiners fire ahead and are hesitant to step in, please, don’t hesitate to check it out more DETAILS HERE.

It’s All in His Presentation {Winter Snow}

He could have come with a full entourage. Proclaiming His power to the world. Demanding we submit to His mighty hand.

But no.

Poor lighting. No midwife.
Unsterilized.
Dirt floors with an aroma of animal excrement.

That’s how my Savior presented Himself.

He didn’t deserve it.
I do, but He didn’t.

If that doesn’t show how selfless His love is. If that doesn’t reveal the lengths He’d go to ensure not one soul’s left behind, I don’t know what would.

Jesus bent lower than God has asked of any of us.

No one has a worse birth story. And no one exemplifies the beauty of life greater than He and His inexperienced mother.

We look at that stable today and see beauty. Pure redemption.

We look at Jesus’ birth and receive
a glimpse of how God sees us all.

Oh how He loves us.

He doesn’t see our mess, our unsterilized hearts. He sees hope.

God sees a life worth saving.

With the power of a lion, He came in like a lamb. Desperate for a mother’s breast.

Just like any of us.

If that doesn’t explain how willing He is to walk in our shoes. See the world how we see it. Feel the pain we experience. Taste temptation we’re presented with every day, I don’t know what will.

I look at the wrapped baby in a feeding trough
and my heart implodes with love.
For life so small and yet so great.
For an unobtrusive King willing to take my place.

And I can’t help but say ‘yes’ to His open hand extending an invitation to give me what this world can’t offer.

Friends, I pray you take time this Christmas season to get to know that babe in a manger more. Look at Him. Discover His mannerisms. Recognize His capabilities. Realize the depths He’d go to redeem you.

He could have come with a full entourage. But He didn’t have to.

He’s more than enough.

If He didn’t prove how much He could handle. If Him becoming vulnerable, reliant, helpless doesn’t show you how powerful He truly is, I don’t know what will…

(Subscribers, click here to listen in on one of my favorite Christmas songs pictured below)

Winter Snow

Featuring Audrey Assad and Chris Tomlin

How about you, friend? What do you see when you contemplate our Savior’s birth? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

NOTE: I shared some thoughts on this song last year as well. You may see that post HERE.