Lessons Learned 2011







Dear Family and Friends,

WOW, they say as we get older time seems to fly by even faster.  I am officially older because this was the fastest year I can ever remember. 

As I bring this year to a close I cant help but think about all the lessons I have learned and all the memories I have made.

The greatest lesson I learned this year came in the form of allowing my children to fail forward, fall well and be there to help them up with no strings attached.

I learned that they need to know that falling down and getting back up is not a one time event in the process of growing older.  By my own example you would think they would have learned that by now J

But, this year in particular I watched as my two teens would try, fail, fall get back up and try again.  What that has produced in them both is strength, faith and perseverance.

God has created them for a purpose and I believe He has a plan for them both and they cannot be afraid of failing or falling to find both of those items in their life.

So as we celebrate the teen years with our two younger ones we have also had the honor and privilege of watching our oldest enjoy the married life while surprising us all in Nov. with the announcement of the pregnancy of her first child.

OK, if time going by fast doesn’t make one feel old, finding out your going to be a grandparent just might.

Well, not old but older, wiser, and blessed beyond words.  I learned that the announcement of your child’s child is even more amazing then the announcement of your own.  I am not sure why at this point but will ponder that through out the New Year.

Tony and I have come to realize how blessed we are with our amazing family, immediate and extended and also the community of friends that has surrounded us over the years.

The year 2012 will be marked by a deliberate and intentionality of creating a culture of community starting from The Front Porch and following us wherever we go.

Please remember, family, friends and those who come to read my blog.  We were created to be in community.  Two are better than one. 

If you find yourself in our neighborhood in 2012 and you see us on The Front Porch, please stop by, we would love to visit with you.

Cris
Greetings from the Front Porch: 
Below is an article I recently wrote in regards to walking through the back end of the loss of my mother.  For those of you who have ever lost a loved one, you will know the process it takes to step through all the emotions of grief and the relief when the day finally comes and you find that you can finally let go.  Not of the memories but of the things.  When you can finally laugh and cry at the same time and know that, you will not get lost in all of the emotions.


Letting Go
Living in Her Legacy






The sent of her perfume still lingered on her clothing as if she had just stepped out of the bathroom after dressing for her daily activities.  Tears of joy and sadness rolled down my eyes as I nestled my nose into each one of her shirts hoping to capture her sent forever.  It has taken me 19 months to touch her belongs without feeling the sting of loss stab me in the heart.  It has taken me 13 weeks of sharing and caring with people who started out as strangers and ended up as friends.  

As I placed each article of clothing into the give away box I would allow myself to go back in time, picturing in my mind what the last memory of her in that particular piece of clothing looked like.  I would then occasionally try on an item myself and in doing so I was transported mentally back in time.  I was six years old, playing in her closet trying on her clothes and walking in her heels.  It felt real and familiar and brought me a sense of peace as I pondered all that my mother’s life had represented to me.

Nineteen months later, six boxes, one wheel chair and many tears.  Her clothes are packed and ready to be shipped to their new owners.  My memories will forever be captured in my mind of this particular day when I finally was able to touch my grief as if I had never touched it before.

I find that today I am able to feel the pain without feeling like I might fall apart and never come back.  I am able to dance with my grief and hold on to the memory without feeling as if it just might break me.  

The process has been long and I know I will forever be effected by the loss of my mother but what I do have today that I did not have three months ago are the tools, the relationship and the faith to know that I am not alone and that grief, death  and lose are all part of life.

I am thankful for the amazing legacy my mother has left me.  I am living in the moment trusting god with my future.  I will never forget the sent of her perfume.

P.S.
Thank You
Grief Share
You all are some of the most amazing people I have ever met, friends for life, I am sure.

Cris Nole


Dwelling In the Desert!

Years ago I was encouraged by a leader to take the last several days of the year off and pull away by myself and plan for the following year.  Below is what came out of my pulling away on the week of December 26 2011.    Here I am almost a year later, understanding the importance of planning, but not holding onto tightly to the plans.
Mark out a straight path and stick to it, it being faith, family and trusting God with my future.  Here I am once again preparing for my days away and grateful to those who have gone before me who have spoken into my life and walked the walk.
Dec. 26, 2010
This is the year I will become an intentional desert dweller, I will reside in the dry lands of what appears to be a barren region. However, I will press into the promise that justice, righteousness and favor are all found living amongst each other in the wilderness.  I dwell in the moment while trusting God with my future.  I will hold the plans I have set before me loosely, knowing that my God has a hope and a future far greater  then anything that would fit in the palm of my hand.
I will intentionally build community in the fertile field of the desert, by listening  good, asking well  and pausing on purpose.  I will come to this land prepared, bringing water and food from the Promise Land Just because this land is hot, I will not be burned.  My shade will be in the shadow of His wings and I will learn to make the most of my resources while sharing with others the lessons I have learned.  
I will not bury, hide or waste what has been entrusted to me but instead I will learn how to make my resources work for me for the greater good of the Kingdom.  I will continue to meditate on His word daily, listening for His still quiet voice directing my path.  Authenticity, integrity and gentle boldness will be a trademark of my character; I will mean what I say and say what I mean.  I will not be afraid to say no and I will live fully in the yes.  I will choose to stay physically, mentally and spiritually fit by working out my body, soul and mind daily, laughter and humor will be a key to balancing all three.
I will promote collaboration, believing that the whole is greater then the sum.  I will encourage and welcome others ideas and insight into my life. I will be intentional about reaching out to the hurt, lost and forgotten of the world not forgetting what true and pure religion is, taking care of the orphans and widows and not allowing myself to be swallowed up by the things of this world.  I will live with a front porch philosophy wherever I go, come as strangers left as friends. I will read study and learn something new everyday.  I will keep a written account of what I have done and I will be the one narrating my story.  
 I will love the unlovable, reach out to the lost and search for the suffering. I will accept, encourage and include others more often. I will look for the good in everyone I meet and make sure they know it themselves.  I will live from the well of Thanksgiving and walk on the path of Faith. I will wear my Jesus well wherever I go. I will find favor, carry justice and right living will is my compass and my companion.  I will walk in the promise as I live in the desert
 Justice will dwell in the desert and righteousness live in the fertile field...
Isaiah 32:16 (NIV)
 This is what the LORD says: "The people who survive the sword will find favor in the desert; I will come to give rest to Israel."
Jeremiah 31:2 (NIV)



Thank You 4 Your Yes!

Dear Family and Friends,
I write today with a grateful heart and a spirit of gratitude for all of you who have chosen to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the least of these.  As of last Sunday, we have accounted for almost 400 incarcerated sisters in regards to the Christmas card outreach.  That is amazing, considering we are at the time of year where most people seem to be the busiest and spent all around.  Yet, you said yes and because of that, a life will be touched through your encouraging words and prayers.  I am also overwhelmed with the fact that many of you who said yes had your own struggles you are working through but that did not stop you.  This is proof once again that God does show up best in our weakness. 

Please feel free to connect to the ministry web page down below and see all that we do.  If you are interested in any part of the network let me know.  As one of the National Representatives as well as the California Rep.  My goal is to help connect volunteers and equip local leaders in our communities, to prepare them for the women as they are being released back into our communities.  I am a believer in community; I am a result of my community loving me well as I found my way out of my own prison and back into a place of healing and wholeness. 

Also, a great big thank you to The Midnight Smoker BBQ, The Way of Life Ministries and Simply Serving, your heart to connect community has helped bridge a gap for people to serve!


Cristina Nole

National Speaker
Daughters of Destiny
Mrs. Sacramento
United States


Mrs. Sacramento

The Front Porch

Buried Treasures!











Deep within the fabric of the American way, buried on the outside of many towns all across America, hidden among the American dream are treasures ready to be found.

Like a piece of fabric woven together, these treasures, each one, representing brokenness behind bars, a life just waiting to be set free.   I took my first step onto the prison grounds, my eyes started to well up and tears  started to flow down my cheeks.

This was the very first time in my life that I actually felt like I was standing on Holy Ground. I could feel the presence  of God right there in a place where most people did not choose to go and where many never get to leave.

I entered the camp, signs of prison life where sprinkled through out the yard. The bars on the windows were visible, the chained fences around the out door activity centers were evident and the guards through out the walk way were a sure sign that I too had entered the other side.

With all the signs that were coming at me, saying with out words “you have arrived”, I still did not see one prisoner.


My first experience with God’s broken daughters came as we entered the faith-based dorms. The women greeted a team of us with cheers, tears and hugs. It felt like arriving at a family reunion, meeting relatives for the first time, recognizing the family resemblance in our brokenness.


An overwhelming sense of God’s presence kept my tears coming as I watched women praising God in all their brokenness. They danced and sang as if they had just been released from the chains that kept them bound.  I had fallen in love with these women immediately and when our time with them that evening ended, I found it very difficult to leave.  


The next day, still no prisoners to be found, even though all the signs of a prison yard were in front of me just like the day before all I could see were beautifully broken woman.  I was still in a place of disbelief, I almost felt like I was playing a mental game of hid and seek and that any moment I might find a prisoner just standing in front of me.


These women came to hear the message; some hearing for the very first time that there was away out of the shame and guilt of their past and a hope for their future. The fear of the unknown, the fear of going back to what I only knew, that was a prison sentence in itself. Fear of rejection from a world that requires perfection, fear of failing and falling short of the standards of society.
I saw more freedom in those three days then I had ever seen through the doors of a church. 


Woman praising God as they stood stripped of everything.  It is written, “You must loose your life to gain it”. And though most did not hand it over they did loose it and the benefit of that was evident as I spoke with many woman who came to realize that the bars they use to curse were now the very thing they thanked God for.


The lie these ladies believe, “You are worthless”! “You are what you did”! “You are forever condemned.”! Those words are flung at His daughters from the dark side. It is those of us who have traveled that road, who have been healed and set free, that are being called to go back into those places and break those lies.


As I sat among the inmates preparing to deliver a message, I could feel God speaking to my heart. He wanted me to tell His daughters’ that they were beautiful, I fought with that because I thought they must already know it; can’t they see what I see? I was quickly reminded about the time that very word was spoken into my life. When I was called beautiful by a new friend, inside I felt angry and wanted to shout out at her, “You don’t even know me”! “You don’t know what I have done! 


That simple word spoken into my life eventually became my truth.
So in faith, when it was my time to share I got up, looked out into the most beautiful sea of woman I had ever seen and simply said, I have a message from the Lord. “Daughters you are beautiful”, that is all I said, then I started walking up to individuals and speaking that truth into their lives. 
Woman were crying and praising God and I believe for the first time in many of their lives they started believing that they were beautiful because of who they were not because of what they did, a lifetime of lies, broken with three words, “You are beautiful.”


My time came to an end and it was time to leave.  I was blessed beyond anything I could have imagined. The women  came up to me and said “thank you” and I just looked at them and said “no, thank you.” They let me into their pain they allowed me to enter into areas where no one else had ever gone. I learned along time ago that you cannot  keep it if you are not willing to  give it away.

Many of have asked about these woman, where they came from and what they did. We did not ask those questions, it did not matter to us anymore than it did to God.

I will tell you though, that I did meet mothers and sisters, daughters and grandmas. College graduates, pastors and ministry leaders, doctors and lawyers, drug dealers and robbers, hookers and abusers and addicts and winos. But that is what they did not who they are. The woman I met, the buried treasures behind bars where beautiful daughters of God.  They were daughters’ of the maker of this universe and the creator of all mankind.  

Buried Treasures Everywhere!

Cristina
"Beauty From Ashes"

Who I Am!

I am a woman on a mission with a passion to minister, mentor and motivate community leaders on how to  advocate for the prisoners inside and outside the prison walls. 

Currently I am an ordained minister with The Way of  Life Ministries in Sacramento California.

 National Speaker with Daughters of Destiny prison ministry.

Titleholder for  Mrs. Sacramento United States preparing to run for Mrs. California in 2012

 Life Coach in the Sacramento area through community service projects.



·          I believe helping women find their voice, tell their story and live out their dream is the most powerful gift we could give them.

·          I believe it is possible to break the cycle of brokenness when given the proper tools to restore, recover and redefine who they are and who they see them self’s becoming.

·          I believe beauty is caught not taught and complete beauty is a byproduct of knowing who we are, body, soul and mind.

"To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes"


Blessings Behind Bars!

Dear Front Porch Community,
A few of you have already heard of this mission, but many have not. Daughters of Destiny national women’s prison ministry has the wonderful opportunity each year to bless Inside Daughters with a little message of love in the form of a Christmas Card.
Very few inmates receive encouraging mail throughout the year let alone at Christmas when they are feeling especially lonely. A cheerful card reminding them of what God did through His Son Jesus because of His love for them can bring joy and peace right into her cell.
Please consider being part of this year’s holiday blessing. If you're involved with a women's group at church or in the community please invite them to help as well.  We have thousands of ladies in the Daughters Network in correctional facilities all across America who need to know someone cares.
We will provide a list of incarcerated women with their address for you and/or your group. Your part is to purchase the Christmas cards and postage.  It is also very important that when you mail the Christmas card(s) you use the Daughters of Destiny P.O. Box as the return address.  We will send you a list of guidelines and you can always contact our office with any questions.
If you choose to be involved, please respond right away to Crisnole@hotmail.com  with the numbers of cards you would like to send.  You will receive a list and mailing guidelines within a few days.
Thank you and bless you for considering sharing in this beautiful blessing of His daughters. 

Mrs. Sacramento
Cristina Nole
Daughters of Destiny
National Speaker


Time To Fly!












I think as of yesterday I finally understand what the butterfly must feel like when it first takes flight. 

Spreading my wings and flying in the direction the wind blows, trusting that God is bigger then my doubt and more faithful then my fear. 

Fully confident in my calling to reach out to the least of these, the hurt, the lost the left behind.  I will not be shut down or shut up any longer.


Turning off the voice of the crowd, the naysayers and the doubters and running my race set before me.

Mrs. Sacramento
Cristina Nole
Daughters of Destiny
National Speaker

Schools Is In Session!

Dear Friends, just a quick note to say “hello” and a simple note to share with you my readers where I am at in this season of my life. As of last week, I am officially a student, back in the system of academia.


As someone who thrives on time management, I am loving the process of deadlines, calendar usage, to do lists and sticky notes that are needed for keeping up with class work. It is nice to know that these skills are coming in handy for more then homemaking. As a student, I am now faced with deadlines that need to be met for me to move on.

Guess what, I already know how to do this, why? I have been practicing time management now for eight years, hard to believe, next month marks the spot, the month I fully surrendered and found my way to the one who could set me free.

Learning to walk in freedom also has taught me to embrace change, with that said; I am in the process of changing my blog server to fit my heart and passion for the people that have placed within my reach. I will post the new blog address as soon as the new site is fully loaded. I am finally reaping the rewards of waiting on HIM for the last several years.

With that said, I would love to ask you to continue to keep me in prayer as I transition into a knew season in my life. My family has been nothing but supportive and my husband has been my biggest cheerleader, when I feel like I cannot he reminds me I can.

I will let all of you know as soon as my new blog site is up. Thank you for your love, support and encouragement; I am a product of my community loving me well.

Cris

I Am Not Old!


Greetings from The Front Porch!


I might be middle aged but I am not old.  Despite what the commercials might say or the ads might read, in God’s economy, I am young, I am youthful, and I have only just begun.  Age is more of an attitude then a number, the older I get the more I find this to be true.


The look on her face was that of shock and pleasure as she sized me up, from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet.  “Mom, you look great, you look so young, what are you doing different?”

This sentence brought a smile to my face as my fifteen-year-old daughter continued to giggle at the fact that her middle-aged mom could look so hip.  OK, the look so hip part is what I read into as she giggled at me.  As my family would say, “she has positive distorted hearing,” hey, it works for me.

With pure joy, I was able to share with her that I had not been doing anything different except clamming God’s truth over my life and then walking in it and I believed that is what she was seeing.

Just last week I read in Psalms how God renews my youth and that I am always young in his presence.  With that knowledge, I decided that when I would look in the mirror I would remind myself how young and youthful I am to my heavenly Father.

There is power in the spoken word and I believe that as I walk in those truths and allow them to penetrate my heart, soul and my mind I actually take on the physical results of believing HIS word never fails.

So today, this middle aged women celebrates that fact that I am young, I am youthful and I am beautifully made in my fathers image, regardless of how I feel, look or what the world would like me to believe.  


He forgives your sins—every one.
He heals your diseases—every one.
He redeems you from hell—saves your life!
He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.
He renews your youth—you're always young in his presence.
Psalm 103:3-5 (MSG)


Cris


Family Values


Greetings from The Front Porch!









Thank you Tony for taking the time to hear the still quiet voice
of God speak to your heart!
 

This is not what we will become; it is what we have become!
 
 
 NOLE Family Values

  • Never ever, give up!
  • Offer hospitality always!
  • Love God and others!
  • Experience life!
Never ever, give up! 2 Corinthians 4:16 (TLB)  That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our inner strength in the Lord is growing every day. Offer hospitality always! Hebrews 13:2 (NLT)  Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Love God and others! Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV)  Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Experience life! Ecclesiastes 8:15 (NLT)  So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.
 
Written By:
 
Tony Nole
 

Sweet Spot!



Greetings From The Front Porch!

As I continue to fine tune my own dreams and passions I have come to the realization that my sweet spot is not in creating community but rather helping people put dimensions on their dreams and helping them marry their passions with their purpose.

The reason I am so passionate myself about community is that I am aware of the fact that it takes community to birth a dream, the process of going through the pregnancy of a dream is best done in true, authentic community where others are cheering you on as you begin to become all that you were created to be.

I love watching people connect, create and build community together. I believe it is here right in the middle of doing life together that purpose and passion is produced and a vision for something beyond ones self starts to take hold and dreams start to become reality and our abilities stop holding us back and starts gearing us up.


Below is a revised article by Lisa Wilder you can find the complete article at  thewildzone.com  please leave her a comment if you found her tools helpful.

“We are limited, not by our abilities, but by our vision.” ~ Anonymous
Eleven little words that pack a powerful punch. We are capable of much more than we tend to think we are. We have been socially conditioned to be rational, logical, and “realistic.” Dreaming is frowned upon.

“Being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity.” ~ Will Smith

“Being realistic” is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity because it keeps us small. It limits our thinking to whatever happens to already be within what we believe to be the realm of possibility, based on our previous life experience.

It leaves no room for us to step up to be more, do more, and achieve more. It leaves no room for dreaming, imagining and playing with new possibilities.

You will not get a clear vision of the dream you are dreaming by thinking about it. Your head does not hold the answers…your heart does.

Follow your passion, your bliss, your calling….

This is where your sweet spot is. It is your passion for the work you do, for the way you are serving others, that will provide the inspiration and the drive to make it happen and for your dreams to come true.

A clear vision for your dream based on your passion will pull you forward, it will propel you, light you up, excite you…as nothing else can.

Clear vision will keep you moving forward and pressing on, through whatever challenges arise.

When you follow your dream around your passion and your unique genius, it can feel effortless and fun, but there are no shortcuts, no magic bullets, and no one-size-fits-all cookie-cutter blueprints that will magically build your dream for you overnight.

Are you ready for an exercise to point you in the direction of your passion and your dream?

OK, it is time to turn off the inner critic for a few moments, no censoring allowed. For this exercise, you will have to let go of “trying” and “thinking” and let your imagination run wild.

Just roll with it…let it flow. There is nothing to “figure” out. Just let yourself have fun and go with whatever answers bubble up for you, let yourself dream BIG.

It does not matter how outrageous, hokey, or “unrealistic” your answers sound. All too often we talk ourselves out of our dreams, out of our passions, out of what we know on a deep level is what we are meant to do.


• When you dare to dream, what do you dream of being, doing, creating?


• What do you love about your dream and want more of?


• What have you (perhaps only secretly) been longing to do or achieve “someday?”


• In your wildest imaginings, what would your dream business look like?



• If you knew you could NOT fail, what would you LOVE to do?



• Do you want your dream to be local or global?



• What are you so good at that it comes almost as easy breathing? What do others repeatedly compliment you on? What do you LOVE doing so much that you never get tired of it? What are you so passionate about that you could talk about it for days on end?




• What does an ideal day in the life of your dream look like? How do you start your day? What environment are you in? Are you working solo or with a team? What kind of team? Do you have a personal or administrative assistant?



When you’ve played with and answered all these questions…you should have a vision that excites you and at the same time leaves you with that exhilarating, almost breathless sense of Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh….do I dare?


That’s your sweet spot! That’s the wonderful place where your unique gifts and genius come together with your passion and vision to create a wildly successful dream that is irresistible…to you and those you’re meant to serve.

Please feel free to leave a comment below and share with me and others what your sweet spot is.

Cris

I will love you in my silence!



Greetings from The Front Porch!

The conversation over the phone ended with me simply saying, “I will love you in my silence.” My heart broke for my sweet precious friend on the other end of the line, for her pain and her struggle were not new to her or to me.

 

A conversation many years ago came floating to my mind as I hung up the phone with one friend I remembered what this older friend had said to me.

 

I was all of twenty at the time with no filtering system for my mouth. I listened but did not learn, to young and ignorant to understand the warning. She said “salt your words carefully; you just might have to eat them one day.”

 

Of course, that one day has come many times over in the last several decades and I have come to love and appreciate the words of wisdom that had been imparted on me so many years ago.

 

This morning I found myself chewing on my own words once again, as I heard the conversation in my head from the day before. I had encouraged my sweet friend to take care of herself first so she could be there for others.  Everything in me in that moment wanted to put my life on hold to rescue her and save her from her struggle.  Salty words, such a reminder of taking my own advice.

 

Her fear of others feeling like she was going to reject them kept her in a place of spiritual dehydration and her soul was becoming malnourished. She was giving into manipulation and deception.

 

I recognize these signs because I lived most of my life caring more for others then myself. I believed that true spirituality came from giving to others without any regards to my own personal needs.

 

This false belief system kept me from experiencing true healing and wholeness that the cross of Christ offers to us when we fully surrender to HIS plan and purpose for our lives.

 

How can I surrender my life over to HIM if I am to busy and too concerned about others and their needs? How will I learn to hear his still quiet voice if I do not take the time to be still?

 

The truth was I cared more about what others thought about me then of what I thought about myself. I cared more about feeling needed and looking useful in the eyes of others rather then in the eyes of HE who created me.

 

I found value in being there for others when they could not be there for themselves. I would come in and become their personal saviors doing for them what they should have been doing for themselves. I would rob them of the very thing God created them to be and that was to live fully in their pain and victories.

 
As someone who has a background of addiction, deception and rejection it is hard for me to step away from unhealthy behavior of someone else. I feel like I am making a judgment call against them and their struggle rather then acting in the best interest of my own spiritual well being.

 
When in fact, putting all feelings aside, the reason I must step away from certain unhealthy patterns in others is that the spirit of pride has away of creeping in and rearing its ugly head.

 

The spirit of pride prowls around and stocks me, watching every move I make wondering if this might be the moment, I think I have all the answers, will this be the moment that “she slips back into old behavior of rescuing and saving?”

 

It is a very dangerous place for me to be thinking that I could be someone else’s savior. Oh, I would never say that to their face but I would think in my heart and act it out in my conversations and directions. I would dress up my words to make them sound spiritual and not even realize I had done it until it was too late.

 

I learned years ago that if I could see my own spirituality it was not really spirituality at all but rather pride just dressed to impress and that I needed to make changes. That I needed to step away from the behavior and back into the truth.

 

Below are just a few quotes I found to help be remember what I believe to be true about the spirit of pride and the danger of allowing it to live actively in my life. I read, repeat, listen, and learn to others who have gone before me.

 
  • Pride and grace never dwell in one place.
  • Pride blossoms, but bears no fruit.  
  • Pride brings loss, humility brings increase.
  • Pride feels no pain.
  • Pride goes before a fall.
Prayer and silence seem so passives yet they are the greatest gift we can give to one another when it comes to spiritual warfare. Today I choose to love through my silence and use prayer as my protection.

Because I love you, I will not do for you what I know you can do for yourself. I will point you back to the
only one who can free you from the insanity of our sinful nature. I hope you will do the same for me.
 
 
Cris

The Challenge with Change!


Greetings from The Front Porch!

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.



Anatole France


As I walk away from one season and enter into another, my heart is heavy for what I do leave behind but my mind is racing a hundred miles an hour at the thought of what is to come.


Change use to scare me like a dark room and an open closet door does to a small child. The fear of the unknown often left me frozen in my tracks and I would find myself never moving forward or letting go of my past.


Years ago, my life depended on change and it was in that change that I realized that for me to live fully alive I would have to embrace my greatest fear and jump into it feet first.


I had to put my feelings aside, not denying how I felt but inside honoring my emotions while moving forward in the change. What a surprise to find out the very thing I feared was the very thing I needed to grow. The very thing I feared was the very thing that brought me to fully live.


Through embracing change, I have learned to laugh and cry, to be still and to move, to listen and ask all at the same time. I realized in the season of change comes a beautiful confidence that is birthed out of the fact that my FAITH is grater then my fear.


My FAITH tells me that there is a hope for my future and for me to walk in that hope I must be willing to move forward in the change.


So, as I say goodbye to what was and hello to what will be, I thank God for this very moment that I am able to embrace the unknown as I trust in HIM fully with what use to be my greatest fear.


1. Do you fear change?


2. Do you fear the unknown?


3. What would it take you to embrace the change you need to be fully alive and fully aware of what God wants to do in and through you?



God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?
Numbers 23:19


Cris

Freedom and The Fourth of July!









                                                 

                                               Greetings from The Front Porch!


Happy almost Fourth of July! We are just days away from our annual Front Porch Fireworks display, brought to you by the community of Antelope and those who love to linger on The Front Porch.

This year we decided to pool our money together to buy the mother box of all boxes, the box is filled with every legal firework conceivable. The kids are going crazy with anticipation as goal of the pool grows.
This year we allowed our teens to do the planning, what better way to teach them about building community then by letting them jump in and create the day. Of course, I have helped facilitate some calls and preparation but through it all, they have done most of the work.

This is what freedom looks like for me. As a recovering control freak, I enter into this holiday with an attitude of gratitude taking my freedom seriously. Thanking God for those who fought so hard and who continue to fight hard so that we can live in a country where I get to exercise the greatest freedom of all, my free will.

As I let go of my teens and allow them to experience the beautiful connections that happen in community when we are intentional in our freedom, I am taken back to a time just short of a decade ago. A time when I was bound by fear and anxiety and when the invisible chains of my past kept me from truly embracing the very moments that had been gifted to me. The thought of enfolding into my community would not have even been options back in the day.

Today as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our nation, I will also choose to celebrate the fact that I use to be but now I am not. The chains are gone, I've been set free, my God my Savior has ransomed me!
I would love to hear how you celebrate this coming holiday, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Cris

Time to Walk and Talk!













                                                          
                                                             

                                                              This Sat. July 2 @ 7:00AM



OK, the peeps have spoken, Community Walk this Sat. starting from the Front Porch at 7AM! I will see if The Midnight Smoker is available. We will walk about three miles with a stop half way through for a rest, stretch and a little snack. Please send me a message if you need directions.



Our last walk was a great big success with many showing up early on The Front Porch to hit the road. Looking forward to seeing some familiar faces as well as some new ones.


Cris

P.S.  Good news, The Midnight Smoker is avaliable!

Hello Summer!















Greetings from The Front Porch!


Happy summer, it is finally here. Just a few weeks ago, my daughter told me she thought summer vacation should not start until it stops raining. I had to agree with her, as they ended their school year with thunderstorms and rains coats, you would have thought they were entering into winter break instead of summer vacation.

Now we are into our 28th day, it reached 100 degrees, and we could not be happier. OK, maybe I might be the happiest. However, hot weather equals slip and slides, water parks and late evenings on The Front Porch.

I have been challenged by a good friend to put my agenda aside and to live out my motto, embracing my moments with my children and asking myself “what if” and filling in the blanks. What if I decided to leave the dishes to be done the laundry to be folded and the rooms to be cleaned for another time and joined my children for a day of fun?

Today I lived in the moment while I wrapped myself around the what if and I left my to do list on the counter and jumped in feet first with my kids as we sat in the air conditioned theater melting into a sci-fi movie, something I never do.

As I watched my teens sit on the seat of their pants, wide eyed and enthralled by the story on the screen, I realized how much I miss out when I put my agenda before my relationship with them.

I recently read in a devotional book that God calls us to be still so that we could receive His blessings. As I read that I thought “no, I can’t do that”, being still so God could bless me is opposite of what I have learned to do.

Yet, as I sat still today, the blessings I received from my time with my kids are something I will hold on to for the rest of my life. I am learning that when I enter into these moments with my teenagers for no other reason then to enter into these moments, I get glimpses of the adults they are becoming.

Tomorrow is day twenty-nine and it is taking everything in me not to write out a long list of things I need to do. I will hold tight to today and remember what it looked like when I put my list to the side and allowed myself to not just promote a motto of the moment but also live in it myself.

Thank you my friends, you know who you are, for challenging me to step away from my own structure and box and step into the summer with my kids.


Cristina

Happy Father's Day





Greetings From The Front











A day to remember and a day to be thankful. As I sit and listen to my children prepare breakfast for my husband my own mind wonders back in time.

Early morning greetings to my gruff father who showed little emotion,that fact still never stopped all six of his children from pouring on the love and celebrating this day.

We had a tradition of baking cakes for all occasions not just birthdays, so there was nothing more enjoyable then gathering around a Father's day cake and singing to the most important man in our life.

It has been thirteen years since my father passed away and not a day goes by when I wish I could bake him just one more cake. As gruff as he was he always let us know that we were his priority and that being a husband and a father made him rich.

As the smell from the kitchen tickles my nose I am brought back to the moment. I hear my son making his own traditions in the kitchen. He is preparing breakfast to honor his hero, his father.

I watch how my children have grown to love and respect the most important man in their life and it makes me want to bake a cake and sing.

Cristina

Goal Setting















Greetings From The Front Porch!


Creating S.M.A.R.T. Goals



  • Specific

  • Measurable

  • Attainable

  • Realistic

Specific

A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. To set a specific goal you must answer the six "W" questions:

*Who: Who is involved?

*What: What do I want to accomplish?

*Where: Identify a location.

*When: Establish a time frame.

*Which: Identify requirements and constraints.

*Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.



EXAMPLE: A general goal would be, "Get in shape." But a specific goal would say, "Join a health club and workout 3 days a week."

Measurable

Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goal.

To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as......How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished?


Attainable

When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.

You can attain most any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. Goals that may have seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them. When you list your goals you build your self-image. You see yourself as worthy of these goals, and develop the traits and personality that allow you to possess them.

Realistic

To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic; you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be. But be sure that every goal represents substantial progress. A high goal is frequently easier to reach than a low one because a low goal exerts low motivational force. Some of the hardest jobs you ever accomplished actually seem easy simply because they were a labor of love.

Your goal is probably realistic if you truly believe that it can be accomplished. Additional ways to know if your goal is realistic is to determine if you have accomplished anything similar in the past or ask yourself what conditions would have to exist to accomplish this goal.


Timely

A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there's no sense of urgency. If you want to lose 10 lbs, when do you want to lose it by? "Someday" won't work. But if you anchor it within a timeframe, "by May 1st", then you've set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the goal.

T can also stand for Tangible - A goal is tangible when you can experience it with one of the senses, that is, taste, touch, smell, sight or hearing. When your goal is tangible you have a better chance of making it specific and measurable and thus attainable.


Thank You
SMART Goals

Cristina