Here we find ourselves in the very last few hours of 2019. Our news feeds are filling up with pictures of the year past and hopes and dreams for the year to come. If you’re anything like me you are more than ready to say good riddance to 2019! I don’t need to bore you with the long list of why “woe is me this year was horrible”. Maybe you have a reason to whine and complain or maybe you don’t but that isn’t stopping you from doing so. Whatever the case I’m encouraging you(and me) to leave 2019 in 2019 and look forward with all anticipation of what God will do in your (my) life as you seek His face in each of the moments to come. There will be trials just as in 2019 and those years gone on before but you survived and you’ll survive any bumps in the road of the future. There’s also going to be great memories to experience,relationships to form,love to share,goals to achieve and when you(Me) make it to this time next year you’ll be proud of yourself IF you keep your focus on the Lord and the goals you set out for yourself. My problems in 2019 can largely be attributed to me losing focus as I faced challenge after challenge. I could have saved myself a lot of pain. Ask yourself (I ask myself) “Will I regret this if…” and “Does this make me proud?” Oh and most importantly “Am I glorifying my Father?” Most of you know my goal this year is to lose 110 lbs(now 95ish). As you follow along on my journey I want to encourage you to make a big goal for yourself. Share with me how you are doing with it and let’s support each other along the way! Comment your goal and I’ll write it down and pray for you!
Here are my beginning pictures I took tonight. Remember this thing: You only have to make one choice at a time to reach your goal. We only get one day at a time so why not live it to the fullest taking as many steps one step at a time as we fulfill each moment we are given.
1)I feel beautiful and happy tonight the last night of 2019.
2-4) My before pictures as of today. I took before pictures 13lbs. Ago but I wanted to share tonight’s.
I realized I’ve been sharing with others but I wanted to share with you all as well.
Wednesday I wrote:
Today I made a choice. Today is my day to begin my next journey. I’ve debated if I’d share it with others or if it something I’d silently do on my own. I think I’ll do as I do with the rest of my life. I’ll be honest. I am overweight. There’s no hiding it or pretending it away. I can honestly say I’m fat but I don’t look in the mirror and see ugly. In fact I wish I did because maybe it would have been more motivating in the past. My choice is being driven by my career choice. I work with complex children and have to have the stamina to keep themselves and myself safe when they are in my care. I can’t be winded going up a flight of stairs because they’ll know that I’m physically weak and they will twist that to believe they are not safe. I choose strength over weakness. Weakness of physical limitations and weakness over mental limitations. I have let other people’s unintentional hurtful words keep me from caring to be the best me. Well after this year of overcoming hard things I’m done letting others rule my life. No I don’t feel ugly by my fat but I do feel weak and I am not ok with that. I choose to be strong! However let’s be honest, we as women all* want to be slimmer than what we are. It’s just a fact. I’m ok admitting I look forward to what I’ll see in the future. Strength in my confidence!
*Some women would wish to be able to gain weight. I just meant we all want to look good!
On Saturday(I’m not share my exact words because they are not for this setting.)I wrote about being thankful to be alive and how just a month ago I seriously started questioning me being alive. I hated myself and and felt so alone. You can see the difference in the side by side pictures. I really reached an all time low. I knew if I didn’t make some choices I wouldn’t just be dying on the inside but I’d actually die if I didn’t do something. I decided to make some choices to delete my social media accounts and make new ones. I did this to control who’s lives I saw and who saw mine. It was too hard to see the community I was once active in go on with life. They made a choice not to be in my life and they no longer get the privilege of seeing my life through a window so to speak. It was the most freeing choice. Then I made a choice to start weight watchers. That too has been a freeing choice. I have made a series of positive and life changing choices so I might choose to live and not simply survive each day! I have never been more proud of myself! I couldn’t have done it without the prayers of my true friends and community. I have had my burden lifted!
Today I wrote:
I’m thankful for a new day to love,serve,and become a new me. We start each day at zero. Zero knowledge of how the day will turn out. Zero steps logged in the pilgrimage for that day. Zero mistakes made (yet). The possibilities are endless and a good portion of those possibilities are in our own control to move forward in them or not. We have the control over a lot..not everything but with each step we are making a choice. With each step our zero becomes 1/10/100/1,000/10,000 and more which help up reach our goal! The zero can either look like a defeat before we even begin or an open road with victory at the end. WE get to choose which way we’ll view this pilgrim road! I started my journey at zero. I had nothing left. I was literally at zero. I had lost zero weight,I had zero care in me. I had zero of the life I once had. Until one day I saw my zero as a possibility! My zero is now four! I’ve lost four pounds and those four pound are just as exciting to be lost as if it were the 110 lbs. I need to lose. Just as we start out at zero in our personal lives we start out at zero in our spiritual lives. Before we have Christ we have nothing! When we see and accept His unfailing love for us that’s when our nothing turns into a possibility. From there we set out to follow Him on the greatest pilgrimage we will make. The goal is our marriage to Him. We are literally journeying on to get to our wedding to the king of kings! Along the way we drop a lot of weight. Step,step,step…drop anxiety. Step,step,step…drop the anger. Step,Step,Step …drop our idols. Step,Step,step…What weight will you drop today? Soon your zero will bring you to your finish line and you won’t be walking but rather running and I don’t know about you but I’m excited for each of my steps from zero to then!
Psalm 143:8 Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.
So a recap of what all this means. I crashed, I mean I REALLY crashed and I was not ok. I’m thankful for the people in my life that help me. I’m ok now..better than ok I’m thriving. I have made positive choices to only have the people in my life who invest in my life and I them. I started weight watchers last week and I’m loving it! I’m making good life choices and I’m a new me!
Recently I met my boyfriend for the first time. Say what? Yes you heard me right. I met my boyfriend for the first time when he stepped off of the airplane and into the Ohio humidity. Nervous jittery feelings were deeply imbedded into my person as the moment I had be waiting for and almost believing was not reality became reality.
Not more than 24 hours after we met in person for the first time we were thrown into a five day church conference complete with 2,000 people (exact number unknown). To say the pressure was on and the nerves were at an all time high is a vast understatement. I’ll pause here to say I wouldn’t have changed a single moment but it was far more overwhelming than I could have wrapped my head around.
This blog post isn’t about my Mark and I. Sorry to disappoint you but I sure do hope you’ll continue to read along as I share something very special to me.
Monday night at my churches conference we all go up on stage to sing. The singing comes after a special sermon directed at our young folks. Mark and I walked in to the song Would You be Poured Out Like Wine. The words gripped my heart as I heard it through his heart. For me it’s a fairly common song and I hear it a lot. For him it was the first time and I’m glad he had the thought to record it. As I reflected over our week together being surrounded by my fellowship I couldn’t help but have the light bulb moment of understanding that this fellowship had truly been poured out like wine and broken not only for each other but for Mark and I personally.
The week leading up to this unprecedented meeting I started getting texts of prayers and support. The day before a dear sister stopped by and as the Holy Spirit prompted took my hands and prayed for mark and I. All throughout the conference and even still phone calls,texts,and so very many prayers are being poured out like wine on our behalf. It’s not uncommon for me to value and be filled up with love by “my people”. In fact in every season I have had brothers and sisters walk along side me as consistent cheerleaders ready to support me however God leads. Poured..so much poured on my behalf.
Then there were the sermons prepared by God using willing men as humble vessels for His glory. Oh so incredibly rich were the moments sitting in fellowship ears attentive and hearts connecting. After each preaching service I was so in awe of all the people who came up and talked to Mark and I. They treated us like fellow citizens of the kingdom and not simply the next article of gossip in the newspaper. Ministers,friends,strangers,everywhere everyone was available to talk about the Lord. My friends from all spots in life shared meals with us. These selfless acts of making the person I care about feel welcome was not overlooked but in fact was noticed and brought tears to my eyes! My fellowship was broken like bread to feed the hungry! Oh we are hungry for your continued prayers over this relationship.
Next up was Tuesday council meeting which I honestly didn’t really know what to think about as we walked in. Soon I knew without a doubt that these men laboring for this little part of the body of Christ were communicating in love and I was glad Mark got to experience that. Before Tuesday’s council there was Sunday’s communion. It’s nothing for communion to be a moving time of pure worship. I personally felt overwhelmed by that point. Overwhelmed in a good way but there was a lot of pressure on us having just met and now everyone being so excited and ready for us to tie the knot in their minds. I sat at the table just sobbing realizing that there was no way that I could do this relationship on my own but rather I needed Jesus take the complete lead as we have desired from the beginning. No amount of well wishes or personal hopes could carry us, only the Holy Spirit has that capability. So after taking the wine and the bread I felt peace so much peace knowing no matter my tomorrows He has already paved the way. He has provided me with a loving fellowship that is the embodiment of the song we sang and the Jesus we serve.
I don’t know where you find yourself on this pilgrim journey. Maybe you’re not yet a pilgrim and find yourself just plum lost. That’s not how this life is supposed to be. The kingdom of God is a community made up of living people living in abundant joy serving their king Jesus. That manifests itself in many ways such as laying down your life for a brother or sister as my fellowship has done for me. If you haven’t yet started your pilgrimage I ask “why not”? Why haven’t you surrendered your will to the Lord? Are you going through life looking the part but living in the depths of depression or lukewarm living..or maybe you’re just spiritually dead? Know this one thing. We have all come short of the glory of God. We are rotten with sin and deserve to die. God doesn’t accept dead people into His spotless kingdom. You must take hold of what the Word says in John 3:16. For God so loved the world (you&me) that He gave His only begotten son so that whosoever shall parish will have everlasting life! He wants to take you from death into life,darkness into light! Then only then you can follow the Words of Jesus in taking your cross (His cause) and follow after Him as pilgrims and strangers in this foreign land.
To the pilgrim that’s just journeying on. Don’t be disheartened in well doing. Your labor is not in vain. Like the fellowship that I’ve been placed in, be an blessing and an encouragement to those that you meet. I once was lost sinking in sin but if it weren’t for pilgrims willing to step out in faith along the way to walk along side me at a slower pace, I may never have found real healing and surrender! Chin up dear ones! You’re doing a good work! Continue to be Poured out like wine and broken like bread in the name of of sweet Jesus Christ!
There is light and there is darkness. Contrary to popular belief you won’t find a middle ground between the two. It doesn’t matter if you went into the water and came out sopping wet. This thing called church membership and community living has absolutely no value without the Holy Spirit causing the old man to be laid off and new life to spring forward.
Which side do you find yourself on? Do you sit in darkness but look nice on the outside,content to look nice and catch a few of the church life benefits? Or rather do you live a fulfilled life in the kingdom reflecting the light,life,and love of the Lord Jesus Christ?
Do not be pleased to be hypocrites. The world will call the pretender’s bluff and rightfully so. The truth will be found and judgment will come when the bridegroom comes for His perfect bride spotless without blemish or wrinkle. He will not be content with an unlit soul insiders a dead body.
After what seems like an eternity since I last wrote anything just purely for the joy of writing, I’m here to share something a little new to the blog. Now before I begin please don’t get your hopes up to much that this is my “new thing”. Inspiration hit as I sunk my teeth into a tantalizing chunk of “pizza” on Monday. Sure I had created it and yeah it smelled heavenly but you never can tell until you yourself just dig right in!
Now I’m not one to brag…ok, stop laughing! Ok, I AM one to brag and this pesto chicken pizza bread was A++ and I just couldn’t deprive my faithful followers from the tingling tastebuds that could await them.
Now dear ones I must say that before you get too emotionally involved with this concoction of fine degree, you must note a few things. No,I’m not anyone fancy therefore I don’t cook fancy. Let’s face it. I’m just a single gal(well not really but maybe that’s a post for a different time) cooking just for myself. Yes, it’s simple and perhaps you already have this in your arsenal of delectable delights. Lastly, I don’t measure when I’m creating so if you aren’t a roll with the punches kind of a gem, you may want to exit now. However IF you have scope for the imagination and are looking for something to shove in your face. I’ve got the “recipe” for you!
Pesto chicken pizza bread
(as I remember them but hey feel free to add what ya want. Cooking is your moment to shine!)
-Parmesan:a whole bunch
-Milk/half half/cream cheese:eh maybe like 1/4-1/2 cup?
-Salt/pepper: pinch but be careful on the salt. The pesto adds some saltiness and so does the parm.
-Cooked chicken finely diced(grab a big knife and recreate Julia Child and the onion scene in Julie and Julia)
-Pesto: Homemade is best but a small store bought container is good too.
-pizza cheese: I’ll give you the freedom of choice here.
-Fresh mozzarella: Don’t cheat yourself here.
To begin our saga, the butter must first change its matter from a solid to a liquid, for those scratching their heads,melt the butter! Once the butter has made it’s transformation add the parm,you’ll want to lower the heat and begin stirring the cheese and butter. Add the milk or half/half of cream cheese (only a little cream cheese) and stir like your life depends on it. Once you’ve got a saucy looking liquid. Take it off the heat and set aside.
Next…are you still following me? Chop your cooked chicken,place it in a bowl along with the pizza cheese,some parm,and pesto. Toss that around a bit(I personally like to pretend I’m tossing a salad because let’s be real, it’s as close as I get to eating something green).
Set that bowl aside and grab the bread. Cut the bread in half. Begin scooping all the fluffiness right outta there. I am an excellent pretender and I imagined all of the *calories being ripped out! *Please note that no calories were harmed in the making of this pizza. You take full responsibility for the consumption of this recipe. Once it now resembles a bowl like boat pour some of the sauce into the carved out bread bowl. Spread it around like a normal boring pizza. After that, fill it up with the chicken mixture. I pressed it down a bit to pack the optimal amount of chicken into it. Grab your fresh mozzarella and slice it to put on top!
Now here’s the tough part. Do you want to freeze it for a later date or heat that baby up and go to town? Freezer option just grab a freezer baggy and let it do its thing. If you opt to eat it right away I’d suggest placing right on the oven rack. Bake at 350 until the mozzarella is getting golden brown!
Well folks I certainly hope you’ll enjoy this as much as I did! If you do end up trying it out, I’d love to hear from you! Pictures of the finished product would be awesome too!
As always much love,
Ps. Here’s a picture to prove I’m still amongst the living!
Here we find ourselves at the end of another year. With God’s abundant grace we have will be given a new year with multiple opportunities. I know for myself this year has been a year of change,growth,and exciting new doors that have opened and some that have closed. I’m not unique in reflecting on the year that has passed. Many blog posts and conversations will be focused on this passage of time. I’d like join in and reflect on the awesomeness of my God in His love and care for me in this past year.
January: I found myself preparing for my newest roommate to move in. Having the privilege to live and work along side Roxy was a joy and blessing.
February: I discovered that although for many many years I valued St. Patrick’s Day as my favorite holiday it actually turns out to be Valentines Day. I wear pink,bought a heart shaped pizza,and my parents sent me beautiful flowers. What more could a woman ask for?!? Alongside my new found favorite holiday, I celebrate in my heart the day I fully came into submission and surrender to my Lord! It fills me with all sorts of large feelings I will never be able to put into words. My life removed from God is worth nothing. That is cause enough to praise His name! https://pilgrimnicci.wordpress.com/2018/02/07/they-call-me-a-fool-he-calls-me-his-bride/
March: This month was filled with birthday type stuff. I turned 27 and started a new year of life.
April: I boarded a small six passenger airline and headed with a team to Florida to serve at a family healing camp. My heart grew like the Grinches heart grew while I spent time with children and families effected by RAD(Reactivate Attachment Disorder). I would never of called myself a “kid person” sure I love teaching and such but something changed in seeing parents literally fighting for the lives of their children. We are called to care for the widows and children and I can do that by supporting these awesome families that are growing little hearts that have been hurt.
June: Annual meeting was a delight because I got to connect with many of my brothers and sisters in Christ. There is a vision that takes place in my mind when we are gathered around the communion table seeking to do the will of God. We are each humbly waiting for that day that we are one in the consummation of the marriage with Christ!
After annual meeting I packed my bags for a week of Training/working in Canada with a raddlet (kid with RAD). Whew no amount of time would allow me to tell all of the stories. Fear,excitement,drama,smells,and friendship blooming we’re all words I’d use. Originally I was planning on heading to Georgia for about a month but the child needed different care so I headed home with a switch of plans.
July: This was the most boring,lonely,horrible month ever. On the tail of the disappointment of lost opportunity I was in the house completely alone for a good portion with absolutely nothing to do and no motivation to find something to fill my time. I’m not proud of July but God uses it to draw me closer to Him. I had a lot of one on one talks with Him and my Bible was opened on my lap more than it wasn’t. I found comfort in bringing my Bible to bed with me each night as if a security blanket.
September: We (at school) really started to feel our routine set in and the normal school days began to flourish. I am very fortunate to get the opportunity to work among fellow followers of Jesus Christ as we labor for the kingdom of God! I started doing therapeutic respite in my home and I have been enjoying the process so much! It’s a unique challenge and requires me to be on my A game 100% but oh so worth giving these wonderful parents a small break from having to be the superhero for a few days. I pray that God gives me many more opportunities to support these awesome parents! https://pilgrimnicci.wordpress.com/2018/07/23/its-a-sloths-life-pajamaspity-partiesand-pee-peevpants/
October: My teeny tiny nephew came into the world with many prayers and much love. His arrival has been a highlight of the year for sure! Each new babe is a special miracle from God. Let’s hold our children a little closer this year as we realize some children never get to feel the love that yours does. Let’s pause to pray for the hearts of the neglected and abused children. Oh Lord you do care and hear their cries!
I got on an airplane for the third time this year for an adventure of a lifetime! Myself along with my brothers and sisters in Christ went to Germany to meet up with more of our family in Christ to support and have a love feast in their neck of the woods! Oh what a joy filled experience unmatched by anything I’ve ever been a part of before. This was the moment I got what I really was a part of. My fellowship is my everything here on earth to me.
November:This month was a fun one! Myself and three other women rented a cabin in the woods in Holmes County to find some R&R. We did all the usual things that you do there with the addition of spending a day doing fun crafty things! Somewhere along the way in the summer I took up painting. It’s a skill I hope to expand to bless others as I write letters that will bring encouragement to those that get them.
My friend Lana came out for the weekend so we could…well let’s just say check your mailbox in the next week. We had more laughs than I knew could happen! Friends sure make life fun!
I had the opportunity to be perused by a godly man in another fellowship. It was a fun opportunity that turned out to not bring peace even though it was fun while it lasted. Who doesn’t want to be valued by someone here on earth? It was a growing experience bringing me to face my vision for my life and how God has continued to call me to be faithful in all things.
I am traveling home now after a week in Missouri and Kansas. Things like Christmas,sickness,Cheesecake Factory,bonding,and large sloths are the words used for this trip.
Now we find ourselves back at January where I began a year ago. I can’t tell you what the next year will hold but my prayer is go a steadfast commitment to my Lord and Savior as I continue on my pilgrimage in the kingdom of God. I hope I meet many new friends and strengthen relationships with the ones I already have. This year has brought many Mountain View moments and yes, a few moments where I stood at the bottom of the mountain wondering why I had to start again. I can say without any stretching of the truth that the climb was worth it!
The sun rose and set every day of this past year and I got to enjoy most of them as I did life. Oh the gift that is a new day! Let us each wake to look for the gift God has given us then let us fall before Him in praise!
I love you all! Much love dear ones. If you haven’t found yourself at the foot of the cross casting your sins away, I urge you to cry out to our sovereign Lord to help you to do so! This life here on earth will vanish and we will each face eternity. I want you each to face it looking at the face of Jesus at the wedding of His people with Him to never be separated. If I can help you by answering questions or praying along side of you please let me know. We are not promised another day on this earth. Make your choice now. https://pilgrimnicci.wordpress.com/2018/07/13/why-i-deserve-to-go-to-hell-but-i-wont/
Today as I was driving home from the school I was feeling really restless. The powerful feeling of needing to talk to my Father was apparent but I didn’t really have anything to say. Maybe from reading other posts of mine you might get the impression that I never have anything to say to my Father. That is the furthest thing from the truth. In reality I am in a continual conversation with Him throughout the day. It’s the times that I’m wrestling with something and it’s no different than going to your earthly dad and asking for advice. Sometimes you just don’t know how to start the conversation.
As I was trying to start my conversation ( which in reality is silly because He already knows my heart) I was rethinking the phone call I got back from an anabaptist organization in China. That conversation kept the light in my Spirit fueled and added hope to my that maybe just maybe God could use me in China. But I found myself asking how? It’s just not even possible! I don’t have money or bravery. Humph!
So there I was driving along looking for my voice and it came! Oh how I was pouring my heart to my Father. Something in my Spirit kept saying “Nicci you need to repent for getting ahead of God”. What seriously? How have I done that? I’ve tried to follow His will. I’ve tried to accept situations that I don’t understand and reconcile the sadness I feel for lost opportunity. Now you want me to repent for something I’m not even sure I did?
With shaky voice I said “Lord I don’t know what I did wrong. My heart is here for you to lead. That’s all I ever wanted. I never meant to go ahead of your will for my life. However Father I repent of my sinful human nature. I take responsibility Father for anything I did to get in the way of your plan for my life or others. You know what is best in every situation. I do not and I have no place to desire anything that you have not first authorized. Lord God draw me closer to you so I might know your will. Help me see it crystal clear. Don’t let me muddy the picture with myself. Create in me an honest person. Take away myself and my pride or whatever stand in the way of clear vision.
In the middle of my prayer I got a phone call from a person that is a friend but is totally on a different social stage than me. It’s always a little shocking getting a call from them because I think “Why in the world would they want to talk to me? They have tons of friends.” I know that those feelings are wrong and this person is human and probably has those same feelings too. Anyway the call was literally just to ask me how I was doing and if I was excited for the upcoming school year. I thought wow how sweet of this person to call to ask that! Then they went on to say something like “Now I don’t mean this in anyway but encouraging but I keep wondering if you getting into RAD is God’s way of providing you children because you may never have any”. Then the person went on to share a heartwarming story about an ant and a contact lens that absolutely touched my soul!
The phone call ended and I sang praises to the Lord for Him providing a diverse group of friends. They may not be all best friends but friends all the same!
When I got home I checked my Facebook (surprise)and I saw I had a message from someone. Hmm who is this? Oh I know! It was the lady I sat next to at church yesterday. I had felt so awkward because I sat too far up and was literally sitting with all ministers wives. Now of course it really wasn’t a big deal I didn’t do it on purpose and I REALLY didn’t want to sit in the back with the young folks so I had a choice to make..and I made it. Anyway she was a dear! I greatly enjoyed chatting with her after church. In the message she sent on Facebook it said “Remember that you don’t have to do anything to be loved by God…He already loves you because you’re you.
I’ll tell you what! That reached deep into my heart and gave it a squeeze ! Here on the way home I was feeling like a failure because I don’t see God’s plan clearly right now. Then I got a call from a friend that I don’t feel like measure up to socially but it turned out so encouraging. I had to repent for feeling less. Then this message came to assure me of the Father’s love! You just never know the impact of a simple phone call or message will have on someone’s life. I went downstairs to tell the lady I live with and I could hardly stop crying happy tears to tell her my joy! This is the point you probably also think I sit around and cry all of the time. Well not all of the time but I am an incredibly emotional person and I feel ALL of the feels in life. So yes I do cry a lot…and I’m ok with that.
I’m curious,how has God shown Himself to you today?