Don't Be Next!






Don’t be next! 92 people lost their lives and many of the deaths were preventable if the people had just listened to the warning. If they had just followed the signs and trusted that, others knew what just might be best for them. Stay behind, stay away and respect! Those are clear directions, yet they still did not head the warning and it cost them their life.


As I looked over the sign and onto the cliffs, I could see why such a warning would be necessary. The rough jagged edges of the rocks, the pounding of the waves on the cliffs and the unforeseen undertow was enough to keep me faraway from ever taking such a journey. For a minute, I couldn't’t help but think to myself “they need to put a sign up for that?” It was obvious that danger lurked just inches away from me, it was obvious that the cliffs would win and the rocks would rule, yet people still ignored the signs.


I quickly thought about my own life and how God has given me warning signs in the form of commands all through out His Word. The more I studied the warning signs in front of me, the more I started to reflect on the writings in Hebrews I had just studied hours earlier. It was God’s warnings, His commands that He gave to our ancestors through Moses and then I heard Paul loud and clear again this morning about warning us as followers to make sure we are resting.


As I stood there in front of the man made sign, I could not help but picture our ancestors, taking an early morning stroll, probably similar to the one I was taking and all of a sudden, they come across a warning sign as well and it read something like this.


____________________________________________________________________ Don't Be Next!
Since the crossing of the Red Sea, from the days of Moses leading, whole generations have lost their lives due to their unbelief. Along the journey and through the desert, they never made it into the Promise Land, they never entered into His rest.
Help Prevent Exhaustion, burn out and death!
Stay Behind and rest.
Stay Away from just one more thing.
Respect His commands.
____________________________________________________________________
This warning sign is the reason I am away from my family, friends and ministry at this moment. I arrived here in Santa Cruz on Monday afternoon, a much planned and intentional time of pulling away and pressing my ears into the voice of God.
I understand the consequences of not resting and I am so grateful for His command to do so. It is written that God gets angry with His children because they do not follow His warning. He got angry when the Israelites did not rest in Him. I thought about that and as a parent, it makes perfect sense. When my teenage daughter is up all night, going all day and not hearing my warning about resting and then spends a day in bed, sick and tired, I find myself angry as well, not at her but at what she has done to herself and the toll it takes on her body, mind and sprit. My anger is healthy and it’s because I love her that I want her to rest, so that she can be all that she has been called to be.
That is the kind of anger I see my heavenly Father havening, because He loves me so much and has such a wonderful plan for my life.My creator knows me so well that on my own, I would work myself to death, and I would live an empty unfulfilled life and wonder why? The Promise Land is not found in the doing but in the being, which is why it is so important that I find time to rest in Him. The scriptures make it clear that unbelief prevents all of us from resting in Him, their for, unbelief will keep us from entering The Promise Land. I don’t care how hard we work for the Lord, His requirement for access to the Land is rest not work.
How many of us have died outside the very place we were trying to reach?So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.Hebrews 3:19Many of you have shared with me that you just don’t have the time. That is a false belief, which in turn is unbelief and why entering His rest is impossible. The truth is, we all have the same amount of time. We have to make time to rest, we have to belief that God will take care of the rest even when it seems like it is impossible to step away for just a while. Don’t hold on to your false beliefs any longer. Don't be the next!
Here is my encouragement my challenge to any of you who are dying in the doing and missing out in the rest. STOP! Even if it is just for a moment, you can find rest in Him anytime, anywhere at any place. It doesn’t feel right at first because it goes against the grain. We live and breath in a society that does not stop, 24/7 access to every need, want and desire. We live in a society that promotes this kind of work ethic and to pull away could actually be a perceived as laziness or lack of commitment to a job, ministry or perhaps your even your family.
The reality is, I am committed even more to the areas of my life after I pull away and rested. It is in the resting where I get clear direction, rest and refilled up so that I can Run The Race set before me. I don’t want to die in the middle of my race because I haven’t rested.
I learned years ago that the key to running my race is knowing when to rest, knowing when to run and knowing where I am running to. So my friends, Don’t Be Next! Rest In Him!Well, it is time for me to pack my bags, say a prayer of thanksgiving and head back home to my life, with my map in hand, my journey plotted out and my relationship stronger then ever with my creator, I am ready to face the race.
If you choose to take the challenge, then I am looking forward to see you on the track.
Much Love
Cris Nole
Running My Race

Letting Go So I Can Be!

Have any of you ever given something up, only to take it back again? A good friend of mine brought me a book to read this past Sunday, written by a local Pastor and in it, he spoke of coming to the Lord daily empty handed. As I read those words, I was quickly convinced, put the book down and realized that the heaviness of my day and the weight of the load I had started to feel was from my own doing.

It did not happen over night, it actually has been a very slow process, creeping up on me ever so slowly. I found myself recently frozen in my tracks, unable to move forward in the things that use to mean so much to me and just going through the motions of my everyday life.

I had chalked it up to this time of the year, this season in my life and even an illness I deal with daily. But the truth being told is that I took back my own agenda, schedule and to do lists, I started holding on to them rather tightly over the last several weeks and months, instead of coming to God every morning empty handed, actually handing over what I thought I needed to do trusting that He would lead me.

This morning I made a commitment to myself to do just that. Woke up, took my list of things I had to do and surrendered them all, every one of them. What I came to realize is that when God is leading me, it is relationships first and the rest falls into place. The tasks for me naturally follow, I am fueled by connecting with others, which then gives me the energy to get the tasks done naturally, and they become second nature.

When I hold on to my lists, my schedules, I become task driven, success focused and I loose sight of the most important calling of my life and that is to just wear HIM well. Jesus set the ultimate example of being in the moment and being in relationships, He was never to busy, too tired or too consumed with His to do lists to stop and listen to those in His path.

Today, my goal was not to check off every thing on my list but rather accomplish those things that I felt led to accomplish and be OK with those I did not but amazingly enough, everything got down, something I haven't been able to say in quite sometime.

Between all this I was able to meet a good friend for breakfast, finish most of my Christmas shopping, touch basis with three different ministries, attend a doctors appointment, make dinner, go on a run, spend time with some good friends this afternoon, read a great book, make dinner, clean out my office, prepares to wrap Christmas presents, make a handful of phone calls, set a date with my husband and end the evening reading with the kids and my mom, WOW! All because I came empty handed before the Lord at the beginning of my day.

Friends, I share this with you not to boast but rather to give you hope. Because it is a struggle for me, it is such backwards thinking in our world today. On my own, nothing ever seems to be done, completed or started. Many good ideas are thought about, goals are set and a few things happen but when I trust God, it seems like the impossible happens and I find myself ready to wake up with open arms once again, truly surrendering, not so that I can do but so that I can be.

Happy Birthday Daughter!


I cannot believe my girl turned 14 today. We started out at Starbucks, worked our way to the mall and then ended up at BJ's for dinner. The most precious thing she said was to her 12-year-old brother, while shopping at the mall today she looked at him and said, "The best gift is you just being here with me." Now anyone who knows my 12-year-old son knows what a big deal this was. He did not peep one word of complaint the whole time; instead, he just smiled and followed, as we would pop into one store after another until she found the perfect pair of shoes. What amazed me about the whole day was how peaceful she was and content with what she was getting. We are watching our wallets because a wedding is coming up in the near future of our oldest daughter and so we had a limit to work with today and guess what? My girl was so OK with that. I see the fruit of the spirit just dripping from her character more and everyday. She is far from perfect my any means but what I do see is that she has a true heart for repentance and a gift of communication, which makes her a joy to be around.

I think my favorite part about parenting her at this age is the way she is not afraid to dream. She knows her God is big and therefore so is her dreams. She lives a life full of color, laughter and life that is just amazing to watch. She has a bold spirit, speaks, and lives the truth. She is not afraid to fall down and admit her failures and she knows what her greatest weaknesses are and understands her strength, something I did not get until I was way into my 30's.

So tonight, as I prepare to lay my head down, I say a special prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of this girl. God gave me the desires of my heart the day she was born and for all the dysfunction and brokenness she had been born into God has restored a 100 times over and she is living proof of the promise that God works out all things all things!!!!!! I love you Samalamadingdong to the sky and back.

Love
Your Number One Fan
Mommy

Un-Spoken Rules

My heart is broken and I engaged in a bribe just so that I could feel free to post today the devastation I went through as my 12-year-old boy told me to shut up. Well, those were not the exact words he spoke to me but he might as well have said them, when through the changing room door I heard his half boy half-man voice come out loud and clear “could you please stop talking?” “Ouch!” What did I say that was so wrong? How could he treat me with such disrespect? Here I was, taking time out of my busy day to make sure he had clothes to cover his ever-growing limbs and just wanted to check to make sure there was not any other needs he might have, that of course is where it all went wrong.

Apparently, I broke one of those unspoken rules, you know, we all have them. There are things we would say in private that we might not in public. Ways we might act behind closed doors but never on a stage. They are different for each one of us but we all have them. “Honestly, son, I did not know it was a rule”.

I find it ironic because this is an area that I find very intriguing, the dreaded unspoken polices that so many people have, rules we all follow that can’t be found in a play book or instruction manual. The dilemma that I have with these silent set of self-induced laws is this. Because they are not spoken of how in the world am I suppose to know how to follow them. I find that it is only when I break the unspoken rules do I have a chance at finding out what they really are. I am not a rebel without a cause, I am not against systems and regulations that help us feel safe within our circles. I do not like making people feel uncomfortable or noticed. I just want to know the rules.

So, here I was with my 12 year old man child, he was on one side of the dressing room trying on pants while I innocently stood on the outside waiting to see if they fit. I know most of you who know me must be chuckling, thinking “innocently”?, fair enough. There are times when I have been known to mess with my children and thank God for amends and forgiveness but this was truly an innocent mistake. I am treading on new waters, raising a boy and finding out that there are just something’s boys do not talk about in public or private unlike girls.

As he was trying on new pants, going back and forth about them fitting, I simply asked if he needed new underwear. I proceeded to ask about the ones he had on today, the ones that were hanging outside his pants hiked up to his chest, OK, maybe not that far but I am sure you get the picture. Moreover, truthfully, I would not be surprised if he was thinking at the time, “you hypocrite,” See, I am the last person to be coaching anyone on underwear etiquette and that is another blog in itself. As I finished my inquiring about the apparent need and paused to get his response all I could hear was dead silence, followed by a grunt and then he did it. He told me to shut up, close your mouth woman, you have nothing meaningful to say!. Shut up! OK, that was my negative distorted hearing that I like to use when I feel sorry for myself and want to drag others with me, hope you did not buy it, especially if you know my boy.

Even though I could not see his eyes, I would have bet big bucks on the fact that as he firmly and boldly spoke out “would you please stop talking”, his eyes were rolling at the same time. I was taken back, hurt and pained at the fact that he was really telling me to shut up in the most respectful way. Standing on the other side of the dressing room was my boy fighting to become a man and really putting me in my place, introducing me for the first time to one of his un-spoken rules. As he came out, looked up at me with those big blue eyes that said, “Please don’t say another word” the revelation hit me.

I quietly and gently just leaned in and said “guys don’t talk about their underwear to each other especially in public, right?” With a smile across his face and his shoulders flared back he said in all confidence to me “that is right”! I was amazed and I continued to break the unspoken rule as we walked through the department store. However, I was speaking in a quieter voice but I needed to know. Raising two girls, having lots of sisters and girlfriends we don’t have that rule, it’s just the opposite. We can talk for hours about our underwear in public, in line with them in our hands and not even think twice.

As we were making our way to the check out line, I leaned in to get close to his ear and just said, “ You would never talk about your underwear with another guy?” His head flipping back, eyes making contact with mine he said, “The only time it is OK is if it is about a wedgey” he quickly turned his head away and the conversation was done. I am so visual, that is all he needed to say to shut me up. The point was taken, the pants were purchased, and my wheels started turning.

When we got into the car I brought up to him about un-spoken rules and how we all have them and shared with him the lesson I had just learned from our own experience in the dressing room. Here is where the bribe came in. My boy knows me so well and he ordered me not to blog about this. Can you believe it? I am the grown up for goodness sake but I got it and told him I would just journal about it and he still didn’t want that. So I proceeded of course to give him a little government lesson in free speech and I believe eyes were rolling during the lesson as well.

When I got home, there were a few things he really wanted to do and one thing I really wanted to do, so, you could say we comprised, I like that better then a bribe and he got his way and I got mine. I know in his young mind that this seems to be all about the underwear and if that is what you got out of this as well then you are missing the point.

So, a challenge to all of you who come across this blog. What are some of your unspoken rules, policies that you follow that seem to dictate your actions, your feelings and possibly set you up for a false belief system. I honesty did not set out to embarrass my son and you bet next time we are shopping together I will honor his unspoken rule but I only knew that is existed because I broke it.

Fully known and fully loved.

To be fully loved we have to be willing to be fully known. I embraced this life lesson for the very first time six years ago today. Bittersweet emotions fill my heart as I take a walk down memory lane. At first glance it seems as though lose was the theme to my life and brokenness was the title of each passing chapter. As an individual I had to come to the end of myself it was there where I found a new start to life.



Face to face with my demons and my deepest darkest secrets, that is what got me a round trip ticket out of state. Was being fully known worth being fully broken? Was being fully loved worth feeling fully and completely done with myself? If I had been asked six years ago in the moment of my brokenness, I am not sure how I might have answered such a question. However, today, I would have to say without a doubt, yes!



Sitting in a pile of denial, weaving my way out of my darkness and reaching out to my creator is exactly what helped me step out of the dungeon that I had created for myself and into the light. Fearful of being fully known and fully rejected had kept my secrets locked up for over thirty years.



My husband had spent a decade himself in denial, covering up for me the messes I had left behind and the trail of dysfunction that resulted in most relationships I had touched. My young children had only known me under the influence and the abnormal was their normal.



As I spoke the truth that night six years ago, exposing my greatest weakness at the time, I could feel the weight of the secret coming off me. I was skin and bones weighing just under 90 lbs and hooked on 120 pills a day. I had tried to quit more times then I could remember but the addiction had a death grip on my life and it would not let go.



The power that finally broke the grip was exposing the truth of my addiction. I had nothing else to lose that night. I came to an understanding with myself and with my maker. I sat completely broken my heart shattered in a million pieces and my life in total chaos. I realized that I did not want to die, but I did not know how to live. I was tired of all the secrets, all the lies and deception just to feed my habits, the addictions and the hurts that were piled high from years of not dealing with them. If there was a substance that could be abused, from a pill, to a bottle from food to my body, I had done it. My mentality was if a little was good then more must be better.



I had hungered to be fully loved and completely wanted my whole life. But it wasn’t until I was willing to be fully known and completely real about who I was and what I had done, it was at that moment that I realized that I had believed a lie most of my life. “If they only new.” Four powerful words that kept me from fully exposing who I was, kept me from flying in the freedom we feel when we allow ourselves to be fully loved.



Today I am committed to being fully known and completely real about who I am, where I have been and where I am going. I have learned to embrace my past with open arms, to use my brokenness to reach out to others and never be sorry for who I am. Thank you all who have stood by my side, cheered me on, been there to catch me when I fall and loved me just the way I am.

5 Names

“Five names on you at all times.” Advice given to me six years ago as I sat in a room full of recovering drug addicts, broken and beat up by life, wondering how I was ever going to make my way back home.

I will never forget how hard it was for me to hold back all the tears when I was advised to keep a list of five people in my wallet that I could call on at any moment of the day if I found myself in trouble. The truth was I could not even count on two let alone five. I had pushed everyone who loved me away. I had put up walls that I would not let others over and shut doors that I would not let anyone open.

Today, six years later, celebrating a benchmark of my recovery process, I was brought to the same place of tears but for a very different reason. The tears today were of joy, peace and thankfulness.

We had a BBQ in the park to bring together our friends and family, to celebrate the relationships that have grown through this process and to bring together those who are most important in our lives.

We wanted to say thank you to those who have chosen to stay in the relationships with us even when they were hard and thank you to those who have just joined us on this continued journey we call life.

We could not ask for a better circle of friends and family. The blessings that come out of our struggles have been that of deeper relationships and experiences that are more meaningful.

I have learned not to take anyone for granted and to make the most of every moment count. I have learned to say what I mean and mean what I say and to love those closest to me as if the were the only ones with me.

How have I learned to do this? Well, there is a saying, “more is caught then taught.” I have watched those closest to me set the highest example of being open and authentic, choosing to be brave rather then safe, thank you, you know who you are.

Thank you all who came out today to support us, you are the reason why we can fly!

Sister Sister




Some people have birth sisters, some people have sisters in Christ but I am one of the lucky ones who has a sister in Christ who just happens to be my sister by birth. It is a double blessing, a secret in disguise and one of the most amazing relationships I have ever experienced in my life.

I just dropped my sister off at the airport, with a little sadness in my heart and a longing for more time. It felt like we had just completed a marathon of a visit. She arrived late Friday night and we did not stop until I kicked her to the curb to catch her plane. OK, I did not kick her but it was a quick goodbye or else I would have cried.

This was by far one of the best visits I had ever had with my sister. What made it so special was that we had some really good quality one on one times, late at night talking without the interruptions that come with being a mother of three, a wife, a teacher, trainer, bible study leader and that is just to name a few of the roles my sister fills. She was just Eileen my sister for three beautiful days and I am so grateful for my brother in law who stayed behind to man the household, what a great guy.

To share a past a present and a future, wilt baggage to boot can be one of the most difficult relationships to grow. I believe because of our two common denominators, family and faith, we have been able to push through the difficulty that comes when you share a family tree.

I have watched my sister grow in her faith in such away that she walks with this confidence that only comes from those who really know who holds the whole world together. She has away of making people laugh because of her outlook on life and on herself. She has taught me not to take my life or myself to serious.

So today, I celebrate the fact that I have been blessed with a sister sister. I celebrate the fact that even though she knows all about me she still loves me even more. I challenge any of you who share this same scenario to reach out, write a letter, make a phone call, text a message and just say thank you to that special one you call sister.

From My Husband

Hi Gorgeous,

I heard today, that today was tell someone how much you love them day. So here goes;

I am so looking forward to our vacation

I can’t wait to take some long walks on the beach with you

I would take a long walk on the pier, but I tend to get hurt on the pier ;-)

You are my best friend

I believe that God’s ministry for me is to be your partner and supporter and I am so looking forward to being there for you

I am so proud of you for who you are allowing God to turn you into

You are truly becoming a Proverbs 31 women

I believe this quote truly sums up our love:

True love is what you've been through with somebody.



Love always and forever…..



T

What Is Your Dream?

Please keep Steve and Donna in your prayers as they passionately pursue the dream God has planted in their hearts. They are an amazing couple with a heart for our community and my family has been blessed to have walked through the last decade with them, through the calm and through the storm and it has been worth it all.


Our Dream.

By: Steve and Donna Whiting

We would both be healthy, free from disease.

I would never set foot in JOB again! Instead, we would own a franchise of BBQ joints (not fancy, just friendly) scattered across the US. Maybe a dozen. These would be financially successful restaurants that are open to public patronization but mean much more to their communities. They will offer a free meal to anyone who needs one but cannot pay. A place where we can close the doors to the public (or not), and serve our family and friends as we gather together to worship God in music, fellowship, and with messy food.



Each restaurant will be available for church gatherings and ministry meetings at an affordable cost. They will offer catering to church events again at an affordable cost. Each restaurant will be a Christ centered fixture in their community and everyone in town will know it.

They will be profitable. Enough so that we can have a nicer home in a nicer area and never worry about finances again. So that we would be able to give freely to the charities of our choice.



These restaurants will be run so efficiently that we can get away from the business for long periods of time to do whatever we want. Wherever God takes us. Travel, cruises, ministry callings, BBQ cook-offs and competitions. And we would WIN every one of them!



Or,

We can be like Forrest Gump. So financially sound that we spend our days mowing the church lawns for a living with not a care in the world.

And when it’s all said and done and our time has come to an end-We would stand before Jesus and He would be happy.



Steve and Donna

I Am Not A Potato Chip

Think about it, how many of you would be willing to just blurt out a word in hopes of using it correctly? I am absolutely convinced that the Lord blessed me with my boy as a reminder that I must never take life to seriously. At the ripe old age of twelve, he really comes across as if he knows what he is talking about, until he decides to use a new word or he thinks he is using one correctly. Quickly he reminded of the fact that he is still just a man-child as he opened his mouth and tested my theory, thinking before he speaks, not an option.

I have to admit, I actually love this part of his personality, most of the time. As he learns to navigate through the English language, weaving in and out of new words and phrases, I find myself coming to the realization that he would rather find out the hard way then to ask what a word meant before using it. Does he see this as a challenge? Is he fighting his way from being a boy to a man?

I will spare you the gory details of some of his finer moments that will go down in his history book of what not to say. I am only hoping and praying that he hides all of our late night talks about the dangers of using words without knowing the meanings, deep in his heart. Rebellion and innocents seem to be constant companions of his pre-teen life. I can tell by the grin on his face and lifting of his brow that the testing is going on as a word rolls off his lips and into the air for anyone to catch.

On this particular day, it was pure innocents that was leading and guiding his conversation. We both sat in front of his teacher, only our second meeting of the school year, discussing the options of making up P.E. when illness has kept him out. His precious teacher looked at him and then me and proceeded to share with us that she was not worried about him not getting enough physical activity. I wonder what gave it away, how could she tell by just a few meetings that he never stops moving? Could it be the fact that he is to busy getting ready for the next event in his life that matching things like socks, shorts and shirts are not a priority to him. Just maybe the way he leaves his hair looking like the wind just blew threw it, gives his athletic abilities away. Whatever it might have been, she was right, physical activity is a number one event in his life.

As his teacher and I discussed this very thing, I shared with her how we were not T.V. watchers, how we had actually canceled our cable five years ago. When all of sudden my man-boy got this concerned look on his face as if he had to defend himself or something. Then I could see the wheels spinning as if I were inside his head, I new he was about to do it, he was going to speak without thinking, a word or two he might not even know right out of his mouth. What would his new teacher think and worse yet, what was he going to say?

He turned first to me and then to her, it looked as if he even took a deep breath and then his mouth opened up and the words came out, hands on his hips, he said, “I am not a potato chip!” Well, thank God, innocents had knocked on the door of his mouth at that moment. The laughter started deep with in me and made it’s way directly out of my mouth and off my lips, I did hold back and was careful not to laugh to hard or to loud but he knew the minute I chuckled that it happened once again.

I winked at him and said, “I think you mean couch potato.” His darling teacher quickly jumped in to save him, not knowing that this type of behavior was typical in our daily life. She smiled a smile that was so big and genuine, she hugged my son with her words and simply said, “I like potato chip better.” She then smiled at me with a look in her eyes as if to say, “what now?” We just continued on with the conversation about school, finished our meeting and went on our way.

As we got in the car, I could not help but take a quick moment to look at my son and thank God once again for the gift he gave me in him, a daily reminder of the importance of not taking life to serious. I will never look at another potato chip the same way.

Guest Blogger, My Sister Michelle!!!!!!!

To me, the two simplest words....actually the most two deceptively simple words, strung together can make the world a very different place...

I'm sorry...

To truly be sorry, without any thought of absolution or forgiveness is what I believe makes the Lord stand up and start high fiving the angels. Because of the Lord, I was able to have that moment. Read on.....


Picture this, A beautiful (yet rainy) day in Northern Michigan. I am home with the kids and simply did not care to think about making lunch. I decided...what the heck, I'll order one of those sinfully (no pun intended) good flad bread pizzas from the local pizza joint. So, I picked up the phone and called. (note: it was noon, the heart of lunch hour), they were appropriatly busy when they answered. The woman answered. " Hello, thank you for calling local pizza joint, this is Alesha, are you still at "proceeds to spit out my home address".....

"Why yes, I am still at that address"..

"What can I get for you Mrs. Dungjen"

I ordered the food I wanted, and proceeded to wait the alloted time, as given by "Alesha"..

About 40 minutes later, I noticed a miss call on my phone and not being a number I recoginzed and the lack of a message, I just assumed it was a wrong number...about a hour and fifteen minutes later I called "Alesha", to check status of my order. Much to my suprise, "Alesha" told me that they had been to my house, had called and left the area because I did not answer..........this is where is gets sort of ugly..

With my children at my knee and I, Without much thought proceeded to let this woman know exactly how displeased I was...For example...

ME: WHAT...WHY DIDNT HE LEAVE A MESSAGE AND TELL ME HE WAS RIGHT OUT FRONT AND WAIT A FEW MINUTES.....I OBVIOUSLY ORDERED THE PIZZA, SO I WANTED IT..WHO DOES THAT???

ALESHA.."I DON'T KNOW MAM, I'M NOT HIM.

ME: WELL, BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH...

It really doesn't matter does it? I was incredibly rude, insensitive..and ultimatly, really embarrased. My children had just witnessed me treating another human being like dirt..I shuffled around the kitchen for a few minutes, still angry that we werent eating this (sinfully) wonderful "feast".....brooding, and yelling to myself, "how can they screw this up, they are just down the street". (little did I know, I was trying to justify to myself, treating another person the way I did)

The next memory I have is that of the Lord himself up there wagging his forefinger at me as if to say " Michelle, you know what you have to do?"

I answered...(after a few air kicks, like a 3 year old)...I said, "Yes, Lord, I do know what I have to do. I thought I would be hesitant at this moment, but I wasnt. I said out loud to my children, "Mommy has a very important phone call to make".

I dialed the local pizza joint, (as the aforementioned caller id explained, they obviously knew it was the crazy woman calling".)

Thankfully (or maybe not), Alesha answered...

She was more than a little hesitant to answer, she said..."YES??".

I started to get very embarrased, and I said....."Hi, I am the crazy woman on 9th street that you attempted to deliver a pizza to?"

Alesha responded as I believe anyone in her position would do......." UMMMM YEAH"...

My heart sunk as I realized this woman must think I am just terrible..everthing in me wanted to yell..."NEVERMIND".and hang up..

But at that moment I prayed and God said, don't be afraid..."do the right thing"...

I said...Mam, I am so very sorry for how I treated you. I am having a bad afternoon and that is no reason to take it out on you. I am truly sorry....


......akward silent........

Alesha says" "It sounds like you have children, I have four myself mam. Please don't worry about it..

I said, "I Cant' tell you how awful I feel, you must get this crap all the time. I am honestly sorry for being so rude to you"

Alesha then proceeded to tell me how busy they get at lunch hour and that she is too sorry for any part they had it not delivering the food, etc....".

I finally told her that I made other plans for lunch, but I just didnt want the day to go by without her knowing how sorry I felt and that I really didnt feel it was her fault... Alesha was the height of professionlism, unscathed at my rudeness and very forgiving. We hung up and I felt we both can move on...

About an hour and half later (well beyond lunch, but happily close to dinner time) there was a knock at the door. It was the delivery man from "local pizza joint".. he said " Mam, we feel very bad we made a mistake today, and we happened to be in the area and wanted you to have this"...( the very pizza I ordered 4 hours ago)..

He was so sweet, could not have been more then 17. I quickly said..."WAIT, I was rude to you..you didnt have to give me anything..let me get you a tip")...He said.."really mam, its okay we were in the area and we felt bad"...I said..well I'm giving you the tip and you just made my whole week/month/year.

I did call "Alesha" back (sis, I didnt tell you this on the phone)...I just wanted to thank her. I told her that giving me a free pizza was not necessary, but I so much appreciated the thought..etc...


So where does this leave me today?

I suppose in that small moment and upon further reflection that GOD was working his miracles in me. Driving me to do the right thing, without any thought of "forgiviness". Then to realize that my children witnessed mommy making a mistake and doing her best to right it. I can only thank God that he works in this way.


" I called to you Lord and asked what do I do??, he answered..

"The Right Thing"


I bowed my head and answered...

"YES" simply, because it is the right thing to do.

I love you sis...

Michelle

Buy None Get One Free!





Come one, come all, one persons junk is another person’s treasure! It was apparent by the stream of lookie Louis, that the local residents of the community had all set their clocks so that they would all make it to the annual community yard sale on time. This particular event provided people with a way to practice their business sense, their barder skills and a great excuse to clean out their garages.

The Pointe of our participation in this particular community event was not so that we could sell treasures, practice our business skills or even clean out our garages. As a body of Christ followers, preparing to launch a new church on the grounds we were standing on, our goal was to connect with the very people in our community, the very people we live life with day in and day out, and that is precisely what we did.

As the sun came beating down hard and the day quickly warmed up. We were prepared to fill a need that our pastor had anticipated on. Ice-cold waters were just waiting to be handed out to anyone willing to except the free gift of a cold “cup of water.”

While we stood their in the hot summer morning, black top warming up beneath our feet, we offered ice cold bottled water to those passing buy, no charge, a simple gift offered to our community. I was genuinely amazed at how many people, who were obviously thirsty, passed up on the of ice-cold water. What was even more amazing is that some people were willing to pay for it, when we explained to them that it was a free gift, they just could not bring themselves to taking the ice-cold water. At one point, someone even forced some money into the palm of my hands, she would not have anything to do with a free gift, and she seemed offended at the mere offer.

As I stood back with the sun on my face and the warmth on my body, grabbing a bottle of cold water for myself, grateful that I didn’t have to go very far to quench my own thirst. All I could think about was how crazy it seemed, not only were we offering free water, that is great in itself but also one could turn around and turn the plastic bottle in for hard cold cash, granted it would not be much but still, free water, free cash, all it would cost someone is a simple yes.

I found myself feeling a little rejected by the whole thing and wondering how people could pass up such an offer and as I shared with my pastor one word stuck out that he said “pride.” It cut me like a knife, I cannot tell you how many times my pride has been a factor in me not excepting a helping hand, not wanting to appear weak or helpless, I would just spiritually become dehydrated due to the “P” word. I would pass up rest, help and direction, wanting to do it on my own.

My soul quickly shrunk back and I suddenly saw how much I had put myself on a pedestal with the “how could you?’, I jumped off, and allowed the Lord to speak into my heart about the free gift of Salvation that He offers all through His son and how for years I couldn’t just take it like the water, I thought it was something I had to work for, struggle and buy. Little did I realize that not only was I offered living water, like the bottle but my life would be redeemed, I could be recycled and used for something entirely different, just like the water bottle, but only after I said yes to the gift.

What’s The Pointe? All around us, in our communities and beyond there are people who have bought into the lie that nothing is free. We have an opportunity as a body of believers to stomp out this lie, to reach past the perception of deception, push through, and pour out to those who want to reject the message and what it has to offer, streams of living water and rest from the everyday burden of living.

Yesterday I witnessed first hand the wearing of HIM well, as one of my pastor’s greeted, listened and reached out to those passing by our tables of treasures. When someone refused the water, he simply smiled, and continued doing what he does best, greeting, connecting and inquiring about the other person. He never acted rejected, offended or even insulted.

Buy none get one free! Have you ever heard of such a deal? A life filled with living water and rest for the weary is what I believe was planted yesterday as God allowed us as a body to reach out to our community. I believe a seed was planted yesterday in our community as we were intentionally present; we saw a need and filled it something as simple as a cup of cold water, doing as Jesus did.

Points to ponder:

1. How can we be an example of living water to a dry and weary community?
2. What would happen if we took the redemption of people as serious as we take the redemption of products?
3. What are some ways we can wear HIM well even when the message is rejected?
4. Remember, Christ came to redeem us and offer us so much more then just freedom.

Prayer Point:
Dear Daddy,
Thank you so much for giving us living water, thank you for pointing us towards the way to freedom. Help us be a body of believers willing to pour out from the depths of our souls, filled with gratitude every time we get to serve. I pray for our community and the leaders who have chosen to say yes to the call. I lift them up to you today and I thank you that you promise that a faithful man will be ritually blessed. I thank you that for the redemptive power that speaks through each of those who have stepped up to the call. Help us to have a humble heart, to have your eyes and ears to hear the cry of your people. Let us remember to wear you well wherever we go. In your Jesus Name, Amen!


"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28

Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “if anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.
John 7:37-38
Not every moment is spiritual but every thing spiritual is found in the moment. Actively living my life intentionally in the moment, purposefully being present in the moment and faithfully giving fully of myself to those around me. Speaking, writing, listening and leading to the best of my ability.
I ask the Lord to allow me to be a blessing to those around me and a living devotional to those who are in my moment.
Everyday is a a new day to wear Him well!

To My Husband


Happy 16 Years!!!!!

16 Things I Love Most About Being Married To You!

1. The love the way you look into my eyes while we are talking.

2. I love how you call me beautiful every morning.

3. I love how you ask me to sit on the front porch with you.

4. I love how you believe in me.

5. I love the way you love our daughters.

6. I love how you play with our son.

7. I love how patient you are with our family.

8. I love how you always let me have the last bite of food.

9. I love how you have taught me to live in the moment.

10. I love how you have taught me to experience life to its fullest.

11. I love watching you laugh.

12. I love just being with you.

13. I love that you thought I was worth fighting for.

14. I love that you never have given up on me.

15. I love how you treasure me.

16. I love how you make me want to dream big.

Starbucks and The Smile!!!!



Was it the coffee or her smile that brought me back every morning to fork out a ridiculous amount of money for a cup of java that took me minutes to drink and really did not add much value to my day?

As I stood in the line for my daily dose of caffeine, I could not help but think to myself, "What really keeps me coming back?"
It finally hit me as I patiently waited in line for my turn. It was not the coffee but the one making my coffee, taking my order and greeting me with a smile.

Her smile made me come back for more. I am not typically a once a day Starbucks drinker, but, once again my mother had to be hospitalized and I found myself going back and forth from the hospital to home and I would start my day off at the Starbucks directly across the street from her hospital.

This particular day I watched this woman take my order with a smile that said without words, "you matter to me." She had a genuine concern in the way she asked how I was doing and kept her eyes locked with mine as we conversed until the transaction was made. For just a brief moment, I forgot I was a customer and felt like her friend.

As I stepped away towards the pick upside of the counter, my heart was filled with gratitude towards this total stranger who over the last several weeks has made my heart feel lighter, my load feel lesser and my moment a little happier as I prepared to visit my mother in the hospital.

I quickly felt very passionate about telling her how much she had touched my heart over the last couple of weeks and I wanted her to know that she is making a difference.

For a brief moment, I thought about all the other customers in the store and how it might look to them, but the moment passed and I pursued the passion I felt to share with this stranger my heart.

Therefore, after my coffee was placed on the counter I got back into her line. Once again, I witnessed her authentic, genuine service flow from her words and actions as well as her smile and eyes.

My turn came up and I reached over touched her hand and told her my story. I simply said, "I believe it is your smile that I come back for more then the coffee." I then proceeded to share with her the situation with my mother and how I had come in every morning before I headed to the hospital and how much she made a difference in my life without even knowing.

Then, all of a sudden she grabbed her arms, showed me her goose bumps and looked at me as if she was about to burst into tears. She smiled big and thanked me and I just said, "No, thank you." The person behind me piped in as I was walking away and shouted out, "how cool was that?"

I left feeling as if I had been given so much more, hidden treasures and the mystery of faith all wrapped up in a warm cup of coffee. Once again, I was ready to greet my mother and the day because God had placed this incredible woman in my path and then led me to share with her how much she made a difference in my life.

This blog is specifically dedicated to Mark and Lori Welch and Bill and Mary Feliz who remind me so much of this incredible woman behind the counter. Thank you all for wearing HIM well, wherever you go.

We are family!










































June 30, 2009


Amanda 23

Sami 13 1/2

Vito 12


This was such a fun day celebrating Amanda's birthday as well as Sami getting her braces off.

Change of address!

Thank you all so much for your patients and prayers over the last several weeks. I have been a little slow in returning phone calls, emails and keeping up on my writing. I always say, "I have my plans and God has His." His plans are always better since He promises us a hope and a future; just sometimes, it is hard to remember that in the middle of a struggle and trial.

What started out as a summer visit just three weeks ago quickly turned into a change of address for my mother, sooner then expected. Plans were that she would visit us for a couple of months, try and sell her place in Southern CA. and then start the process of moving in with us, slowly and leisurely in our timing.

After being here only a few days she asked if we could talk. I am learning to break the habit of defaulting to negative thinking but I did go there and thought "oh, is she already tired of us and has changed her mind about the move?" However, it was just the opposite of that.

My mother is a C.O.P.D. patient with Emphysema and on oxygen 24/7, I believe that information will help you better understand how all of this played out over the last several weeks. Therefore, as I sat with my mom on the front porch, thinking the worst, she actually told me she thought it would be best if she made the move permanent now. OK, I was a little surprised and had to laugh at myself for even letting my negative thoughts pass through the stop sign of my mental traffic controller.

That happened on May 26, just three days after she had arrived. Her breathing had become difficult and she was having trouble with energy and feeling not so well. We as a family were happy to go from future planning to now, we could see that my mom needed care and we are in a season to be able to help her. My mom and I went from worrying about making the move happen to it just happening. It was sudden and so simple and really put our priorities into perspective on what really matters most.

For the next week, she continued to struggle with her breathing and just could not get enough sleep. She was looking tired and weak and I was becoming fearful of not being able to care for her if something really were to happen. Then on Wed. night two weeks ago, during the most incredible lighting storm we have seen in the Sacramento
area in years, I had to rush her to the E.R. on doctor’s orders. Thank God, for my husband, his discernment and wisdom to take over where I just could not. He stepped in and said we needed to get her to the doctors, no more waiting.

On June 4 at 1:00AM, they admitted my mother into the hospital for a 5-day stay, she was diagnosed with pneumonia and for a patient with lung disease it could be fatal. She had tremendous care through it all and the blessing in disguise was that she was informed about her disease and how she could learn to function with it. We found out the C.O.P.D. and Emphysema was not a death sentence and that there are things she could do to help her function better in everyday life. This forced her to also find a primary care Doctor immediately and was open to the doors of pulmonary rehab, something she had never been offered.


I spent most of my days and evenings with her, mostly just being by her side. This is a new town for her, a new hospital and doctors she had never met. She arrived in such a frail state, I had a hard time leaving her every evening but I would hold her hands and pray for her before I said my goodbyes and my goodnights. Everyday I saw her gain a little bit more strength back and come to life a little bit more. By the time she was released, it was as if I was taking a new person home, it has truly been a miracle to watch.

She has now been home over a week and yesterday she started working out to build up her muscles in her lungs to help her breath better. Today she even reminded me about working out. Yesterday she was a little more tired then usual but I had to remind her that she moved around a lot all by herself yesterday. Things she normally asks us to do she was doing all on her own. That has been so cool to watch!

I believe the greatest miracle here is not necessarily in the physical but rather the mental and to see her with such a positive attitude towards herself and her life. She has been an encouragement to me as well as an inspiration. Thank you all once again for your continued prayers and for reaching out and checking up on us. I will be posting pictures really soon. Have a great rest of your week.

"Running my race in a lane called grace"

Cris

Sow a thought, reap an action.

Sow an action, reap a habit.

Sow a habit, reap a character.

Sow a character, reap a destiny.
- John Stott

"You are right, I am wrong, please forgive me."



A gentle answer turns away wrath.
Proverbs 15:4
Sometimes my own self-righteousness, arrogance and pride get in the way that not even a log, but a whole forest could be protruding from the sockets of my eyes and all I could see is what looks like shadows of other peoples short comings. When in reality what I am actually witnessing is my own sin being played out, right before my eyes.

I was driving home from my weekly grocery shopping trip, which, because I was on top of things I was a day early, ahead of my to do list. I was feeling really good, really proud of the fact that I was ahead. I had both my son and my daughter with me. They were talking to me but I really couldn't’t hear what they were saying because I was in my own little world of pride, having a little mental party for myself and my accomplishment.

I approached the first stop sign and stopped out of habit, not because I was paying much attention. As I stopped, the car to my left made what I believed to be an incredibly sharp left hand turn. It was so sharp the I was convinced that he was going to take us out with one swipe of his bumper, so as I have done so many other times before, I became the local traffic controller. I placed both palms on top of the horn and pressed down as hard as I could. In my mind I thought “that will teach him a lesson”.

As I drove away I noticed that he made a u turn and started to follow me. Normally this would have made me nervous but I just started praying. It was dark outside but I still sensed a peace deep with in me. As I prayed for protection I heard the Lord speak to my heart and it was the craziest thing. What He was saying was “pull over”, I thought ya right, pull over, no way. But I have learned to be obedient because I love my heavenly Father and trust Him more then myself.

As I started to pull over He continued to talk to my heart, He said “prepare yourself to seek forgiveness, you were wrong, you were over the white line”. Quickly I went back to the stop sign in my mind and sure enough I could see myself sticking over the line, almost begging to be hit. This was the last thing I wanted to do, my kids were in the backseat watching this all play out. My pride told me that if I asked for forgiveness to this person that my children would interrupt that as me being weak, instead of fighting for their safety but I knew the truth, I knew what I needed to do.

As this person pulled up next to me, I noticed that he was a man in him mid 30’s. He rolled down his window, pointed his finger at me and in a raised voice not yelling just raised he said, “you were at fault”. All I could do was look him in the eyes, I realized I had accused him of the very thing I had done and that I was putting me and my children in harms way. So, as I looked him in the eyes I just said, “You are right, I was wrong, please forgive me.” He looked at me, shook his head and just drove away.

I explained to my children exactly what took place and how I was truly wrong and that my own pride kept me from seeing my fault. I shared with them the leading of the Holy Spirit and how He was able to help identify my part and then the scripture that says “a gentle answer turns away wrath” came alive to me and I realized how life giving the Word of God truly is. What could have been a horrible confrontation ended in a life lesson that has changed me for the better, as well as my children

Today my pray for you is that you will allow God to lead you and direct you so that you may become all that He has intended you to be. God is not about shame or guilt but rather Grace and Love and His corrections are proof that He loves His children and that He has plans for us all. Even in our weakest moments we can glorify God if we choose to be obedient to His truth.

“Be still and run your race”

Warning!


Be careful what you pray for, God just might make you laugh. Here was my prayer last night before my head hit the pillow. "Lord, help me remember what it was like being in middle school." This morning I woke up with one of the worse cases of acne I have had in years, welts the size of pennies, painful and embarrassing. I just turned 40, come on! Now, some of you may be asking why would I pray such a prayer and the answer is that I am returning to a youth group that I had the privilege of giving my testimony at a few weeks back. As I looked in the mirror I went back to the insecure 12 year old broken young girl that I was many years ago. I remember it like yesterday, trying to cover up what just could not be covered. I had this false belief that I lacked much value based on my appearance. As a grown up who has searched her past and made peace with it as well, I now know the truth and can say "thank you God" for answered prayers, even if I have to wear them on my face. My heart aches for this generation, I feel their pain so deeply but I also believe that the Lord's promises hold true for this generation and that He will be call these young people out to set many free. Please keep me in your prayers as I pour into this area of my community, holding tight to the promises for each of these young people, that they too have a hope and a future.

P.S.
Don't forget, be careful what you pray for..

Cris

Going the distance!




Part 2


The gift of going the distance in prison ministry is that we get to witness the lines of race, denomination and gender being crossed. Not only do we get the privilege of observing the lines being crossed, we actually get the opportunity to participate in crossing the lines ourselves.

It is when the lines are erased that we can truly minister to one another and be ministered too. I have had the benefit of experiencing this kind of ministry, true iron sharpening iron behavior.

Saturday’s event

The women come to us hungry, hurting and ready to be fed. We arrived not in our own strength but in His and with anticipation, we all gathered to watch God pour out and move in a miraculous way.

We came to testify, teach and train those who are otherwise forgotten behind bars. We came to pray, love and encourage those who where preparing for their release. We came to listen, cry and just be with those who would never walk outside the walls.


Sunday

We not only saw the lines being crossed behind the prison walls but also in the pews of the church. We were invited to celebrate church with a local congregation as well as spend time with a few more Daughters Free. We were not asked because of our skin color, sex or church background but rather because of our love for the Lord and our passion for the prisoner. From the outside and by all appearances we looked like we were just visiting but as worship began and greeting continued it was obvious that we were seen as family, sharing the same Father and the same faith.


We joined the congregation after service for a volunteer luncheon that they had put on for those serving in prison ministry. We spent time taking pictures together as if we were long last family members. I wanted the time to stand still but I also wanted to get back home to share with those in my circle what is looked like to go the distance and to cross and erases all lines that keep us from wearing Him well.


“Running my race in a lane called grace”
Cris

Going the distance!

Part 1

One week tomorrow since I returned home from Missouri and Illinois where I had the opportunity to minister to those in the gated community. Because coming home entails picking up where I left off, I am not always able to just pour into my writing. Though I will say, I am blessed with a husband who actually takes over while I am gone. Taking care of the kids, meals, appointments, homework, laundry, the list goes on. Therefore, picking up where I left off is really just snuggling in with the family and being not just physically present for them but emotionally present as well.

With my families emotional bank accounts filled up and a little time on my hand I am ready to pour out and share about the incredible trip I had inside and outside the prison walls. This trip marked the one-year anniversary where I actually felt for the very first time what Holy Ground was like beneath my feet. This trip marked the anniversary where I realized that the Lord had given me a new set of eyes and that where others saw prisoners I saw broken and beautiful women. It was this time last year where I found myself feeling more at home inside the prison then I did the church walls.

I arrived in Missouri last Thursday afternoon, traveling with two of my most favorite people in the whole wide world and team members from the ministry. I have to say, traveling with these two women is actually one of my favorite parts of serving in ministry. The gift of friendship that comes with serving is priceless, thank you my friends for making serving in ministry so rewarding.

Our first evening in town was spent with a Daughter Free, where we had the opportunity to join her in celebrating her churches 100-year anniversary. A night of worship, celebration and inspiration, it was truly an amazing event to participate in. From there we came home, enjoyed “homemade” chocolate chip cookies, a little down time, and then off to bed. I was blessed to have made a new friend and some new memories.

Friday night was our first event with the ministry behind bars. We arrived at the facility an hour prior to our event in the chapel, got cleared to come in, met with the chaplain and found ourselves smack dab in the middle of a tornado warning. Like we tell people who serve in this ministry, be prepared for anything to happen. There we were the three of us and the chaplain inside the chapel, waiting for the ladies to be released when all of a sudden the warning turned to a watch.

The sky grew dark quickly as if a blanket had been put over the light of day. The rain came down like a broken sprinkler head and the cracking in the sky sounded like a bullwhip hitting the earth. The bright flashes of lighting gave way to the silhouettes of the trees on the yard. How do I stay calm in the middle of the storm, once again? Praising God through all circumstances and that is just what we did as a team. We had quickly been directed back to the chaplain office to hunker down and prepare for what just might possibly be.

Eventually we came out, threw on some worship music and just started singing and dancing to the Lord in the middle of the storm. Thunder and lighting, rain all around us and guards and inmates watching from the other side.

They eventually released the women to come to chapel and the teaching began. I recognized a few faces from last years visit but most of the ladies I saw this time were new faces. They greeted us with smiles, handshakes and a look of deep gratitude. When many of them found out, we were from California they just could not believe we had come such a distance for them. Even one of the guards questioned why we would do such a thing. With a smile on our faces and love in our hearts our response was because God loves you, that simple. He went the distance for us and we will do the same for you was the song in our hearts as we were given the privilege to minister to the most beautiful women in our nation.

The ladies devoured the teaching; they embraced the message and worshipped the Lord with all their hearts. Once again, I found myself amazed at the freedom I felt amongst these women who were locked up behind bars with most of their freedoms taken away.

Leaving the ladies is always the hardest, walking away through the facility and out the doors leaving them behind breaks my heart every time. However, I knew I would be back in the morning, which helped ease the pain of my heart and bridge the distance between our two worlds.

Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken!



Deanna Allen, Michelle Melton and Cris Nole

Sometimes there just aren't enough words to describe what it is like to serve along side some of the most amazing women in the world. I love how God shows up in our brokenness, victories, service and best of all laughter. Being set free to be who we have been called to be and running the race with like minded sister's, now that is a race I am willing to run. More to come on how the crusade went but for now I must get some sleep.
Cris







Daughters of Destiny
Recently returning from Missouri Mission Field.
Ecclesiastes 4:12

God is able!

Part 3

At that very moment a man appeared out of nowhere, my window was down and he reached out his hand and I took his and he said, “my name is Able.” As we shook hands, I asked him if he was with search and rescues. Of course, he said “no”; I just continued to shake his hand and introduced myself as well. Able our angel had the most beautiful smile I had ever seen and I knew the moment he spoke that the Lord had sent him to us.

He looked straight passed me and made eye contact with my daughter; tears fell fresh on her face. In a gentle and reassuring voice, he told us, “I will not leave you.” I sat there in amazement, “where did this man come from?” kept running through my head. I asked him what he was doing out here and he told me that he did this kind of thing for fun. I could not help but laugh and cry at the same time. I spoke out to my operators Darin and Sherri and said, “are you listing to this”?

Relief poured through me like a fresh cup of cold water. Fear had left me and peace took over as this stranger named Able proceeded to tell me that he could help guide and direct me out of the center of nowhere. I explained to him the fear I had of slipping off the side of the cliff and that I had zero experience driving in these kind of conditions.

He assured me that he knew what he was doing; something inside me said, “Trust him”. He had that mountain man look to him with dark hair, somewhat disheveled and he walked with a confidence of someone who knew what he was doing. Sherri from 911 encouraged me to let him help us; he was truly an answer to my prayers.

Therefore, with my life and the life of my children in this stranger’s hands, I continued pray, as I accepted his help. I sat straight up in my car, gripped the steering wheel and listened as I had never listened before, these were by far the most important directions I had ever received in my life. One wrong turn and it could cost us dearly. Able actually walked next to me as I maneuvered my vehicle away from the cliff and squeezed it as close to the mountain as I could get it. His directions were clear and concise. Using the tracks before and the ditch to catch me from slipping and sliding.

As soon as I was almost hugging the side of the mountain he returned to his truck and slowly drove in front of us to pave the way. As he passed us, I made eye contact with the man in his passenger’s seat who also had the very same smile as Able. He too spoke peace into the situation with just a look. As my eyes floated to their back seat I could not believe what I saw next, three young children, probably about my son and daughters age, one girl and they too had that look and smile on their face as Able and his passenger.

All three turned to look at us and continued to smile as they drove past us. I could feel the tension in the car slip away as the kids realized that they were not alone either that there were other children involved in the situation. His directions were the same as before, stay in his tracks and that is just what I did. Follow in his footsteps, wow, this sounded so familiar.

A confidence came over me as I took control of the wheel and prayed that we would not run out of gas as we moved forward. Able did just as he said he would and made tracks that I could follow, tracks that caught my car and kept us from danger. There were times when we took turns that seemed impossible to make, I would take a deep breath, pray and see his thumbs go up from out his window. He paved the way and at times I could see his truck slide and I was amazed at what seemed like a sacrifice and a chance he took just to lead us to safety.

All I thought as I watched him lead the way was, “as soon as we get out of here I wanted to take this man sent from God and his passengers to lunch”. I wanted to be able to thank them for what they had done. The voice of Darin was still with us and his encouragement helped us stay calm, cool and collective. I steered, stopped and directed my beast of a car around the hairpin roads, slipping at times but never hitting the mountain or even coming close to the edge of the cliff. I became more confident in the fact that we were almost out of what felt like the lost world and back into civilization.


We finally made it to the main road. It felt as if the mouth of the mountain had spit us out of a bad dream and left us there to pick up the pieces. We immediately lost contact with Darin from on star. Able pulled next to me on my right and I quickly asked him where the nearest gas station was, I was now running on fumes and needed to refuel before I ended up in one more sticky situation. Just as quickly as he arrived, he left.
I turned to ask him if I could take him and his crew to lunch and all of a sudden; they were gone, like a flash of lighting. I turned to my left to see if maybe he went around us but they were gone.

As I sat in wonder, my eyes took hold of two trucks, side by side, windows broken in and the their bodies smashed on all sides. I gasped at the thought that what I was staring at was a result of the path we had just come from. These two trucks did not look like they faired the trip to well and made me even more thankful for Able and his amazing arrival.

I have no doubt in my mind that my children and I had been taken care of by angels sent to us by our God, who we chose to praise regardless of the outcome…

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
Hebrews 1:14

God is able!


Part 2

So, here I am sitting on the outside of the pit. Able to look back on what could have possibly been the last few moments of my life as well as my children’s and I am in complete awe as I see the hand prints of God all over the experience. It happened on the ninth of last month. I had just finished spending four wonderful days in the hills of Mendocino County with my 13-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son.

With the advice of my GPS unit, we were headed home. Returning a different way we had come in, I trusted that “Tina” knew where she was taking us. We were traveling on a one-way road in my Yukon Denali, not a small car mind you. Five minutes had passed when I had to quickly pull over to avoid being hit head on by a mini van. This was the first sign that maybe I should have gone the way I came. The near head on accident left me a little shaken and briefly questioning my decision to follow the directions of my computerized map. “Tina” had been known for getting us lost before. There was little sign of life around us and the one way paved road quickly turned into a one-way muddy dirt road that looked like it had not seen many travelers in quite sometime.

With a forest of trees all around us and signs that made it clear that trespassers were not welcomed, I started to fear that just maybe I had made a wrong choice. The road had become narrow and started to look like the shape of a snake. There had been signs that we were on a road less traveled. Not recommended for through traffic and usually closed during the winter months were just a few of the signs posted before me. If it had been that easy, I would have turned my car around.

My tires had become one with the mud and sludge and when I looked out the windows, I saw a thick ribbon of mud wrapped around each of the wheels. Things started to go very wrong at that point. Every time I put any pressure on my breaks, the sound of metal grinding would come through the floorboards. By the grace of God, I was holding it together on the outside; I knew that my children’s response would mimic mine and that loosing it was not an option. My insides were a different story, my heart was racing a mile a minute and my brain was searching frantically for some kind of answer, some kind of solution to get us out of what felt like hell.
I continued to drive and silently pray. I was crying out to God for a peace and calmness in the middle of what appeared to be the most dangerous storm, literally and figuratively of my life and that of my children’s. Feelings of helplessness, vulnerability and fear came flooding toward me. We were in the eye of the storm with no apparent way out.

I approached the first turn with caution, the wind was blowing and rain was coming down and the roads continued to make mud and sludge. I almost froze at what I saw next, or at what I did not see, no guardrails. We could actually see straight down the cliff on every turn we were making. Then I found myself without traction; the tires became impacted with the sludge. All of sudden, we felt the car start to slide. We were heading straight towards the mountain, my breaks would not respond and I had very little control over the steering wheel.

I knew at this point that the kids were old enough to understand the danger we were in with out me telling them. The look on both their faces told me that they were just as fearful as I was. As I approached the next turn, I immediately felt the car slide once again but this time towards the edge of the cliff. I quickly hit the breaks, the car started to fish tail and by the grace of God, I was able to stop the giant metal tank from plummeting over the side of the mountain with us in it.

There we were just a few feet between the back of the car and the edge of the cliff. Fear gripped me as the thoughts ran through my mind that at any moment the car with us in it could slide right off the side of the cliff. I longed to hear my husband’s voice, even for a moment. Helplessly my daughter looked at our cell phones as if magically she could make a connection happen. I quickly made a decision as we sat there in the middle of nowhere; close to sliding off the edge of a cliff, with less then a half a tank of gas and no connect with the outside world.

I made the choice to praise God regardless of the situation, regardless of the circumstance, the kids joined me as we thanked God for the food and water we had in the car, the gas to keep the motor running so we would have heat and for the very moment, we had together. I was able to share with them how easy it is to praise God when life is going good or even not so good. Never had we been put through the fire up until that moment and when it was all said and done our faith never waivered.

As we sat there thanking God for all He had done and continued to do for us, I decided to look in my rear view mirror and it hit me, how could I have forgotten. I had ON STAR! Yes, I love technology! I immediately hit the emergency button and an angel from the other side answered. Tears of relief filled my eyes when I heard, “Hi Mrs. Nole, my name is Darin, how may I help you.” I shared with him the severity of the situation and my fear of slipping of the side of the cliff.

Once again, I was in silent prayer, asking for continued strength and courage to hold it together. My daughter was curled up in the front seat making it clear of her disapproval of any attempt to try to move the car. Vito on the other hand had checked out the situation and was a little more confident in the help Darin might be sending. To be honest, from where we were it seemed impossible for any regular tow truck, emergency vehicle or rescue team to get to us.

I started sharing with Darin about the kids and I choosing to praise God in this storm, he just came into agreement with us and continued to talk to us at the same time as working on getting us help. His conversation with us helped keep us calm and brought peace to the situation. He repeatedly reminded us that we were not alone and that he was still there with us. Darin was finally able to patch us through to 911, search and rescue. This angels name was Sherri and she knew from her map that the road we were on was not meant for regular travel. She was working with a team of people on her side as Darin continued to talk to us and help us stay in the moment without drifting off to the what ifs.

It had started to rain again and Sherri from 911 made it clear that we needed to prepare to jump out of the car if it started to slide again. It was not like I was talking to the operators over the phone. Everything they said came through an intercom in the car and this information made my daughter extremely nervous and brought me to a place of anxiousness where I had to completely cry out to God for help. There we were the five of us. My two kids, myself and our two virtual angels. Anytime silence took over, Darin would pipe in and remind us that he was still there. I felt God’s presence through this total stranger who kept on encouraging and letting us know we were not alone.

Darin had tried earlier to patch us through to my husband but we had no luck getting through. He asked if he could try again and Sherri agreed that it would be a good idea. I was at the end of myself; feeling like I was unable to protect my children from the danger that possible was before us. However, when the kids heard Darin ask me about the call they both yelled out “yes, call him again”. I had a need to hear his voice and tell him how much I loved him.

Here was the problem, the minute I heard his voice I completely fell apart and so did the kids, tears flowed like a running faucet that I could not stop. The operators had informed him of the situation and the severity of our circumstance and his response to me was that he wanted to come to us. That is why I love him so much. What I needed from him that moment was his prayers and that is just what he gave us, as he finished praying you could hear an echo through out the car from the operators. I knew I could not hold myself together and stay on the line with him, so we said our goodbyes and our I love yous, praying all along that his would not be the last time we would hear each other’s voices.

With our goodbyes said, we let each other go. The three of us just sat there silently in shock. I gripped the stirring wheel, dropped my head and shut my shut my eyes. Once again silently crying out to God, knowing that to be absent from this life meant I would be present with Him. I was at the end of myself and it seemed like we were looking at an impossible situation. I had not given up but I did surrender completely to God, knowing that man had no answers for us either.

At that very moment a man appeared out of nowhere, my window was down and he reached out his hand and I took his and he said, “ my name is Able.” As we shook hands, I asked him if he was with search and rescues. Of course, he said “no”, I just continued to shake his hand and introduced myself as well. Able our angel had the most beautiful smile I had ever seen and I knew the moment he spoke that the Lord had sent him to us.

God is able!

Part 1

What is it about a traumatic event that makes the mind stand still? What is it about trauma that causes the body to want to shut down, hide out and stop living?

Those are just a few of the emotions I have experienced over the last several weeks. Though a physical death was not something I actually experienced my heart felt otherwise.

The spirit of familiarity came knocking on my door and awakened the events of my past, which collided with the experience of the present. Every traumatic event I had ever been through was thrown before me with it bringing the gift of feelings and emotions that seemed to need my breath to stay alive.

The experience of the present that I am referring to was the near death experience I encountered with my son and daughter on April 9, just three weeks ago. I am only now able to sit down and actually write about it with out feeling like the experience owns me.

I have had to learn to be gentle with myself, like I would with anyone else who had walked through such an event. I have had to reach out to others when all I wanted to do was hide. I had to admit to someone else that I had slipped into a pit of depression and could not get out. I had to put my pride aside and allow someone else in so I could get out.