Proactive Participation In Your Health!




Working out


Greetings From The Front Porch!

How many of you had goals that you declared back in the beginning of the year? Some of us resolved to lose a certain amount of weight, eat better, sleep more, and rest well. “This will be the year I finally quit---------!” We start out with good intentions but found ourselves half way into the year and wondering, “what happened?”

Today I want to encourage who have come to visit The Front Porch not to give up or give in to thinking that reaching your goals of health is impossible.

With summer just around the corner and a new season ready to knock on our doors, I believe now more then ever that this would be a good time for a do over. We only fail when we choose to give up. OK, lets wipe ourselves off, put on our walking shoes, take out our water bottles and grab some fruit, it’s time to start again.

Lets first look at a few statistics:

• 12 Americans die every hour from the food they eat

• Heart attack, cancer and stroke are the three leading causes of death in America.

• 1.3 billion people smoke.

• 67.5% of adults do not engage in regular physical activity

• 4 in 10 people who begin drinking before age 15 eventually become alcoholics

• 10% of the money we spend on healthcare is on obesity, and that number is getting ready to double

Here is my challenge to you, take some time out and ask yourself these questions:

1. What do you want to say to your­self about your health?

2. What do you like about your­self?

3. What do you dislike about your­self?

4. How can you change it?

5. What do you fear about making that change?

6. How can you overcome those fears?

I recently spent time with a good friend of mine who reminded me that we either live reactively to life or proactively to life, it is our choice. What does that look like in the area of our health?

Put simply, a proactive person makes sacrifices now for the benefit of later. It is doing something that can or would prevent a future problem. Example, eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, drinking 5-8 glasses a water a day, aerobic exercise twenty minutes a day. This helps prevent disease and the body breaking down. This is proactive health care.

A reactive person however, takes action after the problem has already risen. High blood pressure, weight gain, pulled muscle, these are just to name a few.

The truth is we make changes either by choice or by crisis. My hope for all who are reading this and struggling with reactive reasoning instead of proactive participation that you would make positive change by choice before you find yourself in a health crisis.

One way to begin to make real life change in the area of health is to have a proactive plan of participation over your own personal health care.

Simply put, goals set before you daily to help you achieve a healthy happy lifestyle will allow you to be a proactive participant instead of a reactive recluse.

Below are seven simple steps to starting on the road to being acare.

1. Block out at least an hour for this exercise.

2. Go somewhere quiet with no distractions, preferably outside your home or office.

3. On a sheet of paper, write down one to three specific health goals for the rest of this year.

4. Create projects for each goal. For example, if you want to lose 10 pounds, one project could be for you to create a workout schedule. If you want to quit smoking, one project could be to research accountability groups. Assign a due date for each project.

5. Create disciplines for each goal. A discipline is a task you do regularly and consistently. Be sure to define each discipline in specific terms when, what, and for how long. For example, running 1 mile on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays would be a strong discipline.

6. Schedule blocks of time in your calendar to work on completing each project, and each discipline.

7. Find an accountability partner. You will be more likely to succeed if you have a partner to share your goals, successes, and challenges with.

Question: What is the number one area of your health you find yourself struggling with today? If you could change anything about this area, what would it be?


Summer Time Is Here!

Resources Below

Greetings From The Front Porch!

Are you excited or what? Summer time is here and kids are getting ready to settle into home as if they were bears getting ready to hibernate for the season. Let’s be honest, how many of you dread this time of year?

It was not that long ago that just the thought of my kids being home for three days let alone three months brought me to a place of anxiety. “What was I suppose to do with these kids,” rolled around in my head about two weeks before the school year would come to an end.

The words that so easily, role off many young people lips, “I am bored,” as if parents were put on this earth to entertain them, haunted my thoughts and I wondered, “what will we do?”

What I came to realize over the last several years about summer vacation and many other seasons in my life is that unless there is a game plan I would fail. I love the saying that goes like this, “we don’t plan to fail, and we fail to plan.” That is where my frustration came out of, the failing to plan left us with nothing to do or to many choices.

I start preparing for summer, months before it arrives. Preparing my children for what the summer will look like. We have chosen to be proactive instead of reactive to the summer months.

Pulling the calendar out, planning some trips and events as well as committing to just being OK with being home.


Because they are in their teen years and the tables have turned, I have found that I want more time with them then they want with me. This is the deal I made with them. Monday mom day, I asked if they would leave just one day open for me to spend with them and the rest of the week could be for them.

We have committed to a few family activities, some personal goals and some much-needed mornings of sleeping in. I have said for years now that I think from the age of 13-17 we should just let the children sleep. We could wake them up just before the turn 18 and send them back to school. OK, not realistic but it does sound like a good idea.

So, as I sit her on my Front Porch, watching the rain come down on the last day of school, I thank God for this season I am about to enter into. I pray that we do not over commit and that we will find time to just be in the moment. Relaxing on The Front Porch and enjoying our community.

I pray as I let go and watch them find their way in the world that I will find peace in my moment as well. Moms and dads, The Front Porch will be open this summer for all to come and visit, to connect and be in community.

I challenge us all to be prepared even in the down times. This summer is going to fly by so and next thing you know you will be finding me greeting you from The Front Porch and wishing our children a happy first day of school.

*Make memories
*Rest well
*Enjoy this season

Summertime is here and it’s going to be great.


Guest Blogger Patricia Koza

Greetings From The Front Porch!

Since The Front Porch is about creating and connecting so we can live in community as we gather and grow, for a reason, season or a lifetime. I have challenged a few of my besties to step outside their comfort zone and put the pen to the paper or should I say the finger to the keys. Though we are not professional writers or trained storytellers, we are a group of women living with a mission to be real and be in community together.

Please welcome Patricia Koza to The Front Porch as she shares her heart and her love for walking by faith and not living in fear!

“I went on an incredible retreat with seven amazing wonderful woman of God! I remember the week before retreat I was saying to myself...I am not going...I have too much too do here and it might be best if I do not go. Fear was gripping my heart.

The truth was, fear of not being accepted made me think twice about backing out. Even though I was in fellowship with these ladies off and on for a year my mind was flooded with lies...Will I fit in? will I participate? will I have fun? Thankfully, I have learned to recognize those voices and realize they are never from my loving heavenly father Jesus Christ. Therefore, I packed my bags and off I went.

I arrived at my friend’s house a little late, but she greeted me with loving arms, we met up with our driver and again I was greeted with a smile. Our last stop before we are on our way. Taste of Tuscany to pick up another of the seven....

That was all in our car...the other three would be leaving later. We packed the car with lots of goodies and belongings and yet again greeted with love and Off and running or should I say driving we went! Along the way to visit a wonderful bakery.

About an hour and half later we arrived at the beautiful quaint Bed and Breakfast for our first retreat together. A few hours later arrived the other three. We were given gifts and shared our hearts with one another...

We had the most incredible time laughing, crying, joking, dancing and singing, eating and learning. Which brings me to the main purpose of this writing...What we learned?

The topic of the weekend was learning to love ourselves and see ourselves as God sees us. We were challenged to think about and write down on a 3x5 card good things about ourselves and if we could not think of any then to write down First Corinthians 13.

We were encouraged to talk to ourselves in the mirror about these good things...sound intimidating?...yes! Would we do that time no one really knew! The next day we were asked to write down what we love about each for each person. After writing them down, if we wanted to participate then we would sit in a chair and let each woman read there card to us. As a wonderful surprise, everyone participated.

What a Blessing! After we read the cards to each other we were asked to take a mirror look in it and read our card to the face starring us in the mirror....Would I do it I said?...I had only written on my card one thing and first Corinthian 3?

I decided to take the challenge...although anxiety was trying to fill my heart along with fear....I am so glad I did because what came out of it was the most beautiful thing....I could now look in the mirror and believe what God says about me.

Those cards I received, I carry with me and when I am feeling down and out I read, and am reminded of how people see me rather than how I see myself. I came away that weekend changed..

My perspective had changed I could now love with more compassion and I am really learning to love me for who God made me to be and love my life!...Thank you Cristina for challenging us from our gut and teaching us that we are beautiful and we can look ourselves in the mirror and tell our soul who we really are in Him!”

Patricia Koza

Thank you my dear friend for sharing your heart and your story, you are amazing!


Nothing Hits The Spot!

Greetings from The Front Porch!

A gentle reminder, The Front Porch is more about an attitude rather than an actual place. An attitude that two are better than one. It is possible to experience The Front porch from a distance. So relax, read and enjoy the view. I hope you find The Front Porch an amazing place to visit!

Nothing Hits The Spot!

Nothing hits the spot like a good cup of coffee…or a great conversation. “I am going into my office now,” I announce as I retreat into my cave to wait for the call. I felt like a little kid getting ready to open a gift that I already know about.

Peering at the clock on my desk, I can see that I am just minutes away from hearing my friend’s voice on the other end of the phone. I can’t help but smile to myself, pure joy at the thought of cuddling into my chair and our conversation for the next hour, sipping on my coffee and folding into the moment.

Though I cannot see her through the receiver, I feel her touch my heart with the soft sound of her voice. She is hundreds of miles away, yet I feel her very presence in the room with me as we enter into the moment.

Sharing our struggles and our victories...I can almost smell the cup of coffee she is drinking while we share our lives’ happenings with each other.

The song of our friendship plays for over an hour, pleasant tones and natural rhythm. Of course, the sixty minutes we shared seemed like only sixty seconds. Bringing the conversation to an end feels like another goodbye I do not want to make.

I seem to put the phone down more quickly this time because saying goodbye gets harder and harder. She has become my voice of reason, my partner in preparation. This is one way God brings my past into my present to help me create my future.

Iron sharpens iron. The two of us bear the fruit of friendship that naturally grows when two people come together with a common purpose and a common goal. Not intentionally but rather organically, knowing we are drawn to one another…the Spirit that lives within us writes similar stories on our hearts.

The bottom of my cup is empty and cold, the clock is ready to mark the hour and the family is waiting on the other side of the door. Our conversation must come to an end and we promise to make another appointment, meeting in the same spot at the same time for the same reason. Remembering as I put my phone away… nothing hits the spot like the sweet sound of friendship on the other end of the line.

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:17

Question: Do you ever carve out time during your busy week to make room for life-giving connections? If so, do they hit the spot?


Beauty Into My Brokenness

Greetings from The Front Porch!

Flowers are those little colorful beacons of the sun from which we get sunshine when dark, somber skies blanket our thoughts. ~Dodinsky

I never thought that flowers could mean so much and speak so loudly when given at just the right time for just the right reason. The smell of this particular bouquet made my nose want more as the sweet sent lingered in the open air of my front porch.

Have you ever heard a flower talk, a bouquet sing or a baby’s breathe call your name? As I held the gift of greenery in my hands, I could feel the cool stems of each of the flowers pressing into my fingers. Each flower looked like it was smiling at me as if to say “everything will be alright.” Each one whispering my name as if they had known me personally, their colors singing songs without words.

I was supposed to meet my friend in the later part of the morning; plans of shopping had been made the week before. However, the sadness that filled my heart that morning was something I just could not shake off and I found myself wanting to just cancel our trip and hide in my sorrow.

Thinking, “should I try to run from my feelings or be honest and share”. I took a chance and reached out through the wonderful world of technology and texted my dear friend a simple prayer request, “please pray for me, I am sad,” that was all I put.

At first, I was not even sure why I felt so blue and why I just couldn’t shake the feeling of the big black cloud looming over me. Typically, I could get up and move and it would get up and go but not this certain morning, it stayed uninvited as if it were a royal guest, demanding the best seats in the house.

As I pressed into my phone the word sad, I started to question if I should even send the text, “what will she think of me, I can’t be week.” I was now in a full-blown battle of the will trying to decide should I send it or delete it. A tug of war with my heart and my head. If I were advising a friend, I would say “send.”

Choosing to treat myself more like a friend and less like an enemy, I hit send and quickly tossed the phone on the couch and walked away, as if I had just texted something illegal. Part of me was hoping that she would not respond. What would I have done if she accused me of being weak and pathetic? Forgetting I was choosing to treat myself like a friend, I thought “you should be stronger and not allow your feelings to get in the way of your plans.”

This day was about me helping her not the other way around, yet, I felt inadequate as a friend, and I felt like I had nothing to offer her but a few tears and some still quiet moments on my front porch.

The green light started flashing on my phone; it was letting me know she had replied to my text. I kept looking at the blinking light as if I could make it stop with out picking it up and then I just grabbed it and started to read.

I immediately found a peace deep in my soul to the response that came through. She had turned the tables on me and with a beautiful invitation; she asked if we could just meet on the front porch and forgo the shopping until another time. She gave me the greatest gift of all and that was the gift of reversal, roles were changed and instead of her leaning on me for the day, I was now leaning on her.

She arrived on my Front Porch with the most amazing bouquet of flowers, roses, carnation, baby’s breath, daisies and wild flowers all in one arraignment; it brought me to tears as I felt her love and her compassion for my sorrow and grief.

We spent the next several hours sitting and sharing. 

1. She listened well.
2. She asked good questions.
3. She was intentional about the way she paused as we shared back and forth.

She was genuine in the way she cared for my sadness and by the time our afternoon ended my heart felt lighter and my sadness was replaced with joy.

The flowers reminded me that with death comes life and the lose as great as it has been with the passing of my mother I still have experienced life in relationships that have only now happened because of her passing.

Patricia my friend, way to wear HIM well, thank you for showing up on The Front Porch with Flowers that spoke to my heart and cradled my pain, you brought beauty into my brokenness and I am so grateful for our friendship.

Question: Do you have a memory of a time a friend entered your pain and held your hand as you walked through you’re lose? If so, please feel free to leave a comment below. I love hearing from you!


Grief and Gratitude Collide!

Greetings from The Front Porch!

We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.
~Kenji Miyazawa

Tick tock, tick tock, the sound of the clock in the background sends a message to my brain that time is still moving, yet why does it feel like it has stood still?

Why it is when life becomes hard and death becomes the theme, when grief is gripping at ones heart that in those moments when it hurts to breathe, time comes to a screeching halt as if to add insult to injury as if it is there to remind you of the pain just a little bit longer?

I find it a peculiar place to be, one year later from the moment that marked her passing and yet in my flesh it feels like only yesterday. Yesterday when we were gathered around the front porch, family and friends throwing together an impromptu memorial service, celebrating the life of my mother.

Just hours prior to the gathering on the porch, I had been by her bedside watching and listening as she struggled to take her last breath. Shock and grief had intersected and I found myself greeting and meeting people on the porch more out of habit then emotion.

One friend even said at the time how courageous and brave I was. Only now looking back am I able to see that my shock and denial appeared to look like courage. As I sat on my front porch, I just chose to sit still among the living that day while I contemplated death.

Here I am twelve months, three hundred and sixty-five days later and the pain of the loss seems to be greater now then it was last year at this time. Feelings of fatigue and great sadness woke my sprit today. I found myself longing to hear her call out my name just one more time as she so often did through out the day.

Today I have allowed my heart of gratitude to dance with the lose of life. I have embraced what was with what isn’t anymore. I have let my pain become my fuel so I could focus on His face as I continue on this journey of letting go well.

I have found that right in the middle of what looks a little murky is my savior Jesus, he is waiting to take me by the hand and walk me through the process of letting go and moving on. I can feel his nail scared hands reaching out to help me up, holding my hands every so lightly to let me know I was not going to fall. I could hear his sweet soft voice whisper to my soul, “trust in me with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

As I picture him holding my hand I start to cry and I know he feels my lose. The creator of this universe who knows what it feels like to live to let go and to hold on all at the same time is helping me walk through one of the greatest loses of my life.

Today I choose to let grief and gratitude hold hands as they mesh into one another. As I let go of the lose and hold on to the memory I pray that my journey is one that others can learn from, one of grace and gratitude while walking through grief.

Question: How have you dealt with the lose of a loved one? If you have, what did the grieving process look like to you?

Please feel free to leave a comment below, I love hearing from you.


Daily Dozen

Greetings From The Front Porch!

Many people have asked me recently about how I keep myself focused on the God stuff over the good stuff. So, below is what I call my Daily Dozen taken from one of my favorite authors/speakers John Maxwell. This is a list I keep close to me at all times, going over it, reevaluating why I do and making sure that my what’s line up with my why. Feel free to have fun with the E’s!

The Daily Dozen

• Examine your life at the moment. The first step toward making your dream come true is to find out where you are right now. That takes close scrutiny.

• Exchange all of your little options for one big dream. Every dream has its price.

• Expose yourself to successful people. It is true that birds of a feather flock together.

• Express your belief in your dream. Write it down or talk about it frequently.

• Expect opposition to your dream. Every nitpicker who doesn't have a dream will oppose yours. Regretfully, there are ten nitpickers for every person with a dream. You will never rid yourself of them. As long as you understand that, you won't let them hinder you. Remember that those who have no dream cannot see yours, so to them it is impossible. You can't have what you can't see.

• Exercise all of your effort, all of your energy, toward the dream. It's worth it. Pay that price?

• Extract every positive principle that you can from life. Constantly be on the lookout for anything that will enhance that dream.

• Exclude negative thinkers as close friends. You're going to have some friends who are negative thinkers, and no doubt some are members of your family. But if their negative thinking drags you down, which it will, you don't need to spend much time with them. There are people in my family and in my wife's family who are spirit-dampeners. We have chosen, for the sake of our kids as well as ourselves, not to spend a lot of time with them. You may need to put some distance between yourself and your negative-thinking friends.

• Exceed normal expectations to make your dream come true. If you're to reach your dream, you'll have to do that which is beyond the normal. Dreams are not achieved by average energy.

• Exhibit an attitude that is confident. I believe that if you are outwardly confident, you will become more confident inwardly. The way we act outwardly affects what we are inwardly.

• Explore every possible avenue to reach your dream. Don't let any detour or dead-end street stop you on your way to a dream God has given you. There are more routes up a mountain than just the east side. Go around to the south side. See what else you can do.

• Extend a helping hand to someone who had a similar dream, and both of you will climb together. Mountain climbing is not an individual sport. It's a team sport. One holds the line for the other. As we hold the lines for others, we can all make it to the top, and our dreams can come true.

Be All You Can Be.

Question: How many of you could implement just one E a day?
Please feel free to leave a comment below, I love hearing from you!

Cris Nole

Rise and Shine!

Greetings from The Front Porch!

One by one they arrived on The Front Porch. The crust of sleep barely off their eyelids, “it seemed like a good idea at the time,” came from one of the voices in the group in regards to their yes just days before.

If we were in the middle of the country I believe a rooster would have been crowing at the very moment we chose to step of the sidewalk and into the street.

Rise and shine, 6:30AM, fun run from The Front Porch, why? Because 85% of life’s problems can be solved with momentum and two are better than one, they have a better return for their work.

What would bring a group of folks to The Front Porch at such a ridiculous time of day? Why would people possibly say yes to something most would say no to?

I believe people said yes because deep inside each of us we long to be connected to a community of others who long to be more then they are in the moment. I believe deep inside each human soul longs and yearns to be connected, challenged and stretched beyond their own comfort zone.

Some of us were runners, others joggers and others walkers but that did not matter, it was not about how fast we ran, walked or jogged, it was about the journey. We were all pounding out the pavement following the same trail with the goal of reaching the same destination, a group of ordinary people having an extraordinary experience together for the sake of community with the benefit of connecting.

The chiter chatter of the group brought a smile to my heart as I listened to some of my nearest and dearest friends connect, sharing their morning, their week and their plans for the weekend.

There is something profound about working out the body that can teach us much about working out our faith. Our muscles were made to be stretched and our bodies were made to move, how we do it and when we do it is all on an individual basis but in order to stay healthy it must be done.

The funny thing is that for me it takes about twenty minutes into my workout for me to start feeling good about what I am doing and then I am always glad I did it.

In fact, many said today when we were finished how good they felt once they started moving, confirmation that 85% of change, growth and problem solving comes in the form of momentum and movement. The problem at first was we didn’t feel like moving, yet the more we moved, the more we were able to move.

This to is the same with working out our faith. If we choose only to walk by faith every once in a while instead of exercising our faith we will suffer pain and fatigue every time. We were created to walk by faith not when we feel like it but all the time. This takes practice and perseveres to do what doesn’t feel right, believing that the end result will bring you closer to your creator and a place of health and wholeness.
We also need the encouragement of others who have gone before us, mentally, physically and spiritually to cheer us on and give us hope and faith that it is possible to run the race set before us. This is done in true community where no one is out for their own good but the good of the other person, knowing when we help others grow we will naturally grow ourselves.

The amazing result of choosing to connect in community through saying yes to a challenge is that we are given through the process a new set of eyes, which become the actual gift of understanding what the prize really looks like.

Even the Pit Master who chose to get up early with his faithful right hand man was being stretched as they stepped up to say yes to feeding those who chose the challenge. We met on The Front Porch at 6:30AM but they started the food preparation at 5:00AM and what was in it for them? They were not being paid, no trophy or award. If anything they were left with a mess to clean up, so what made them say yes to the challenge as well?

Community, connecting through an experience of being stretched to grow beyond our wildest dreams, starting small and realizing we can and we will if we choose to do it together. The prize, the ultimate gift comes when we actually witness the power of the living God in each other when we believe in ourselves not because we see greatness in us but because we see greatness in others.

So, to those who ran, walked, jogged, cooked, served and cleaned up, my hat goes off to all of you for running your race well, for not turning back, giving up or even giving in to what might have appeared to feel uncomfortable at first. You are all a gift to this community and beyond and your influence will reach many as you continue to say yes to being stretched.

Until next time, be blessed and don’t forget to tie your shoes.

See you on The Front Porch!

Cristina Nole