Friends in the Fire {Holey, Wholly, Holy}

ROCKY-M

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,

Nikki

Afraid {Of Missing Out} ~ 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.

Art for Holey, Wholly, Holy
Click for details

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

AFRAID

He beckons me to come and I am unable to move…frozen in fear. I feel the heat upon my face and every human instinct within tells me to run away from the fire ahead. Or is something else yelling in my ear…

It’s the whisper I’m straining to hear. The One assuring me He’s with me and sees beyond the flames. Encouraging me it will be worth it…Holiness awaits.

I catch my reflection along the way and wrench in pain at the sight of my unworthiness. It’s all too surreal that grace can make something out of…me.

Kris Camealy says — though He accepts us as we are, He has even better for us. He loves us too much to leave us in our mess (taken from Holey, Wholly, Holy).

She also says once you acquire the truth, you are responsible for the action.

So now I’m walking into the refiner’s fire. I won’t look back; I’ll keep my head held high so I catch a glimpse of Him on the other side: My Prize.

It seems the higher we look, the less fear can grab hold. For fear looms low, in the darken corners of the unknown.

But friends, He’s told us what’s on the other side of this journey. And it seems the only thing I need to fear is missing out.

If refinement is the cost, I’m certain it’s worth the price.

Resurrection awaits.

STOP.

NOTE: The above post was inspired by the book my friend Kris has written.
And it is being released today!

She has poured her heart out for His glory and is offering it to you HERE. Please, take a look and see if it could impact you as much as it has me.

You may read the foreword I was blessed to write for the book by clicking “To look inside” (and no, I’m not an affiliate).

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? Have you felt the refiner’s fire? How do you tackle the fear of refinement? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Prepared for the Journey {Jehovah Raah}

She asked me how I’ve been and waited for an honest answer. Right then and there I knew I had been given a gift:

An open invitation to spill my heart.

There was a time I would have shrugged this gift aside, but not today. Not after all He has done for me. Not with her and all she means to me. No. This I must do.

I must crack open my heart and invite her in.

I dug deep into my sack of emotions and looked for the common thread. There I saw anguish, mourning, worry, stress, even fear. But none of them were repeat offenders and the realization of that made me stop in my pacing tracks. I was stunned to see what was most common.

There, laced throughout the hurt, was peace. Joy. The realization of redemption.

“I’m honestly doing well. Sure it hurts and it’s not what I would have wanted, but nothing’s changed: I’m His. He’s overcome. I’m well on my way Home. And I get to be a part of His glory. Friend, I’m beyond fine  — I’m blessed. For I’ve found the peace that passes understanding.

The receiver turns silent and how I wished we had skyped instead. Then I hear her exhale of relief and reply:

“So you’re under The Shepherd’s arm…I’m so relieved to hear!”

Later that night as I dwelled on this discovery, I thought of her words…I’m under the Shepherd’s arm…and quoted out loud, slowly, the chapter in Psalm we all associate with our Jehovah Raah — Our Shepherd.

Friends, I’ve had it memorized for decades and have missed it all these years. And now that I know, I can’t get over it.

Oh how He loves me.


I couldn’t go on. My heart was stuck on

He makes me lie down…He restores my soul. 

And I saw it. Again and again.

Oh how He loves me.

You see, this last month has found me fearing, worrying, grieving, losing, aching, and just down right begging for Him to call us all Home.

It was more than I could handle alone. But I didn’t have to. For He knew this was coming for me. He knew every obstacle I’d have to climb over to get to where I am today. Friends, He knew and took action.

He saw my road ahead
and prepared my heart for it.

He made me ready for the journey.

That’s My Jehovah Raah…My Shepherd.

When I think of the month previous, I see all the moments He let me rest and soak Him in. He truly did restore my soul before it was tried once again…

Oh how He loves me. 

He knows what I need and how to deliver it. He sees my path ahead and determines the best way to conquer it. What’s more — He walks along side me and encourages me. Pushing me along when I’m being stretched. Picking me up when I’m too hurt to continue. Holding my hand when I need to linger long in the moment…

Thank You, Jehovah Raah. I’d be a fool not to join Your flock and follow. For I was once lost…and now I’m found. Rescued. Redeemed…Never alone. David was right. I don’t need a thing when I have You…

I pull open The Message to read this Psalm with a new voice…and I pray:

God, my Shepherd!
I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
You find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to Your word,
You let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through
Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
when You walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
for the rest of my life.

Psalm 23

How about you, friend? How has Jehovah Raah shepherded you lately? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,,

Nikki

Note: This is a part of my Names of God Series. You may find others HERE.

Ready and Willing {Accepting It’s Not About Me}

Fitted wranglers wrap around well-worn cowboy boots. His button-down shirt pressed with precision, silver snaps polished clean. The top button flails slightly to make room for the place he is now breathing through.

Long, sun-worn legs fold neatly next to him, adorned with wedged shoes that would make any mouth gape. A common armrest sits empty between them as she begins her feeble attempt to lighten the looming air. She shares all about her life of service behind the tray. Her pride on her shoulders as she proclaims she now has regulars. And based on the stories inked on her skin, I’m guessing this is as close to casual banter as it gets. He listens while nodding at the floor. His hands wringing to the rhythm of whistling air.

A nurse checks his wristband and offers to usher him away. His companion’s brightly patterned nails slap his knee and she cheers as lightheartedly as she can “Go get ’em, Walter!” Her stack of bracelets add to the chorus and all heads turn to join in on the encouragement.

I can’t help but watch her. With one glance I know we are worlds apart and with another I’m intrigued. Curious to see how similar we truly are.

When he is no longer in view, she melts in the chair, conforming to its curves and lets out the biggest sigh of “Thank God!” I have witnessed in years.

Whether it was intentional praise or indirect relief makes no difference. He heard her. And I saw Him answer hours later when the surgeon emerged with good news.

With that, she is ready to be on her way.

The doctor pleads otherwise.

Reasons or excuses come next and the man draped in white is having none of it. He tries to listen patiently but time presses hard. Finally he exclaims “Ma’am, I’m trying to save your brother’s life here, but I’m going to need your help…”

Out of words, she collapses into the same chair and nods in agreement. No longer helping in conversation but listening to the instruction he brings.

I finally see the resemblance.

Later that night, while thanking God for answering my prayers in that room, He reminded me of her. Rather, He showed me a mirror.

Friends, I’ve been known to pull a Jonah. I’ve had experience running from Nineveh. Excuses and reasons why I shouldn’t be the one come easy for me.

I’ve ignored His call to harvest before. I argue. Complain. I’ve even tried to remind God there are other things more important. Things affecting me today.

You know what? He listens, but He doesn’t relent. He simply keeps pointing the way, asking for my help. As if He needs it.

Sometimes I show up and trust my presence will be enough. I smile and encourage and play the part the best I know how. But there is no fooling The One draped in pure grace… No, He wants all of me.

I’m not sure when I figured it out: The fact He doesn’t really need my help. His glory will always prevail. But I’ll never forget the moment I realized this truth is a mere incidental.

Because the reality is: It is I who needs to help. To contribute to His glory. To show others He is my all in all. To deny myself and pay attention to my brother/sister. To focus more on Him.

A portion of verses have ended up in my lap numerous times lately (it helps they are found in Matthew and in Luke). I’ve talked about them before. And I’m ashamed to admit it took this long for me to really listen to what He was telling me.

It wasn’t until I had read it in The Message interpretation that it really hit home:

Then Jesus went to work on His disciples.
‘Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead.
You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am.
Don’t run from suffering; embrace it.
Follow me and I’ll show you how.
Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way,
My way, to finding yourself, your true self.
What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself?
What could you ever trade your soul for?’
Matthew 16:24-26

So this is what denying yourself is all about. This is why selfishness doesn’t have a place in His Kingdom.

  • It’s not about me.
  • The harvest is plentiful…the workers few.
  • And Home is on the horizon.

Father, oh how You pursue me. Thank you for Your persistence…for always being willing to work on me. Yes. I’ll deny myself today and live like I mean it. For it’s all about You. Why wouldn’t I want others to know and join me on this journey Home? Lord, I’m ready and willing. You lead, I’ll follow…

How about you, friend? Are you ready and willing? How do you deny yourself? Do you contribute to the harvest? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

What I Know to be True

I’ve been staring at this empty screen for nearly an hour. Frustrated for not being able to transfer my thoughts into keystrokes. One might think I have nothing to say, but I know that’s not true. No, I have too much to spill and too little space. And I’m struggling with finding the balance of what to share and what to leave behind.

Madeline L’Engle said sometimes when we have to speak suddenly, we come closer to the truth than when we have time to think. Time to write it out.

Everything about that frightens me as I generally become speechless in person. And deep down I wonder if that means I struggle with what I know as truth.

Friends, in the last week I’ve been knocked down, stripped bare, left with wounds gaping. And as I look at myself in this most raw, impressionable state, I can’t hide it: The Truth.

She met me at my most vulnerable. Completely clueless as to why I was placed in her charge. As she probed in the most tactful way she could muster, I couldn’t help but smile. Yes, that’s me. Always trying to make another comfortable. But my voice gave truth away. It shook and threatened to give out on me as I explained politely why I was there. She wrapped her hand around mine as she searched for words of comfort. And came up with what most do: “I’m so sorry.”

“Thank you, but don’t be sorry,” I assured her with a level voice that surprised even me. “Sorry implies regret and I have none. Yes, this hurts, but it doesn’t define me.”

We both held each other as we let those words sink in. Me needing them more than she. Words of truth I didn’t realize were within.

And bravery started creeping in because maybe I see more truth than I realize.

I’ve been asking myself what I’ve seen through this mask of pain. And friends, as I picture you within reach, speaking to your compassionate eyes, this is what I can tell you:

Truth is, I’m a mess. A big puddle of failure if we focus on what I can do alone. I’m indecisive albeit easy-going. Only driven when I’m feeling challenged. Nothing about me stands out in a crowd.

I hide well behind politeness but inside I’m a dirty, rotten sinner.  Begging desperately for redemption. Clinging to the hope of amazing grace.

Truth is, I’ve found it: Grace. It was offered to me in a plain wrapped package. Like it could have been gifted to anyone. I couldn’t see my name on it until I got close enough and accepted it as my own. I’ve tested it. Sometimes without realizing it. And it’s true: The mercy of grace is new every morning.

Truth is, I can’t live without Him. To call Him my Savior seems like an understatement. For He has done more than save me. He’s redeemed me. Claimed me for His own. Made me feel like I’m His everything. He’s all that’s beautiful within me. And I’m head over heels in love.

Truth is, nothing can take that away. No amount of pain or sorrow can steal what He’s offered me. Reminding me how hopeless I am without Him can’t change the fact I have hope with Him.

Truth is, the enemy has his work cut out for him if he thinks I’ll walk away from this scandalous love affair I’ve wrapped myself in. No. I’m not that easy.

Friends, in the last week I’ve been knocked down, stripped bare, left with wounds gaping. And as I look at myself in this most raw, impressionable state, I can’t hide it: The Truth.

I’m a child of The King.
My name’s been written in Glory.
And I’m well on my way Home.
I hope to see you there.

How about you, friend? What do you know to be true? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Linking up with:

 

This is Life {My Eye on the Prize}

I press on to reach the end of the race
and receive the heavenly prize
for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Philippians 3:14

Paul’s words have consumed my thoughts lately. I know I’ve told you this passage inspired my One Word for the year: Intentional. But have I told you it also inspired the blog name Simplystriving?  It did and I’d like to tell you why this verse means life in every essence to me.

This world is wrought with obstacles. They bombard us on all sides and it becomes easy to be consumed by them. Some even call this “life.” These things that stare us right in the face, begging for our everything. And yet He’s asked us to look up and press on. Strive to see beyond the now and look towards what He’s preparing for us this very instant: Home.

Friends, we’re simply striving to find our way Home. And He’s promised. If we keep striving, we’ll be rewarded well for our journey.

I must confess to you…I have days where this vision feels like it will never materialize. Days where I forget it’s a promised reality. It seems out of reach as I become consumed with my own failures.

Even then I feel it. This burning desire to get to the finish line. This urge to meet Him at the end and receive the prize He’s promised. We’ve talked about why: He buried the prize of eternity with Him deep within our own souls. Giving us the desire to press on to obtain it fully.

So I remind myself to look beyond the minute details of my everyday and see what life is really all about: My Father welcoming me Home. Oh Jesus, I’m on my way…

Friends, I am hoping you will extend some grace to me today, this Music Monday. Because I feel the need to share with you one of my favorite Francis Chan illustrations instead of a song. Let me tell you, this 4 minute video is worth your time. It changed my perspective in more ways than one. It makes my soul sing every time I view it, which was the purpose of Music Mondays to begin with. Please watch it sometime, even if you can’t now. (Subscribers, CLICK HERE to press play on the image below.)

Francis Chan ~ What are You Living For?

We know this life here on earth was a gift. The kind of gift it is has changed for me over the years. But I think I’m beginning to see. And I know how I’m going to explain it to the children He places under my care.

Oh friends, this life here is all about love. A gift of time, giving us the chance to completely fall head-over-heels in love with Him.

Last week, over at Lisa-Jo’s, she gave us a 5 minute writing prompt on the word ‘Focus’. And as I read a number of posts from my friends in that community, I started praising Him for something I have never focused on before.

We all have heard it said, but more importantly, we have all experienced it. This road we’re on…it’s narrow. The path is skinny and is so easy to get off course when we lose our focus. I used to view that as the dare of life. A challenge to us that have chosen this path of Christ.

But now I see if differently. I think the road is narrow because we’re easily distracted. And I’m learning the longer I keep my eye on the prize, the less I see around me. The path gets even smaller. Sometimes so small I feel like I can’t see the next step.

Do you want to know why I think that is? When we take the focus off ourselves and keep our eyes fixed on Him, He envelops us with His love. And pulls us in close. Holding us tightly in His arms. Oh how He loves us.

And the closer I am to Him, the less I can see need to see. Oh Father, keep my road narrow with You blocking my view.

Friends, I don’t need to see down the road.
I just need to see The Prize.
And keep striving to make it to the day
my scandalous love affair turns into my wedding day.
Then I’ll know I’ve arrived.
I’m in love. And I’m finally Home.

How about you, friends? What is life to you? How do you keep your eye on the prize? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

LINKING WITH: Mercy{INK} Heart and Home

NOTE: For more reading about this, I encourage you to read the entire chapter of Philippians 3

ATTENTION FRIENDS:
I am currently accepting guest posts for
this Music Monday slot here on Simplystriving.
Please know you do not need to have your own blog
to submit a post that shares your heart.
To express interest or find out more about this,
please email me at Simplystriving (at) gmail (dot) com.
Thank you!

What Praying Without Ceasing Looks Like

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The back of my legs cling to the vinyl as if they never want to leave. Cold chrome brushes by as my toe traces the maze of the asbestos linoleum hidden beneath. Colors are beginning to fade, I notice, but the sheen will always remain. She’ll make certain of that.

“We need to take care of what He’s given us,
so He knows how thankful we are.
Remember, He giveth, and taketh away.
Let’s make sure He only takes away what we don’t need.”

One could blindfold me and I would still know where I am. A familiarity I never want to take for granted even if it smells of raw onions, old coffee, and baked cinnamon. Here it makes no difference. I can breathe in the scent of safety and let it percolate.

My heart warms as she breezes by, focused on one thing only: keeping my hands busy. Her lips curl upwards as she finds a project “just for me”. And I happily play along, pretending the task is of utmost importance. With every chance, I never told her I would have been just as content watching her do her everyday. Even at the age of 8, I found my great-grandmother mesmerizing.

Francis Chan in Crazy Love wrote that the point of our life is to point to Him. In whatever we do, glorify Him.

She was a prime example.

It used to be a game I’d play. Trying to guess if she was talking to herself or to her Savior. I have to admit, the longer I played the game, the more I began to realize there was no wrong answer.

Friends, there was no mistaking it. If you had been blessed to meet my grandmother, you would have known it, too. She was simply a sinner saved by grace. And she managed to bring her Redeemer up in any conversation. Crazy how it always felt appropriate.

She lived and breathed Him. Making Him always relevant. Reachable even.

The greatest gifts she ever gave me came when I was away at college. I can’t even describe the feeling of seeing her formal cursive sprawled across an envelope, waiting for me in my mailbox. I would try to save the letters for my quiet time, because that’s where they always took me.

I remember one particular morning. I sat cross-legged on the commercial blue berber in our walk-in closet. My quiet place. Her card in hand. She shared about the weather, her latest project, and how the river outside her picture window looked that very instant. Every other sentence was filled with praise. Of thanks for her Savior and were written as if those sentences were for Him with me as a witness…

At the bottom of this card, she had sprawled out the reference:

I Thessalonians 5:16-18

And I immediately started digging to see what hidden message she had for me. I reached for as close to The King James as I had so I could hear her voice read these words:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing,
in everything give thanks;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Never had this passage made more sense. For my great-grandmother made this dream a reality.

I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I’ve been plagued with fear from the command to pray without ceasing. I’ve gone through phases where I even deemed it impossible. Oh how soon we forget.

A few weeks back, while reading Henri Nouwen, the memories of my great-grandmother flooded in, taking residence in my heart of hearts. Because of this:

“We must make our lives into one unceasing prayer”
~ Henri Nouwen, Love in a Fearful Land

And I’m starting to see more clearly. The secret she shared with me 15 years ago.

Friends, this praying without ceasing business isn’t really a sacrificial action. It isn’t something only the “most Godly” are capable of. It’s a state of mind. One even I can strive to achieve.

We simply need to keep our eyes fixed on Him. Live like He’s in the room. That’s all we need to concern ourselves with. For if we do, our lives will be offered up as one unceasing prayer.

Would you like to know what’s helped me the most on my journey of trying to live it out?

THANKS. Giving it, sharing it, acknowledging it, offering it, allowing it to consume my thoughts. For when I do, I feel my heart being lifted up. Unceasingly. With my face fixed. Fearlessly.

Mind if I share some of my recent thanks with you?

  • God is generous even when we’re at our worst (Luke 6:30-40)
  • My great-grandmother’s handiwork on my feet
  • The noon bell. Small town feel in this large(er) city
  • Talking eye-to-eye with a kindred friend
  • Signs of fall
  • Hearing “Mom, let’s dance!” when a favorite worship song comes on
  • Sidewalk chalk art
  • Playing games as a family
  • How He pursues me. Relentlessly
  • Freshly laundered rugs

How about you, friend? Do you see praying without ceasing within your grasp? What do you think it takes? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Linking with MercyINK’s Heart and Home

So thrilled to be back in this community:

My Everything

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We’re all born with a void hidden deep within. A deep hole that subconsciously aches to be filled. Most of us in pure desperation take the solution upon ourselves. By any means presented to us. And sometimes we think we succeed only to realize the feeling of fullness was temporary.

Our desperation leaves us feeling empty. Lost. Incomplete.

Friends, may I tell you something I’m starting to realize?

Jesus is comfortable with incomplete.

Why, look at the way He left His disciples here on earth: Feeling like failures and more helpless than they had ever been before.

I’m now certain this was a part of God’s ultimate plan because through the pain of failure we learn a valuable lesson:

Grace is sufficient. *                   

After some discovery, most of us realize what yearns to be there. We begin to feel this four letter word that makes the hurt go away.

Love.

And we long for it. Search for it. Sometimes sell ourselves short to obtain it. Only to realize what we found wasn’t what we were looking for. It seems this simple little word is more than we’re capable of mastering. Do you know why?

God IS love. **   

Friends, I need to share it in case someone doesn’t know. When we let Him in to our heart of hearts, He fills this aching hole we have within us –the one addictions feed off of. The very one He intentionally planted with our future in mind. He showers us with a Heavenly love we can’t even begin to comprehend.

Human love will always be a faint shadow of God’s love. Not because it is too sugary or sentimental, but simply because it can never compare from whence it comes. Human love, with all its passion and emotion is a thin echo of the passion/emotion love of Yahweh.”
~ Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel 

I have to believe I’m not the only one. I’m trusting we all on our Christian walk at one point or another feel that emptiness once again. The ache we once knew visiting us like the tide. And we wonder where God went.

It wasn’t until recently I realized what the void truly was.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

The void is eternity. Our planned future. The one He wants to spend with us. You see, the seed of Heaven was planted in our hearts at conception.

We’ve been hard-wired for Heaven.

That’s the ache we feel in this world that’s not our home. It’s the ache of being one with Him, being one with Love. Of being Home.

So do we just live with it? That’s what I first thought but then I started remembering moments when I did feel whole. And I realized, He’s got a fix for this, too.

As we wait for complete communion, He offers to grace us with His love. With Him. He wants to take this time to water the seed He planted in us long before we drew our first breath. And watch the growth from that seed spread…

Friends, I’m starting to see the feeling of addiction as a gift. A gift to ensure we’ll keep coming back for more love. More of Him.

Oh how He loves us.

I now know when I start to feel that ache. When the pang of longing won’t go away, it’s because I haven’t taken enough time to soak Him in and pour Him right back out. (I John 4:7-21)

And I’m learning now nothing compares. I don’t want to fill myself up with anything else. For nothing else satisfies. Instead, I’m going to give Him more room. To grow in me. To nurture my soul. To watch me spread with His love.

Friends, I want Him to be my everything. And He’s accepted the challenge.

This post might feel all over the place for you. It does me. But I’m struggling with sharing everything on my heart lately and needed to start somewhere. I want to talk about this more. From various angles and share what He has placed on my heart lately. I hope you join me.

But for now, please enjoy this song that encapsulates this better than I ever could.

(Subscribers, CLICK HERE to listen in to one of my favorite worship songs that talks about this so well)

Your Love is Everything ~ Jesus Culture

How about you, friend? How do you deal with the void? How do you let Him fill you up? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

~~~~~~~~~~

NOTE: I talked about this a bit before. If you’d like to read more, click HERE.

*  2 Corinthians 12:9
** I John 4:8, 9, 16

Forget Less…I Want More.

I was knee-deep. Treading through piles of what to keep, donate, sell. Never have I been more determined to lighten our storage closet, our lives, my mind.

It’s been a theme of mine this year it seems. Striving to simplify. Re-organize. De-clutter. Streamline the stuff on this earth that has our name carved into it. Most would think we don’t have a lot, but I know better. We have more than we need.

My husband has always been able to see right through me and this night was no exception. He saw the look of exasperation I was trying to pass off as motivation and jumped in head first to help.

And just when I was about to joke that all this feels like a boa constrictor, I get that tingle on the nape of my neck. The one I’ve learned means a lesson is fast approaching. Then, this verse comes to mind:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
John 10:10

What was He trying to say? That I didn’t need to get rid of these clothes? That I shouldn’t sell this typewriter I’ve never once used but only enjoy looking at?

It was as if I was trying to throw in a rebuttal when I recalled these verses:

Then Jesus said to his disciples,
“I tell you the truth, it is very hard
for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel
to go through the eye of a needle
than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”
Matthew 19:23-24

And I tell Him right then and there I don’t ever want to seem rich. I want to be more like the birds, not needing a barn to store things in **. I don’t want the riches of this world to distract me from making my way Home. I’d rather sell it all and live in a van down by the river…

I must admit to you, this is a common thing between Him and I. So much so I should have expected what was to come: that sick feeling I get in my chest when I’ve got things all wrong. Yet no matter how many times I miss the mark, He always offers grace. He gently reminds. Always pointing me back to the road leading me Home.

With one cleansing breath, I was ready for it. I closed my eyes and let His voice wash over me.

Child, you’re so focused on less when I want you to focus on more.
You want to be empty when I want you to be full.
For I came to give you life to the full.
Set your heart on wanting more, child. More of Me.
Want Me and less will want you.
Make more room for Me and all the clutter in your life will be revealed.
Forget about needing to be less. I want you to be so much more…

No sooner had the moment started than it was already gone, leaving me breathless in the wake. When I opened my eyes, a new passion washed over me. A deep yearning sparked within leaving me anxious to live out this new calling.

Friends, forget less. I want more. More of Him. It will naturally make less of me. I want to make more room for Him and watch Him reveal what needs to be removed because of it. Will you join me?

I look back at the antique typewriter and say in a way even my husband is convinced: “Let’s sell it. I don’t need it anymore. No, I’m not going to miss it.”

How about you, friend? Do you want more? How do you make more room for Him? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

** For reference check out Matthew 6:25-34

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One Fold at a Time ~ My Birthday Reflection

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I had made it with my own two hands in shop class. Didn’t matter what the temperature was in the house, it was always cool to the touch when I would stretch under to find it. Spray painted black and locked with a key was my safe place. The space that for my teenage self-consumed years, held my heart.

And I still remember it like it was yesterday, my 18th birthday. When I reached under my bed searching for something inside my secret box: the list of my 5 and 10 year goals. My dreams.

Reading them again in great detail, I concurred I wouldn’t change a thing. None of them seemed to scream “all for me”. I could even see how God’s glory might prevail in each one. And in my prayer time, I told Him as much.

Then I handed the list to Him and said for the first time in my life:

“Here, Lord. I give it to You. Have Your way with me.”

Friends, I wouldn’t know it then, but I do now. I witnessed grace right then and there as He crumpled up my papered dreams and handed me a new sheet. Not one wrinkle, crease or writing on it as far as I could see…

Fast forward 17 years and you’ll find me today as He reminds me of that moment. And I hear His whisper “Do you see? I may have crumpled your child-like dreams, but do you see how I have made them more beautiful?”

He’s right, you know. My life is nowhere near what I imagined it to be. It’s richer. And I see now how He has folded that piece of paper so intricately to make something beautiful out of me.

Somewhere along the way, He apprehended my heart with His compelling love.
And gave me wings to fly.
Somehow through the journey, He captivated my soul.
And fixed my face upon Him.
Some way only He can accomplish, He turned my world upside down.
And made me realize I am finally right-side up.

I’ve been in a scandalous love affair ever since.

Wanna know the biggest lesson I’ve learned through it all?

My heart doesn’t belong in a box tucked away neatly in a safe place. It’s not meant to live on my sleeve, either. My heart, the place I’ve let Him take up residence, is meant to be shared. Handed out freely to anyone willing to accept it in the manner intended.

Could I get hurt? No more than He has been.

Will I run out of something to give? Not if I keep letting Him fill me up again.

Does everyone deserve a piece of it? That’s where the gift comes in.

Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.
Proverbs 4:23 NLT

My heart warms while accepting the permission I have to protect myself. And my heart leaps out of my chest in joy over knowing the place where He resides determines the course of my life. It’s a joint effort. This love affair.

Friends, every time I lay my self down and give His love away, I gain another fold. I become one step closer to the one He has made me to be. And I have no idea what my shape will look like when He’s done but one thing I am certain: He’s the best origami artist there could ever be.

Thank you, Father, for another year of letting me witness what You can do through me. I’ve said it before and may I never stop: Here You go, Abba. Have Your way with me…

How about you, friend? How has He been folding you lately? How do you guard and still give your heart away? I’d love to hear. 

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

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