What I Needed the Most



So, I’ve been having the “I need some Jesus” feeling in my life a lot recently. I constantly feel the pull toward church, the desire to pray, the want to talk about my faith and the yearning for something more fulfilling. Coupled with my state of feeling totally lost without any direction of my next steps in life, I felt a pull toward the Lord. But I wasn’t really doing anything about it… 

I don’t say this in a preachy or “oh I’m such a good Christian” way like look at me blah blah blah let me talk about the Lord in some ambiguous way that makes me look so good and holy, because to be honest, I’m probably (definitely) not “a good Christian” by definition. But regardless of what you call me, my background, my religious convictions – I felt this pull. For a while I didn’t even know what the pull was or what in the universe was trying to get my attention… I figured out later it could be nothing other than God.

Fast forward a couple weeks and months and I’m still feeling this pull, like the universe is trying to shake me awake or something. My friend and I decide on a random church to visit on Sunday. We were on our lackadaisical search to find a church we like because she too was feeling this pull. 

I had an outfit malfunction just before we left when my nice shoes broke. So, I rolled up to church in jeans and my black, beat up vans sweating like a pig because Texas in July is brutal. Regardless of the awkward beginning to the day, I sat down, took a deep breath and peace set in. 

Who knew that the particular service we chose would end up being EXACTLY the sermon, EXACTLY (down to a t) the message I needed more than anything to hear – God works in mysterious ways, I’m telling ya.

The pastor talked about reconciliation and how God takes everything broken, hurt, hopeless and doomed and makes it whole again. That he takes us reconciles us and then makes us agents of reconciliation – a beautiful rebirth.

The passage we looked at was from 2 Corinthians 16 – 19:

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation”

Well, consequently, the past few months I’ve been feeling nothing but broken, hurt, hopeless and doomed. While, I can’t explain every little last thing I got from the pastor’s sermon because we would be here until next week, what I got out of it, was a clear call from God saying Nikki, I’m here from you, I am seeking you out, let me heal you. After weeks and months and really almost years of feeling abandoned by the Lord and lost because no where I turned to solved my problems, I realized maybe I wasn’t listening to his call for me. All of those feelings of being pulled somewhere or being shaken awake by the universe, were God's way of calling me. Maybe I let my stubbornness control me with the thought that I can be strong, I can fix myself, I don’t need anyone else and I especially don’t need God…  

I can’t exactly explain the moment I felt it, but somewhere in those words the pastor was preaching to a hungry throng of onlookers, it clicked. It clicked and I thought oh wait…. I don’t need to be strong, I don’t need to fix myself, in fact I can’t because I’m human and broken and imperfect… I get to be weak, I get to be hurt and broken. It’s ok for me to not be ok. But the one who can heal me, the one who won’t let me suffer in vain and can be strong for me, is the Lord. 

The authentic message from the pastor didn’t feel fake like so many sermons I listen to do. They often make it hard to take seriously. But this one was different. It didn’t feel self-serving or preachy or showy – it was a true authentic message about God’s love. Sometimes in the midst of this chaos in the world, mixed with my bad experiences with other churches and other Christians in the past, I forgot that all of this boils down to God’s love – something I desperately need.

It was a wonderful wonderful moment that left me in tears to be honest. I was speechless. And eventually when I figured out how to use words again, I turned to my friend and saw the look on her face and knew she was feeling exactly what I was feeling. We marveled at the timing. After weeks of not going to church, we chose this Sunday, this church, this particular service. 

Neither one of us realized how MUCH we both needed to hear a pastor talk openly, honestly and authentically about the Lord’s power to heal, save and love those of us who are so far broken. This is the first time in years I feel excited and energized by the Lord. While I wish it could have come sooner, I think I finally realized that God has been calling after me all this time and I've been ignoring him. 

I don't know what is going to happen from here, or where my relationship with Christ is going to go, but I feel ready. I feel ready, energized and excited about God's love. I think for the first time in a very long time the sermon I was listening to wasn't about being a "perfect Christian" or about following this set of rules or these laws. It wasn't about judgement or ridicule or some self righteous agenda. It was about God's love and power to take care of us. 

For so long I was in churches, environments or around Christians that thrived off of perfection and judgement. I was so afraid of going back and getting into God's word because I was afraid of being judged for who I am and for my mistakes. I regularly felt that from the community of believers I grew up in... and that's not healthy. But this time, I felt absolutely nothing but love, and I am so excited to dive deeper into that love... 

Until next time, 

Nikki 



When Your Best Friends Get Married

Story time! I have this group of amazing friends. There are six of us – four of us gals and two dudes who are so in love it’s magical. We call ourselves Da Besties. We laugh a lot, play A LOT of board games and are constantly seeking new adventures together. Well, this past weekend Da Besties, along with three other wonderful people in the wedding party, were lucky enough to embark on our biggest adventure yet! We were able to celebrate the love of our two magically in love friends at THEIR WEDDING. Not only were we at the wedding, we were IN the wedding as their Groomsbabes. We couldn’t exactly be called bridesmaids because you know there wasn’t a bride. So, we decided to call ourselves the Groomsbabes. If I’m being honest, I like this name way better than bridesmaid.

It was one of THE best evenings. It was incredible to see all of their friends and family there to celebrate the two of them and their love. I cried, I laughed, I got drunk, I danced, I hugged a lot of people. It was a fantastic evening. Not to mention we performed a special little dance for everyone in attendance (watch below). I’m still reeling from the excitement and joy of witnessing an evening filled with such love. They are now off on their month long honeymoon exploring and enjoying their new married life together. If you are creepy like me and want to read about their adventures, go check out their blog because it’s AMAZING: SwinKell Honeymoon

Luke and Landon have truly taught me what it means to love someone fully and unconditionally by the way they not only love each other, but by how together they love everyone around them so intensely. I couldn’t ask for a better role model of a couple than them. Cheers to Luke and Landon and their married life. And cheers to the cheesy pictures (courtesy of Jessica Lovell who snapped pics all weekend) of our fun-filled weekend! 












Check out our wedding dance! 

                


Orlando

Everyone is fully aware of what went on this past weekend, so I'm not going to recap the events in Orlando... I simply want to talk about the aftermath because I’ve been left feeling a lot of things this week and I don’t exactly know how to process them.

Every event like this has hit home for me. Every shooting or terror threat whether it be from ISIS or from some mentally ill American, leave me feeling more and more numb and confused. However, this one struck a chord somewhere much deeper. It has left me speechless, emotional, angry, frustrated, sad, scared and questioning what the future holds if this is our present. Since I woke up to the news alert on Sunday morning that there had been a shooting, I have been moving about my world trying in vain to resume normal day-to-day life. But how am I supposed to do that when there are hundreds of people mourning the loss of their loved ones slain in an act of hate and violence; or when there are millions of Americans afraid to go to the grocery store or a concert or out to dinner because they are afraid of what could happen to them?

How am I supposed to return to a “normal life” when something so tragic has happened again. I’m angry, scared and sad that once again, our country is put in this position.

A large part of my anger comes from the fact two of my very best friends were able to stand in front of each other and a room full of loved ones on Saturday night and commit themselves to each other for life… an act that not too long ago was not possible for them in this state simply because they were both males. It was quite possibly one of the happiest days of my life being able to see two people who love each other so much make that commitment to each other. And I know it was one of the happiest days for both of them. The next morning we all woke up to hear that a group of people celebrating who they are in a place full of people from their community, were murdered. I feel angry that members of the LGBTQ+ community were attacked. I feel angry that this is how my friends who have overcome so much to love each other freely, are going to remember their wedding. I’m angry that a group of innocent people were brutally murdered and I’m angry that this is the world we live in. It makes no sense to me.

I’m scared because that could have been my friends. That could have been me. Instead of a gay club in Orlando that could have easily been a gay bar in Austin that I go to with my friends. These things are so randomly targeted that it easily could have been us. And I think everyone is feeling that right now. I’m scared of who is going to be next. I’m looking around wondering if it’s going to be the concert I’m going to next week? Will it be the grocery store I stop in? Is it going to happen at my office building? Because if we’ve learned anything as a community, as a country, every time we raise our arms and spout off “never again,” it happens again and again and again. And it’s sickening because we just sit around and let it happen.

I’m sad because those people were living their lives. They came out to their friends, family and the world and were owning their life and their love. They were out for a simple evening of fun and excitement and their lives were taken. I’m sad because they should have had the chance to live long and beautiful lives. I’m sad because it seems like death – more like brutal murder – keeps surrounding us and closing in on us and I can not shake the heavy cloud of inevitable ending that's closing in on me.

Yet I feel selfish for walking around like a zombie this week because I didn’t even know anyone who was killed in this act of terror. I feel so selfish that I am sitting over here crying and hurting for those whose lives were lost, while I still get to live. But I can’t help but think about them and I can’t help but mourn those lives, those people that had so much more to give. Since we can’t give them their lives back, I guess the most we can give is our thoughts and prayers.  

I really don’t know what else to say accept that I’m angry, scared and sad. I’ve been walking around with tears in my eyes and not knowing what to do or think or say. I still don’t know what to do or think, but I had to say something… 

Texas Hill Country | The Best Weekend Getaway


A Weekend in Texas Hill Country

Two weeks ago, I was having a rough day. I was venting to my friend about it all when she said “when I see you, I have some good news that will cheer you up.” I met up with her at our weekly Zumba class and she said to keep May 6-8 open, pack comfy clothes and be ready for a lovely weekend. Her and our other best friend and I were going away for a weekend for my birthday! We left Friday after work and drove and drove and drove.

After a couple pit stops and five hours on the road, we turned off the main highway and ended up on back country roads at 11:30 at night in the pitch black. The only things going through my head were, “I wish I could see all of this in daylight” and “If I was going to be murdered, it was here.”

Eventually we pulled up to our Air BNB. I couldn’t see much because it was pitch black, but the house/cabin was built into the side of a foresty hill. So basically my personal heaven. It’s casual. I eventually learned we were in Canyon Lake, Texas. We walked up a thousand treacherous steps to land on a massive deck. My friend opened the door, that was already unlocked, which I thought was weird. I hesitantly walked in the dark house. In a second, the lights switched on and my three other best friends jumped out and yelled SURPRISE!!!

I nearly had a heart attack! There were balloons, streamers, party hats, a gorgeous homemade, three-layer cookie cake (thanks Landad) and lots of hugs. I have never been so surprised in my entire life and couldn’t have been happier to be around my people (aka Da Besties as we call ourselves).


We drank, ate cake, chatted away and curled up in bed to prepare for an exciting day to follow.


(us after a five and a half hour drive and a midnight surprise)

AIR BNB Cabin
(our gorgeous cabin that I saw in the light the next morning)


The next morning was one straight out of my dreams. I walked out onto the two story deck at the front of our woodland cabin and had the most amazing view. We all sat around, drank coffee, read books and had the most AMAZING breakfast prepared by chef Landad. The only other times I have felt that relaxed to date, were in my parents’ back yard in good ol Kansas City where I often spend hours playing with the cows and of course sitting on the porch overlooking the caldera in Santorini. I wanted to stay in that exact moment forever!


Texas Hill Country Scenery


Breakfast Flat Lay

After we got dressed for the day, we ventured out. The drive was spectacular – full of rolling hills, expanses of forests and gorgeous skies. We mozied around a lovely flea market, where I bought sunglasses and a cute little cactus (of course), had lunch and four of us began our winery tour. We went to two different wineries and had an absolute blast.


The first was gorgeous. We hung around outside snapped lots of pictures and even took a couple polaroids.







We drove through some more hills to end up at Wimberley Valley Winery. I had THE best wine made out of plums. The winery had a gorgeous yard, decks for days and even a retired two story bus they converted into a bar. The best part? The cows! The whole property was bordered by a lush farm. There were miniature ponies, alpacas, donkeys and cows. With glass in hand I pet them and made all new best friends. We spent a few hours here, drinking, eating cheese and crackers, talking about life, getting tipsy and of course taking lots and lots of cheesy pictures…

























We had a lovely drive home through the hills to be followed with lots of crazy dancing on the cabin’s front porch before sunset. After a tasty dinner of burgers, beans and mac and cheese, we played games danced around some more and hit the sack.








The next morning was very bittersweet. I couldn’t wait to sit on that front deck and look at the sky, but that meant it was Sunday and time to go home. To end our adventurous birthday weekend, we let the birthday balloons loose. We said goodbye to our cabin with the promise to return, and I said goodbye to one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time. 





It made me feel so loved to know my friends put so much effort into such a wonderful weekend. I don’t think they had any idea how much I needed a getaway.


It was nice to be outdoors, somewhere new and somewhere inspiring. I am antsy gal. So when I have to stay in one place for too long I get depressed and uninspired. I end up in the same routine, indoors 99% of the day and become absolutely miserable. Especially Dallas, which is notoriously terrible. A weekend away somewhere new where I could be refreshed by the trees, inspired by the skylines and at peach with the rolling hills, was exactly what I needed to keep on trucking through day-to-day life in ugly old Dallas. I needed perspective. I needed something to remind me of why I get up in the morning, a reminder of what makes me really happy and what I have to work toward. Pure and absolute joy. That was my perfect weekend in the Texas Hill Country. 

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