Birthday in Belize

For the past 3 years I have been outside of the US in different countries on my birthday. Whether the dates of the trip so happen to fall on my birthday, or God intended it to be that way, I don’t know, but I do know I really enjoy spending my birthday doing the Lord’s work.

The first of the 3 years I was in Nicaragua with Paz Naz (the church I grew up in) on a mission trip. The 2nd of the 3 I was on the World Race and celebrated my birthday with my squad of 42 in Cambodia and had the privilege of going to Angkor Wat. This 3rd year I am in Belize on another mission trip with Paz Naz and there is no place I would rather be.

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(My birthday in Nicaragua [2013] working a medical clinic)

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(My birthday in Cambodia [2014] while on the World Race)

My heart beats with excitement when I am traveling, especially when it’s for Jesus. My birthday is a reminder that I was put on this earth for a purpose. That I was born into the family I was born into for a reason. And God wants me to use my life for him everyday not just my birthday! And when I say YES to his call, I end up in other countries on my birthday!

There is something about giving from yourself for the benefit of others. There is something about seeing the smiles on people’s faces when you are able to bless them. There is something about being selfless that gives you pure joy. It is humbling and honoring at the same time. This isn’t something you have to travel out of the country to do. It is something you can do in your own backyard!

On my dear friend Mary’s birthday this year, she made dinner for her friends. She wanted to bless others on her own birthday! With her own money, she bought everything she would need to make dinner, and served her friends. Another dear friend, Kari, planned her own birthday party, in her own backyard around her family and friends. She told me “I just want to be around the people I love.” These two ladies demonstrated a selfless act on the day of the year they could make the excuse “ but it’s my birthday!” And they did it because they are full of the Father’s love. I am overjoyed to call them my friends and sisters in Christ!

 

Stop. Take a moment and look at the faces of the people around you. How are you loving them? How are you a blessing to them? How are you being Jesus? Are you being selfish and thinking of only yourself or are you being selfless and looking at the needs of others?

 

How are you going to celebrate your birthday this year?

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

In Over My Head

I am WAY in over my head. What am I doing?

There is so much to do for the kingdom. So many people to reach. So many hearts to be transformed. What am I doing?

I think of the ways God has used me, and the divine appointments he has set up, and think, “Wow, God used someone like me to touch the heart of his child. There is so much more to do!”

It becomes overwhelming when you think about the big picture. But God is telling me to focus on the person in front of me. Take one step at a time.

When I was in South Africa, I went to the gym with 2 other teammates, Zach and Kyle. We went every Monday- Friday morning at 5:30 to get a workout in and be done in time to shower and be ready for the rest of the day with our team. There was a personal trainer at this gym who took a liking to me and my friends. Every morning this man greeted me, and as the mornings progressed we shared more and more. I told him I was a missionary here in South Africa, and he told me of the many other jobs he had. Zach, Kyle, and I smiled at him, said hi to him, talked with him, and our last day at the gym we prayed with and for him.

Two months later I received a message from this personal trainer that he had accepted Jesus into his heart and it was because of us that he saw Jesus and wanted what we had!

Praise Jesus! God used me, Zach and Kyle to meet this man where he was, give him our time, which lead him to Jesus.

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I think about all the millions of people who don’t know Jesus yet and I ask myself, how am I going to reach all of them? I am in over my head. There is so much to do and only God can help us accomplish it. What does he ask from us? To be a vessel. To say “Yes God, use me!”

But it takes boldness. It takes stepping out of your comfort zone. It takes being uncomfortable.

Smile at the next person you pass. Take time out of the busyness to talk with someone you may not normally talk to. You never know how God can use you. He could use you to plant a seed of Jesus in someone.

I love Jesus so much and I want everyone to experience him and love him too! I want to tell the world who Jesus is and what he has done for me and for the world. I want to scream it from the rooftop, however that may not go over well so… every person I come into contact with I need to smile at them, ask them their name, take time out of my day to talk with them.

The truth is my days are not mine, they are the Lord’s.

What are you going to do with your gifted day?

Food and Presents, is that it?

Christmas has come and gone.

What happened?

Did your family gather together? Eat tons of food? Open presents?

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This is what my family did. It was nice to gather together, but have we forgotten the reason we celebrate Christmas? In all the chaos do we stop to think about what Christmas really is? It was the day over 2000 years ago when God sent his son from his glory in heaven to earth to be a helpless baby. He was born to die for us.

Can we sit and think about that for a moment? Think of how God must have felt knowing he was sending his son to earth to die. Think of how Jesus felt to leave his throne in heaven in all his glory to become a baby knowing he would grow up to die 33 years later for the people of this earth.

It’s not all glitter and ribbons, is it? We take this for granted. We sit around eating until we cannot eat anymore. Opening presents we don’t even need, and complain of the things we don’t have. That’s not what it’s all about!

We should be celebrating that we have been saved by the birth and the death of Jesus. Christmas is where it all begins for us.

Jesus' birth

I couldn’t help but think of the places I have been and the people I have met this past year. God gave me the opportunity to go to 11 different countries and meet his children all around the world! As I sat there in my parent’s living room watching my cousins and siblings open the presents they received, I couldn’t help but think of the bar girls and prostitutes putting on a fake smile for customers, the kids living on the streets, the orphans without families. I got an overwhelming feeling and my heart was breaking for this world.

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(Orphans in Swaziland)

Have we missed it? We are so consumed with ourselves here in America; we have lost sight of what is going on around us and who Jesus is.

I have been praying to see people the way God does and to have his heart, and on Christmas that is what I got. God gave me a glimpse of what he was seeing and his heart was broken. It was broken for the people who have nothing, and for the people who have everything. This was so overwhelming I began to cry. This isn’t even half of what God sees; I can’t even imagine.

I don’t want to make you feel bad for all you have; it’s a blessing, but take that blessing and use it.

In this next year let’s change something. Let’s open our eyes to the things and the people God has placed around us. Let’s love without an agenda. Let’s give without wanting something in return.

 

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 9:6

nikkiromani.theworldrace.org

Let Your Light Shine

For a number of months I have been praying people see and feel a light when I simply walk pass them. The Holy Spirit lives inside of me, inside all who call Jesus their Savior. We are a light to the dark world. By following Jesus, we must represent him and allow him to use us as a light source. Christ followers are his light.

The book The Veil by Blake Healy is about Blake who sees in the spiritual realm. He sees angels and demons. He said the spiritual realm is more real than the physical and we all have the ability to see it if we lift our veils. He described a time when a group of believers were walking down a street and as they walked they had a stream of light following them. Everywhere they walked the light followed and touched the people in their path. There was freshness in the atmosphere as they walked down the street. This is something I have been praying for. I want a light to follow me. When people see me, I want them to see Jesus and feel his presence. Jesus lives inside of me. In the Bible, as Paul walked down the street his shadow healed people because he has the power and authority of Jesus.

I was in Laos at a mini mart with my friend Erica. An older Swedish man came up to us and began a friendly conversation. Shortly after exchanging words and smiles he asked us if we were tourists. We told him yes and he couldn’t believe it. He responded with, “You can’t be tourists, you’re too nice!” He then wanted us to meet his friends, a young Lao family who were waiting outside for him. He wanted to introduce us and it seemed as though he wanted to show us off to his friends. He didn’t want us to leave. Erica and I were meeting up with our friends for dinner and this man wanted us to stay. He didn’t want our presence to be gone. But it wasn’t us at all; it was Jesus.

After we left this man, Erica and I looked at each other and began smiling and laughing. This was a confirmation and an answer to my prayer! He saw something different in us. Something that other people do not carry. He didn’t want us to leave. We carry Jesus with us. We carry a light with us and this man saw it and felt it. Whether he knows what it is or not, my prayer is that he looks for that feeling again. My prayer is he finds Jesus!

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

 “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” John 8:12

“God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5

In order for a light to shine its brightest it must be in darkness. Embrace the darkness because in the dark times your light will shine.

Let your light shine. Do not hide it. Do not be afraid to let it out.

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(Sunrise at Ankgor Wat in Cambodia)

Shine BRIGHT like the sunrise lights up the sky

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(Buddha Park in Laos)

Shine BRIGHT in the darkness

Take a Leap of Faith

This week the New Year begins, and on my mind is what is coming up for me in this new year. This week I am leaving to go on an 11 month mission trip and traveling to 11 different countries. God called me to go back in April of 2013 and I can’t believe the time has come for me to leave! This is unlike anything I have ever done before. Be away from home for almost a year! Live in different cultures for almost a year! And better yet I have to carry everything I own on my back for almost a year and sleep in a tent! What did I sign up for?

I had to take a leap of faith. I have had no doubt in my mind that this is what God wants me to do in 2014. I have certainly tried to talk myself out of it a few times, but time and time again God reveals himself to me and confirms this trip, this leap of faith is exactly what I am supposed to do at this point in my life.

As I prepare to leave by packing all my belongings for the next year in a backpack, and saying “good-bye” or “see you later” to my friends and family, and can’t help but think of all the events and birthdays and trips I am going to miss and reflect on the events of this past year. I am sacrificing all that I have in order to follow Jesus, but he made the ultimate sacrifice. He sacrificed his life in order for us to be free! Free to follow him. Free to live a life for him. Free to travel the world for him!

Nevertheless, I am also looking towards the future and have excitement for all that God has planned for me. I don’t know what it is, but I know it’s not going to be boring in the slightest.

This next year is going to be a year of complete faith. I am jumping out of my comfort zone and into something only God knows. It’s scary and exciting at the same time.

For those of you who don’t know, I am going on a trip called the World Race. It is through a Christian organization called Adventures in Missions. I am on a squad of 47 people all between the ages of 21-35. We are going to 11 countries in 11 months to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We will be traveling to Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Thailand, Malaysia, Burma, Cambodia, Philippines, South Africa, and Swaziland.

Please keep me and the rest of my squad in your prayers and follow my adventure on my World Race blog- nikkiromani.theworldrace.org.

   A squad

 In 2014, are you going to live by FAITH? Would you take a leap of faith for Jesus and do WHATEVER he calls you to do?

Listen to his call on your life. You will not regret it.

“Live by FAITH, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7