Saturday, July 31, 2010

i need inspiration.

inspiration: i'm on a roller coaster.

i feel like i'm on a roller coaster. sometimes i'm up at the top and i can feel and sense God all around me in everything i do. sometimes i feel like i'm plummeting away from him at 125 MPH, absorbed in myself and the things i'm doing. i'm in one of those stages now.

i know that God is with me in any and all situations. i know He never leaves or forsakes me. i know that He is always waiting and welcoming me with open arms whenever i return to Him. but i feel so badly for not making time to spend with Him. i feel so badly for just doing whatever and hoping that it's part of God's plan...i feel like i need some sort of jolt of inspiration so that i'll instantly be a "better" child of God.

i was contemplating what i wanted to "blog" about, since i've been absent in the blogosphere for a few days now...three words came to mind as i began to type...

ask. seek. knock.
(Matthew 7:7)

i know that all i need to do is ask and it will be given. He works for the good of those who live according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). so i ask this in all sincerity: to be a good daughter, friend, student, and child of God. to live a life that glorifies God in every facet of my life. to not be preoccupied with myself as much as i am now. to be challenged in my faith in order to strengthen my relationship and dependence on Christ and Christ alone.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

ready to run.

inspiration: i'm ready to run my 5K and to potentially start "dating"...

i'm running my first 5K in 11 days! :)

i'm so excited i can hardly contain myself. as much as i want to improve and get better and prepare physically and mentally for this race, i know i need to also guard myself from excitement and overdoing it. yesterday, i changed my route a bit and decided to run further down one of the main roads. well, apparently, there is a hill that is pretty intense (doesn't seem that intense when i drive up it, but i guess that's the difference between running and driving), because when i finally got to the top of it and turned down one of the side roads, my legs were SCREAMING!! three words: shin. splints. suck! i continued running through the first part of my workout (18 minutes of running), but after i walked and got about 2 minutes into my second part, i just couldn't handle the pain anymore. shin splints basically are tiny fractures in your shins and i knew that even though it would mean i would have to get up today and do my run (which i did, sans big hill), that it was necessary for me to just take it easy rather than to get hurt (especially so close to my race).

and i guess the same concept goes for my dating life (well, the one that i will potentially have, since i don't have one now). i want so much to just go out and date people and to have fun. but at the same time, i want to live out a biblical relationship and marriage. and nowhere in Scripture is "casual dating" okay. it's about pursuing a relationship (and marriage!!) that glorifies Christ in every facet.

it's taken me a while to get over my past mistakes and to finally be at a place to be open and ready to date someone (who MUST be pursuing Christ wholeheartedly, first and foremost...a standard i've previously let slide). it's a scary thought because i ask myself constantly "Nikki, what if your standards are too high. what if no guy wants to try to win your heart?" and it's a daunting thing because i'm afraid i'll end up single and alone except for my plants (i can't see myself as a "cat lady"...but i do currently have a small collection of plants...). but before i get too carried away in my worries, i also have to realize that nothing is "too much" or no standards are "too high" for God. if God has someone out there for me, He will provide this guy with the strength and courage (and patience!!) to pursue me and to be my future husband.

i don't need to just "endure pain" in pursuing meaningful relationships if they are only going to hurt me in the long run. just like i don't need to run with shin splints just so i don't have to get up the next day and redo my workout. it's all about patience and running the race with full faith in Christ.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." --Philippians 4:13

Sunday, July 25, 2010

God will provide.

inspiration: God promises He will never leave or forsake us.

I know that in any and every situation, God will provide for us. Whatever our physical, mental, emotional, financial, etc. state we're in, He is always there with us and He will always provide what is necessary for us. I'm at the place now where I just have to trust in Him that everything will be provided and that it will be done so on His timetable.

I'm become content with where I am, but I do always want more. More time, more money, more friends, more opportunities, more adventures. I get really impatient sometimes, but I know that no matter how impatient I become, it won't change God's timetable. So I have to just remain at peace with whatever happens and be filled with anything and everything He provides me.

He is in control.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

time heals.

inspiration: for me, it's been the worst to hear, the most difficult to accept, but the best and truest advice.

"Time heals all wounds."

whether it's a loss of a friend/relative, breakup, whatever kind of emotional turmoil i face, it's always hard for me to hear that phrase. i, initially, had a lot that i wanted to write about in regard to this phrase, but i would rather not wallow around in my self-pity (no one wants to read that) and no matter what our circumstances are, it's a timeless and universal piece of advice that we'll all have to eventually absorb.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." --Jeremiah 29:11

God has amazing plans for each and every one of us. Sometimes (and by "sometimes", I mean "rarely") do they go how WE think they should go, but they are always for the glory of God. But once we accept our circumstances and trust in His will for us, we will ultimately learn of His amazing and wonderful love and plans.

So while that advice is still hard to swallow sometimes, I will always try and keep my focus on Christ and the Cross and the plans He has for me :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

when wrongs are rights

inspiration: it always amazes me how in the midst of having things go "wrong", things haven't really gone that wrong at all.

today, i was presented with an opportunity to buy a hot air balloon ride for $137.50 (so, basically, half off!!). Seeing as this is pretty high on my bucket list, I really wanted to just JUMP at the opportunity to do it at a really, really good price. But the more I got to thinking about it, the more I realized "Nikki, you still have rent to pay for August and bills to pay. You really don't have the money to do it..."

So, I thought, "If you can make the cash to make rent for next month, you can justify spending that money to go hot air ballooning." Logically, if I could've gotten a babysitting job or two for this weekend, between that extra money and my paychecks next week, I could have afforded to splurge on an "adventure". But, to no avail, no babysitting jobs have come up yet.

I've been telling myself and others all day that if I can't buy it now, that my adventure is just simply meant to happen later. Not gonna lie, I was pretty frustrated, though. I thought, "Why can't this be the time to go hot air ballooning?" I kept asking God, "WHY?! If not now, when?!"

Also, earlier today, I bought a sunshade (the little thing you put in your windshield to keep it from getting so hot in your car). I tried to fold it earlier, but I just couldn't get it to work. And I figured if I was going to be sitting inside doing nothing, I might as well be practicing folding that stupid thing so I wouldn't look like quite such an idiot doing it in the parking lot.

Well, after about 30 minutes of trying, failing, trying again, and kinda-sorta coming up with a method to turn a rectangular thing into a circular thing, I took it back out to my car. When I looked up, I saw the biggest rainbow I think I've seen in my life! Second one this week!

I snapped a few pictures of it. Texted a few people. Called a friend. And then it was gone. I was sad to see it disappear so quickly, but I know that it was God's way of opening my eyes to the fact that even though things seem frustrating and things don't go the way I envisioned them, that they're not really going wrong at all.

If I had gotten a babysitting job or if I had known instinctively that you just twist the daggum sunshade until it becomes somewhat of a circle, I would've missed out on one of the most beautiful sights of my life. :)

In this case, two "wrongs" did make a "right". A very beautiful "right", at that!

------------------------------------------------------------------------

I tried to get the entire bow in this one, but I didn't. Also, I darkened the shot to try and capture the color better.

The left side of the bow

The right side of the bow

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

love never fails.

inspiration: we say "I love you" way too much. and sometimes we forget what "I love you" really means.

"i love this song/movie/book."
"i love my iPhone/video game."
"i love my friends/family."
"i love my boyfriend/i love my girlfriend"
"i love my husband/i love my wife."

we say "love" like it's just another word. and granted it is (some of us -- myself included in times past -- regard it as one of those "four-letter words" =P). but sometimes what i forget (and we, as Christians forget) is what LOVE truly means.

it's more than just an emotion or a feeling i express to my friends and family. it's more than just a word i use to describe how i feel about my passion for food or movies or guitar hero. LOVE transcends understanding, whether we realize it or not; the true LOVE that God has for us is beyond comprehension or words.

in comparison to God's love for us, the love i have for my things/friends/family is like an ant (me) compared to an elephant (God).
we say we love things.
we say we love people.
But NOTHING can ever compare to the love of Christ.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." --John 3:16

God loves us so much that He gave up His SON to die for us. i can't imagine doing such a thing. i just can't. but God did. and He still does.

one of the things i look forward to most in the future is getting married and spending the rest of my life with a man that is in love with Christ more than he is in love with me. i know i'm only 21 and i have a slew of adventures ahead of me, but i really do want to find the person who will love me for everything i am and everything i'm not and who will always keep me grounded and Christ-centered. but i can pretty much guarantee that i will drive him crazy. i will make him mad, i will annoy him, i will mess things up, and i will complain about things he thinks are stupid. but through all that, if he is truly the one, he will see beyond my imperfections.

That's how Christ sees us. He sees our broken lives and the broken world we live in. He knows our hearts and our thoughts and all the sin in our lives. But He still loves us. He knows our weaknesses and our strengths. His heart breaks when we turn away from Him. But despite all the pain and suffering and heartache our lives and our sin bring about, He is ALWAYS there for us. His love is unconditional. His grace is unfathomable. Even when we are far away from Him, He still welcomes us home with open arms (like the father with the prodigal son -- Luke 15:11-32). Nothing can ever separate us from His love, either.

Romans 8:38-39 says, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

There is a quote from Oscar Wilde that I love: "Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future."

i know that there are a lot of things that i have done wrong in the past. i have hurt others, forsaken my relationship with Christ, idolized money and things and the world, and made mistake after mistake after mistake. but God used those moments of me hitting rock bottom in order to show me His love. through relationships with friends, through church, through His word, through books, and through prayer, His grace overtook me every time i made a mistake. every time i ran away, He brought me back to Him and received me with open arms. I've been redeemed by His blood and His love covers me, in everything i do.

So we may say "I love (insert anything or anyone here)", but the truth is, God will always love us more. far more than we can even ever comprehend!!

He is just that amazing.

crazy little thing called love.

inspiration: you think you know, but you have no idea.

i have a blog post i want to write about.
but i don't have time now to do so.
it's about our concept of love and the REALITY of what love is.

i'll try and write it during my lunch break if i can. :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

spontaneity.

inspiration:today was just one spontaneous thing after another.

i'm the type that plans things.
i like to think i'm adventurous (and i am), but if it's not planned or i don't feel like i'm quite "ready" for it, then chances are i won't do it. i'll wait until i feel like it's the right time.

but i did two things with very little reservation.

1. i applied for a scholarship that was advertised on facebook.
i saw the ad on the right for the Grace Hopper Scholarship for Women in Computing. i clicked, i filled out the application and sent it along with my resume and i'm hoping for the best. now if this is "meant to be" for me, i will miss several days of classes to go to this conference in atlanta for 4 days. i'm not really sure what to expect, but i went ahead and forewent my hesitation about "if it's mostly about research and grad school, it won't be for me" and applied. there would be countless opportunities that arose from attending this conference than just meets the eye: networking, grad school and research opportunities, internships. i mean, honestly, even if i don't feel like grad school is for me and even if i'm not one of the few selected, it will be okay.

i feel like life is about not only pursuing Christ wholeheartedly, but about pursuing opportunities that will make you stronger as well.


2. i signed up for an open modeling audition.
i don't think it's on my official "bucket list" anymore, but to "walk on a runway" is something i want to do before i die. granted, it may not be a big runway, but someday i would like to do that. well, after this weekend and being photographed by my best friend/sister/an amazing photographer, and after hearing a radio ad for WAY-FM's Model and Talent search thing on the 24th of this month, i thought "what the heck" and I applied.

i'm sure it would be a fun experience (and even if it's not exactly "fun", it will be something that i can file in my mind under "at least i tried").


who knows what these opportunities mean? only God knows what He has planned for me. and in either situation, i know that it's for my best interest and for His glory. if both things work out in my favor, then that will be amazing. but if both things fail, then i know God has something better.


"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." --Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, July 12, 2010

perseverance.

inspiration: bad days are good because they make you appreciate the good.

so today has been, for lack of a better word, "sucky".
it's just been rough for me emotionally in a lot of ways. and i've done my fair share of complaining and frankly, i'm sick and tired of being sick and tired.

complaining really doesn't make me feel better. in fact, it makes me feel horrible. i hate being a burden to others but i know i can't carry the burden alone. i read James 1 just to read a couple of my favorite "Keep on truckin'" verses (James 1:2-4)


"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." --James 1:2-4


we're called to face trials and tests. not because God doesn't want us to be happy, but he wants us to be "mature and complete". i have to remember this when im having a bad day and i definitely need to remember that it's only through experiencing the bad that i can rejoice in the good.

but as i continued reading, other verses from this same passage caught my attention:


"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." (verse 12)

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created." (verses 17-18)


He blesses us with His love and promises and blessings through every situation. Good and bad. He allows us to experience the bad in order to experience His love and grace and mercy (the gifts he promised us).

Bad days aren't fun, but I know that through all of the trials and tests and temptations that come along with having a bad day, overcoming it by embracing the love and grace found in Christ and Christ alone, makes it all worth it. We are not perfect, but we are made perfect and when we persevere, stay wrapped in the love and grace in Christ and persevere, we shall be made "mature and complete" :)

So bring on the bad days so that I may enjoy and rejoice in the goodness of Christ :)

best days of my life.

inspiration: my subsiding cynicism from the breakup.

i think so much about how much i have learned in recent months about true happiness. i realized that my previous breakup is probably the best thing that ever happened to me. it took many many many months to realize it; it took many many many months to overcome my cyncism toward guys and relationships, in general.

but i've realized that had i not experienced all the pain and junk from that relationship and breakup, i would enver have realized how amazing God is. if i had never cried myself to sleep from the absolute suckiness of losing someone, i would never have enjoyed laughing until i cried with friends. if i had never been so far and distanced from Christ, i would never have been able to see His amazing grace and love. if we had never broken up, i wouldve never met the most amazing women of God I know and i wouldve never experienced His blessings :)

not all bad came from the relationship: i grew a lot from that relationship. i learned a lot, too. i got to experience love at its finest. but i know that if God allowed me to experience that greatness and that joy when i was so far away from Him, i can only imagine how

AMAZING

it will be when it's the "right" person
.

but as i've chronicled in past blogs, my life has changed dramatically from last year. i'm so much happier and i'm so much more fulfilled even though i don't have the "things" that i used to glamorize and crave. God really does provide for us in every situation and in every walk of life. i am single. i am proud. if these aren't the best days of my life, then i can only imagine how

AMAZING

the best days of my life truly will be.

Friday, July 9, 2010

excited.

inspiration: my second family is coming!

so this isn't much of a theological blog or anything special.
just a place for me to express that i'm SUPER EXCITED about a lot of things.

first and foremost because i get to see my second-family for a couple days. some plans didn't work out so i won't get to see them for as long as i wished, but i will get to see them and that is a blessing in itself :)

i'm starting to embrace the single life now.
i have tried to shift my attitude away from being sad that i don't have a boyfriend to being happy with all the blessings and opportunities i have a single woman of God :)
i know that when the time is right, God will bless me with someone special.

i run my 5K in just 4 weeks :)
ive been better with budgeting and spending money.
life is just all around awesome right now.

:)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

be in the world, not of the world

inspiration: Romans 12:2


"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." --Romans 12:2



Yesterday, one of my best friends and I were having a discussion about how we're often "blinded" to our gifts from God. She is an amazing photographer, but I guess sometimes she doesn't see the beauty that we (as outsiders) see in her work. She will take a picture and like it, but when I look at it, I see something amazingly beautiful.

I guess the same goes for me in my technical ability. I'm working on some freelance work and I'm worried to death that it will turn out horribly. But Joyann encouraged me, saying, "You may not see it, but i think when you're done, what God blessed you with will be seen by others and i'm sure it will be great!"

It really got me to thinking about how truly he transforms us when He blesses us. God calls us to be IN the world, but not OF the world. He wants our lives to reflect His glory, not our own.


"In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." --Matthew 5:16


He calls us to live a life that glorifies HIM in all we do, not ourselves.

Now, I'm writing this blog mostly because I am struggling deeply with being "in" and not "of". I've found myself being tempted and pulled into the world from so many directions and I'm really struggling to keep my head above water and to live fully for Christ.

I'm torn so desperately between my love for Christ and my desire for attention from guys. I'm tempted by alcohol and money and greed. I'm tempted by "adventures" that are almost becoming idols to me, because I want to experience them so badly. Sometimes it's really hard for me to just take a step back and to realize that God will provide everything I will ever need. He promises that. But all these things around me that scream "Do this. Try this. Go here." distract me and keep me from holding steady to the promises that God has made to me. To all of us.


Be in the world. Not of it.
Shine a light for Christ.

I need to keep these words on my heart, so that I may remain in the promises of His Word and not get sucked into the temptations of the world.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

where i belong.

inspiration: just knowing where God wants me to be right now.

i am so grateful that i know where i'm supposed to be right now: exactly where i am.
God blessed me so much when He led me to Clarksville, TN three years ago.

this time four years ago, i was about to start my senior year of high school. i knew what i wanted to study. i thought i knew where i wanted to go. i knew i wanted to study computer science; i thought i would be doing it at western kentucky.

but in November 2006, i visited APSU. i had already been accepted into the University, but i visited on an AP Day. it was the perfect day. (i, honestly, think God used the weather as a sign to me...you'll see why later) i came with my dad in my old '91 GMC Sierra (miss that thing!!). we stopped at the cracker barrel on exit 4, ate breakfast, and started our trek down to APSU. once i got to campus, i fell in love with it. walking across campus, seeing what apsu had to offer me. i loved it. subconsciously, i knew it was where i was supposed to be. even my dad knew that it was where i would end up. he kept saying on the way home "I really liked APSU. I really liked it a lot. I hope you go there."

a few weeks later, i visited WKU, again, with my dad. this time, the weather was awful. it was a snow day. ice was everywhere. the wind was brutal. and WKU is on a massive hill. all i remember about that particular trip was being torn apart by the wind and thinking i was going to lose my fingers and toes to frostbite. on the way home, i was disappointed: everything i had been expecting for the previous almost year changed. on the way home, dad and i talked about how much we both disliked WKU. and i knew then that APSU was totally where i was supposed to be.


and now about to enter my senior year of college, i know that the reason i fell so in love with APSU and Clarksville was because He was truly leading me here. i followed Him and He has blessed me in so many spectacular ways. From the people I've met, to the networking opportunities and relationships with professors, to experiencing my first true relationship and first love, to the heartache, to the church home, to the friends, to the memories. Everything has just accumulated to one tremendously AMAZING collegiate experience.

I've made friends here that i KNOW will truly be lifelong friends.
I've found a church home that I am so blessed and excited to be a part of: Grace Community Church
I am part of AQUA, the most awesome college ministry led by the most awesome people (Brandon and Kara Reed).
I have found my "place" in my University.
I have found my "place" to serve at my church.
I'm able to share the talents and gifts that God has blessed me with for the church (I'm doing some freelance web work for their next big project).
I have great connections through professors that will hopefully lead me to an awesome job in a few months.
I've been able to have my own adventures and really become an independent person.

Everything has fallen into place and I know it's because this is where God is calling me to be right now. I have a desire to do missions work. I have a desire to get married and have kids someday. I have a desire to be successful in a career that I love. And probably my biggest desire I have is to to travel and to experience new things and new places. But I know that for now, I am to be here. I am to continue His work here and I know once He wants me to move on to something new and different, He will bless me with those opportunities.

But for now: Clarksville, TN is where my heart is, because it is where God is calling me to be :)

Friday, July 2, 2010

controlling my thoughts and surrendering.

inspiration: Student to Student devotional.

i bought a "student-to-student" devotional my freshman year of college. i read it back then, but i grabbed it off my shelf again this morning because i just really needed a good dose of relevant advice regarding my spiritual life.

The first entry was about taking our thoughts captive. taking everything that is spinning around in our minds and just surrendering it all at the foot of the Cross. we need to allow God to work in our lives with full control. we are to surrender our worries and anxieties to Christ. everything works out in time for His glory. it's not about us and the more we try and make it about us, the harder life gets. this is especially true for me.

i know that sometimes "taking my thoughts captive" is a huge task. when my mind starts to wander and starts to embrace negative thoughts and starts to stir my emotions in a sinful and negative way, i know in that moment is when i need to just STOP everything and lay everything down at the cross. lay down my worries, my jealousies, my negative thoughts, my pride, my fears, my everything.

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change things I can and the wisdom to know the difference."