To You Before I Knew You

I’m going to share my heart about the relationship I had. I get that 90% of other normal women don’t share these thoughts publicly and I am not seeking to gain attention. I share because maybe out there reading this there’s a woman (or man) who is in similar shoes as I am and they need to identify with someone.

I’ve been doing really well in these past few weeks. I’ve healed up from the physical pain of second degree burns on my arms and legs and my heart has not had the oozing blisters that matched my legs. In fact, I’ve never been better. I’m at peace,the light has reignited in my eyes,and I feel incredibly restful. Truly this has been my experience after thinking I could never get over the anger , hurt,and embarrassment of job loss. I couldn’t fathom that the tightness in my chest would ever truly leave me room to love again,whether romantically or I’m every day relationships. There was a small point where I even wondered if my legs would lose the sting that lingered long after the wounds had healed. As if like magic my life was restored to the real Nicci. The Nicci I truly am when I’m in the center of God’s will. The Nicci who isn’t laden with anxiety and fear of the future. The Nicci that loves to laugh,enjoys all things rainbows,and who leaves people happy not burdened. That’s who I am when I’m walking with the Lord. No, none of what I just listed is Spiritual or really conveys my relationship with the Lord but it does represent the joy that is in my heart. It’s like that kids song “I’ve got the joy,joy,joy,joy down in my heart!” Truly I had forgotten what not fretting about the future felt like.

Then today something slowly crept up and I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. Out of the blue I had a strong nagging urge to write a letter to my future husband. WHAT? SERIOUSLY?!? Ok, let me stop right here and say it’s totally cool if that’s your thing but for me I’ve always thought it was really really bazaar. I dismissed the idea for a while but that same little voice that said “Nicci get your pen and paper and write to your (then) boyfriend. You have to be honest with him.” So I picked up my blue zebra pen and the closest homemade card and just started writing. *take deep breath* it was so very therapeutic. I didn’t really feel that I particularly needed it at the time. My prayer life isn’t “Lord give me a husband. Or Lord surly you could work something out with my exboyfriend and I!” In fact any time I have the slightest inclination I say “Lord take those thoughts from my heart! Father please sustain contentment in my life.” So when this almost relief type feeling washed over me as I poured out a small but lovely letter to my future husband I was shocked.

Well let’s fast forward a little bit. The day my now ex boyfriend messaged me for the first time I picked up a blank journal and wrote a prayer. Included in that prayer was “Lord take this from me if it is not your will. I don’t want to harm myself or this gentleman by causing us to not follow your will. I don’t know what you have for us but thank you for the opportunity.” I still maintain those thoughts.

Today I took my letter and went to place it in the journal that is no longer blank. It is filled with several journal entries/prayers….and the letter I wrote that day God told me that I must draw a line in the sand. My fellowship was more than where I sat on Sunday. I had made my choice.

I’ll tell you what. I could hardly look at it as that conversation started playing over and over in my head. For a split second I closed my eyes a wished I could turn back time. I could be planning a trip to be in his state. I could be loved by someone of the opposite sex. I would have the hope of having that wedding this fall and I could wear a dress made of the white eyelet that I bought on impulse. There was the desire to keep a home and please my husband. Yes,for a split second I could imagine I had made another choice. Even now as I type there is very present the yearning of lost hopes and strong desire. Something was awakened in my heart with that relationship that I had tailored away for so long because I didn’t think anyone could ever love me because of my past,my looks,or any other of those lies that Satan brings up. So I’ve loved and lost but I’ve also lived and gained!

Going through the moment of having to choose God’s will, which was my prayer from day one,and coming out the other side I know that the Lord is actively providing. Is it a husband? Well no not exactly but He’s given me a way out of the deep despair of lost hopes. He’s given that new(really an old one) prayer of contentment! I am thankful that when I pick up that journal to add a new letter,entry,or prayer yes, there might be a quick stab of what might have been but if I pick up those five pages front and back I’ll quickly be reminded why I made the choice that I did. No, not because there was anything wrong with the man I love or even myself but rather because God said “Do you trust me?” He even gave me the command to save that emotion fill letter even when I thought it was a bit extreme! He wanted me to have no doubt of His ability to provide. I have it as a reminder!

For now I rest in that provision. If it weren’t for the horrible burns I’d never would have made a choice. If it weren’t for that choice I would still be rotting in bitterness and anger! He has provided a way out of my sin! Oh what cause for joy. So dear one if you’re reading my rather dairy post of a blog know this. Whatever hard thing you’re going through you will be ok! It very well might be what God uses to move your life forward. I was blessed to have a relationship while the hard part of being fired took place.It gave me the comfort I needed and the support of prayers that carried me through the days I wasn’t sure how I’d go on. Likewise the absence of the relationship dug up and cleansed my filthiest parts and restored my soul to a place of acceptance and I gained my meness back as well! God is good! Don’t forget it it!

Much love,Pilgrim Nicci

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Lady in Waiting for Her King

 

This article was originally published in Daughters of Promise Magazine” www.daughters-of-promise.org.

Often you the word expectant refers to someone about to have a child or perhaps get married. In a culture of young women moving to the next chapter of life what does the single woman have to look forward to? Is her existence summed up as a lady in waiting or is there something hidden, something to be doing? Perhaps the life of a single woman is also a place of expecting the next thing: expecting an opportunity to serve, give, pray, live, or even explore. We can be women of action as we anticipate what the Holy Spirt desires of us.

There is something inherent in wanting to be loved, to have a purpose, and to give life. When a woman in our culture gets to a certain age but hasn’t walked down the aisle, made up her home, and had a child, all hope can seem as if it has slipped through the fingers of time. Forever the tickticktick of expectation is looming around the corner. Is there a reason the desire remains but time has seemingly passed?

Love is needed by all and given freely by our Heavenly Father and He guarantees that not a day will go by without affection greater than we can imagine. 

This indwelling of the Holy Spirit is what should propel a woman into action instead of being a foreverspinster, waiting in self-pity. A single woman who has received love from the Fatheris able to go forth and share love in a multitude of ways. She can begin right in her home, in her local fellowship, in her community.There are people needing love and compassion in so many different ways. The homeless need shelter and an opportunity to better themselves. The widow needs a friend to walk alongside them. A person that is seeking truth might need a safe place to ask the hard questions of life. Do not underestimate the power of Jesus’s love within you. His love was so great that He died for His people. 

Purpose may look different in different situations. What unites each daughter of the King is being guided by the One who knows them more than any other. Who better to design a plan for your life than the very one who gave that life in the first place? Who are we to scoff when God’s plan doesn’t line up with ours? Do we really think so highly of ourselves that we try to boss around God? Even in moments of desperation, we might even have stood so low as to bribe or manipulate God into our feeble plan. Rest assured the Holy Spirit will never lead you into something that was not created for you. That should be enough to have us experience expectantexcitement in whatever we are called to. From the school teacher, to the barista, to the nanny, and even the travel nurses, your purpose is one of the Kingdom. Your marital status has nothing to do with it. The Holy Spirit will not cause you to wait too long before He moves you in the direction He wants you to follow. After all there is a lot of work to be done!

Giving life can seem difficult when the womb is empty, but life comes in so many forms and should not be written off as a gift given only to those that have entered marriage. We, as followers of Christ, have an obligation to bring true life, Jesus Christ, to each and every person that we meet. Do we have to go to Uganda? Certainly not, however if that’s where the Holy Spirit has led then go do it! If you are called to a more local mission, your life-giving power may come in tutoring the neighbor’s child. That consistent interaction may be the only Jesus they will encounter. Life can come forward in the joyful countenance you share withthose you connect with day to day. When you serve others in bringing food to the shut ins, singing to the elderly, having company, doing laundry for a new mother, praying over your community, and so much more you are living a life that produces life.

 A single woman has a rare opportunity in adult life that others do not – our prayer life is wide open in a way our married sisters may not have, with the busyness of their family life. It doesn’t mean we single gals aren’t busy, but that we have extra time to pray for those around us. Remember that clock of expectation? Let those ticks be a reminder for the calling of this season of life: tickNeighbortickpersecuted Churchtickschool children….tick sisters in Christtick 
Give life to prayer and there is where you will find contentment. 

 

In your time of expectation, you will go through periods of time of wondering what if? I propose that when you replace the what if I was married question with what if I lived my life for Christ, you will not have any time to sit around feeling sorry for yourself. As daughters of the King we must remember the high calling that comes with that and act accordingly. Kingdom life has no room for laziness. There are lives to be won and joy to spread. As you move forward, go with your head held high in the confidence that you are right where God has placed you. There is no worthier place to be! 

 

See That I’m a Follower of Christ by my Actions

This was written in 2016 but I just found it today.

I heard it said something like this. Don’t know I’m a Christian just because I post Bible verses that aren’t just John 3:16. See that I’m a follower of Christ by my actions.

Hopefully by my actions others can see that I’m following Christ. I get lost and take a longer way sometimes but when I catch up my Jesus is still there on the road of life. The worlds view of Christianity is that we are all striving for this euphoric place in the sky. No, the kingdom of God is within each of us. Once we accept our inheritance we then realized that kingdom living looks nothing like world living. Sure there is a Heavenly home that does await us but there is also a kingdom right here and right now! The peace that comes from knowing Jesus is right here within me. Having contentment because I am in constant communication with my God. Oh and don’t get me started on the love! Now I don’t want to paint a false picture here because I’m not perfect. The love you can have for others is overpowering! It’s true that I get so mad at people I want to punch them ( I know not a kingdom living thought) but Gods grace has countless times said to me ” Nicci you stop right now and step into their shoes.” Then you begin to love.

So friends don’t think I’m a “Christian” because I say so. Observe me ( or others claiming Christ) and see if it holds true.

Do you pray? I mean really pray? Are you constantly communicating with God? Not just at meal time or in a preset devotion. It should be as easy as if He as sitting right in front of you.

What is your language like? Do you cuss, scream, or have filthy thoughts come out of your mouth regularly?

Where do you put you glory? Do you give glory to God or do you try to bring glory to yourself? What value do you put on Money, beauty, status ?

How do you treat others? Are you willing to help someone even if it comprises yourself? Do you talk behind people’s backs? Do you even secretly hate them?

Are you submitting to your local church body or even to the laws of this country? Do you put your trust in the leadership at your church? Do you truly believe that God has placed them there?

Where does your money go? Do you think the beggar on the street is just out to get free booze? That single mom down the road from you, do you offer to bring her dinner? Or are you judging her and don’t want to condone “her sinful actions “? Do you spend your money on entertainment or fancy new gadgets but never on another?

Do you have a song in you heart?

Is the Risk Still Worth it?

Was it still worth the risk?

Rip open my chest Lord and just take the broken heart, you’ve already taken everything else that I had. Those are my current real thoughts. I’m done. I’m sick of the pain,the heartache,and the burden of the reality of my situation. I’m angry,I’m torn,I have nothing left in me to fight with. Somewhere along the way I became someone that loved too deeply and her heart got broken. I’m the girl that had contentment but took the risk to seek God’s will. Green light says go. It’s easy when the light is green and things are exciting but no one prepared me for the yellow light or the red light.

This was written and posted on my social media the other day.

Sometimes God speaks very clearly. He says “Nicci have you anything you have not surrendered to me?” I knew instantly what it was. For so long I’ve been trying to figure out how I could leave my fellowship to be in his. Somehow God surly would give me the green light. Today as I listened to a sermon God spoke in a way I could no longer argue with. Not because my fellowship is better or his is less..both are the bride of Christ but hold different functions. God said “Nicci you pitched your tent 7 years ago with my people in this part of the body. This is where I have placed you. If you make this choice it WILL have lasting effects. The most loving thing you could do is let Mark do as I’ve called him to do and you must rise up to what I’ve called you to do.” With tears in my eyes I said “Lord I give Mark to you! You are my king.” He said “Now you are in the center of my will. I will do the work in both of your lives. I’m the one in control not you! I will provide and you WILL BE OK.”

So although it stings and I am standing at the door crying out to my Lord “Why Lord why? I was content single and you brought me a friend. One who is a solid believer and yet over a denomination you are asking me to walk away?” Then I remember the blog post I wrote not long ago…who created me and Mark? It was my Father and He get to call the shots not I. So although the tears may come from time to time, I lift my head and I straighten my crown and I go forward knowing to whom I belong to,king Jesus. I value every opportunity that was given to Mark and I. He’s a lovely man of God. He’s no longer mine but I rest in the fact that he belongs to king Jesus as well!

So I laid everything out there. Surly the man I loved and I could figure SOMETHING out? What do you do when two people are perfectly suited for each other but what each of us are hearing is God saying “Stay in your church fellowship. This is my place for you”? Do you ignore God and follow love’s path or do you honor God? Always always honor God! Though my opening words are my honest and raw feelings in this present moment, I realize that earlier today I wrote:

There’s a distinct point in the suffering and pain that you say “Yes, I feel like my whole life is falling apart but I think instead of letting the remnant pieces of my life rot away I’m going to scoop up what’s left and see what I can build.” So maybe I’m in too much pain to get dressed in my normal clothes but I can pick my very best pajamas. I can’t really leave the house but I can wash and brush my hair. I’m sitting anyway so instead of crying and trying to dissect every sermon to see if God can give me a sign, I’m going to put on music and write letters to brighten other people’s day. I may not be in a relationship anymore but I had a life of contentment before and I can continue to have a life of contentment now. I get to choose and the choices I make shape my tomorrow! Do I run from my giants or do I face them head on? I want to be the kind of woman that faces them head on..even if the pain hasn’t gone away. Having faith means going into battle knowing who you’re fighting for. As for me, I fight for the kingdom of God. I can do do kingdom work single or dating,home bound or in town,but not self centered and and looking to something other than my God. Victory is ours!

So in this season I cry out GOD I CANNOT STAND ON MY OWN I know the victory is ours. The question gets asked again then. Was it still worth the risk now that I know the outcome? In my fleshy moments of deepest sorrow I say absolutely not. Love straight up sucks! However in my heart of hearts I know that is a lie. Yes, I is worth the risk. Yes, the pain(I hope) will be worth it and God WILL provide…but this season of life is not easy.

If you think to take a moment to pause and pray for Mark and I, I would appreciate it.

Much love, Pilgrim Nicci

Questioning Questions

When someone we or someone in the Bible asks a question of God, He often asks a question in return. When a child with attachment issues asks a question we are trained to ask one in return. This establishes power and who is in control of the conversation.

When we ask questions of God like “Why are you doing this to me?” “Are you serious haven’t I done enough for you?” “When are you going to provide for my need?” “Do you even hear me oh Lord?” We are faced with a loss of Attachment at our own doing. We lose the focus on His holiness,love,and power over the spiritual and natural things of life. Instead we shift that focus off of God and on to our own self. We put our needs and wants above the desire and will of the one who created us in that never ending love.

Not willing to lose us yet,in His greatness ,must come first He begins asking us questions in return. He gently asks “Who am I?” “What does my Word say?” “Will I ever truly leave you?” “Who created you?” This points us away from our self focused tendencies and back to His truth. Then our “attachment” /being close to Him and Him to us can be re-established with His heart and ours connected as the Holy Spirit encircles and dwells in our oneness.

Our rebellion ceases to exist when we realize we are not in control so we with a spirit of submission loosen our clutch on the control we thought we had but never truly did. A closer walk with the Lord is our desire and all unrest becomes a peaceful rest.

Here are just a few examples of this shown in scripture. This is just a small scratch of what could be dug up on the subject of our Lord asking questions when faced with a control taking question. Let us all be mindful of how we approach our sovereign Lord and king!

Mark 4:38,40

Luke 2:48-49

Matthew 9:14-15

Matthew 15:1-3

Matthew 26:6-10

John 13:37-38

Genesis 3:8-12

Job 38:1-4

Jonah 4:1-4

Bread and Wine

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!

Much love, Pilgrim Nicci

At Odds:The Victory is Yours

Folks let’s talk about Spiritual battle real quick. It is something raging all of the time. The Spirits are at war EVERY SINGLE DAY. It’s not that all of a sudden they switch their attention to the unsuspecting Christian. There is sin,temptation , doubt, and fear around EVERY CORNER! Jesus didn’t say “Let’s go on a jolly good walk in the park to find the gold at end of the rainbow.” He said take up your cross(cause/mission) and follow me”. He says follow and we follow. That can be follow me into a sweet time of fellowship with likeminded believer or it could also mean follow me into battle against the false teachers disguised as brothers and sisters in Christ. Then He can lead us into obvious blessings that overflow and then right into blessings that don’t always immediately feel like blessings. He’s GOD and has the right to lead us,call us,and command us into whatever season He needs us in to put us in the best position for battle against the adversary! He allows the shots of fiery lies to be shot our way by Satan to strengthen us and to prove His strength. It hurts! Ouch oh it hurts! It hurts so bad that it is downright tempting to walk off the battlefield hands thrown up in surrender to the wrong king. I think there is the misguided assumption that when you become a Christian that it means a warm fuzzy life carefree from pain and suffering. Like some how Jesus acts like a bandaid from all our sorrows. WRONG! He IS our healer but healing spiritually isn’t really anything like being healed naturally. It’s far grater but so are the wounds that the healing must be delt with.

As this spiritual battle continues on and the lies of Satan are being shot with cannons at lightning speed there are some things that you can do to to bring victory in the name of Jesus Christ.

1)Make sure that you’re in the Word. Cliche as this sounds it’s really your only basis to go into battle. Without it you’re useless and might as well give up the fight. You’ll be a sitting duck and very little help to the kingdom. In fact you can bring great damage to the fight at hand.

2)Let others know that you’re facing this war. Partner in prayer with as many as you can. A war is never won alone. It takes a mighty army of people all laboring together with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

3)Confront every single lie head on. Is Satan telling you something about a thought someone has about you? Go ask them directly if what he is telling you is true. They’ll appreciate you coming to them. Is Satan discrediting your value? Read the Word and see what the Lord has to say about you. Are the attacks coming in the form of past sins being brought up? Recall the moment you laid them at the foot of the cross. Read what Jesus has done for you and when the Holy Spirit entered you!

4)Get sleep. This one really isn’t spiritual at all but Satan does attack when we are weak. If you’re weary and worn out physically it can be prime time for lies,nightmares,and imaginations to swell up.

Be of good cheer dear ones as we as brothers and sisters unite against the one who fell! If a Christian family member comes to you battle weary, walk along side them to lift them up to continue the good fight. Soon they will be the one to lift you when you have been wounded and the positions of battle have been changed. Go forward with the mighty armor of God knowing what Ephesians 6:12 says “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” You have the power of Jesus Christ walk in all confidence as given the example in 2 Timothy 2:3-4 “thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” We can be pleasing to the Lord by our faithful battle not with others but with Satan alone. He WILL GO DOWN!

https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=nlpSl3yadO4