One Day Away:Holmes County

Green rolling hills provide a place of escape and relaxation on a random August afternoon. The clip clop clip clop of the past mingled with the here and now can be seen in any given direction. Long lines hung from home to barn with rainbows of laundry swaying in the breeze catch our romantic notions of a simple life. It goes without saying that although the plain and simple life seems like something straight out of the storybook of our imagination, we know the reality is far from that. There is hard work, sometimes Spiritual abuse,and a not so simple framework. Yet as we take. Step into Holmes County and out of our current setting it is easy to just get lost on the ever wondering roads only stoping as our fancy directs.

I’ve been to Holmes County Ohio or as it’s affectionately coined Amish County Ohio, on several occasions now. Each time has been a real treat and uniquely different depending on who I have been with. This most recent encounter with HC has possibly been my favorite as far as just escaping day to day life to embrace a moment of peace and quiet. It was a short day trip that had zero planning and very little notice. I’m going to share my favorite HC spots and my suggestion on how to properly enjoy a day or two of relaxation.

1) First you’ll need a friend that you’re 100% comfortable with. I’m talking the friend that has zero expectations of you and you them. Be prepared to just be.

2)Find a hole in the wall place to eat your lunch or dinner. I’m going to strongly suggest that you skip Dur Dutchman and anything really that says Amish,German,or farm. The Charm Pizzeria is a quick and cost effective place to pop in and out without much fuss. The pizza was top notch amazing as well as their frozen lemonade (they don’t actually sell that but they made one for me anyway). http://visitcharmohio.com/charm-sweet-shoppe-ltd.html

Rebecca’s Bistro is another really delicious option is you’re wanting something a little more fancy. It’s on the cusp of being too frilly for my taste but I have enjoyed what I’ve gotten each time I’ve gone. Be sure to allow extra waiting time, it’s a popular choice. https://www.rebeccasbistro.com/

3. For the ladies going on this trip Mt. hope fabrics is a small but efficient store. I personally love their slip options as well as other such things. They have traditional sizes as well as some plus sizes which make this a must stop shop anytime I’m in the area. They also carry things at a decent price like pretty notebooks, church toys,and winter wear. I actually wear an Amish style woolly scarf over my head during the coldest days of winter. I purchased it here and I’ve never regretted my decision. They also have a growing fabric selection and although it’s all very nice quality, the price is a bit steep for my taste. Be prepared to pay $7.50 a yard. https://www.mthopefabrics.com/

4. When going to HC you’re going to be on the road a lot. Some people like to be choosey with their stops mapping out every moment of the day. That totally isn’t my flavor unless I absolutely want to ensure I make it somewhere. The most relaxing thing is to simply throw away your expectations and simply experience! Just drive for the sake of seeing the beauty around you! Stop and chat with strangers for the pleasure of a conversation. Go into a random store that doesn’t hold any agenda. Just be and soak up the spontaneity that a day in Holmes County can hold!

5. After all that spontaneous adventure you’ll be needing a good cup of coffee. The RudMug coffee company, which is in the same row as Mt. Hope fabrics, has everything that a solidly good coffee shop should have. Friendly employees-check,well made coffee creations-check,comfy couches and cozy corners-check. This place is fairly child friendly baring that your children aren’t total brats. Sit down with your gal pal and spend a while sipping a maple breve. I venture to say this might be the most satisfying part of your time in HC. No agenda just being together almost like that show Friends where the gang hangs out doing random stuff but together. Do that,be all there.

6. If you’re an avid reader or writer like I am then go ahead and make a stop at Faithview books. They have a wide variety of Christian books that I’d feel comfortable reading,gifting,and suggesting to others. They also have greeting cards,stationary,journals,and other gift items. If you’re still in need of some coffee they give out a free cup of coffee and I for one think that’s a selling point right there!

7. Lastly there is no end to where you can go or what you could buy. Keep track of what you’re buying and how much you’re spending. Yes but something unique,yes,buy something frivolous,but be careful not to just spend because you can spend and it’s “Amish”. I guess I’m just saying be smart.

I’ve been looking for an apron for a while. In fact I think every trip to HC I’m on the search. I finally found one!

I’d love to hear from y’all where you like to go in Holmes County. Do you like to spend one really long day or rather an entire weekend? I like both. In fact last year in November a group of friends and I did a long weekend. We got a cabin and did some shopping and did some crafting and that was just as enjoyable. I think what stood out this go around was absolutely nothing was planned. That honestly suits my personality better. I’m a go with the flow kind of a gal. So whether you’re like me or not I hope some of these rid bits can make your next trip to Holmes County Ohio a little more relaxing.

Much love,Pilgrim Nicci

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Time Well Traveled

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.

Moody Clouds!

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.

May: The end of a challenging school year ended and honestly I was so thankful! A much needed break was in the horizon. https://pilgrimnicci.wordpress.com/2018/05/14/seek-ye-first-the-kingdom-of-god-not-the-amish-romance/

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.

https://pilgrimnicci.wordpress.com/2018/06/16/passport-prayer/

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.

https://pilgrimnicci.wordpress.com/2018/06/22/diary-post-a-few-thoughts-on-boredom/

August: I went to Kansas for a weekend that I can honestly say was one of the best weekends of my life! I felt so loved by my friends Lana and Monica as they had carefully planned a to do list of fun for us. We did so much but beyond that we grew a little closer as friends. https://pilgrimnicci.wordpress.com/2018/08/12/find-me-in-the-woods-among-the-trees/

School started and instantly I could “feel” that it was going to be a good year. I have yet to be disappointed in how the cookies have crumbled.

https://pilgrimnicci.wordpress.com/2018/07/18/a-fresh-start-with-a-rainbow-of-opportunities/

Yes, I was terrified but it was worth it!

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!

Sweet child

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.

https://pilgrimnicci.wordpress.com/2018/10/17/spaghetti-loving-people-in-germany/

Brother and sister in Germany

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.

https://pilgrimnicci.wordpress.com/2018/08/27/handwritten-letter-a-lost-art-or-not-needed-anymore/

December: December=eventful!

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/

Pilgrim Nicci

Snippets:Wishing to be a Bride

Here comes the bride,here comes the bride…

Women are raised to dream about their wedding day. Very likely she’ll get to be a flower girl,a bridesmaid,or a server in a wedding before she herself ever walks down the aisle. In the moments of helping the bride to be, she’ll let her mind wonder to that day she hopes will come where the roles are reversed. She’ll be in her white dress and her friend will be handing her the bouquet. She’ll let her mind’s eye even take a few steps towards the groom of her own imagination. No, this certainly isn’t an uncommon happening in a young woman’s life.

A while ago I gave up that hope and fantasy. Sure I joke about it as if it could happen but in my heart of hearts I’ve let it slip through my heart and watched it drop to the ground as I walked away. It’s something that had became such a daunting thing. It had become a fantasy that took the place of my devotion to my God. I hurt so bad as I prayed without end for a future as a bride. I wanted more than anything to be seen as beautiful and worth being loved by someone here on earth. It all ended when I gave it over to God and chose to allow God’s will to be what matters over my own. I have not shortage of writings on the topic of contentment as a single and I’d encourage you if you are struggling to call out to the Lord,He WILL help you. It doesn’t work like a hallmark movie but it is possible to have contentment.

Here I was on the side of the road in Austria wishing more than anything for that day when I get to be the bride. Everywhere I looked I was surrounded by beauty that I had never seen before. It was for a snapshot moment like I was transported into the part of the kingdom that I cannot see yet but something was missing. Jesus wasn’t there visibly. Where was my groom? I was ready. My heart has been prepared and I was standing waiting but where was He? Obviously this wasn’t heaven and Jesus is with the Father while I’m on earth and that’s ok.

In the depths of my heart I cannot wait until it is my turn to wear white and be one with my king. No, separation and no wondering what was wrong with me. No, sin and no wishing moments would stand still. It’ll be the wedding of a lifetime and I won’t even care that I get to share it with others. In fact I’ll be delighted with each of the saints that’ll walk alongside me to our Jesus! Oh what a day,a glorious day that’ll be!

Spaghetti Loving People in Germany

There is no adequate way to give my readers a real life peak into the heart of what visiting the kingdom in Germany was to each of us. To me it is too raw and intimate. If I were to casually put it out in the open space of the internet I think it would rob some of the glory from God. I’m going to share as I see fit. If you’d like to chat over coffee or tea I’d love to open my heart in a detailed way.

This trip from beginning to end has shown the hand of God. I wouldn’t even be where I am if it weren’t for God setting things in motion before I knew what was even going on. His glory is unmatched by any other and He IS worthy of all my praise. I am nothing in comparison to His vast wonder. I stood at the top of a mountain and I saw how big He is. I walked along the valleys of a small town in Austria and I learned just how small I am. Oh what a worm am I? I have nothing to offer my God but my feeble praise and yet He calls me His. I fail daily and still He calls me beloved. Then in His magnitude of love He allowed me to take part in His pure blood and sinless body. No, not alone but with my dear brothers and sisters! I have some falling on my face to do when I get home to my “closet”. Then I might just dance with Him in unashamed abandonment. Yes, that’s just what I plan to do!

Some of you know and some of you don’t know that I have a brother and sister in Christ in Germany. They are pilgriming the way for the kingdom right in their neck of the woods. They are the bride and a church of two. It was our great delight to come join them in communion and support. It’s not unusual to participate in communion and to be changed. There is nothing rare about tears being shed or a feeling of wholeness because that is exactly how it should be. What was rare was the intensity of the desire to be one. There is one God,one body,and one bride. We in a very real way were bonded together as one Spirit (the Holy Spirit).

Before communion and before all of our bonding,we went to a concentration camp. There we walked in stunned silence. It is one thing to read a book or watch a movie about wickedness, it is entirely another to walk the very steps where death by the thousands has taken place. As I went through the camp two major thoughts came to the forefront of my mind, “these were souls and these were people” and “This right here is an example of why I want no allegiance to this world”. Can you stand in the place so closely resembling death and not almost see the faces,smell the stench,or hear the sounds? Being a very imaginative person I could and it was nearly overwhelming.

On the cusp of finishing up our time at the camp Jonathan and Carolyn showed up. The reminder was fresh of all they have given up to be in this body of Christ. We ate lunch,went to the store,and headed to their home. Everything about Germany was foreign in my opinion. From the language to the water but soon we saw just how similar we all really are. To quote my friend and brother in Christ as we sat down to eat “we are all just a bunch of spaghetti loving people, we aren’t all that different,not really”. I would like to think that no truer words have been spoken.

Saturday we did some touring which really isn’t the important part. I’ll spare you many details and head right in to the cliff notes. We did a whole bunch of fun things and crossed off some major unknown bucket list items as we grew closer as friends. One thing that can’t be left out is the fact that we were stopped many times to be asked about our head coverings. With each “Excuse me(insert German that I couldn’t understand)”came an opportunity to plant seeds for the kingdom. If you are a Christian woman and don’t cover your head I sincerely ask of you that you would humbly pray and study the scriptures. The thought came crashing back to me with each new planted seed “these are people and these are souls “.

Soon enough it was the time we had been waiting for,communion. Oh this is the raw and intimate part and although I so wish to share every detail I simply can’t in this format. I’ll show pictures instead. This was a rare opportunity and one I will keep dear to me until my final days here on earth have come to an end. It was in these special moments where I was reminded very vividly just what the bride of Christ should look like.

Sunday came with another opportunity to tour around but as I type this I am reminded that maybe I’m getting my days mixed up. Either way after what ever it was on whatever day it happened to be, on Sunday we held church meeting. My heart thumped so fast inside of my chest as each humble man brought the words of our God to us. I couldn’t hold back my tears as I realized that this moment was special but it had to end. My brothers and sister were filled and supported this week but what happens when we leave? I only know a tenth of what it’s like to be pilgriming in this fellowship and in this kingdom without my family by my side. Yet I don’t understand the gravity of them being without a local body. I know that Satan will be on the prowl in the coming days,weeks,and months. I ask that you pause right now and lift our brothers and sister up to the strength of our God. Ask God to give them assurance of what they are doing. Ask God to bring them a local body.

The crux of this love feast was there were people that we grew to love that we may never meet again on this side of eternity. Have you ever shaken the hand of a brother in Christ that wanted fellowship so badly that as you looked him straight in the eye you knew that he literally had to struggle to let go? There your hand was in his firm grasp knowing his opportunity for fellowship was literally slipping through his fingers. That has power. Language had no barrier in that moment. He was loved and he gave love. I pray this isn’t the last time we meet but I don’t know where the Spirit will lead him to go. May God be with him until we meet again.

The next day brought new opportunity and a new county to see. Austria was a little nugget of surprise to me. I have never given Austria any thought before now. As we drove along my eyes met the sky and I knew without a doubt that my God was massive. In the distance there were mountains bigger than I’ve seen before. This little lady from flat Kansas was in awe! Maybe I’m stupid for feeling so little as we had the chance to not only stand at the top of one but to walk along the valley as well. The ripples that flowed through the little moss covered stream was like music to my ears. It was fun to watch a brother slip down a little closer and drink the water flowing through. His joy was fun to witness.

On our little trip to Austria there were six of us. We laughed,shared special moments,and got lost in the beautiful creations of our great God. The moments spent together are too wonderful to blast out here to the inter webs. I will say is a 14 year old,16 year old,30 year old,32 year old,and and an 83 year old are forever etched into my heart. Bothers and a sister. They are the kingdom and we serve the same God. We are each in a unique place in our pilgrimage. God brought each of us and stitched this experience together using us where we are. I didn’t know I could have so much respect for a 14 year old young man. Honestly in my work setting I typically avoid the 14-18 age range because I have absolutely no idea how to relate to them. At 14 I was having sex,telling lies,and was “homeless” off and on. This young man had a testimony worth listening to and certainly walked the walk that would go along with it. Among all of the hoopla and excitement of the occasion he stood out to me as a man (although young) of God. His tears were real as we prayed over our family. His sincerity shown through as a light for all to see! No glory to him but all to God.

Each of the six on our little side trip have a contribution to the kingdom. I’d like to highlight each one. I hope it doesn’t embarrass them or take any honor from God. I was really impressed with the gifts each one had. No name names will be used just ages.

83: My God has given him a lot of years on earth. I’ve only observed a small portion of those years. A man of wit and integrity. I have watched him as he walks along side the young men in our fellowship,giving them confidence,a companion,strength,and wisdom. I believe these men will look back at their time as youth knowing they walked along side a Jesus here on earth.

30:A leader willing to bend who works well under high stress situations. This man is thoughtful of others and showed a true servant’s heart. I was touched by the care he had for the mentor mentioned above.

32: My friend showed great patience,relatability,and an over all positive attitude. She never once showed anger at my ENFP personality or the personality of the others in the group. Instead she made effort to relate to them. When my negative streak hit she was all too quick with something positive to say. She is a woman of great ability in leadership and confidence (when) others need just that. God is using that ability even if it goes against her natural inclination.

16: What an eye for beauty in nature! God has given this young man the gift of photography. He willingly shared his gift with the entire group. He was an example of who he is who he is. Not easily swayed by others.

14: I already mentioned above that this young man had a walk with the Lord that matched his talk. He showed care by opening doors,making comments,and even listening. His willingness to jump right in when needed wasn’t forgotten. There is a spark in him that is going to ignite the way for others as well.

Yes, each one has a place in the kingdom. I could write wonderful things about each person that was on the trip as a whole. I choose just to highlight the ones I was with the most.

I’m sure people will ask me what my favorite part was about this time of communion,exploration,and fellowship. Unfortunately there is no easy answer. The most meaningful was getting to talk to my brother Jonathan about church things such a vision for souls to come to Christ beyond just a GB church. That was a real highlight. It’s one tho g to chat on a computer screen and another to be screaming over a noisy dinner table talking about vision. Another meaningful moment was when my dear sister Carolyn gave me a tour of where she lived. Perhaps this seems insignificant but to me it meant something to be in her home one on one with her for even a few precious moments.

There were meaningful moments all spread out and obviously no one situation was more important or special than another. Communion was sweet,Sunday meeting was breathtaking, but those intimate one on one moments were by far worth mentioning.

As far as my most fun part in touring and such, I’ll have to say not being able to communicate the way we do in our day to day lives. I didn’t expect to love all of the clashing languages that surrounded us. There was a mystery in finding a way to communicate in various forms. Likewise the energy in Austria was a real treat. Just “getting lost” with no real destination has its own mystery. Oh and the beauty that just made you feel “home”.

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Obviously this little bit of writing does no justice and I’m tempted to delete it all. I’ll post it because I feel like the people that covered us in prayer,wish they could of been with us,or need a glimpse of Jesus, all deserve a peak inside to the heart of this experience. Like I said so many key points have entirely been left out. If you find yourself wanting more insight I’d be glad to meet with you. If you take nothing else away from this blog post take this one thing. There is one God and he is the same as He was at creation,crucifixion,resurrection,and forever. He wants to have the same intimate relationship with you that he had with Adam and Eve in the beginning. The love that the Father has for us is the same love he wants for us to have for not only Him but for all mankind.

Go forward and serve in prayer,praise,and peace.

Much love ,

Pilgrim Nicci

Find Me in the Woods Among the Trees

Chirp-chirp

Screeeaach!

Crrroak-creep-croak

Woosh-wrestle-wrestle

Silence

Breathe

Thank you Lord!

Close your eyes with me. Ok, not really with me considering I’m the one typing,just pretend I’m with you. Inhale,exhale you are outside in a wooded area. You hear all sorts of sounds. Some are familiar but many are new to you. Inhale the peaceful smell of an area untouched by human manipulation. Exhale the busyness of life. Just breathe for a while. Don’t count your breaths or let your mind wonder to anything but this moment. The flying bugs surround you,there might be a snake that slithers by(don’t worry just breathe), if you were to open your eyes you’d see a doe and it’s fawn across the way,and all around you are the many shades of brown and green. Open your eyes and take a look around. Ah it’s a breath taking sight isn’t it?

Friend when was the last time you were outside? I’m not talking about simply walking from your car to go into the grocery store or taking a walk on a side walk. I mean when was the last time you were REALLY REALLY outside? If you’re anything like me before my trip to Kansas,Missouri,and Oklahoma it had been a while. In fact it has been so long I had forgotten completely how much my entire being longs to be outside with the sun shining down deep into my soul. The touch of flush pink on my cheeks and the kind of sweat that just smells right as my perfume. Maybe you’re reading this thinking I’ve gone completely bananas. That maybe so but at least I’d be outside with the monkeys!

This little lady got out of the cage

Recently the opportunity came to go visit my friends and family in Kansas and Missouri. Often times I just lump both states together and say I went to Kansas City because in all truth I don’t have a “home town” and where my parents currently live hasn’t ever been my home. I’m so thankful I get to call it home while I’m there. On my trip two of my best friends took on planning how we’d spend our time without telling me. The entire time was like one big surprise after another. We stayed with my friend Monica’s parents which is a home nestled in the woods at the top of a hill. Every time we head up the steep drive I A. Fear we are going to go rolling backwards and B. Kind of just feel at home. I don’t know why but I just do. I suppose it’s just one of those things.

Like I said, everything was planned by Monica and Lana. Oh how they know how to have fun! We headed to a safari zoo ran by some rather Eccentric people that are crazy about animals. As we drove a long we stopped at the Little House Museum. I’ll tell you what! My entire childhood dreams were fulfilled in that moment and I remembered why I love Kansas so much. It’s not a big place but it had a big impact on my trip! Being outside exploring the schoolhouse,post office,little log home,barn,and gift shop really relit the fire I had for so long to live a “different way”. Yes I’m a romantic at heart. I could almost remember the feeling I had while working on the farms in the spring,summer,and fall of 2012&2013. I could smell the soil around me and feel God surrounding me in the way of His many creations. I wonder will I ever have a farm? How is it a person can have so many desires in life?

https://www.littlehouseontheprairiemuseum.com/

Nicci on the Prairie

I LOVE mail! Anyone want a pen pal?

After being ripped away from the romanticized life of Laura Ingalls Wilder we headed back down the road to the safari zoo. Let’s just say that the zoo did not disappoint. As we entered, it honestly looked like a waste of time. Soon it became very apparent it was worth every penny and then some! This little zoo packs a big punch when it comes to what you get to see. Lions,and tigers,and bears OH MY was an awesome treat but alligators, lemurs,and kangaroos were there too! Possibly my favorite part was the up close view we got. Every cage was hand built by the owner. When you talk about blood,sweat,and tears going into something you soon realize just how true the owners and volunteers know that all too well. This safari zoo is held together literally by prayer and donations. My untrained Eye could tell that these animals were being well taken care of. I’d highly recommend this stop if you’re looking for a road trip.

http://www.safaripark.org/

After 2.5 hours at the zoo the next stop was the Pioneer Woman mercantile and restaurant. When I say the food was worth waiting outside for 30 minutes in the hot sun I mean it whole heartedly. The place was crazy crowded but I hardly even cared because the food was amazing! I ordered the county fried steak and mashed potatoes. I couldn’t pass up a strawberry lemonade at the price of $1.25! Just the night before I had paid $3.75 for a mediocre limeade at a fancy restaurant ( don’t get me started on that one). From friendly service to a huge gift shop this place exceeded expectations. I have been a long time fan of Ree’s cookbooks. Like think way before her TV was a thing and she only had one book out! My foodie-ish stomach was satisfied.

https://www.themercantile.com/

This is where my heart began to burst. How could we not at least attempt to find Ree’s home even just to take a peek? We meandered along and finally found it. Ok woo who! What happened next really just had to be experienced to understand but I’ll try. The drive around the many ranches was breathtaking. Rolling hill after hill with the sun setting like molasses dripping from a spoon, it was the moment I fell in love with Oklahoma as well as Kansas. We happened upon a little mirror like Creek that we just HAD to stop and enjoy! As I exited the car Monica said “Hey Nicci there is a doe and her fawn!” I almost died of happiness right then and there! So much beauty in such an unexpected place was overwhelming in a wonderful kind of way. If I could of bottled that moment for the rest of my life, I would. However life rolls on just as the grassy green hills of Oklahoma and there is more stunning moments to experience and I’m ok with that too.

Sometimes your friends give you a little push…and sometimes you give it back!

As the dear…

Oklahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plain!

The next day I got to experience one of those life moments. It was a little…or a lot depending on who you ask…stretching. I’ve ALWAYS wanted to go kayaking and unbeknownst to my gal pals that’s what they planned! So after a swim in the lake we headed to check something off of my bucket list. This is the point that I should let you know that I’m a big fat chicken. As in like I ain’t even afraid of using the chicken exit anymore because I’m terrified of new things that are outside of my control. So sitting in the kayak screaming “Get me out I can’t do this anymore I’m done”, my friends literally pushed me and my boat into the lake. I saw before my eyes the scene where Anne of Anne of Green Gables is laying in the boat and it fills with water. Sure it turned out well for her but as far as I could see, there wasn’t a Gilbert Blithe to save me! After a while it got more comfortable and I can say with certainty that I’d do it again. The next time omitting the freak out. What would I do with amazing friends that don’t allow my fear to hold me back? They know just when and how much to push me so I can fly…or sail on my own. I’m one blessed woman!

This is me attempting to not be a chicken

This is me a still as a board freaking out!

This was all just the first part of my trip. It really inspired me to remember to connect with the earth ( in a non hipster way). I believe in nature is where our creator can easily be found. So long ago when I moved out to Ohio I lost my connection with being among the wild things. Something I had cultivated for two years before. I don’t know how I can pick up and start that connection again with an indoor job and no reason to actually be outside. I trust that opportunity will find me if I bring it before my Father.

What do you enjoy doing outside? How do you make time to be among the breeze of the day and the bugs that live unnoticed? I’d love to hear your suggestions!

PS.We also painted ceramics! That was a super fun way to see each of our unique creativity!

A Picture Moment

A picture is supposed to be worth a thousand words. What if a thousand words could create a picture? Tonight I don’t present you with a thousand words or a thousand pictures but perhaps my words and pictures will share something with you. These are the three major thoughts I had over my recent trip. I have posted them on my social media accounts and simply don’t feel finished with them yet. I believe each thought,picture,and the words that accompany them are about “moments”. So take a moment and relive my moments with me and think on them a bit. As always thank you for taking a precious moment to read my blog. Blessings and much love, Pilgrim Nicci

Shoulder to shoulder with strangers all taking in a moment. For some it was the color of the sky while others it was fishing with a buddy. For one man it was spending time with his son about 7 years old. I saw that he had a tattoo that said SAVED. I couldn’t help but ask him “Who saved you?” And “When were you saved?” Both questions he gladly answered. How odd it is that the bride of Christ all looks so different? We stand sometimes shoulder to shoulder but don’t recognize our alikeness because we are so distracted by our differences. Yet the people that look identical to us are not always in the bride of Christ at all yet it’s all too easy to see just what we desire to see.

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My hope is for the bride to connect even if it takes going the distance to bridge a gap of our own making. Then go into our own cultures and be the missionaries we need to be right in the benches of our own fellowships. This weekend I learned that some that look like me have no assurance of salvation and some that look nothing like me have all of the assurance available. What a topsy turvy thought!

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This thing called time is a burden heavy on my heart. How does one make the right choice for the time they have been given? We only have this moment and some how it needs to be enough. Should I be in a car with a young lady that’s time here on earth isn’t guaranteed? Should I have taken the desperate plea of a mom for respite so she could go to a conference? Should I be right where I’m at even when it doesn’t always feel right? When is it time to bloom where you are planted vs. being transplanted so you might thrive? Each moment so precious in its treasure of opportunity yet is there a clear direction to guide us? Tick….tick…do I hear the opportunity slipping away? Tick…tick….is the furthering of the kingdom the hand that propels me into each new minute?

My prayer (among many) this summer has been “Lord don’t let me be a lazy teacher”. I’d like to add to that prayer “Lord let me discern my time and be bold to use it how you prompt,even when it is counter culture or doesn’t make sense. If in my gut I know what I’m supposed to do don’t let me be ashamed to move forward”. Tick…tick…the time has come for Nicci to know the time even if tomorrow never comes.

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Wrapped warm in the blanket of beauty tonight. Like a quilt artfully stitched together the water and the sky meet to wrap me in a moment. A painting on an endless canvas it is an honor to know its creator. Like a mirror to look into its depths you can only see the surface but not the rhythm…the heart beat, if you will. This is a warm fuzzy wrapped in a blanket kind of a moment, tucked in by an awesome God.

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Passport Prayer

Most of you know by now that my summer took a slight turn and I ended up back in Ohio. After spending one week in Canada learning,growing,laughing,and praying I got a call saying that due to something out of our control I was no longer needed as a therapeutic respite nanny. Instantly I understood and had peace that this was the right decision even though it sent a sharp jab into my heart and if I’m being real honest,my pride. The next two days were filled with a little bit of a pity party ( which fit right in with what the RAD that was in the house was already doing) and trying to soak up every last moment of learning and time with Miss Karen.

When I arrived home yesterday I felt so restless. My apartment was empty because my roommate recently moved out and the bottom of the house was starkly quite due to Harold and Nancy being in Africa. I spent most of my evening trying to convince myself that I wasn’t going to rot on the couch all summer and that God did have a plan. You see, it’s so easy to say that you know but it’s hard to believe when things don’t go your way. I searched for jobs or fun classes to take. Coming up empty handed I started looking for a Mandarin teacher that I knew I wouldn’t find. I went to bed feeling like a lazy bum. Never mind the fact that I’m not lazy and I have a job but I felt like my opportunity to go to China was over,summer boredom was around the corner,and I didn’t understand why my answer to prayer was feeling like no more than an Indian gift from God. So I laid in bed praying I wouldn’t wake up too early because I didn’t have anything to fill my time.

Let’s rewind a bit and talk about Canada and Miss Karen. I believe when God stitched together this part of His story in my life, He knew Karen and I would hit it off. Sloths,rubber ducks,and Jesus are just a few of the things we have in common. Conversation was effortless and her go with the flow teaching style was perfect for my personality. She cooked,I did the dishes,and we both laughed so much that I’m sure her neighbors thought we had gone mad! Being in Canada was stretching and stressful for sure but it was perfect and enjoyable as well. It’s nothing like I imagined and everything that was needed to confirm that God has a work for me and in order to do it I HAVE to stop being so afraid of new pop ups. I must be willing to roll within he punches ( or plates being thrown). I was the recipient of impeccable hospitality not only in Karen’s home but also in her parents home as well. I pray a blessing on both homes that they would seek truth in every season of life and to allow the hospitality that they give be given in Jesus’s name.

Ok back to real time:

While I was food prepping I decided to listen to a VOM podcast because the quiet in the house was really starting to get to me. What I didn’t know was that I was avoiding talking to God. Well the first line of the podcast was something like “Without a passport you aren’t going anywhere. Once you have one go to the Lord and say “Here I am Lord send me.” Right there my heart felt the feeling you just can’t describe. I was busy cooking so I ignored it. The podcast went on to share some good information that I enjoyed listening to. Cooking was completed and I went to make my plate and my appetite was gone! If you know me then you know that doesn’t happen often. There was that heart feeling again. “Ugh I’ve got to pray.” That was my real thought as sad as it is to admit. I covered my head and I grabbed my passport and my Bible. Honestly I didn’t really know what to say. I started by praying for others because that’s easy. Then words started flowing and my heart opened up to my Father. If you haven’t experienced the comfort of going to Father God then the only real way to translate it into your understanding is it’s like when your earth dad tells you he is proud of you for something of value vs. the “oh you did a good job” compliment given vainly sometimes. The look in his eyes is one of respect and love. The hug that follows is of utter acceptance and comfort of being in your daddy’s arms. That is how this type of praying feels and this was no different. My Heavenly Father understood I was wrestling with a plethora of emotions and had no real reason to feel them. He understood the joy I felt in Canada learning about brokenness but also having a new friend. He just “got it”. I have no clue why I was surprised. It’s not like don’t communicate with Him everyday. It’s not like I’m a lost soul aimlessly going through life without a cause. Yet there I sat on my blue couch clasping my Bible and passport being hugged by my Father.

I shared with Karen the thought about praying over my passport it wasn’t something I ever considered. Which is ridiculous that I didn’t. After all I am claiming to be a pilgrim and stranger following after Jesus. Karen said something like “These kids are not ours. They are God’s children and what is to happen happens. We aren’t in control. That’s how all of life is. “It’s a God thing.” I got to thinking that’s right. Likewise me going to China is in God’s hands. I have no idea why mid plan God dropped Germany in my lap and wiped away was the financial opportunity to go to China. That was something I had to give to God. In the last two days I’ve been forcing myself to be happy over going to Germany to be with my brother and sister in Christ. I knew i was supposed feel happy yet I was grieving China. Doesn’t my brother and sister deserve better than a half hearted communion with someone that only signed up if her other plans could happen too? Yes,they do! They are the bride of Christ and I will be overjoyed to be in their company. After all maybe God doesn’t call us to be in one location. Perhaps our calling is to be where the need is.

Lord my passport is yours. I will only go where you pave my path to go. If that’s my brothers and sisters in Christ that need fellowship, then I’ll go bring companionship to them in your name . If it’s the lost then I’ll go find them for you so your name will be proclaimed. If it’s the sick then I’ll heal them in your name. If it’s the hungry I’ll provide food for them in your name. Wherever you send I will go…even you only send me to my blue couch in Ohio with my Bible and passport in my hand. I’ll pray in your name.

Much love,

Pilgrim Nicci

P.S. In this blog post I decided not to share about RAD. Please note I wasn’t taking this opportunity as a means to an end. I very much feel called to work with children and families dealing with RAD. I hope that doesn’t get lost in this post.