Monday, July 9, 2012

Something Fun ... 47/99

I'm such a follower. I've seen this on other blogs so I figured I would join in on the fun!
The Bold are the ones I have completed.

1. Started your own blog

2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band

4. Visited Hawaii (soon to visit LB) 

5. Watched a meteor shower

6. Given more than you can afford to charity

7. Been to Disneyland

8. Climbed a mountain

9. Held a praying mantis

10. Sang a solo

11. Bungee jumped

12. Visited Paris

13. Watched a lightning storm

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch

15. Adopted a child

16. Had food poisoning

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty

18. Grown your own vegetables

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France

20. Slept on an overnight train

21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitch hiked

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill

24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb

26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a Marathon

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice

29. Seen a total eclipse

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a home run

32. Been on a cruise

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors

35. Seen an Amish community

36. Taught yourself a new language

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

39. Gone rock climbing 

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David

41. Sung karaoke

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant

44. Visited Africa

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight

46. Been transported in an ambulance

47. Had your portrait painted 

48. Gone deep sea fishing 

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling

52. Kissed in the rain

53. Played in the mud

54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie 

56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. Started a business

58. Taken a martial arts class 

59. Visited Russia

60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies

62. Gone whale watching

63. Got flowers for no reason

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Gone sky diving

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp

67. Bounced a check

68. Flown in a helicopter

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy 

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial 

71. Eaten Caviar

72. Pieced a quilt

73. Stood in Times Square

74. Toured the Everglades

75. Been fired from a job

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London

77. Broken a bone

78. Been a passenger on a motorcycle

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person

80. Published a book

81. Visited the Vatican

82. Bought a brand new car

83. Walked in Jerusalem

84. Had your picture in the newspaper

85. Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year’s Eve

86. Visited the White House

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
 (kind of) 

88. Had chickenpox

89. Saved someone’s life

90. Sat on a jury

91. Met someone famous

92. Joined a book club

93. Got a tattoo

94. Had a baby 

95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake

97. Been involved in a law suit

98. Owned a cell phone

99. Been stung by a bee

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Break my heart for what breaks Yours!

Exactly one year ago, I was preparing for my first trip to Ethiopia and I had NO idea what God had up His sleeve. But, for the first time in my life, I was sure of His calling and I knew I had to be obedient and go. Due to my own human nature, I can admit now that had I known what He was up to, fear would have more than likely altered my life's course.

Thankful today that God is bigger. And, in case you didn't know, He is better. :) God doesn't make mistakes. He took me to Ethiopia for a reason.

So... here I am, one year later and my world is completely changed. Now, don't get me wrong. I am still the same Nicci. The same sinner. But, God is transforming my life in ways that some days still takes my breath away.

Before leaving last year, I often prayed the very simple prayer that God would break my heart for what breaks His. I wanted to know His pain. I wanted to see it. I wanted my eyes to be opened to it in a very real and tangible way. Well, let me just say that God blew that prayer out of the water. By day 2 of the trip, my heart was shattered. I was completely broken. I was helpless and I felt very alone. I just couldn't understand and I no one to turn to but my God.  And, God, in His gracious, loving way, began truly revealing Himself to me. And, in the course of that week, He showed me His heart for His people and His need for His people. It was in that short week that I was in Addis Ababa that His true call for my life really began to resonate in my heart.

After returning home, I knew exactly why God had taken me to Ethiopia. I knew it with every fiber of my being. But, I just couldn't speak it. Because saying it out loud made it REAL and most importantly, it would take ALL of me. That requirement as a Christian was something I was still working out. Ha! Who am I kidding?  What do you mean when you say that You want ALL of me, Lord? I am still working on that giving 100% of myself. My biggest fear is that I will always be working on this and always failing. I am sure thankful that I have Savior who loves me anyway.  Anyway, after a few months, I began "whispering" what I felt God's calling on my life was with a few, close friends. But, I had to be careful, because, if I said it TOO loud, it would be more real. And, more real, frankly, scares the (insert explicit here) out of me. STILL!

It wasn't until January. JANUARY! 6 months after my initial return from Ethiopia, that I was able to
speak it. (barely) For six months, I held it in. Fear crippling the best thing that has ever happened to me. For six months, I allowed fear to overshadow God's amazing purpose for my life. Finally, in late January after some serious conviction from the Holy Spirit, I had to make it real. I had to share it. And, so I did. Slowly. Very......very.....very....slowly. But, what God is continuing to show me is that it is real. His plan for my life is very, very real. So real some days that fear fills up in my throat and threatens to choke me. But, I trust Him and I want to give Him my all.

And, so, my friends, what I have been trying to tell you with teeth chattering, words stumbling, and heart racing is.... My ALL for Him is in Ethiopia. On long-term mission. Using my God-given talents to serve the street kids whom I love so much. But, more importantly, whom He loves so much. Serving Him.

I am in the "pipeline" to go full-time. There I said it. :) Whew.  God has placed a special calling on my heart to reach the street children through education. I don't have the details worked out. I don't have the foggiest clue what all this means. But, I know, with every bit of me, that He is in this and He will show me the way.  I ask that you pray that He will continue to open the doors and show me exactly what He wants. His desires for His glory, that is my prayer.  Will you pray with me?

In the meantime, please pray for our short term team that is leaving on Thursday to go and serve these sweet faces in Addis Ababa. It may be my last "visit" before I make this place my home and I am praying that God will continue dissolving the "polaroid picture" and showing me His exact plan. Also, looking forward to seeing God work in our entire team, especially the first timers. It wasn't so long ago that I was a "first timer" and I look forward to God breaking their hearts for what breaks His, just as He has mine. Thank you for walking this journey with me. Your prayer carries me.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Paint Party for Ethiopia

As many of you may know, I am heading back to Ethiopia in June with a short-term team from Central Church. I am very humbled that God is continuing to open doors for me to serve Him and be His hands and feet for the children in Addis Ababa. As you can imagine, a trip like this costs a great deal. There are 11 of us going and we each have to raise $3150, which covers mostly airfare.

So... on May 18th at 6:30pm, our team will be hosting a paint party,  in an effort to raise support for our entire team. Learn step by step from team member and artist, Jane Crain, how to paint an angel painting while enjoying time to fellowship with friends and family!

The cost is only $25.00.  However, we are only able to sell tickets in advance to make sure that we have enough supplies for the event. Men, women, and children 10 years and older are invited! As I said, all of proceeds will go to help our team take a 10 day journey to Ethiopia to serve the street children of Addis Ababa alongside The Forsaken Children and Ethiopian ministry, Onesimus, to share lasting hope with the least of these.

If you are interested, please contact me at and I will be glad to get you a ticket. Also, if you cannot attend and you'd like to make a donation, please let me know.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28: 19-20

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Break 2012

Being a teacher definitely has its perks and SPRING BREAK is one of them! I absolutely love a week off to rest and recuperate for the final home stretch of the school year. And, this year was no different! My week was jam packed full of fun and friends!!! Usually, I am itching to get away but this year was a little different because it meant leaving "my baby" for the very first time! Ouch! After school on Friday, my mom came to pick up the "granddog" for a weeklong stay with the grandparents! After Addie Rue was gone, I was non-stop preparing for my trips!!!
First on my agenda was heading to the "Shack Up Inn" in Clarksdale, Mississippi to celebrate Miss Virginia and her upcoming nuptials!!! It was a definite treat and something I recommend people trying if they are looking for a different kind of fun. On their website it says, "The Ritz, We Ain't" and I will completely have to agree. But, what it lacks in luxury, it makes up for in culture and charm. There were 9 of us divided into two houses and it was PLENTY of space!

We spent the weekend reminiscing about college and our many funny memories. Saturday was spent throwing a surprise lingerie shower for Virginia and getting fancied up for a night on the town! If you know anything about the delta, you know the "town" ain't much but we managed to have a pretty good time. We went to dinner at a local restaurant called "Rust" then made our way to Morgan Freeman's blues club, "Ground Zero". I had a great time and I am looking forward to the wedding in just a few short weeks! We left Clarksdale very early in the morning and headed back to Memphis.
(This is the only picture of the bride I managed to get all weekend! This was midday on Saturday as we were relaxing! Love this girl! So proud to call her friend)
We got back around 5 am and I rested for a couple of hours before preparing for my trip to the beach. We planned to leave around noon but I had a few things to accomplish before we left for the week! The most thing was squeezing in a reunion with my best! Originally, we thought Nick would be home sooner and then when the weeks overlapped, I was a nervous wreck that I would not get to see him at all before his return to Houston for the second round of IL2. While I only managed to squeeze in about an hour, oh, how that hour was good for my soul. I love that kid so much and I can't wait until we get to rejoice in God's faithfulness and we get that "NED" report!!!!
After my brief visit with Nick, I headed to Destin for the week. Originally, Nick was planning to go so that was the only thing negative about my trip!!! Otherwise, I enjoyed 5 marvelous days in the sun with great friends, relaxing, eating, reading, relaxing and eating some more!!!
It was nice to relax in the sunshine, reading a good book, and enjoying the company of friends! I did an awful job of taking pictures! But here are a few details from our trip!
We went to all my Destin faves including Dewey Destin's, Red Bar, Another Broken Egg, Donut Hole, Tommy Bahamas, and of course, Whataburger!!! One night, we picked up stuff for a boil and OH MY GOODNESS, IT WAS PERFECT! There is a new seafood market, Blaylock's, in Destin and if you visit, I HIGHLY recommend this place! They do all the work and you just pick it up!! We will be doing this every time we visit!!
We are shopping at the outlet mall!
We left to come home mid-day on Saturday and while I was sad to leave sunny Florida, I was so excited to get back to my girl! I was greeted with lots of kisses and snuggles. So, now, I am settling back into the routine and looking forward to summer vacation in about 9 weeks!!! I hope each of you had a wonderful spring and you are enjoying this beautiful weather! Happy 1st day of Spring!!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

His Promise

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:7

Last night, I went to bed with a very heavy heart. This world is a mean and ugly place. The hurt and pain that fills it is, at times, unbearable. There are many days when I just don't understand. I pray for God to give me the faith to trust Him. Wholeheartedly. Without reservation. Trust in His plan with reckless abandon.

But, some days, it hurts too much and I fail.

A precious, innocent third grader at my school has bone cancer. He is 9 and will possibly lose his leg if the chemotherapy doesn't work.

A mom of a first grader at my school was just diagnosed with cancer. Her kids are young and she had to explain that nasty word to them. I can't imagine fathoming this news from my mom at 29, much less 6 and 4.

A former GES teacher with daughters my age was just put on hospice because of cancer. Her daughters are her caregivers and they were just given the expectations of the coming days.

A 15-year boy in our community was just given 3 months to live because of cancer!!! After days of confusing reports and inaccurate diagnoses, his parents found out yesterday that there is not a cure. With treatment, he could make it 11 months.

My best friend has cancer! He has faced melanoma for the last ten years with head high and his faith strong. He has endured more than anyone should have to in his young life while going to law school, graduating with honors, and get his LLM. I wish I could be more like him. (more on that to come)

So, I closed my eyes last night, thinking of all of these people (some I know and love and others I have never met) and their circumstances weighing on my heart, and I questioned why. I know, I know, who and what was I questioning? I don't know. I was just so overwhelmed with the sadness and pain of it all. But this morning, I woke up and God, oh our precious God, He nudged my heart and He said, "Listen, daughter, I am working. My promises are TRUE. I am the ultimate healer and I am bigger than any cancer. Trust me."

And, so I am. I know that God is working. His glory to be redeemed. And while my human nature won't let me wrap my head around what could be the future for some of these people, my faith allows me to know that it will ALL be used for His glory. The power of each testimony in Christ's redeeming love is bigger than any cancer. So, with 3 months or 70 years left on this earth, my prayer is that each person facing their "Goliath" will persevere as David did. David trusted God. He listened. He fought. And, HE WON! Whether that win is earthly or heavenly, with Christ, we are ALL winners. And, that makes me smile. It excites me. It overwhelms me. And I have hope. I have hope in Jesus. In his promise. Nothing else.

Will you join me in praying for each one of these people and their families? I know that God will hear every prayer. The more the merrier...

I am clinging to this hymn today:

Standing on the promises of Christ my King,
Through eternal ages let His praises ring,
Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing, standing,
Standing on the promises of God my Savior;
Standing, standing,
I’m standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I now can see
Perfect, present cleansing in the blood for me;
Standing in the liberty where Christ makes free,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord,
Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call
Resting in my Savior as my all in all,
Standing on the promises of God.

“The Lord your God is with you,

He is mighty to save.

He will take great delight in you,

He will quiet you with his love,

He will rejoice over your with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:17

Thursday, March 1, 2012

It's a .....

Last weekend, we had a small, family gender reveal party for Brooke and Ben in Atlanta! I will share all the details for that later! But, here is a short video of the family finding out!!! Please ignore my obnoxious squealing and laughing! As you might can tell, I was TOO excited!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Officially a "Kiki"

My sister is having a baby!!! She and Ben are expecting their first child on August 2nd! We could not be more thrilled. I will share the story of how we found out with you!

Brooke came home the weekend before Thanksgiving and on Sunday, we went down to Oxford for Jack and Lucy's 1st birthday party! She wasn't feeling very well and I kept joking that she was pregnant. She kept saying, "I am NOT pregnant. I am carsick." Well, I didn't think anything else about it until Wednesday and we were out running errands. She mentioned her fatigue and she told me she had to go home early on Tuesday because she could not keep her eyes open. Sign #2!!!! I asked her if she had taken a pregnancy test. She told me she had taken a couple and each time the 2nd line was a little more clear. Well, we met Priscilla and Leigh for lunch at Firebird's and we giggled at the possibility that Brooke may be pregnant. She kept on denying it. After lunch, we ran to Target to get a few things and I stayed in the car with Piper (Brooke's puppy). When Brooke and Ali came back to the car, Brooke was shaking and she was holding her hand out. In her hand, I found a pregnancy test and it CLEARLY said, "PREGNANT". I was OVER the MOON and I could hardly contain my excitement! But, we had to keep this secret from everyone until Ben arrived the next day! It was so hard because we were just so giddy but Brooke had a special way that she wanted to tell our immediate family.
Fast forward 24 hours. Ben arrives from LA and Brooke goes alone to pick him up from the airport! She wants to share that moment alone with him. So sweet. She gives him a onesie that says, "My dad wears a kilt!" and he laughs, not fully getting it until he looks under the onesie to see the positive pregnancy test!!!

When they get home, it is finally time to tell my parents. Brooke insists on getting a "family photo" before the rest of the family arrives.. Ali is in on the surprise and offers to take the pictures. #1- I say, "Say cheese!" #2- Brooke says, "Say Happy Thanksgiving!" #3 - Ben says, "Say, Brooke's PREGNANT!" The look on my mom's face is priceless. I will get those photos to share but, needless to say, it was a wonderful day.
When the rest of the family arrived, we played "The Thankful game", a family tradition, and when it was Ben's turn, he shared his thankfulness for the new baby!
I can't wait to spoil this sweet baby and then, give it right back! I love it so much already! Please pray that everything will go wonderfully! :)