Unwrapping The Joy of Christmas Past {Santagate}

I don't know how it was growing up in your home around Christmas, but Santa and baby Jesus fought for top billing in our home every Christmas. Until I caught mom and dad in the act one Christmas Eve "helping" Santa out with cookie eating and gift delivery.


Score a victory for Detective Nicki that Christmas

I had been on to them for a few years at this point. Every year we would leave for church on Christmas Eve and every year my mom would "forget" her purse or have to run back in the house and change her skirt or tinkle one more time before we hit the road. And every year when we got back from church, Santa had shown up while we were out. There were Christmas presents under the tree and footprints in the snow up on the roof.

I later found out our neighbors were all in cahoots with each other throwing snowballs up on the rooftops for each other to "prove" the existence of reindeer. Talk about a close-knit community of parents committed to the cause of Santa! haha

Santa was on to me

Santa seemed to show up while we were at church. I was getting suspicious, so when mom said she had forgotten her purse one Christmas Eve, I offered to run into the house on her behalf. Me thinks she did protest too much that year because my spidey senses kicked into full gear. I was on to her. I felt I owed it to Jesus to bust the guy (or gal) who was taking away His glory at Christmastime.

After that, mom and dad shook it up the next couple years and tried to throw me off their trail by getting up in the middle of the night to put the gifts under the tree and eat the cookies. And of course we can't forget the act of throwing snowballs on the roof early in the am to make it look like reindeer had graced the freshly fallen snow. Crazy people!

They were truly committed to this elaborate ruse, that's for sure. I look back on these memories now and they warm my heart and make me chuckle. I grew up in a very troubled home. My parents divorced when I was 14, and despite all the screaming, hitting and shouting that went on in our home, I take comfort in knowing that they probably had a little fun together at least once a year.

I busted Santagate wide open that year

I felt so victorious catching "Santa" in the act when I was about 8 or 9 years old.  If felt like this great victory for Jesus!

I remember my parents laughing at how intense and serious I was catching them in the act. My dad was caught mid-chew eating Santa's cookies, while mom was in the middle of putting presents under the Christmas tree.  It was a memorable event in my childhood, for sure.

I was sworn to secrecy that snowy night and was told I couldn't burst my younger sister's bubble and "steal her joy at Christmas."

Steal her joy...did you catch that? Talk about giving Santa way too much credit!

I was a young rebel, committed to the cause of King Jesus, so once I had this precious "top secret" information, I wanted to tell everyone that Santa wasn't real. I wanted to free all my friends from the faux joy so they could focus on the real joy of Christmas. I got myself into a bit of a mess with that one. But I was on fire for Jesus!

I'm celebrating '25 Days Of Christmas' on Instagram and Facebook. Come join me!

Next week I'll unwrap the joy of Christmas present. Have a blessed week!

Get weekly encouragement delivered straight to your inbox every Saturday morning. I share posts from the week, plus articles around the web to encourage your heart, soul and marriage. I often throw in fun tidbits about life, recipes I find or things I 'm loving that week that are only for subscribers. You also get a free "Showered In Grace" printable + future goodies created just for subscribers

Encouragement For Your Weekend {#7}

Have five minutes to spare? Here's some encouragement for your weekend.


Encouragement For Your Heart

Do you struggle with impatience? I sure do. I think God often throws curve balls in my day and life plans just to teach me to lean on Him more. Well, Christmas is definitely the time of year where we can get a little impatient, don't you think? Love the humor and wisdom about waiting I found on Bethany McIlrath's post "Waiting Isn't Passive."

In fact, I’m pretty sure if God wanted to test us before we entered heaven to see how much we learned on earth, my exam would be “Sit right here. He’ll call you when He’s ready.” I’d be pacing the clouds, trying to get through to the Lord via the prayer line: “Hello God. You brought me here. This is the appointment you set. How is it you are not on time?!”

Encouragement For Your Soul

Are you trying to keep Jesus as the reason for the season? Meditate on "7 of the Best Ways to Know the Joy of Jesus" over at my friend Deb's blog Counting My Blessings. Be encouraged!

"Lay your faults and flaws at the foot of the cross. Nothing is too great or small. Know that through Jesus you are forgiven and free of guilt and shame. That’s a reason for everyday joy."

Encouragement For Your Marriage

My husband and I are marriage mentors at our church. In fact, my husband has such a heart for this ministry that he has been working with a group of great men to lead it. I am so encouraged by how God can take the messy pieces of anybody's life and truly use it for His glory, my marriage included!

My friend Beth is a professional counselor with a heart for helping people who are struggling in their marriages. She has written this great series on the different types of love styles over at her blog "Messy Marriage." Her post this week focuses on the "Victim Love Style." If you have time, check it out. I think we have all fallen to the "victim" mentality from time to time, haven't we? But this love style is different and stems from a childhood filled with abuse. She has other posts that talk about different love styles, check them out too if you have time!

"Victims often bend over backwards to ensure that their spouses are protected and pleased. That’s why Victim love styles are attracted to Controller love styles, because the Controller continues to victimize the Victim. They’re both comfortable in that unhealthy dynamic because it is familiar."

XOXO, Nicki ツ

Get weekly encouragement delivered straight to your inbox every Saturday morning. I share posts from the week, plus articles around the web to encourage your heart, soul and marriage. I often throw in fun tidbits about life, recipes I find or things I 'm loving that week that are only for subscribers. You also get a free "Showered In Grace" printable + future goodies created just for subscribers

5 Ways To Be Thankful In Your Season Of Infertility {+ Other Hardships}

I never thought I'd be able to honestly tell you that I've found so much to be thankful for related to the infertility my husband and I have faced over the years.  Notice, I did NOT say that I am thankful FOR the infertility, but that I have found ways to be thankful IN the thick of it.


The reality is, yucky stuff happens to all of us. We are imperfect, messy human beings in desperate need of a Savior. My mess may look different than whatever you are muddling through, but we're all doing our best to navigate through this crazy life.

The pain, grief and heartache we have faced over the years should have torn my husband and I apart. In fact, statistically speaking, couples struggling with infertility are three times more likely to divorce. That's crazy, but honestly not shocking. When you have two sinners filled with heartbreak and sorrow, each blaming themselves (and potentially each other in their weakest moments) for the devastation that rips through your marriage, it's a total recipe for disaster. But with the right attitude, it doesn't have to be.

I feel blessed to have endured this hardship. I am not in any way, shape or form happy that I can't have kids naturally, but God has used our infertility struggle to strengthen our faith in Him and our love for each other in ways that I can't even begin to put into words. My husband is my worldly rock and I am so blessed to be loved by him.

Hint: the tips below can apply to any hardship you might be facing.

5 Ways To Be Thankful In Your Season Of Infertility


1. Look for the encouragers. 

They are there, sometimes you just have to weed out the discouragers to find the people who remind you of God's goodness and His love for you. They are a lifeline on the days when you feel unworthy.  God has cared for my husband and me so much through this journey by placing people in our life who have rallied around us in prayer and support.  I also feel blessed that God has shown Himself frequently through the kindness of strangers.

2. Read God's Word! Be authentic with the Lord.

God has made His love known for me time and time again through His Word because I choose to pick up my Bible, even when I really felt like throwing it across the room. I have chosen to run to Him in my grief because He's wired deep within me an ache to find hope in Words that come from Him alone. I have gained a deeper understanding of authenticity with Abba Father because I've been able to come to the throne and tell Him how angry I am at His will in my life. God is so good, loving and patient, even when we are angry, bitter and hurting. Relationship truly is about being authentic and speaking openly about our issues, why would it be any different with our Creator?

3. Find comfort in your favorite humans.

I can't tell you how many times I have heard the phrase "you should try these vitamins, they totally worked for me," or "did you try to prop a pillow under your bum?" and a million other strange, uncomfortable and inappropriate tidbits of advice. It can be so awkward when people want to share "helpful" information, especially when all you need is a hug and a little prayer. Weed out the unhelpful people and cling to the friends that will sit with you and eat chocolate or go shopping or better yet, binge eat chocolate after a long day of shopping.

4. Be thankful for the gift of grace. 

People often like to fill awkward silences with words. I'm so guilty of this! Too often we don't think before we act and the words we offer to those grieving can be so discouraging. So when the "helpful" advice comes flying out of someone's mouth, don't respond with bitterness. And don't take it personally. Instead of recoiling or getting angry, respond with something like "Thanks for caring, but I really just need prayer. Will you commit to praying for me this week? That means more than any advice you could offer right now."

5.  Be thankful for the abundance that God has given you. 

Don't be focused on the ONE THING you can't have. Instead, make a list of the hundreds of other blessings that fill your life. Refer to this list over and over again. Practice gratitude until it is embedded deep into your core.

Remember: Just because you haven't been blessed with children, doesn't mean that you're not blessed with an abundance of other wonderful things. It's all about #perspective.


I'm so very thankful for all the blessings that have occurred as a result of this struggle. I continue to be thankful IN the midst of it, even as we continue to navigate the insane and ridiculous world of adoption.

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude has allowed me to gain perspective in my life and see God's faithfulness and love for me over the years. I trust that He has the best in store for my future, even when I can't understand it. Faith is truly a marvelous gift and a blessing!

What is it that you are struggling with today? 

Maybe it's a bump in your marriage, maybe it's the pain of infertility, miscarriage or other devastating loss. Know that in your pain you can turn to a Savior who loves you and desires to wipe away your tears and carry your burdens.

Make the choice to trust in Jesus and the rich promises found in His word.

Get weekly encouragement delivered straight to your inbox every Saturday morning. I share posts from the week, plus articles around the web to encourage your heart, soul and marriage. I often throw in fun tidbits about life, recipes I find or things I 'm loving that week that are only for subscribers. You also get a free "Showered In Grace" printable + future goodies created just for subscribers

Giving Thanks In Our Brokenness

I love how the Lord takes all the broken messy pieces of our lives and weaves them into something beautiful, to be used for His glory.


I love how the trials we face do not define who we are, but the way we face them (with or without Jesus) does.

I love how God uses trials and adversity in our lives to draw us nearer to Him.

I love getting a glimpse of what heaven might be like when I see a child playing in the rain, a bird singing in the trees, or the sunlight dancing on the windowsill after a long snowstorm.

I love that I am married to the most wonderful man on the planet who is just as broken and flawed and messy and screwed up as I am and that we both rely on Jesus as our #1 source to get through this crazy, nutty world.

I love that the Lord has blessed me with friends who trust their hearts to me over warm cups of coffee and crazed text messages in the middle of scattered days.

I love that I can rest in the fact that I will never be perfect, but I serve an awesome Creator who is.

I love knowing that the Holy Spirit dwells within me and He is my #1 source for strength, even in my weakest and most forgetful moments.

I love that some days my heart overflows with prayer for people I don't even know.

I love that I have a Savior who died for me, and for you, and who knew us before we were even born.

I love being a beautifully broken child of the One True King.

I love being showered in His grace.

I love that God used infertility and miscarriage to draw my husband and I closer to Him and to each other.

I love that God has redeemed our hurting hearts and has given us a desire to enter into the crazy world of adoption.

I love that  in the middle of a crazy, insanely disorganized adoption process, He soothes our hearts through the kindhearted prayers and words of wisdom from friends and strangers.

I love that even though I don't know what the future holds for our country,  I can rest in the fact our Great and Mighty, All-Knowing Counselor and King does.

Friends, I know you are hurting today. That you are dealing with things that burden your heart. Rest in King Jesus.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3: 5-6


My hope is that you know that You are loved by an awesome and mighty King today. And no matter what it is you are dealing with, He has placed people in your life that will love and care for you. All you have to do is ask.

How can I pray for you today?

Walking With The King, Nicki ツ
Get weekly encouragement delivered straight to your inbox every Saturday morning. I share posts from the week, plus articles around the web to encourage your heart, soul and marriage. I often throw in fun tidbits about life, recipes I find or things I 'm loving that week that are only for subscribers. You also get a free "Showered In Grace" printable + future goodies created just for subscribers

Encouragement For Your Weekend {#6}

Have five minutes to spare? Here's some encouragement for your weekend.


Encouragement For Your Heart

Do you struggle with perfectionism? I think we all do. How about in your parenting? Check out this beautiful reminder from Sarah Koontz on "Fixing our Perception of the Perfect Mom."

"There are many things we can accomplish in our own strength; motherhood is not one of them. The goal is not perfection, but rather a constant desire to be better tomorrow than we were today. The only way I know how to fix things when I screw up is to ask God to shine His light into my heart."

Encouragement For Your Soul

A beautiful list of "10 Guarantees in the Christian's Life" by Lori at Frog's Lily Pad.

"There are many heartbroken people in the world today. Whether the broken heart is from the results of sin, personal choices or just life in general, there are things in life that are guaranteed for us Christians. We have a hope and peace the lost don’t have. There’s a Light at the end of the tunnel we can depend on. We don’t have to weather the storms alone. There is always a Strong Tower we can run to."

Encouragement For Your Marriage

I went to a bunch of fun, quirky vintage shops in the area last weekend. One of them had this cool restored wood photo that they turned into a little frame where you could hang words of encouragement on it with a clothespin. I should have bought it, it was really neat. Anyway, they had a quote printed from Unveiled Wife, which I had never heard of before. So I looked her blog up. It's pretty. And has some great Biblical encouragement on marriage! Loved this recent post "A Healthy Marriage That Points to Christ Scares The Enemy."

"Honestly, I’ve been the biggest hypocrite of a wife. I have judged my husband and criticized him. I have been prideful, thinking “my way” of doing things was better than his way. I have missed opportunities to build him up by withholding love and encouragement when I had the power to give it. I have given my attention to things that were far less important than my husband. I have done all these things - mostly behind closed doors – while encouraging women to be godly wives."

XOXO, Nicki ツ

Get weekly encouragement delivered straight to your inbox every Saturday morning. I share posts from the week, plus articles around the web to encourage your heart, soul and marriage. I often throw in fun tidbits about life, recipes I find or things I 'm loving that week that are only for subscribers. You also get a free "Showered In Grace" printable + future goodies created just for subscribers
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