Joy Unearthed

I’ve grown to enjoy the dark. When the house is still and I have succumb to my reading chair. A night owl I am not and yet I’ve become captivated by what it brings. My senses kick into high gear, hearing sounds I’m too busy to notice in the light of day. And I’ve grown to enjoy the symphony my settling house provides.

Faint smells come to life bringing fond memories into clear view. I’ve washed this afghan countless times but haven’t faded the scent of my great-grandmother’s home. And if I close my eyes I can see her making this for me. I can hear the soft click of her crochet needles in a steady 3-4 rhythm. Her eyes seemed focused on her handiwork, but I know better. She could have made this for me in her sleep. No, she’s anticipating my wedding day, praying for the wife and mother I will become.

Lines, contours, shapes and shadows become stark in the illuminated night. I glance across the subtly lit room and see my favorite fleece throw. The one adorned with atonal notes and musical signatures. I remember vividly the day I was gifted with this thoughtful present. My Grandpa sharing with me “I just knew this was for you when I saw it.” And I smile wide when I realize every room in my home is graced with something he and my beloved Nama have given me.

It’s in the night that I write. Something I always thought I’d never be able to do. And some nights I cannot. My fingers refuse to move, my mind adds clutter to any train of thought passing by.

But every night I try. Because I know.
I know if I show up, He will too.
And even if I don’t get words to come out,
I know we’ll have a much-needed conversation.
My Savior and I.
Our standing date-night.

Sometimes I’ll ask questions and not hear an answer. And the dark of night becomes my reality.

Sometimes I’ll have no agenda and will simply be. With Him. Praising Him. Delighting in being His own. And the black of night becomes forgotten as His light surrounds me.

Sometimes I’ll carry burdens and lay them down at His feet. Striving hard to not pick them up again. And the contrast of night stings as my pain is exposed to the dark air.

Regardless of how many sometimes I encounter, not one of them is the same. With each night, my senses hone in on something new or old once forgotten.

And I’ve grown to enjoy the dark. For in that place I allow my senses to kick into high gear. There’s no telling what joy will be unearthed as a result.

You light a lamp for me.
 The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.
Psalm 18:28 NLT

How about you? Do you find time each day/night to meet with Him? What does your standing date look like? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Linking up with Just Write for my first time
And the last of the spring tour for:

Through Eyes of Grace

The words roll off my tongue like I’ve asked them many times. As if I use this question in all of my normal one-on-one encounters. Truth was I had never asked this of anyone before. Not even from myself. Yet here I was, sharing these words with someone I wasn’t yet calling friend:

“So, if I were to ask Jesus to describe you,
what do you think He’d say?”

And the instant it fell from my lips I regretted it. For the look on her face was all I needed to know I’d stepped outside the normal comforts of chit-chat. What was I thinking? She wasn’t ready for that and neither was I.

That moment was a memory I had tucked away deep down for safe keeping, never intending to pull it out again. It was almost forgotten…until she emailed me to tell me she was ready to answer the question I had backpedaled over some time ago.

I’m sure my friend would be more than willing to share her answer for you here. I was going to ask her to do just that. For it is brilliant and in my opinion, a spot on depiction of her. But that voice just behind my ear, the one I feel down deep into my chest won’t let me. It seems I now need to return the favor. I need to answer the question myself.

Let me tell you, looking at yourself through eyes of grace does not come easy. It’s even harder for someone who prefers not to talk about herself, let alone in the 3rd person.

While trying, I realized I really didn’t want to see myself with His perfect vision. I was scared with what I would find. That there really wasn’t much to say… Which is exactly why I have to try.

So, if we were able to hear Jesus describe me; Deep down in the place we don’t bring up in normal chit-chat, this is what I feel He’d say:

My bride Nikki? She’s my beloved. I love her so…
Her heart bleeds compassion,
though she is hesitant to accept it when it’s returned.
Joy comes easy to her when she slows down enough
to look through those sparkling eyes of hers.

She can find beauty in the most obscure things…I love that!
When she lets Me help her, she can be as patient as they come.
Graciously pouring love and forgiveness on those around her.
Her passion pours through her fingers when she plays piano.
I could sit and listen to her play for hours.
And sometimes I do, when she takes the initiative to invite me.
What she tries to pass off as strong will is merely a struggle with self-doubt.
But we’re working on it. And lately, she’s been perceptive.
Oh, she has her Father in her.
I can see His traits when she submits to being who she was made to be.
And when I see her like that, it makes everything worthwhile.
You see, I’d die to save her.
In fact, I did.
And for Nikki? I’d do it all over again.
She’s worth it.
She’s the love of my life.

Friends, I’m struggling with sharing this with you. But this exercise is worth being embarrassed over. I’m sure I don’t have it right–what He would say of me. And that’s okay, I can keep striving. For now, I’ve received but a glimpse of how much He loves me through it, with His eyes of grace. And I so want you to have that, too.

How about you? Will you give it a try? What would Jesus say about you? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

And so I Write

click for source:

His baby blue eyes were first to give it away. As he drew back in anticipated regret, I knew. My boy had it, too. I breathed in deep as I witnessed a trait being passed down. And struggled to exhale while realizing he would possibly need to fight this through every season of life.

This fear of failure. This yearning for perfection. This tendency to doubt. It doesn’t matter what you call it, they’re all the same to me.

They all hold you back.

Instinctively I reached for imaginary gloves. What else is a mom to do when she sees something that could hold her child back from his greatest achievements? I began to swing. Throwing punches of encouragement in hopes of knocking this roadblock down.

With my last swing I found myself saying, “With God, all things are possible” and that’s when I felt the blow. Just below the ribs. The Holy Spirit seems to get me in that sweet spot every time.

It blew me back. I wasn’t sure where I was struggling with this at first. But He used the Book of Job as my mirror. For while reading it I discovered what God had been trying to show me:

That I was guilty of what Job was found guilty of. I had my eyes on the issue, not the answer. I was focused on my weakness, not His strength. I was quick to give answers, excuses, defend my position, give up, not ask for help. It doesn’t matter how you look at it, it all means the same.

I had put God in a box. I had confined Him.
Held Him back from working through me.

Once again, my eyes were on me and not where they should be.

I needed to take action and begin erasing proof of my doubts. My self-proclaimed limitations. That which held God back.

The part where I mention I’m not a writer on my welcome page? It’s gone.

You see, that wasn’t for me to proclaim. It seems God has other plans. For He’s asked me to write what I’m striving for. I’m not sure why. I’m not sure for whom. I’m not sure who’s reading, but I am sure it’s happening. I’m writing them down. One-by-one.

And who knows how He’ll use me through this outlet. Maybe I’m the only one that needs to hear these words I find within. To Him, I know that’s enough. I know He’d go to these great lengths just to get closer to me. He pursues me like that. Oh how He loves…

So I’m going to strive to get out-of-the-way. No more limiting what He can do through me. No more clinging to the comforts of doubt.  No more proclaiming that which He has not made me yet.

Instead, I will write. I will share what I’m striving for in hopes I bring Him glory. And if others find me along the way and want to join me on this journey, praise God! If we are striving for common goals and can encourage each other, praise God! If these words are intended for me alone, praise God! For it doesn’t matter how you look at it:

He’s worthy of praise.

He’s worth getting out of my comfort zone for.

It’s worth proclaiming that which I can only do through Him.

Friends, God made me a writer.

How about you? What has God done through you lately? How do you stop yourself from putting God in a box? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

I’m linking to:

Waiting Defines ~ Write it, Girl

I am so excited to have one of my favorite link-ups back for Round 2! I started blogging in November, 2011, and this link up was one of my first to take part in.

I was so excited for March. To write with my heart open wide and share among a community of others doing the same.

Then the words wouldn’t come.

Instead, I feel led to pull an old post out and share it with this community. I’m not sure why. Maybe because these words are still on my heart.

~~~~~~~~~~

wait·ing/ˈwātiNG/ noun.

1. The act of remaining inactive or stationary. The act of delaying action until a particular time or until something else happens.

~~~~~~~~~~

It was a bittersweet day.

Sweet because I was spending the entire day with the love of my life.
Bitter because deep down in the place we don’t like to talk about,
that’s how I was feeling.

It was the day of my next milestone. The one I’d been dreading. The day I turned 30.

You see, I wasn’t where I thought I’d be. No children in the foreseeable future. Still living in a town we originally assumed was a transitional stop for us. One I felt we were at while waiting on Him. And I was tired. Tired of the questions. Tired of not knowing. Tired of the waiting game.

So much so that I had stressed my body out. I was sure of it. After all, being late only happens when I’ve done that to myself. Oh, I assured my husband that’s all it was. Multiple tests had proved it. It was me just being silly. Overreacting to the act of waiting.

My husband did a wonderful job of listening to me, reminding me of what we had talked about so many times, and encouraging me to pray about it. Even still, in all his wisdom, we stopped by the drugstore on our way home. It was my birthday after all. And what else was he  to do after I had poured out my heart and soul over fried mushrooms?

Friends, God spoke clearly to me that night. He changed my life. First with two lines that formed a positive. Then with words spoken directly to my heart.

“My child, who are you waiting for?”

And I realized. He had been saying this to me all along. It was just the first time He had my undivided attention.

You see, I had made the biggest, most common mistake with the waiting game.

I had taken the dictionary definition literally.

I had stayed still.
Become stagnant.
To the point where I had missed Him giving me directions.

I was where I was supposed to be in this earthly world, but I wasn’t where I was supposed to be in my relationship with Him, the world that matters most.

That night was nearly 5 years ago now. A lot has changed. Primarily my perspective. For when I look back at all the times I felt God telling me to wait, and observe the outcome, I see it.

God wasn’t telling me to sit still.
He was telling me to hold on tight.

He was inviting me to trust Him.
He was asking me to hope.
He was telling me I needed more time with Him first.
He was wanting me to find contentment without it.
He was offering me a refuge. A rest before the next journey.

As far as I’m concerned, Webster couldn’t be more wrong.

I believe, as Christians, we get to choose how we define waiting. Will we perceive it as a time of standing still, waiting idly by for God to move this mountain, or will we strive to meet Him in this place. To cling to Him, lean on Him with all we have and let Him carry us through this transition. For isn’t being near to Him all that matters anyway?

I’m striving to not make the same mistake. I never want to feel so apart from God again. And by His grace, I don’t have to. From now on, my definition of waiting will be:

wait·ing/ˈwātiNG/ noun.

1. The act of hoping in Him. The act of eagerly seeking Him until He blesses the next move.

Waiting. What a defining journey.

How about you? How do you define waiting? More importantly, how does waiting define you? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me. And please, click on the Write It, Girl link up button above to read more hearts open wide.

Simply striving,

Nikki