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Tag Archives: Nicki Koziarz

  • Focus Brings Freedom

    Posted on July 2, 2015 by Family Christian

    Nicki Koziarz JULY 2, 2015

    Focus Brings Freedom
    NICKI KOZIARZ

    "Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’ So they called the blind man and said to him, ‘Have courage! Get up; He’s calling for you.’" Mark 10:49 (HCSB)

    A few months ago, my daughter’s 4x800-meter relay team made it to the State Track and Field Championships. My daughter told me her only goal was to beat the team with the yellow uniforms.

    Her competitive nature has at times thrown off her running ability, so I looked my girl in the eye and said, "Taylor, remember: Stay in your lane. Run hard. And pass the baton!" She nodded her head and took off.

    And do you know what happened? Her team not only finished the race strong, but they beat the school record!

    Focus brought her freedom.

    Some time later, as I came across the story of Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52, I was captured by the focus of this blind beggar. There he sat on the side of a road in Jericho calling out to Jesus for mercy.

    But Jesus seemed to just pass him by.

    The Bible tells us that many people around the beggar told him to be quiet. But he was focused and just kept calling out to Jesus.

    Finally, the man was told "Take heart. Get up; he is calling you," (Mark 10:49b, ESV). After a short exchange, Jesus told Bartimaeus his faith had healed him, and he became whole and able to see.

    Bartimaeus’ focus brought him freedom.

    It is so easy for me to lose focus. Even while writing this devotion, I’ve turned away three times to look at something else on the Internet. But I want to have this extreme focus Bartimaeus had, so when Jesus is passing by through my everyday life, I’m ready.

    I don’t want to miss miracle moments with Jesus because I allow life to distract and detour me.

    So today, to help me focus, I’m reminding myself (and you, my friends) those same three things I told my daughter:

    1. Stay in your lane.
    We have everything we need to encounter Jesus, right where we are. We are not invisible. Jesus sees us. Just stay in place.

    2. Run hard.
    Persevere like Bartimaeus. He had the benefit of encountering Jesus face-to-face in that moment, but through the work of the Holy Spirit we now have the benefit of having Him with us at all times. Keep praying. Keep meditating on the Truth of God’s Word. Stay the course. Keep speaking His Name.

    3. Pass it on.
    The last verse of this story says, " … Immediately he could see and began to follow Him on the road" (Mark 10:52b, HCSB). I smiled when I read that. It’s as if Bartimaeus thought, "I am the proof of Jesus' touch and so where He goes, I will go!"

    What has Jesus done in you that others need to see? Pass on the proof.

    Stay in your lane. Run hard. And pass it on. No matter how blurry life seems to be, focus on Jesus will always bring us freedom.

    God, help me to see You passing me by today. I want to encounter all the miracle moments You have for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Mark 10:51, "Then Jesus answered him, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ ‘Rabbouni,’ the blind man told Him, ‘I want to see!’" (HCSB)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Visit Nicki Koziarz’ blog today to win a beautiful framed print with a reminder of today’s devotion!

    Sometimes focusing on Jesus happens best when we underwhelm our schedule, so God can overwhelm our soul. You might enjoy The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands by Lysa TerKeurst.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What is one thing that distracts you from focusing on Jesus?

    What can you do today to keep your focus on Him? Share your ideas in our comment section. You never know how you might "pass on" some encouragement to someone else reading the comments.

    © 2015 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • What’s it Like on the Other Side of Me?

    Posted on June 1, 2015 by Family Christian

    Nicki Koziarz JUNE 1, 2015

    What’s it Like on the Other Side of Me?
    NICKI KOZIARZ

    "But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’" James 4:6 (ESV)

    Did you know it’s possible to get demoted from Room Mom to Assistant Room Mom?

    It is.

    It all started at the school open house. My little pig-tailed daughter and I walked into her new teacher’s classroom. She greeted us with a warm smile and told us to look around the room and check out all the papers that were on her desk.

    I knew what papers were on the desk, so I quickly made my way there.

    And there it was …

    The purple sign-up sheet, listing all the volunteer roles for the year. And with a blank line next to the most coveted spot for all the moms at this school.

    Room Mom.

    Room Mom seemed like a Pinterest dream come true for me. The chance to be at my daughter’s school for all her important events and to unleash my DIY skills!

    I couldn’t believe the space was blank. It was never, ever blank by the time I got to the open house each year. So I quickly wrote my name down and went home to get my party-momma hat on.

    This is going to be the best year ever!

    And it was … for about four weeks.

    In the midst of all the Room Mom excitement, several doors of opportunity opened up for me in other areas of my life. I took on a part-time job, began speaking at events and my afternoons were spent shuffling kids to this activity, and then to that activity.

    Before I knew it, I was completely overloaded. I was desperately trying to fulfill all the commitments I had made, including Room Mom. However, returning emails in a timely manner became hard and my availability to help cut out crafts became limited.

    And after my Fall FAIL party craft [Pinterest lies. Oh how it lies!], one of the other moms began to get frustrated with me.

    Soon after, I got an email from my daughter’s teacher explaining that she felt like this other mom might have "more time" to fulfill the Room Mom assignments and suggested I assist her.

    Well then.

    To be honest, the teacher was right. The other mom could do this Room Mom thing in her sleep. She was great at it! And she did have more time to offer than I did.

    Still, something inside me ached in knowing people had become so frustrated with me, and I had no idea. Pride had clouded my vision. I couldn’t even see how my overloaded schedule was affecting the people around me. I just kept telling myself I was doing the best I could.

    In reality, I needed to admit my overload and ask for help.

    So now, when I’m sensing my schedule is overwhelmed, I ask myself the best reflective question I’ve found:

    Right now, what is it like to be on the other side of me?

    After I ask that question, I take notice of the commitments I’ve made and adjust them to avoid frustrating the people who are depending on me to fulfill my obligations.

    Right now, what is it like to be on the other side of me?

    This question helps me pause, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show me anything I need to change.

    Right now, what is it like to be on the other side of me?

    It’s the question that helps me step into conflict and see the perspective of the person I’ve offended or frustrated.

    Yes, this question leads to a hard-humble place. But it’s also a grace-filled place, like James describes in our key verse today.

    When I pause to ask what its like to be on the other side of me, God gives me a perspective that is beyond what I can see. And no, I’ve never checked that Room Mom box again. [smile]

    Lord, thank You for the grace You bring to us through humility. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Proverbs 11:2, "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." (NIV)

    Proverbs 15:33, "Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the LORD, and humility comes before honor." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    For more wisdom on making wise choices with your schedule pick up a copy of The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst.

    For a chance to win a copy of The Best Yes visit Nicki Koziarz’s blog today!

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What is an area of your life where pride has slipped in and clouded your ability to see things for what they are? Tell us in the comment section today.

    Pray and ask God to help you answer the question Nicki posed today: "Right now, what is it like to be on the other side of me?" Then walk humbly in His grace by apologizing to someone and seeking to make amends.

    © 2015 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • What Does Real Love Look Like?

    Posted on April 13, 2015 by Family Christian

    Nicki Koziarz APRIL 13, 2015

    What Does Real Love Look Like?
    NICKI KOZIARZ

    "And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’" Matthew 25:40 (ESV)

    She’s a name-dropper.

    The kind of woman who always needs the world to know what famous person tweeted at her, liked her post or followed her on Instagram. She’s always at the important meetings, the ones where the people in charge see her. And she schedules lunches and coffee dates with people who can take her career further.

    We all know this woman. She’s our neighbor. Our co-worker. Our ministry leader. She’s everywhere.

    And maybe, at times, there’s a little bit of this woman in each of us.

    The world tells us in order to go higher we must surround ourselves with people who will take us higher. Our mommas taught us at a young age we will become like those we keep close. And in high school we grouped together with people who were like-minded.

    While I understand the importance of keeping company with the right kind of people, I see Jesus taking a different approach at times as I study His life in the Bible.

    It’s true Jesus had good friends like His disciples, Mary, Martha and Lazarus. But as I look closely at the steps of Jesus, I see He invested a lot of His time into the "least of these:" the poor, the hungry, the broken, the weak and the people who had absolutely nothing to offer Him.

    Jesus always had a genuine concern and focus on people in need.

    If we are always surrounding ourselves with the "best of these," how will we ever truly learn to love the least of these?

    It’s an honest question to reflect on as we go about our days, make our schedules and choose where to invest our energy. But I don’t really know if in Jesus’ eyes this concept of serving the least of these is optional.

    Do I always get this right? Goodness no.

    My excuses for a lack of service to those in need are shameful:

    • I’m too busy.
    • I already give so much.
    • I don’t have what they need.
    • I forgot.

    God blesses us so that we may bless others. May we be compelled to take our eyes off ourselves and turn our heads to the right and to the left. Let us see those around us in need and give whatever we have to bless them.

    Here are three ways to do this right now:

      1. Spend time with someone who has nothing to give back to you.

     

      1. Ask God if there’s anything you have in your possession that could bless someone else. Maybe it’s a coat, a pair of shoes, a purse, jewelry … what can you give up to bless another?

     

    1. Write a note of encouragement to someone who is down, sick or weary. Tell her specific things you are praying over her life.

    We don’t always need to be with the "best of the best." There is life, love and opportunities to expand our souls if we will humble ourselves and become just a little bit more like Jesus today and serve the least of these.

    God, help us to see those in need today. Help our lives ring loudly as we take steps to serve others more than ourselves. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Hebrews 6:10, "God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them." (NIV)

    1 John 3:18, "Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Looking for a creative way to send a note of encouragement? Check out this unique notecard set.

    For more ways to say yes to God, check out Lysa TerKeurst’s book What Happens When Women Say Yes to God.

    For more ideas on how to bless someone in need visit Nicki Koziarz’s blog.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Why do you think we are naturally drawn toward surrounding ourselves with "the best of the best"?

    What is one thing you will do this week to focus on the "least of these"? Share it with us in the comment section today.

    © 2015 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • You Be You

    Posted on March 17, 2015 by Family Christian

    Nicki Koziarz MARCH 17, 2015

    You Be You
    NICKI KOZIARZ

    "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves …" Philippians 2:3 (NIV)

    A few months ago, I had to have a semi-hard conversation with a friend. I say semi-hard because this friend and I have the kind of relationship where we can say what we need to say and move on. But still, it wasn’t fun.

    She was struggling because someone had started a business similar to hers. And this other person had a good following, a respectable reputation and decent potential to have a thriving business.

    And my friend admittedly felt threatened.

    But she didn’t just feel threatened, she started acting threatened.

    A sense of panic rushed over her as she verbally weighed all the possibilities of what could happen with this new business scenario. For several days I watched her wrestle through a roller coaster of jealous emotions.

    Each time she would say something about this new business owner, I would take a deep breath as my stomach twisted and turned. I knew I needed to say something, but I didn’t want to hurt her already fragile spirit.

    So one afternoon, while we were on the phone discussing this other business, I gently walked her through all the reasons why her business was awesome. I reassured her I was with her, but then, I said something really hard: "You gotta let her be her and you be you. You are both called and chosen to do this assignment. Not either-or. But this anxiety you feel … it has the potential to ruin you."

    I don’t think it’s what she wanted me to say in that moment, but it’s what she needed me to say.

    I know, because I needed someone to say it to me years ago when I walked through a similar situation. I let being threatened by someone else’s success ruin days and weeks of my life. And it took what seemed like forever to get over it.

    Here’s the thing friends, I know what "she’s" doing looks really awesome. And "she" makes it look effortless. And maybe "she" can do it better. But "she" is also called, chosen and set apart by God for a purpose.

    And so are you.

    One thing I’ve come to understand about God is He’s got enough purpose and potential to go around. And His purpose isn’t a battlefield for competition; it’s a safe haven of calling.

    The secret to doing something confidently (yet humbly) for God?

    Be with Jesus.

    Humility is the by-product of His presence flowing in our lives.

    When we are in His presence, He gives us the confidence to believe we are created to do something great with our lives. His presence whispers assurance over our souls when we feel vulnerable.

    And His presence gives us the ability to cheer on that girl next to us, no matter how threatened we feel.

    I need our key verse today, Philippians 2:3, to help me remember how much value God places on being humble with the gifts and talents He’s given me. My gifts are not to make myself better than the girl next to me. And because of this verse, I’m reminded to value what she’s doing, even more than what I’m doing.

    This is hard to do. It takes guts to release your insecurities to God and confidently be yourself while watching someone else live out your dream. But it’s more than possible. Great favor and blessing flows from being a cheerleader for God’s women.

    My friend and I are both still working through this struggle each day. Neither one of us has perfected humble-confidence. But we are both trying our best to put our insecurities to the side each day and run fiercely towards the process of godly success.

    God, thank You for creating me with unique gifts and talents. Help me embrace the place where I am with confidence and assurance. Forgive me when I look to the girl next to me with a spirit of competition and envy. I trust You have enough purpose and plans to go around. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Philippians 2:4, "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." (ESV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Save the date! If you’re looking for a community to cheer you on as you study God’s Word, check out Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies (OBS) next selection, What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst. Registration opens next week, and the OBS begins April 13!

    If you believe this is a needed message for the women in your church or community, maybe God is leading you to plan an event for them. Click here to invite Nicki Koziarz to speak at your event.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Do you think it’s hard for women to be confidently humble? Why or why not? We’d love to hear your opinion on this in the devotions comment section today.

    Who needs your voice of cheer today? Send a note, a tweet or write on her Facebook wall and tell her how excited you are about what God is doing in her life. You’ll be amazed at what happens to your soul.

    © 2015 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Sing It, Girl

    Posted on February 4, 2015 by Family Christian

    Nicki Koziarz February 4, 2015

    Sing It, Girl
    NICKI KOZIARZ

    "So that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 15:6 (NIV)

    One of my first jobs was at a little nursing home where I helped take care of patients in the Alzheimer’s unit. While caring for people battling such a difficult disease created many challenges, there was also a lot of laughter.

    Mostly because of a sweet, tiny lady named Bunny. Bunny slid her walker through the hallways singing all kinds of songs. Some of the other caregivers told me Bunny was one of the original munchkins from The Wizard of Oz. I believed it, too, as she was something incredible!

    As Bunny would party through the hallways, the other patients echoed her melody and amusing sounds filled the air. As I’d pass Bunny on my rounds, I’d look at her and say, "Sing it, girl!" And then, she’d take it up a notch and we’d laugh until our sides ached.

    Bunny’s sounds made everyone’s experience at the nursing home much brighter.

    Here’s the thing: While it’s true not everyone can sing (Hello, have you seen American Idol?), we all have some type of voice flowing from our lives.

    But is it a harmonious sound, or is it just noise? Because there is a difference.

    One definition for noise is "a nonharmonious or discordant group of sounds." When we go back further, we learn the word "noise" originated from the Latin word "nausea" meaning "sea sickness."

    Using those definitions, noise is annoying and no one wants to hear it. It’s hard to think over noise. Ever hear a momma say to a room full of kids banging on toys, "Quit making all that noise!" It’s distracting at best, and downright painful at worst.

    Bunny’s singing wasn’t perfect, and sometimes it got really loud, but it always accomplished the same thing: joy.

    It was a sound that needed to be heard.

    I like today’s key verse, Romans 15:6, because it paints a clear picture about what it means to be a sound of God: "So that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

    One voice, which elevates God.

    I don’t want to make noise with my life. I want to make sounds this generation desperately needs to hear so that they, too, will love God.

    The sound of God is one of peace, joy, gentleness and harmony. It’s also a sound that unifies us, not divides us. I think noise would be everything opposite: hate, conflict and rudeness.

    So, here’s the question I’m asking myself each day about what’s flowing from me:

    Is this a sound I’m making today or is it just noise?

    I know I won’t always be right on key, but I want the sounds I make to elevate God, encourage others and bring joy to dark places. To bring harmony where there is discord.

    And you, my friend, have a powerful sound ready to flow through you. So go … "Sing it, girl!"

    God, thank You for the perfect sound, which came from heaven, Jesus. Help us to live our lives making that sound more joyful each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 Corinthians 13:1, "If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." (NIV)

    Psalm 19:14, "May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    If you’re looking to speak words that others long to hear, Karen Ehman’s latest book, Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It and When to Say Nothing at All, might be a helpful resource for you.

    For more encouragement from Nicki Koziarz, visit her blog.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What are some areas in your life that are keeping you from making a powerful sound to elevate God? Take some time and ask God for wisdom on overcoming those situations.

    © 2015 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Found Hope

    Posted on November 27, 2012 by Nicki Koziarz

    Nicki

    "For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." Romans 15:4 (NASB)

    We were out of options. The day the Sherriff's car pulled into our driveway, I knew what was coming. After a series of unfortunate events, things had gone from bad to worse to hopeless.

    Her friendly, official, sheriff smile did nothing to relieve the emotional discomfort of this dreadful moment. The neighbors peeked through their blinds to see what was happening.

    As she handed me the papers, I took them with tears in my eyes.

    Looking at the baby in my arms and toddler peeking out from behind me, this kind woman genuinely said, "I'm sorry."

    "Thank you," I whispered, as I slowly closed the door.

    I sat down on our stairs and read through the official documents. Elaborate lawyer terms, forceful sounding laws I didn't understand, and words bolded in dark ink conveyed the dreadful news; "You must vacate the premises within thirty days."

    Foreclosure.

    It was unwanted and unavoidable. It felt shameful and embarrassing. And the foreclosure of our home was an aching process of letting go.

    The carefully painted mustard-yellow walls: I would miss them so much. How would I survive without the daily afternoon play dates with my neighbor and her children? And what about all those hot dog dinners my husband and I ate to save pennies to buy this sweet home?

    So much was about to be taken from us. Just like that.

    I didn't understand why God would allow us to walk this humbling road. We had trusted Him, why hadn't He provided?

    Any hope I had left in God faded fast. It wasn't something I could muster back up on my own. No, I needed others to fill the gap for me.

    In scripture Paul wrote, "For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." (Romans 15:4 NASB)

    I learned during this devastating season, when our hearts become grounds of broken dreams, we may need to turn to the hope others have found.

    The Bible holds deep historical roots of hope waiting for us to uncover.

    We can find hope because ...

    Abraham and Sarah found hope by believing while it seemed impossible for them to get pregnant, it was possible for God. (Genesis 15, 17-18)

    We can find hope because ...

    Ruth and Naomi found hope by moving their lives forward after losing their family. (Ruth 3)

    We can find hope because ...

    Mary and Martha found hope when they saw Jesus could do anything, including raising their brother from the dead. (John 11)

    As I closed the door to our home for the last time, I accepted this place of brokenness. But I also made a choice to find hope no matter what.

    I found hope through the eyes of wonder my daughters had as they explored our new rental house. I found hope when my mom helped me unpack our boxes and organize toys. I found hope when my husband's heart drew closer to mine through this difficult experience.

    Hope is at the core of who we are as followers of Jesus. As we allow hope to flow into us, it will flow through us even in the most difficult circumstances.

    If you feel hopeless in this season of your life, will you look back at those who had hope in Scripture to give you courage to have hope for your future? Hope, it heals our broken dreams.

    Dear Lord, thank You for the hope You give us to heal the broken places in our lives. May we have the strength to find hope in all the places that feel hopeless today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    If you are feeling hopeless, reach out to someone and ask her to share a time where God has given hope.

    What is an area in your life you are seeking hope from God? Leave a comment today and let's share our hope struggles.

    Power Verses:
    1 Peter 1:3, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (NIV)

    Romans 5:5, "And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." (NIV 1984)

    © 2012 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

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WHAT WE'RE ABOUT

“to look after orphans and widows in their distress...” James 1:27 NIV

Our heartbeat is to help orphans and widows in need, as our Father calls us to do.
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