Spread A Little SonShine Wherever You Go

I get a little giddy at the start of a new calendar year, don’t you? The possibilities seem endless, the slate is wiped clean, we have a fresh start. Then we often ruin it by creating mental lists of things we want to do. Lose more weight, eat healthier, read our bibles more, exercise more, blah blah blah. Usually, three weeks or so into a New Year, we feel suffocated under such unrealistic expectations.

spread a little sonshine wherever you go.

Did you know only 12% of Americans follow through with their New Year Resolutions? I find comfort in this sad statistic some days!

What if this year we stopped wanting to do more and instead we choose to focus on filling ourselves up with more of Jesus? 

Last weekend, I found myself up before sunrise reflecting on all the craziness ahead in the new year. As I sat in the quiet of my home, with a warm cup of coffee in hand, I looked out at the beautiful maple tree in our front yard.

This tree that has brought such beauty and joy into our lives over the past decade is being cut down soon. It’s the tree I often stare at while spending quiet time with the Lord. When my spirit was in a season of thanklessness during our infertility journey, I would often gaze at this sturdy tree and thank the Lord for its beauty and for the shade it provides our home in the warm afternoon sun.

This beautiful tree has stood solid, strong and firm in the same spot for almost 100 years. It has brought comfort and rest to many birds and squirrels long before our subdivision was built. It has provided me and my husband with quality entertainment as we’ve watched squirrels battle it out for “turf rights” to run up and down that tree.

As life changes, circumstances and people weave in and out of our lives, and seasons come and go, but Jesus is always with us. The great Emmanuel. The King of Kings. Our Lord is the strong, sturdy and constant presence that we can turn to in times of comfort. 

The Lord has filled my heart with hope for a year filled with endless opportunities to choose good over evil; kindness over crudeness; service over self. I even find myself looking forward to what this summer will bring with all the extra space in our yard due to the loss of that maple tree. More mini golf and croquet tournaments held in our front yard. More giggles and laughter and fun with close friends and family.

We have to-do lists a mile long and more than enough to keep us occupied and stressed. But we need to stop and reflect in the middle of our busy, beautiful lives:

Matthew 5: 14-15 -
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house."

Choose to rest on the beautiful hope that Jesus provides in the days ahead.

Just as the moon reflects the glory of the sun, we must let the light that is Jesus shine in us as we go throughout our busy days.

You are a light to this dark world. Let the brilliance of Jesus shine brightly in you!

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Get Your Free Copy Of "The Grace Challenge"

Do you want to glorify God more in the middle of your busy, beautiful life? I sure do! That's why I created a free gift just for you. It's a 15-page ebook called "The Grace Challenge." Because God is awesome. And you're pretty special too. It's time we remembered these truths in the middle of our busy, beautiful lives. Take more time this year to glorify Jesus. Download your free copy of "The Grace Challenge!" 

The Grace Challenge - Free artwork, worksheets and scripture cards to glorify Jesus in the middle of your beautiful, busy life!

God created you for a special, unique purpose.

How often do you forget this simple, wonderful truth as you go about your busy day? When I’m overscheduled and overloaded, I often forget about the beauty and freedom that comes from being a child of the One True King.

Glorify Jesus in the middle of your busy, beautiful life.  

No matter how busy (or messy) life gets, we can set aside moments to honor the Lord, praise Him, live for His glory and live out His love in relationship with others.

"The Grace Challenge" is a reminder to live daily for Jesus!

My prayer is that you will take time to grow in a daily, intimate relationship with our Lord and Savior.  I created scripture cards for you to memorize, a lovely printout for you to frame and place in your home or office, as well as worksheets, to encourage you to spend time in God’s Word. I pray you discover the many ways God is calling you to live for His glory and serve Him in all the special roles He has blessed you with.

I pray "The Grace Challenge" will encourage you to find time to spend with Jesus and ignite a spark in your soul to serve others and show them His glory!

soli deo gloria, Nicki ツ
Get your free copy of "The Grace Challenge," plus soul encouragement and fun in your inbox every Sat am! Click here to subscribe. 

Unwrapping The Joy Of Christmas Future

I've been reading through the birth narrative and the beautiful redemption story that unfolds in Matthew and Luke the past few weeks, and I just keep thinking about how messy the events leading up to the first Christmas really were.

>When the presents are unwrapped, the eggnog carton is empty and the extended family has flown your coop until the next holiday celebration, remember that the joy of Christmas does not end.

Our Redeemer was born in a stable. With earthly parents on the run to ensure His safety. Who knows the exact layout of the stable that Christmas eve. Or the conditions. We sure don't. But I think it's safe to say it was definitely not like the Four Seasons.

Jesus gives hope and redemption to a broken world.  

As we draw closer to Christmas, as well as the end of another year, I have been reflecting on all the craziness that we call life. No one ever said life would be easy, or perfect. We place those expectations on ourselves. #letsblameitonpinterest

The reality is, as long as living includes being stuck on this Earth with fellow sinners, life will remain pretty messy. So why do we keep trying to strive for a perfection we'll never obtain? I'm so thankful we can rely upon a perfect Redeemer - and bask in the good gifts of His mercy and grace each day.

Chances are, you've faced many joys, as well as trials and sorrows this year. Cling to the beauty and hope that can only be unwrapped in the gift of Jesus. Take time to rejoice in the events leading up to the first Christmas that unfold in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

The first Christmas gave us a gift wrapped in the package of a baby born in a manager who would bring light and hope to a dark, hurting world. The ultimate gift is found in the birth of a Savior that died a horrible, bloody, messy death to save you and me. It's a gift we can unwrap daily by being in a deep, intimate relationship with King Jesus.

Unwrapping The Gift Of Joy Each Day

This Christmas season, cast your cares and your worries and all your crazy family relationship drama and sadness over to Jesus. Let Him heal you from that brokenness. And trust that God will take all the broken messes of this earthly life and weave them into something beautiful that will be used for His glory.

It's so reassuring that God will not only use our mess for His glory, but He will use our troubles to draw us nearer to Him.

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." Romans 8:28-29

Unwrapping The Gift Of A Daily Relationship

When the presents are unwrapped, the eggnog carton is empty and the extended family has flown your coop until the next holiday celebration, remember that the joy of Christmas doesn't end.

The beauty of Christmas and the glory it unwraps in the gift of Jesus is something we can rejoice in all year long.

As we look forward to a New Year and all the unknowns that surround our upcoming days, my prayer for all of us is that we keep Jesus close to our hearts all year long. Be open to His correction. Take time to be in a daily relationship with Him. Read His Word. Pray. Praise Him. Worship Him. Serve Him. Love others.

Take time each day to invest in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Cut down on your daily activities. Find margin in your day. Spend more time with Jesus. It's the best gift we will ever receive this side of heaven. And it's a gift we can unwrap daily. Don't miss out.

May you find great joy and hope in the gift of Jesus this New Year.

Get your free copy of "The Grace Challenge," plus soul encouragement and fun in your inbox every Sat am! Click here to subscribe. 

Unwrapping The Joy Of Christmas Present

Did you get super excited for Christmas as a kid? Especially when it came to presents? I sure did! Every year Mom would ask me what I wanted for Christmas and I'd write down a list that could fill a football stadium. All those toys and gadgets brought such temporary joy into my life. But the biggest need in my heart was the one that Santa could never deliver  - I wanted to be part of a family that really loved each other.

As we get older all the things we really want and need at Christmas, can not be bought from a store. Love. Security. Happiness. Laughter. Friendship. These are good and perfect gifts that only come from Above.

Growing up my family was pretty messy. 

I'm sure yours was too. I mean, let's face it, nobody is perfect. But this was like super messy. My mom and dad were alcoholics. They fought all the time, mom would "bump" into tables with her arms, her legs and her face. The kids in our family had the same issue too. The stories we would make up for all the bumps and bruises were incredible. What was even more incredible is that the people we told them to chose to believe the lies at face value. (I think we believed them at times too!) "Talking" to each other at the top of our lungs was "normal," even though in my heart I knew it wasn't. I lived in a war zone for most of my childhood and young adult life.

At an early age, I knew Jesus. 

I was probably three or four when we first became fast friends, but by eight or so, I was busting Santagate wide open in our home and really was all about making sure Jesus got the glory at Christmas.

When I found out that Santa wasn't real, my 'hope' bubble popped. The hope I had been clinging to that Santa would somehow magically "fix" my family was stripped right out from underneath me.

Thankfully I knew Jesus would someday show me what it meant to be really loved by someone. I knew He would allow me to feel safe and secure in a home, not worried about saying something that could set someone off on a drinking spree or into a verbal or physical rage. I knew someday I would be in a home where I could lay my head down on a pillow at night and my body would be able to totally unwind and rest and get the good sleep it deserved.

I held onto the hope that the Lord would truly let me know what it meant to be loved by someone, without guilt trips, manipulation or being starved for affection because I did something that would have me "lose" the right to be loved for a period of time.

There is so much joy this Christmas.

Thankfully, I can fast forward through 20 plus years of insanity and tell you today, as I celebrate Christmas I don't want or need anything from a store. Ok, that's a lie. Because the perfect wrinkle cream that would take a decade off the area around my eyes will ALWAYS be a want and a need that can never be fulfilled. #justkeepingitreal

But other than that, I have everything I need.

God has gifted me with my deepest heart's desire, to have a family filled with love, peace and security. I have an incredible husband. He's not perfect, but he's perfect for me. He's the peanut butter to my jelly. The rice to my roni. The lemon to my ade. Or whatever other corny things people like to throw out when it comes to love. 

Fourteen years ago the Lord placed this incredible man into my life and we are two months shy of being married for 13 wonderful, bumpy and so-filled-with-love years. Even though we celebrate this Christmas present without children to fill our home after so many years of infertility, I can tell you that this Christmas I have everything I need.

I have the gift of a man who loves the Lord and desires to serve Him. I have peace when I lay down at night to sleep. I have security that no matter what comes my way, I am loved by an amazing Savior who died for me and the man God gave me to do life with here on this earth.

Children, if they are God's desire for us, will come in His perfect timing, and in whatever way He chooses to build our future family.

This year, as I celebrate Christmas my heart is full, my life is overflowing with joy and I am so amazingly thankful that God has filled the Christmas desire of my little 9-year-old self. I am part of a family filled with love.

It's amazing how as we get older all the things we really want and need can't be bought from a store. Love. Security. Happiness. Laughter. Friendship. These are good and perfect gifts that only come from Above. 

I'm so thankful for Jesus. 

For His beautiful gift of salvation. For His love for me. For His kindness and His mercy. And for His beautiful gifts of love, peace and security wrapped up in an incredibly handsome package and given to me through the love of a man named Erik. Yes, I know I already said that. But it needs to be said again and again and again and again when your heart is bursting with gratitude.

What are you celebrating this Christmas? No matter how bumpy your current season of life is, don't be too busy this Christmas season to take time and thank the Lord for all the blessings He has given you. And take the time to let those little and big blessings in your life know just how much they bring you joy. Tell them over and over and over again if you have to. 

Worshipping The King, xoxo Nicki ツ
Get your free copy of "The Grace Challenge," plus soul encouragement and fun in your inbox every Sat am! Click here to subscribe. 
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