Thursday, November 29, 2012

A beautiful heart


       Something awesome has happened in my nephew and I's relationship. He now loves me! I know this may sound a little silly, but for the first three and a half years of his life, Jayden Roy wanted nothing to do with me. Sure, he was ok if I hugged and loved on him but that had it's limits. In fact, he would prefer pretty much any other adult to me. While this was a blow to my ego, I coped and relished in the love of my niece Skyler.

       But, within the last month or two, it has happened. Jayden loves me! In fact, he's been asking to come and stay the night with me. So after weeks of asking (literally he asked his mom every day for about three weeks), Jayden and I had our first ever sleep over this last Wednesday. While it was a little bit challenging for me, it also allowed me to get a view into the precious heart of my nephew.

     That evening when I got to my sister's house, I had brought along some princess dress up clothes for Skyler. She was so excited to try them on, and this led to an impromptu fashion show in the living room. She tried on dress after dress and danced around the living room in them. She was the picture of little girl bliss in the simple frocks. But it was Jayden that made me beam. With every new dress, Jayden would exclaim "Skyler you are beautiful", before we left, he looked at me and said "Thank you Aunt Nichie for bringing these dresses for Skyler". Wow at three and half years old, Jayden already recognizes true beauty, the beauty that comes from inside and shows outwardly through a face filled with joy. Needless to say, my heart melted.

    At bedtime, after we had prayed, Jayden turned to me and said again "Thank you Aunt Nichie for bringing Skyler those dresses, she loves them, and she is so beautiful." And once again, I turned into  a melty mess. As if this were enough of how sweet this little guy is... On Thursday morning, I had slept very little, and was desperately trying to get things ready for our family gathering that afternoon (so basically I was not in the best of moods and poor Jayden was taking the brunt of it) . I finally got time to take a quick shower, and afterward was dressed in sweats and a tshirt blow drying my hair. Jayden came to the bathroom, looked at me and exclaimed "Aunt Nichie you are beautiful"... Wow talk about feeling great! I had not been so gentle with this little man and yet he still said something so sweet.

It was at this moment that I realized something about Jayden... His sweet and loving spirit has not yet been corrupted by the world's view of beauty. And beyond that, he hasn't known the hurt or humiliation of rejection of his words. He hasn't built up walls, and he doesn't hold back.

My nephew's heart is so precious, and unadulterated, and I am fervently praying that it stays this way. Somewhere along the line men, and let's face it, women lose the ability to recognize the good, and the beauty in each other. And if we don't lose the ability to see it, we come to a place where we won't say it. Or if we do say anything about it, it comes across in either a mean spirited, or joking manner. But the fact is that we all posses not only a beauty of our own, but a beauty that we desire to be recognized. I pray that this ability to see true beauty doesn't go away as Jayden ages. I pray that little heart is protected, and this is something he can carry into adulthood.

There is so much more that I could say about this, and in all honesty, I wanted to brag on my handsome little man. But know this dear friend, you are beautiful. ( If you are a man, then you my friend are handsome), And even when no one else recognizes or acknowledges it, know that God delights in you greatly. I pray that your heart will begin to be restored, and that the Lord will show you how incredibly precious you are to Him.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Big News!!!

I wanted to give you all an update!

So, I ended up making that Big Decision.... and as you may already know, it is leading to a huge change in my life!!!

I'm going to be a full time Missionary in South Africa!!! 

My love for South Africa started in 2010 when I went with my church, and Global Expeditions for a two week long trip. Then I spent the summer of 2011, and 2012 there with Impact Africa. This last summer, I really felt the Lord moving me forward in His calling on my life. So, I followed (feet dragging, questioning, and doubting) and have gotten to this point. 

I got the official acceptance email two weeks ago, and have started the process of finding a Sending Agency. There is a lot of Fundraising to do, and a lot of legwork that will go into this next season of preparation. But I am so excited for what is next! I am looking forward to being part of what God is doing, and joining the work of Impact Africa. 

For more information on Impact Africa, you can visit their website 
If you would like to be a part of my fundraising, or even just a part of my prayer support team please email me at

Thank you all for your support, and the part you play in this Divine Adventure that God has called me to!! What a joy and privilege it is!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I may be losing my mind.... look a puppy

                 Quite literally within the past few weeks, I have come to this page and contemplated writing something. Then I lose all motivation, and close it again. It's not that God hasn't been working, and that I'm not learning, I think it's more that I don't know how to articulate it. That and I get easily distracted... On top of all of this, I've been in a weird slump. I'm tired, kind of moody, and becoming more and more introverted as the days pass, all while fighting feelings of isolation and loneliness.

The more and more I try to focus, it's like every little thing will pop up and grab my attention. Seriously, I have not paid any attention to offering envelopes at church until today. Did you know that they are the kind you have to lick?!? It makes you feel so silly, "Oh hey I'm going to put my money in here for God, and now, look awesome while I lick this envelope." There really is no dignified way to close those things, unless of course you carry a wet sponge around with you just in case someone has an "envelope emergency".
(This is what happened at church today to me... Ya know time to worship God and instead I have a running commentary on Offering envelopes inside my head... Eesh!)

We all experience seasons of crazy in our lives. Maybe for some of us, it's a season of feeling like you're going crazy! I'm finding that in this season, the more I allow myself to be distracted by things of this world, the easier it is for me to get discouraged. God is my salvation, and He is my hope, where else do I need to look for answers?Where else should I go when I feel like I'm losing my mind? Because of this, I wanted to share some of the things that are currently helping, and have definitely helped in the past.

1. Stay in the Word! 
          I harp on this a lot, but it's so important. The Bible is God breathed, it is absolute truth, and gives life.  
          The stories or men and women of God are encouraging, challenging, and beautiful.

2. What are you listening to?
           Ok seriously, what the heck is on the radio these days? Some of the music being produced and             released can't even be considered music. The lyrics are horrible! And yet we are filling our heads and hearts with it.... By only listening to christian music (which by the way has a lot of variety of genres now! Thank you Lord it's not all the Gathers any more ;) ) I find myself encouraged, happier, and less likely to focus on things of the world.

3. Chill out sister!! 
         I tend to keep busy, and when I don't let myself rest, that's when I become unbearable to live with    (maybe not necessarily for others, but definitely  for myself!) Also this refers to the fact that I have to constantly remind myself that This is just a season of life. It's not forever, and it will pass with time!

4. Lean in real close!!
          The Lord has a reason and purpose for this time! I know it and believe it, so during seasons that seem so uncertain, I know I personally need to continue to lean into God. Keep my eyes open for opportunities to learn and grow, allow myself to be humbled, even when it's a little painful! David said it beautifully in  Psalm 25:15
"My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only He will release my feet from the snare."

Only God can take us safely from one season to the next, and when we rely on Him and Him alone to be our  direction, strength, and peace in times of crazy, we are safe, and will come out better than when we went in!

It also helps if you just continue to remind yourself that this life is One Big Crazy Adventure, and this is just a part of it!!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Decision making

So, I have been putting off making a pretty big decision. It's like I know my decision, I know what I'm supposed to do, but I don't want to do it. I've noticed, however that this effects my  motivation in so many other areas of life. I'm  less motivated to exercise, clean, and by the lack of a blog in quite a while, anything extra.

I do believe however, that I've discovered what the root of my problem is. I'm afraid of failing, afraid of falling on my face, and letting people down. I look at it and realize that this decision will literally change everything about my life, and I don't know if I'm strong enough to handle that. I also struggle with the idea of even being good enough to handle it. Am I really equipped and ready for this? Is there more I should be doing now?

It's in these moments, I wish I had my dad the most. Needing his wisdom, and straight talk, as well as his encouragement. In moments of self pity, I hear the Lord saying "I've got this, rest in me first. I am all you need."  And yet I still struggle, I still doubt. So then everything else suffers because of it.

I wish I had a great answer, or solution. Something that I could share with you about this journey, but I don't yet.  I just know that during this season, I will wait on the Lord. And maybe I'll get some great break through. But in the meantime, I would like to ask you to pray for me. Pray for wisdom and clarity.

Thank you so much for your love and support, and I hope to be able to report soon with my decision!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Dang.... That's Love

 And the Lord said to Moses: “You are going to rest with your ancestors, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them." - Deuteronomy 31:16

 Here it is, Moses is standing before the Lord, his journey with the Isrealites is coming to an end. His life is soon going to be over, and all he has is the promise of being able to look upon the land that the Isrealites are going to inherit. He has just commissioned Joshua to lead the people into the promised land, the land that he himself will not enter. 

What a moment. I can't even imagine what Moses was thinking, feeling, experiencing within this time. Then God says "Hey I know I'm going to give the people this land, and I know right now everything is good. I am their only God, they are focused on me and my gifts... but they will rebel." 

Oh the knot that must have formed in Moses' stomach. To know that the people he had been leading are going to finally receive the promises of God, and yet they are going to turn around and mess it up by turning to other gods. In fact God says "they will prostitute themselves to foreign gods..." that's a deep level of idolatry if you ask me.

But what is so amazing to me in this verse, is that God still takes them into the land...
When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city. They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys- Joshua 6:20-21

God gave Israel the victory! He brought them into the land He had promised their forefathers,  not only did he give them the land, but he allowed them to completely defeat the people. Despite the knowledge of Israel's future rebellion, God still makes good on His promise. 

This completely blows my mind, because it continued to happen all through out the Bible. God promised a savior, a Messiah, and even when people rejected Him, God still used Jesus. Jesus, although beaten, abused, and mocked, still died for us. And even today, as Christ followers, how often do we forget where our salvation comes from? How often do we look at our victories, and triumphs and forget the God who fought the battle for us, and yet during our trials, we cry out and ask where He is.

Yet despite all of this, God still Loves us... He not only loves us, He continues to pour out grace and mercy on us day after day. We wake up with breath in our lungs, the very breath of God moving in and out of our bodies... Dang that's love... We are no longer under condemnation of hell, because Jesus died in our places... That's a BIG love.... We are called children of God, chosen and dearly loved by the creator of the Universe... That's Love! 

I am so overwhelmed at times by the sheer beauty and greatness of God's never ending, never changing love for me. The fact that I daily fail Him, and yet He still says to me "come here daughter, I love you, and you are still mine, nothing you can do will change that. And even though you messed up, I still want to use you. Do you see what I've placed before you, I know it seems hard, and even impossible, but here's the deal I'm going to do this with you, you aren't alone. And I will give you grace along the way to make it through." 

God Loves you so much! He wants to daily pour out His grace on you, and He has a BIG and amazing purpose for you. He wants to give you His good promises, it just takes a willingness to come before Him and recognize your need for His saving Grace in your life. You my friend are dearly loved.... 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Watch my back, I'm going into battle

One of my very favorite times during the week in South Africa was Discipleship. On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, we would meet in a house with a group of Africans to have a Bible Study, Small group, whatever you would like to call it. It was encouraging to see people growing in their faith, as well as their understanding of Christ. But I think the thing that struck a chord with my heart the most, was the community, or faith family that was being formed.

As the church, we have tried to supplement the need for community with "small groups" that meet once a week. Sometimes we'll really see a group become a family. They end up spending more than just their once a week meeting together. They become a faith family, praying together, eating together, all as they begin to live out the Acts 2 church. But the majority of groups are a once a week meeting and that's it. This is so sad to me. The church is meant to be a living, breathing, organism that consists of all the parts living together, constantly in communication. We are called to share each other's burdens, to walk along side of each other, and yet this is an area we fail the most. 

It really struck a chord for me today while I was watching the show "Amish: Out of Order", a series about people who have left the Amish community. If you don't know this, I have a secret love of the Amish community, but that's a blog for another day ;). During the show, Mose, one of the main guys the series focus on, was meeting with John a fellow ex-amish. John had invited Mose to meet with him and some of his friends, to help Mose process through some of the issues of his past. 

While the group of men were sitting around the table, Mose was really struggling through this process, when John reached across the table and took his hand. He looked in Mose's eyes and said "we are here, and we will fight this battle for you, if you will let us"... I began to cry, moved by the love and sincerity of this man. Then the question came to my mind "When did the church forget this concept?"  Why don't we look into our brother's and sisters eyes and say "I'm here, I will fight this battle with you, side by side, and if I have to, I will fight it for you." Instead we say "I'll pray for you", and then totally forget to even do that. 

How off track have we gotten? One of my dear friends, Crystal told me once "I need to know how I can pray for you, so that I can be guarding your back as you are going into battle". What a beautiful picture. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are charging on into battle, knowing the victory is won, but yet we run hand in hand, holding up shields for each other as fiery arrows are being slung into our ranks. But instead we often try to run in alone. "Just me and Jesus, we got this" but that's not how God created us. He created us to be a part of a community, or better yet a part of an army. An army that fights for each other, not just once a week, but daily, hourly, and moment to moment. Paul said it this way 

 "Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.  Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:1-2

He's saying"Go in and fight along side this person with whatever it is they are dealing with. In this way, you will be obeying the second greatest commandment 'Love your neighbor as yourself'. Get into the dirty and grimy areas of life, don't be afraid of the scary and dark corners. Just get in there and fight!"  

I began to see this develop in the discipleship group I had the privilege to work with this summer. These people began to learn how to live in community, they were learning how to pray for one another, also how to answer each others questions. What a beautiful picture of God's intentions for us. 

My prayer is that we will all learn how to truly live in community, and not only that, but that we will learn how to fight for each other, because dangit we're all fighting a hard battle. And if I don't have my sister watching my back, and if I'm not watching hers, one of us is going to get hit. And we don't do well alone, because that's not how God created us to be...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A real quick update...

There has been so much going on over the last couple of weeks, that I'm not sure what to tell you about here.... So I figured I would give you a small cap on the good, bad, and ugly ;)

  • There have been so many times that God has challenged me to step up and try something new... Every time I've taken these opportunities, I have been absolutely amazed by God's grace, and provision!
  • The Lord has brought so many women into my path that I have so desired to be able to walk through life with... Perhaps a new ministry path in my future?? (thank you Margie for being my mentor, and walking along with me over the last few years! You're a great example!)
  • I am blessed with amazing family not only back home in MI but also here in South Africa!! 
  • Two naps in one day is great idea!! 
  • God is AMAZING!!! His Mercies are new every morning, and His desire to use us is beautiful and yet scary all at once! 

Ok that was quick and yet I think it got out everything I wanted to communicate! Thank you all for being a part of this journey, I look forward to sharing more in depth stories soon!! Love you all!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Invisible Rope

So, there is this game that Aliza and I play... (I know a story about Aliza... I am in Africa, but this is relevant I promise). We don't really have a name for it, but for now I'll call it "the invisible rope"...

Here's how the game goes.... We'll be walking together and Aliza will say "Micky will you hold my hand" to this I always respond yes!
there is something about this that makes me smile, and want to cry all at the same time. What beautiful trust and confidence a child puts in us when they slip their hand into ours. 

We begin our trek, and as we begin to climb a hill, Aliza will look up at me and say "I'm slipping". With those words, she starts to walk backwards down the hill. The first time this happened, I had no idea how to react... Oh the lessons this little girl has taught me...
Then it's my turn. I will say to her "hold on I'm going to throw you the rope." With these words I pull out my invisible "rope" and toss it to her. She will catch it in her little hands, and then I begin to pull her towards me. We struggle as gravity threatens to pull her down again, but at last she arrives safely to me. Then I take the rope and tie it around her waist, and secure the other end around myself. We continue on our way, sometimes she'll start to slip away, but I am always able to pull close again. 

I love this little girl, and I want her to feel secure, safe, and always cared for when she is with me. God has taught me so much about His love through my relationship with Aliza. It's during this game that I can hear the Lord say "I won't let you fall, I'll always bring you close to me".
Like the awesome father that He is, God keeps reminding me of this game, and His promises to me...

God is calling me out, and stretching me in new ways. He's moving me forward in His plan and will for my life, but I'm resisting. I'm resisting because I don't know if I will be able to fulfill what He's calling me to. I am afraid I'm not good enough, and I won't be used fully... So the other day I was praying and struggling through all of this, and God brought to mind the game Aliza and I play. I heard Him say

"I won't ever let you fall. I'm right here, and when you feel like your slipping away, I'll pull you in tighter. Hold my hand, let me lead you and I will use you. I will work through you!"

How great our Savior is! He is amazing and wonderful, and always calling us to greater things! I am beyond blessed to know that God is going to continue to hold us close when we feel like the ground beneath us is slipping away. 

Rest in Him... Hold His hand... Walk with your sweet loving savior. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

We are not alone

Several times (actually the majority of the time) that I have been out on ministry here in South Africa, I've found myself  Discipleing fellow believers. These conversations are usually tough because the questions that are asked are not easy. These questions make me have to really search, to recall scriptures, and then wrestle with my own doubts, fears, and issues. 

One day I met a woman named Portia, she was talking to our group and asking where God was while she suffered. We were giving the answers of "He's right here with you, He promises to never leave us nor forsake us..." You know the answers we're all taught in Sunday school, and know by heart. But then came a moment when she looked straight at me and said 

"Have you ever lost anyone you love? Are your mother and father still alive?"

Ouch... I knew she was expecting me to say "no I've never experienced that, my parents are both alive and well..." I also know she was hoping to be able to prove that God leaves us in our suffering. But I had to be honest, and honestly this is my least favorite question to answer. I tend to answer this question very matter of factly, I think it's a defense mechanism. If I allow myself to be truly vulnerable, then the pain and hurt that still linger from my loss just might come out. So I took a deep breath and answered 

"Portia I have lost someone I love very dearly. My mother was in a bad accident in 2001 that has left her disabled, and my father died unexpectedly last year in April. I know how it feels."

Silence... The truth of what I had just said to her registered on her face. I can almost imagine what she was thinking at that moment, " but you are white, how is it that you've experienced pain and sorrow? Is it completely possible that I am not alone?" 

She began  to share her story, and it truly is filled with hurt, anger, sorrow, and loss. Portia lost her father when she was very young, and her mother died 7 years ago. She has been struggling to get by, but along the way there have been tragedies that have left her feeling hopeless and broken. She gave her life to the Lord several years ago, but now is struggling to find Him among the pain. 

There it was, the familiar heaviness, my heart was breaking all over again.

Before I knew what was happening, I was on my feet standing next to Portia. Looking into her eyes all I knew to say was "I am so sorry". Sometimes we get caught up in words, and trying to speak out of sympathy, when all people really need is empathy. They need to know that someone else feels their pain, to have another person reach out and touch them, to simply say "I'm here, and I love you". 

We were able to encourage and love on Portia. And the next morning God gave us the opportunity to talk with her again. As I looked into this beautiful woman's eyes, I was reminded of Isaiah 49:15-16 

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
though she may forget, I will not forget you!
See I have engraved you on the palm of my hand,
your walls are ever before me..."

These words have comforted me so many times when I'm crying out to the Lord and I hear no response. But yet it's moments when I find a brother or a sister who have experienced the pain of losing someone you love, that truly can hear the Lord say "I will not forget you, you are not alone in this..." It's being reminded that others are fighting this same battle that often gives me hope and comfort. 

I will not soon forget Portia, and the way that the Lord gently spoke through her...

You are not alone

Saturday, July 7, 2012


I'm so tired of wasting my time. I'm tired of looking around me to see that the labor and toil of my hands have produced nothing but worthless, self indulgence. I'm so sick of all the me talk, the senseless ramblings that come from a self centered, self focused life.
"What about my time? What about my stuff? What about my plan?"

Get it away from me! My prayer has been "Lord strip me of the things that hinder. I want to lay bare before you, with nothing in the way. Call out the dirty and nasty in my heart and in my life, don't allow me to be the same. Because seriously, my life is worthless without you God! I am nothing but flesh and bones walking about in a desolate land if I do not have you."

How has God answered? He has been stretching me. He's been calling me out and calling out the things in my life that hinder. There have been moments when I look at the challenge ahead and think "there is no way" and yet I hear the voice of the savior say "oh yes you can, because I will" Dang how great is our God??

I've seen over and over again the change that can happen when we trust in the Lord. I've seen the look in a person's eyes go from lifeless to hopefilled with the very news that God loves them, and He sent His son to die for them. And yet I still struggle with giving my all to serve this amazing savior.... What the heck is wrong with me??? Seeking the grace and beauty that can only come from Christ is teaching me that laying aside my agenda, my plans, and all the my me I grossness that I tend to focus on is worth it. Because God is amazing, and His son died for me....

Dang God is so Good!!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Because My Jesus is amazing!!

My first week here in South Africa has been so great!! Already the Lord has shown up and moved in amazing ways! Our intern and summer volunteer teams have bonded so beautifully and it's already a family vibe! I of course end up being the mamma figure.... :) As well, we have been able to go out on ministry a couple of times.

On Wednesday Emma, Lynae, and Katie, Bongani, and I were out on shack to shack ministry. As we were walking through the camp, we came across a man named Moses. As we entered his home, he explained to us that his wife had been in bed and sick for over a year. She was unable to eat, and didn't get out of bed. When we entered her room, there she lay. She could barely open her eyes and had a hard time answering. We found out that her name was Cynthia. We asked her if we could pray for her. She agreed, and so the five of us laid our hands on her and began to pray. We claimed healing in the name of Jesus and spoke wholeness into this woman's body.

At the end of the prayer, Cynthia began to cry. We were all confused, why was she crying? Was the pain still there? Was she still suffering? Then she began to say "The pain is gone" WOW!! God healed this woman! She sat up and called to her husband for food and drink. Cynthia talked with us for the next 20 minutes while sitting up. She just kept saying over and over again "God is real, God is real"....

God moved through us in a BIG way! I am expecting great and mighty works from the father over the next two months. I know God is moving and I believe firmly that He has great things for us! Please continue to pray for those we will come in contact with, as well as praying that the Lord will continue to reveal Himself to each and everyone of us along this amazing journey!!

Thank you for being a part of this incredible Adventure! I love you!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Planes, Trains, and Emergency rooms....

Well, I'm currently on my way to South Africa!! While I'm so excited about being there, I am not enjoying the traveling to get there. It all started yesterday when we drove from Michigan to Columbus Ohio. I have been feeling rather jittery lately mainly due to the fact that I'm not sleeping well at night, so you can imagine that 5 hours in a car were pretty tough for me.

After having dinner with my aunt and cousin and sister, we sat down to relax. Knowing that I had a day of traveling ahead of me, I was making a point of trying to chill a bit. My "chilling" got interrupted when my Aunt Mindi started complaining of chest pain. We promptly loaded her in the car and headed for the Emergency room. After 4 hours of tests, questions, and my very own sing-along, they sent my aunt home. No heart attack!! Praise the Lord, and she looked to be completely fine. They think she may have had a spasm in her esophagus.... The doctor told us it's rather common, and it can sometimes feel like a heart attack. I guess you really do learn something new everyday....

We got back to my cousin's and in bed around 1 AM. You know that feeling that you have something very big ahead of you, and you just can't get your body to relax? Yeah that was me last night. Luckily I was able to get some sleep. After a trip to the airport and a flight from Columbus to New York, I'm waiting to get on a plane that will take me to Amsterdam, then from Amsterdam I will fly to my second home!

I'm so excited to be in South Africa, but the traveling hasn't necessarily been fun or easy. But I'm on my way. I could totally go with a "we need to learn to enjoy the journey" angle with this, but I won't. That angle has been overdone. Instead let me encourage those who are experiencing the "unexpected" interruptions life sometimes (ok often) hands us. They come in all shapes and sizes, and we can't control them and we definitely cannot control them. But these are the things that help us grow and learn. So here are three things I want you to do next time you find yourself in the middle of an interruption:

1. Figure out what you can learn... I think we need to be open to learning new things, always. Whether it's how to improve, what to change, or even if it's one new random fact, try to be aware of your opportunity to learn within the situation.

2. Laugh.... I truly believe that laughter is the best medicine. This is my primary way of dealing with crazy stuff in my life. I find the joy in it. Find something funny to laugh at, life can't be so serious all the time, we don't actually live in a soap opera...

3. Chill!!... Get some rest. Take care of your body regardless of what is going on. Once it's all said and done take time to relax, and get plenty of sleep. I've learned the value of a good nights sleep over the last year and let me tell you the last week and a half, I've been missing it so much!! If your interruption lasts more than a day, make sure you are taking time to sleep. Don't try to get rid of it, or fix it all by going for days without sleep that just leads to sickness, and grumpiness...

Enjoy life regardless of what part of your current "journey" you're on... As for me, I will sit in this airport and try my hardest to stay awake....

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

To be different...

I've adopted a new motto, and it gets me through almost every workout. This saying goes beyond a physical motivation, it stems into my spiritual life as well.

"I want to be better than I am. I want to be different than the person I have become."

I've become lazy spiritually and I don't like it one bit!!! I could come up with every excuse in the book for it, but it simply comes down to my own laziness. But when I wake up in the morning and I remember "I want to be better than I am" it gives me that boost I need to get out of bed, and spend time with God. 

Maybe we all need to aspire to be better, to be different than we are. Maybe we just need to stop being content with who we are... 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April 18, 2011

April 18, 201l a day that will forever mark the biggest loss in my world. I can remember every moment, thought, and breath like it was yesterday. The knot in my stomach returns from time to time as a reminder of where I've been, and of the choices I've had to make. 

If you're wondering why there is so much significance with this day, then let me take you back to the moment I knew my world would never be the same. It was 1 AM and my Nana and I had just gotten back to her house after a long drive. We were ready for bed, thinking that tomorrow we would be returning to the hospital in the morning to visit my dad. The phone rang, expecting it to be a family member I picked up, ready to recall the information the doctors had given me. 

"It's most likely another stroke. We'll get him stabilized, and we'll have more information in the morning." That's what they told me when I had left the hospital that night. There was hope. There was something to hold onto. But instead of my aunts voice I heard an unfamiliar voice on the other end of the line. 

"Miss Parish, we've received the results of the MRI, and it was in fact another stroke. We have two options, We can try an invasive surgery that has a low chance of success, or we can wait it out and most likely he'll be gone by the morning."  


My knees were weak, all I could hear was a buzzing in my ears. "Miss Parish, are you still there? We do need a decision from you." 

Finally I found my voice " Yeah I'm here." I was shaking, I know he could hear it in my voice "Can I please have a couple of minutes? Will you call back in 10 minutes?" 

I know the doctor answered, but what he said, I'm not sure. Before I knew it, I was on my knees crying out to God "Why?? Why are you taking my dad from me? I'm 26, This isn't fair!! I shouldn't have to make this decision!! You took my mom, and now you want my dad?? I'm too young for this!!" 

It was my Nana who snapped me back to the reality of the situation. Her words were sharp, but they broke through the haze. I had to call someone, anyone. I needed some sort of answer, I wracked my brain and came up with the only number I had memorized and could recall at that moment. 

Punching in the numbers, I suddenly realized how late it was, but I just needed someone to talk to. Jim answered. He had obviously been sleeping, but was still coherent enough know that I needed to talk to Toni. What I said to her I'm still unsure of, but I do know this, it was fast and probably made very little sense. But despite a lack of answers, it was just what I needed. 

(I don't think I've ever said it, but thank you Toni.) 

I hung up, and the phone rang immediately. "Hello" I answered, confident in my decision. "Miss Parish, You need to come to the hospital." 

I don't think I responded I just hung up the phone. We dressed and got back in the car. On the way, we called my aunts. They were all going to meet us there. I also called and had my sisters on their way. That was the longest trip I have ever made. Every stoplight felt like an eternity. I hated knowing what we were facing. My mind was so occupied by my own thoughts "what am I going to do? Who's going to take care of Dani? What about Nana, how is she going to handle this? This isn't fair! Why now? God why??" 

Finally we arrived at the hospital and made our way to the proper floor. There we were, my Nana, and my four aunts and three of their husbands. Standing around my dad. He was hooked up to machines. Machines that were keeping him alive. The doctor explained that the stroke was very severe and there was no way they could save him. They would keep him alive so that we could say goodbye. 


We were just waiting for my sisters to arrive. We stood there unsure of what to do next. I decided to leave for a bit so that my aunts could have time with their brother, as well as my Nana to have time with her son.
I paced the hallway. Then I found myself in the bathroom staring into the mirror. I didn't recognize the woman staring back. Just two months ago, I was here bringing my dad home. He had survived a stroke, and was making a great recovery. This didn't make any sense. I was again snapped back to reality by a knock on the bathroom door....

 It was my turn...  

I stood in his room, looking at him laying there. The man that had comforted me after my mom's accident almost 10 years earlier. He looked so helpless. My heart ached, physically ached. I wanted so badly to climb onto his lap and have him help me through this. I spent the next 15 minutes crying, yelling, and questioning him. "You're my dad. You know how to handle all of this, not me. What am I going to do without you? How am I going to even begin to take care of Libbie and Dani? Dad I cannot do this without you!! " 

I still don't know how I didn't disturb every person within 50 yards of that room. Finally, my sisters had arrived. I tried my best to console them, but how do you when your own heart is being ripped out?  When we had all said goodbye, I told the nurse, it was time. 

Have you ever had to tell someone that it was time to let your loved one die?? Man it is the worst feeling ever. I pray that you don't ever have to do it! 

I stood by his side as his body gave up. His breaths became more and more labored, and his body began to shut down. I held his hand hoping for some sort of response, but there was nothing. By the time he was officially gone, I was left alone in his room, again. Looking at the man who had held my hand through so much. The man that was my hero, who taught me so many lessons and values. There he lay. Knowing it was time to say goodbye, I leaned down and kissed his forehead one last time, "Dad I promise to chase every great adventure that presents itself! I love you so much!" 

With that, I knew my dad was gone.
Tear filled embraces awaited me as my family members parted ways. Four sisters who had just said goodbye to their brother, three brother-in-laws bidding a friend farewell. And then my Nana, letting her oldest child go. I know she saw him as her little boy again. I know everything in her wanted to hold him in her arms and make it all ok with her soothing words, and motherly ways. We had all lost someone significant, and here we were knowing the next days, weeks, and months were going to be a battle between the lives we had to lead, and the grief that would consume us.  

 Then a beautiful moment happened in the darkened hallway of that hospital. An Indian woman, who had to be in her 30's stopped my sisters and I. With tears in her eyes she hugged each of us, letting us know how sorry she was for our loss. I never found out her name, or her story, but her gesture was a beautiful gift in a moment of utter grief. 

We finally got back to my Nana's around 8 in the morning. I crawled into bed and forced myself to sleep. Waking up only hours later, I realized that it was all real. The whole day leading up to it, and the very moment I had to say goodbye. I was hoping it was a bad dream, but it was not. My dad was gone, and I had a long week of memorial service arrangements, sad faces, and somber phone calls to face. 

But it was in those moments that I found myself in the midst of the most beautiful peace I have ever known. God was there. His spirit was whispering to me "I've got him now Nichie. Rest in my arms, you are strong, because I am strong in you". 

I serve an amazing God! His timing is perfect... always!! Even in the times I don't understand, His loving words tell me this simple fact "I love you, I've got you, I will bring beauty from the ashes of your brokenness." 

I know this was long, and it really wasn't what I planned on writing, but there is something therapeutic about putting this experience in writing. It's been a year, and some days it's easier, but some days, the pain and words are still fresh. It's on those days that I cling even more tightly to Jesus. He is my only hope! 

Thank you for reading all the way to the end. And thank you to those of you who have been a part of this last year. I'm going to share what the last year has been like over the next several weeks. I'm hoping that if some day, someone finds themselves in a similar situation, they will be comforted in knowing that they are not alone, and that there are others out there who have been through this fire. 

I love you dear friend! 

Monday, April 9, 2012

8.... ish weeks!!

I am officially two months away from leaving on a jet plane to head back to South Africa!! I am so excited to be heading back. God is so good, and is providing in the most amazing ways! Through all of this, God has been teaching me a lesson in patience and perseverance. 

In my head I have this idea of how everything should go, I want all the pieces to be in place and like now!! But God does not work on my ideas, and need to have all my ducks in a row at the exact moment I feel they need to be there. But God is so great, because He offers grace in those moments of panic that I fall prey to. I'm seeing what God will do with those that are willing. He is providing in beautiful and amazing ways, and I am beyond blessed by this!!  But if you're reading this, I would like to ask you for prayer!!

Prayer needs:
- God's provision physically and spiritually at this time.
- That God will prepare my heart and the hearts of those who we will be ministering to. 

Physical Needs:
- I am $1,200.00 away from my fundraising goal.
- Physically, God will provide my needs before, and after the trip.

Again I love that you are on this journey with me! I also love that God has placed me where I am with great purpose, and a plan! Love you all!!  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Spring has arrived here in Michigan (or at least a taste of it has), and I am beyond thrilled!  The warm air, the sun shining, and the general feeling of a great awakening. This season is a favorite for me. I've been blessed to be able to spend a lot of time outside over the last couple of weeks, and every time I feel like I discover more of God's beauty.

As wonderful as this season is, I can't help but notice that there are people that are going through a very difficult season of life. Whether it be family crisis, financial trouble, or health issues, it seems that many are facing a time of trial and hardship. I can't help but think of Solomon. He wrote Ecclesiastes during a dark time and he wrote one of my very favorite verses

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activities under the heavens." Ecc. 3:1

I've faced a lot of hard seasons myself, and I have not always lived in the grace and comforting embrace of my savior during those seasons. But as I've grown and come to know the Lord in a more intimate way, I've learned that living in Joy and Peace even in the midst of the hard times is not only possible, it is completely attainable. How?? By living out the words of James 1:2 

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kind..." 


"Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS. I will say it again REJOICE!" Phill. 4:4

So there it is, the great secret to a life of joy. It comes down to this: No matter where you are or what you're going through, Rejoice in Christ! Rejoice in the fact that He has given you breath in your lungs, and another day to live. Rejoice that you have people that love you. And Rejoice that Christ loves you, died for you, and has a purpose for you! 

No matter the season, find joy and beauty in who God is and how much He loves you! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I just have to brag on God...

To know the love of God is the most wonderful gift I've ever received. Over the last couple of weeks, I've experienced the utter and complete joy that comes from acknowledging and knowing the full love and acceptance of Jesus. To put it simply: 
God has been so good to me! 

The enemy of course has been relentless in his attacks on my joy. It's in a moment that I have the decision to allow him to steal this joy, or do I stand against the enemy's attempt to bring me down? I know that the power of Christ that is in me is far stronger than anything the devil throws at me. I've learned this simple truth

I am Christ's bride, His beautiful, chosen one! Nothing can change that! 

My prayer for you dear friend, is that you find this contentment in the Lord. That the words of the old song ring true to you "The joy of the Lord is my strength." I desire for you to find joy, peace, and love in the beautiful truth of God's never ending, all encompassing, life giving, love. 

I love you so very much!! And even more importantly, Jesus Loves you! 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Just say it!

"I Love You"
Did that make you uncomfortable? Well, in honor of Valentines day, I would like to say to all of you reading that yes indeed, I love you! 
I feel like we take the word love so lightly, but that's not the subject for today. Instead I want to talk about how uncomfortable, and squeamish we can get when it comes to showing affection. I learned a lesson quite a few years ago about this very concept. 

I had a hard time telling the people around me that I loved them. It wasn't something we said all the time in my family, and it was just an implied thing... right? After my mom's accident, I had this wake up call. When you're faced with the possibility of a person not being in your life, you start to wonder if they ever knew how much you cared for them. Did you really ever say " I love you"? It was around this time that I found myself ending phone conversations with "love you". 

I'll admit that at first it was really hard for me to do, but eventually it became natural. It went from telling my family, to extending the same sentiments to my friends. I say all of this to challenge you.

Who do you love?

 Have you told them? I'm not talking about that person you've had a "not so secret" crush on for years but your friends, the people you hold in high esteem in your life. Who is it? Have you told them you loved them?

Don't just show it with actions, say it. There is something about hearing a person say they love you. I'll never forget the last time I heard my dad say he loved me. Dang I miss his voice, and there are days now that I just want to hear him say my name, and tell me that he loves me.

I think this matters so much to me because I know that one day, you're going to wake up and realize you never told your loved ones the truth. So this valentines, Just say it!!

Also, if I tell you I love you, it's because I genuinely do! It means you are important to me and I want you to know. So deal with it regardless of how uncomfortable you may feel!!

I LOVE YOU! and Happy Valentines day :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Today is the end

Wow. Today is day 40 of my fast. I can't believe how quickly it  went by. I'm so grateful for all that I have learned in this time. God has shown me so much about what is ahead, and He's spoken words of comfort and courage to me. The issue of generational sin and bondage was pressed into my mind and heart over the last 40 days. Reading through the life of David and his descendants gave me great perspective. I have learned that...

The decisions and actions we make now can greatly effect the generations to come.

This really puts a lot of pressure on us to do the right thing, focus on the Lord, and take our own sin and bondage seriously. Dang!! I've begun to pray for my future family. My kids, my husband, even those who will come into contact with us. I want to know that I'm passing down blessings to the generations to come and not curses.... 

This is a short little bit of what I've learned, and there will be more. But thank you for praying for me and supporting me! What a beautiful time for the Lord to move and teach me! 

Monday, January 30, 2012

What about Barabbas?

Last week, I was reading in Luke, and for the first time this particular passage stuck out to me:

'But the whole crowd shouted "Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!" (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city and for murder)Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. But they kept shouting "Crucify Him, Crucify Him!" For the third time he spoke to them: "Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then released." But with shouts the insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.' 
- Luke 23:18-24

Of course this is part of the Easter story, the same one you hear every year on Easter Sunday, or perhaps have read several times for yourselves. But why now? What was so different for me? 

Well, I saw it from a whole different place! This is the first time that Jesus displayed what He was willing to take for us. 
He literally took Barabbas' place!

Maybe this isn't mind blowing for you, but it is for me. Barabbas deserved Death! He was a criminal by all definitions of the word, and yet an innocent man was killed in his place. And Barabbas was set free to wander the streets. This made me wonder
"What Happened to Barabbas?" 

Do you think Barabbas understood what had been done for him? In the best case scenario, Barabbas was grateful for what was done for him. He changed his life and became an advocate for Jesus. Perhaps he spent the rest of his days helping those in need, caring for orphans, and doing good. But if statistics prove to be true, quite the opposite may have been true. 

Barabbas may have gone back to a life of crime. Stealing, killing, and who knows what else. How could he have known that the Son of God had taken his place? How could Barabbas possibly have known what was truly done for him? Maybe in his mind it was just a lucky break? Then I think

"How often do I forget what has been done for me?"

I know Jesus died for me. I know he took the punishment, that I totally deserve, on His shoulders. I deserve death because of my sins. You and I are not worthy of the lives we are given. We are not worthy of eternal life with the savior, and yet Jesus willingly gave up his life. And not only did he give up His life, he was beaten. Beaten with rods, whips, and chains. 

Jesus endured physical pain on my behalf. On your behalf, so that you and I can live free of sin, free of guilt, and free of shame!

And yet sometimes I forget that. I don't truly remember that I am free to live because He chose to die. I believe that if we made a conscious effort to remember what truly has been done for us, we would live differently. Maybe we wouldn't complain as much, and just maybe we would show love more. Maybe, just maybe 
               We wouldn't take life for granted. 

Because loved one, you were paid for, you are ransomed, You are Free!! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Almost there...

Well, I'm on day 18 of my 40 day fast. Daily the Lord shows me how much He can work through us! On Friday will be the half way mark. I feel like once I get to the halfway mark, it will all be smooth sailing from there. But so far the Lord has shown me so much. I want to share just a few of them with you...

1) With God, I am much stronger than I thought. There have been days when I've thought "why am I doing this? I should just quit" but am quickly reminded that being obedient to Christ is much sweeter than any food could taste.

2) Some people are never going to get it! I've had to explain to a lot of people why I'm fasting, and yet I still get the "you are crazy" look. I know it's a crazy concept, giving up food for 40 days, but knowing that Jesus himself did it, makes it easier. Granted, Jesus probably didn't have juice at hand, but still knowing my savior endured 40 days with temptation and hunger makes this whole process much better.

3) Juice will give you extremely bad heart burn.... yeah this was not a fun lesson for me. Therefore, I have begun to drink milk. I guess this could be seen as cheating, but it keeps my stomach and throat from being torn apart so I'm ok with it.

4) When you surrender the physical needs, God speaks and shows up in big ways! I've come to the point where I really don't get too hungry any more. An 8 oz glass of juice will pretty much take care of the hunger. But the things I have learned from the word of God have been eye opening! God has taught me some big stuff, and He's really challenging me in quite a few areas.

There are still 22 days left in the fast, and I'm looking forward to what else the Lord will show me!! Please continue to pray for insight and that God will teach me through this. Also, I want to challenge you to find something to fast from, even if for one day!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Get up, eat and drink.

"Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day's journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed, "I have had enough Lord," he said "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors." Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep." 1 Kings 19:3-5

I don't know about you, but I've been in this place. The back story to this scripture is a great one! Elijah had spoken against the profits of Baal, and after a showdown at the alters, he had all the profits of Baal put to death (I Kings 18:16-46). This didn't make Jezebel (the queen) very happy and she wanted Elijah dead.

So we find Elijah, in the desert, under a tree, asking God to let him die. Elijah was a pretty tough dude! If you read 1 Kings 17 through 20, you can see that this man was put through some tough stuff so that he could be used by God. But Elijah was ready to give up. Isn't that how we are? We've seen the rough days, and we get through hard trials. But the minute the next one comes around, we start to pout and want to give up!
I love God's reaction to Elijah...

"... All at once an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat." He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, "Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you." So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God." - 1 Kings 19:5-8

Woah! God sent an angel to feed Elijah! He provided food and water for him, and that sustained Elijah for 40 days! Oh man, what a God we serve! So here we are, whining and crying because our lives are "hard". Don't get me wrong, there are trials that come along and there are times when we will feel like giving up. It's in these moments that we have the choice to lay down under a tree and wait for the end, or to get up, eat and drink, and continue on in our journey.

The Lord promises to sustain us and care for us. He's not going to give you  any challenge that we can't accomplish, with Him. Each trial we face is a chance for us to be refined and grown in Christ. Because after each refining fire we go through, there will be another. It will seem hotter, and it's going to hurt even more. But the more we learn to turn our faces to God, and to seek his provision, the more we realize that theses trials are making us better. He's preparing us to be His bride! Dang!! God is good, He will sustain you, He will take care of you! Turn your face to the savior and know that his love is refining you to be the most beautiful and perfect bride!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

40 Days...

Happy New Year loved ones! 2011 is over,and what a year it was. Life changed in so many ways, and through it all, I have experienced the grace and mercy of Jesus. In November I attended a 24 hour event "The Call" in Detroit MI. It was there that the Lord began to challenge me in the area of Fasting. As I began to pray for direction, the Lord laid it on my heart to do a 40 Day fast. I began to pray about this.

I really went back and forth, it was a struggle for me to commit to such a big challenge. During this time, I was reading through 1 Samuel. The Lord spoke to me through a particular scripture in Chapter 15.

1 Samuel 15:22
"Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as obeying the Lord?..."

This hit me like a ton of bricks! I had been trying to find ways to get out of a 40 day fast. I didn't want to deal with the questions and reactions to it. But after reading this verse, I knew what I had to do. It was then that I committed to a 40 day fast starting on January 1st. So far, it's been three days and it has been a challenge. But the Lord has sustained me! I'm looking forward to what the next 37 days has in store, and seeking God's truth and guidance.

So I'm asking you all to join me in prayer, and if you are willing to do 24 hours of fasting. Spending time seeking the Lord's will and living in His presence.