Friday, October 14, 2016

Finding yourself

Identity... it's the very heart of the main quest of our generation. 

Who am I? 

Why am I here? 

What is the point?

It is also one of the biggest areas in which the devil likes to attack us, as Christians.

I have felt it, I have seen my husband struggle with it, and I have heard from one too many dear brother or sister the cries of their heart echoing the cry of my own...

God wants to settle this issue once and for all. We can no longer give the devil any voice in our hearts. We have to stand on the truth God has spoken. It's right here for us to find.

It's in His Word. It's the whisper of truth in our hearts. It's the hope we feel when we enter into true worship.


Our identity is found only in him. It is this crazy paradox: you can't find yourself until you lose yourself in Him. 

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Matthew 10:39

We have to trust in Him, and make His voice the one that we choose to agree with. 

Maybe we have screwed up many times. Maybe we feel like a failure. Do we live by what we see? Do we live by what we feel? Or do we live by our faith in the Word of God?


For we walk by faith and not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7



Let's start with 1 John. Chapter 3 opens with, "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (NIV) 

I use the NIV here because I love the wording so much. He has lavished his love on us! 

The dictionary definition for lavish is 
1) bestow something in generous or extravagant quantities upon
2) cover something thickly or liberally with.

That must be why I love it in this context. It is something extravagant, and is liberally showered on us! But I also love that next sentence "And that is what we are!" It's declaratory, and honestly seems thrilled! And why wouldn't the writer be? It is a thrilling thing, we have been given such a great gift. The gift of identity, and truly valuable identity at that.

In some ways the children of God are like Anastasia in that cartoon from the 90s. Walking around in raggedy clothes, stealing food because you have no idea who you really are. She was a princess! She had rights to so much. All she needed to do was take it. But she didn't know. So, for most of her life she wandered around like a street rat, and was mistreated in an orphanage. We are royalty to God -his blessed children, not that we should walk around in a cocky, self-righteous way, but that we should walk in the confidence of who we are because of who He is and what He did for us.


Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 
Mark 10:42-45 (NIV)

This lesson must be really important, a version of it shows up in three of the four gospels.
Matthew 20:25-28, Mark 10:42-45, Luke 22:25-27

But the best way, aside from pride, that the enemy can eliminate us as a threat to his kingdom is to beat us down.

Have you ever felt like you were worthless? That you had no value or real purpose? That you were a failure? Or a burden to your loved ones? 

These are all lies the enemy will use to keep us down. We have to fight back!

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV)



One of the best ways I have discovered is to counter every lie from the devil with a truth from God. 

I heard a preacher once say, "Every time the devil speaks to me I know it is a lie, so I declare the opposite truth. If he says, "You are worthless!" Then I say, "Thank you, God, that I'm so worth it!""

Note that he's not even giving the devil his attention, like he isn't even worth a glance, but keeps his eyes on the Lord, declaring the truth over himself. This is a great practice! Because another thing the devil tries to do to us is to get our eyes off Jesus and onto anything else. Our circumstances, ourselves, even him! If you turn away from Jesus to rebuke the devil, you just made yourself vulnerable. Keep your eyes fixed on the King of Kings, and let His Spirit fight for you!

Here are some truths from the Word of God. 

You are a child of God.    - 1 John 3:1, Romans 8:14-17
He will not abandon you.    - John 14:18, Hebrews 13:5
He is with you (You are not alone)    - Matthew 28:20
You are love by Him.       -  Jeremiah 31:3
You were bought with a price.    - 1 Corinthians 6:20
You are valuable to Him!      - John 3:16
You are an overcomer!        - 1 John 5:4
You are fearfully and wonderfully made.     - Psalm 139:14
You are a new creation.     - 2 Corinthians 5:17
God does not remember your sin.   - Psalm 103:12, Micah 7:19

But I would encourage you, anytime you are feeling attacked, first of all, do not ignore it! Do not excuse it! 'Oh, I've just been under a lot of stress lately.' or 'It's because so and so said such and such to me.' Do not blame people, the devil can use people in our lives to attack us. Remember our fight is not against flesh and blood! Don't make excuses, get ready to fight! Acknowledge that you are under attack and ask God to help you. I like to sit down with my journal and my Bible. I will write in one column all the things the devil is saying to me. We know if he is saying it, it is a lie because Jesus said he is a liar and the father of lies.

He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
John 8:44 (NIV)

So, I write what I am feeling down, and write next to it (in another column) the opposite truth, God's truth. You can even cross out the lie if you want. Many times the Holy Spirit will give me verses to back up those truths! You can use the ones I have given you here, but I encourage you to sit at His feet, because He will speak truth over you personally and that is much more powerful than taking my word for it. Let the Holy Spirit counter those lies with truths. It will shift your perspective. An example from my own journal is:

I am not a a failure - You have given me victory!
I am not hopeless - Jesus is my eternal hope!



The question I have come to face is who am I going to agree with? The devil? Myself? What people say about me? Or what the God of the universe who created me and bought me with a terrible price says about me? 

Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true.
Romans 3:4



A friend once spoke to me about labels. In the sales industry there are rules about labeling, the only person who has the right to put a label on something is the creator, or the owner (the one who purchased the item). So, even I do not have a right to label myself! Only God, my creator, and my purchaser, has the right to label me. And he calls me lovely, glorious, wonderful, child... Consider this in your own life. 


For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
Psalm 139:13 (NIV)

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. 
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)



In closing, here is a song that is so powerful, it really speaks to me anytime I am struggling with my identity. I hope it speaks to you, and I hope this entry helps you fight back and accept who you are, a wonderful and valued child of God.






*All verses quoted are in the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Light breaks the dawn

You are the light of my life
Without you, the whole world lies in darkness
Save us from our blindess
Righteous Sun with wisdom and grace
Save us from our wicked ways
Fill our mouths with love and mercy
Let our lips repeat your praise
Give our souls compassion and your transcendent peace
They shall be known by their love for one another, let them be one as we are one
This was your prayer for us
Oh, how far have we fallen?
How lost have we become?
Rescue me, Father
I don't know how to find my way
I need your love to breathe, to live
Give me another chance to be what I was born to be
A shining light in the darkest places
A fire of love in the coldest hatred
A reflection of you, the one I was made for
Show me the way to be
I want to show the world your wonderful face
Shine through me
I will be a carrier of your grace
I will choose to love, despite my hurt, my offense, my fear
I will choose to stand firm
The way you showed me
You were silent when accused
Brilliant when questioned
Gracious when tested
And when the time came
The greatest trial of all
The greatest persecution, more than I have ever faced
You accepted it with grace
A penalty that I deserved
You took without complaint
You chose to lay everything down, so that I could shine
So that I could be born again, made brand new, a new creation
Let me be that everyday, in every situation
Let me be a shining Son
Bringing the kingdom to earth
For all to see
Let them see you in me

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Transition...

Sometimes the hardest thing you can do is nothing.

Doing nothing -just waiting, just trusting is, to the human mind, utterly terrifying. Every fiber in our being fights against it. Our minds conspire against us, trying to solve the problem, to find a way out.

"Be still and know that I am God."
-Psalms 46:10

Sometimes we are meant to just wait. Sometimes there is nothing we can do.

I can't imagine how Joseph felt sitting in that prison, alone and forgotten. What could he do to change his situation? Nothing. Just wait. Trust. It says that it took two years before Pharoh's cupbearer remembered Joseph and his gift (Genesis 41:1). Joseph sat there for two more years after his interpretation of the cupbearer's dream came to pass and he was released! (Genesis 40)

I'm sure I can't imagine, Idaho isn't exactly prison, but I can relate. Being somewhere I'd never thought I'd be, somewhere that wasn't part of the plan. Feeling stuck with no way out. Feeling hopeless that the dream God has given you could ever come to pass. Watching other people's dreams being revealed, watching other people go on, while you're left behind. Stuck.

What can you do but wait on the Lord? Trust in the Word He has spoken? Heavens if I know. There is nothing else. Only keeping our eyes on the prize -HIM! He's the prize! And He's so worth any amount of agony, disappointment, and waiting. That's where the children of Israel got in trouble. Moses went up on the mountain to commune with God, but they were too inpatient! They couldn't wait! They sinned against God (Exodus 32). They hardened their hearts. I don't want to be found by God in a load of sin and immaturity!

I want to be the faithful servant waiting. (Luke 12:35-40)

And so I wait...

"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." -Isaiah 40:31

Saturday, December 5, 2015

How do you like them... potatoes?

*****edit: this definitely should have been posted on our couple's blog, I don't know what I was thinking. Update: since January, Gabriel and I no longer work for ctc. A very long story. Transition is here yet again, keep us in your prayers.

Well, folks, if you had told me a year ago, maybe even 6 months ago that I'd be in Idaho right now I would not have believed you.

Actually... I probably would have. I'd be liable to believe any crazy thing at this point. And you probably think we have commitment issues with the amount of job flipping and moving around we do, not to mention trying out new schools and ministries. [Only a little ;)]

The truth is, we are still young, still trying to figure out this complicated thing called life, and still trying to find our place in the midst of this crazy world. God has led us to some strange places, and asked us to do some even stranger things, but hey, "I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes..." (1 Samuel 6:22) if that's what it takes to be obedient to the Lord, it's all for His glory and not my own.

We are young, and we have dreams. And we are bold enough to believe those dreams can come true. We just don't want to settle for less. It's an adventure, for sure! Trying out different places and things whether it's to learn something for the future, to figure out what we need/don't need or like/don't like, or just biding our time until our next opportunity has been both interesting and kind of exhilarating. We have a lot of great stories, that's for sure.

I'd rather live my life having tried out a lot of different things, seen different places, met different people, and experienced a wide variety of life than to work some boring 9-5 job I don't care about every day of my life until I'm old and gray.

I will say I'm getting the point in my life where I'm starting to feel a longing for my own home. A place to call my own, something that is ours where we can live and make memories and enjoy life. This is very interesting, because until recently, that had never mattered to me. I never cared about consistency. In fact, moving into a new place was always exciting, with the options being open and trying something new. I guess it's because I moved around so much as a kid, but actually, after a while in one place I'd start to get antsy, and desire to move on. But now, it's just starting to feel like, I could actually settle down somewhere and enjoy it. Really having our own house. How exciting! It's not time yet, and I can wait. But it's an interesting development, and let the record show I'm taking note.

So, all that jibber jabber aside Gabriel is working as the art assistant in a real comic studio! And getting paid! To make art! Granted, he's not being paid much and it's very, very part-time, but it's still awesome. For that I'm thankful. He's learning a lot and enjoying it.

We were originally planning for me to come and be the office manager, but plans changed and I've taken on the role of Sales and Marketing manager, which mostly consists of running the online store for commission on orders filled, and some online marketing that I do on a volunteer basis. I'm currently contacting different comic stores around the country to try and get our books carried, so if you guys have a favorite store or know of one in your area please let me know! I'm currently on the look out for good leads.

We are also working on a big proposal to hopefully start selling at Conventions. My hope is that starting in February Gabriel will turn in his notice at his other part-time job and we'll be full-time Coffee Table Comic-ers! Scary, and also exciting! The plan would be to do 1-2 shows per month and on the weeks when we aren't traveling work in the office here in Idaho. If any of you know of any Comic Conventions, book fairs, or other events where exhibitors are allowed and you think our books would sell I would love to hear about it. It's always helpful to have local information. My plan is to try some of the smaller more local shows as well as the big ones, to see how sales are. My thought is, since the smaller shows are so much cheaper to get into, we still might be able to walk away with close to the same amount of profit even if there are less sales due to fewer attendees.

Please, keep us in your prayers! We are having a blast but have been really tight on money, especially with the holidays and everything, and that has been a major area of testing for us. We are striving day in and day out to trust God to provide for us.

There is a new and updated Coffee Table comics website that looks pretty sweet if I do say so, so please check that out. There will be a blog happening there that will have posts from both Gabriel and myself at some points in regards to what we're doing, learning, etc and how things are going at ctc, so for those of you who are interested in being updated, check that out.

I will try to get some regular updates on our couples blog, the endless frontier, so follow that if you like. My personal blog I'm going to try to use for my writing: some poems, Bible/theology essays, fiction (for fun) including but not limited to allegories, and maybe some non fiction articles about things that interest me -fitness, eating healthy, organizing, diy projects, etc. If you are interested in reading those feel free to follow me here.

I hope you all are doing well. Feel free to send me your updates and prayer requests. God bless!

-Nikki

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Come back tomorrow...


In a small Wisconsin town in the 1930s the bitter cold bit at a young girl's nose. Her clothes were wearing thin and her coat now had holes throughout. But there were no new winter coats in this town. There was no food, either. There was no work. And no money. They were calling it "The Great Depression". I guess there were hardly any new winter coats in any town. This young 8-year-old girl was wondering why she couldn't have grown up somewhere warmer when she finally arrived home. She almost missed it due to the snow blowing around her now numb face. She had to pull hard to open the door against the force of the blustering wind. 

"Amber, thank goodness, you're home." Her mothers weak voice met her at the door. Their home was small, only two rooms. One for cooking and eating and sitting by the fire, and one for sleeping. Everyone slept in there. All seven of them. Mother was sitting in their only chair -a rocking chair, mending some clothes. The baby whined in her cradle, while mother rocked it with her foot. The two next smallest ones were curled up at her feet, wrapped up in one blanket the two of them, napping. Sleeping to ignore their hunger, it was all they could do until supper. Amber was the second oldest, and was usually proud of that fact, but not today. "John is out searching for firewood, my dear, I know it's very cold but I need you to go out again." Amber barely made it home from school without freezing, how could she go back out again? "Your father waited in the breadlines all day, but we just don't have enough. My dear girl, I've heard that the grocer on 7th street sometimes has pity on those of us with too many mouths to feed, I need you to go and ask him for food, please, dear. I know it's cold. But your father and brother are getting weak from not eating, they've been leaving their share for the little ones, we have to find them something..." She trailed off not bothering to explain what would happen if they didn't, Amber was old enough to understand. That's what the depression had done to her. What it had done to a lot of little girls. 

She just nodded, working up her courage, trying to be strong and gave her mother a hug to reassure her. As she pulled away her mother placed something in her hand, something heavy. An old pocket watch. Amber recognized it, it was grandfather's. Mother had saved it all these years after he had passed away. She couldn't mean for Amber to pay the grocer with this? It was too valuable...and too not valuable? The pocket watch wasn't anything special to anyone but grandfather and mother. It was really old, and wasn't even made of a nice metal like gold or silver, it was just your basic pocket watch. Would the grocer really want this old thing? Tick. tick tick. It did still work...amazing. Amber wondered at it for a long time, until mother closed her hand around it firmly, "You'd better go." Amber's eyes met mothers, all mother did was nod, she couldn't utter the words, but this was all they had left of any value. She had to convince the grocer to take it.  She took a deep breath before opening that stubborn door again, as if it was warning her not to go out, she only hoped she could make it back at all, much less with food in hand. 

She had put on a brave face for mother but once outside in that freezing gust her fear cut at her worse than the chill. She fought back tears, knowing they would freeze on her face and make matters worse. Tick tick tick. The pocket watch encouraged her to go on, she shoved the hand gripping it into her coat pocket, and forced herself to move forward. She pushed on for what seemed like miles but was really only a few blocks, and just when she felt like giving up -curling up in a sad frozen ball in the gutter, a wooden sign clanked against a wall. The wind kept blowing the sign but she made it out with ease, mostly from memory, "Grocer". 

She pushed inside past the wind and collapsed against it, once it closed. "My, my, who is this? I'm closed for the day." The room felt noticeably warm and the familiar grocer walked toward her from behind his counter, he wasn't a tall man, but he had very kind eyes. They reminded her of honey, warm and sweet. His smooth hair and mustache were dark brown, like chocolate. Everything in here reminded her of food! Her stomach growled loudly and she immediately blushed. "My child, you poor thing, have you eaten anything today?" She stared at the floor ashamed, "I had some milk this morning." He shook his head sadly and extended her a hand, she willingly took it and he hoisted her up on her feet. 

"Please, sir," she said, "I know you're closed, but don't send me away with nothing. I've walked all this way in the freezing cold, I barely made it here against that awful wind, and I'm exhausted from trudging through all the snow. Please, you can't send me away empty handed. What will mother say?" The man looked at her with compassion in his honey eyes, "Mother? Did your mother send you?" She sniffed, in the warmth her nose was starting to run, and nodded. "Father waited all day in the bread lines, you see, but there are seven of us, and well, we just don't have enough. The little ones don't know it but father and John, that's my older brother, they keep giving their portion to them. So they haven't eaten in days. They are getting too weak to chop firewood, or wait in lines for food or work. They can't go on this way. They will get ill. Or worse..." He quietly, patiently listened to her rambling explanation, nodding ever so often to reassure her. But she couldn't finish that last sentence. She didn't want to. He had to understand. Surely. Instead she just stuck out her frozen hand, still clutching the old pocket watch, and opened it to reveal her offer. Surely he would understand. "My, my, what is this you've got here?" He examined the watch carefully. "This is very old. Probably an antique. I can't believe it's still ticking." Believe it, the watch prided with it's tick tick tick. "This is a special little watch, where did you get it?" She was encouraged that he took such an interest in the watch, "It was my grandfather's. Please, it's all I have. Couldn't I trade it for some food? Anything will do." He stared at the watch carefully. "I see." He hesitated, and Amber understood, it wasn't very valuable at all. She hung her head, she had failed, what would mother say? "I'll take a look back here and see what I have left." She couldn't believe her ears, her head shot up, "You will?" He laughed and it seemed that even his eyes were smiling, "I certainly will." 

He sent her home with a bag of food, but not without having a warm cup of tea with her by the fire. He wanted her to warm up before going back out into the cold. And maybe he was lonely. He did live and work here all alone. The bag had a few potatoes, a piece of bread, and a handful of nuts still in their shell. Small enough for her to carry, and plenty for them to eat tonight. He walked her to the door but before opening it he took her hand and placed in it grandfather's watch, he closed her hand around it and whispered with a smile and a twinkle in his kind eyes, "Come back tomorrow."


This phrase is what inspired me to write this story. Come back tomorrow... just like the grocer only gave Amber what she could easily carry, enough for one day, and yet, invited her to return again for more when she needed it -the next day, God has been so drawing on my heart. I pray for wisdom, I pray for peace, I pray for strength, He gives me what I need and says, "Come back tomorrow." Scripture says his mercies are new every morning! [Lamentations 3:22-23] If they are new then why should we hoard it today? We know we can come back for more, fresh tomorrow. He knows exactly what we will need in order to face each and every day, and all we need to do is ask...each and every day. He wants us to come back because He loves us, He loves spending time with us. We shouldn't be asking for God to make us wise or strong, but instead that He would give us the wisdom for today, the strength we need to get through the day. 

Solomon asked God for wisdom, and he got it. And yet, he did some really stupid things in his lifetime. What happened to his wisdom? God was faithful to give it, Solomon definitely had access to it, but maybe he got cocky and thought he was wise enough, and that he didn't need God anymore. Solomon himself says in Ecclesiates 12:11 "The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. " This, I believe, is why Jesus taught us to pray for "our daily bread". He wasn't literally talking about bread, or even physical provision, but spiritual bread! What is bread if not nourishment? What you need to make it through the day! This is how we should pray, that God would give us what we need to get through this day, and then come back tomorrow.

Friday, June 12, 2015

6/1/13

Written 6/1/13 (Because I hate loose ends...aka unpublished drafts!)
It's also an interesting back story to why we ended up in Idaho which is why I went ahead and posted it so late and why I'm keeping it up now.

Hello friends, it's been a while but I'm finally blogging again. May was the craziest month for me! I started a new job and did two trips two weekends in a row! That wasn't on purpose. Gabriel mentioned to me that an artist he follows and really likes wasn't coming to the Denver convention this year but the nearest one to Colorado he was going to was Phoenix. I thought it sounded fun seeing as I've never been to Phoenix so I told Gabriel to look up costs for tickets and travel expenses and maybe we could manage it for his birthday! (Even though it was a month later). We ended up budgeting it out of our tax returns, so it worked out. Later we realized a family event -my grandparent's 50th anniversary party, happened to be the weekend before! I only realized this about a month before the trip :P 
The first trip (to Texas) we flew Southwest. That was an adventure! For one, Gabriel and I have a bad habit of waiting until the last second to pack or get even remotely ready for our trips, which results in an extremely stressful night before, especially when have to get up early the next morning, usually accompanying some sort of emotional breakdown on my part! This time wasn't completely my fault, though, because I was planning on spending the day of (Friday) getting ready because I got our flight in the evening, around 6 pm. However, Thursday I got a last minute interview with Gabriel's boss and she was desperately understaffed so she hired me on the spot and asked me to come in the next day.  So, Gabriel and I only had a few hours to get ready for our trip before we needed to go to bed so we could get up for work at 5:30 am. Needless to say we squandered what time we did have and were up late getting ready.