Slow Simple Small

Slow, simple small. I am slipping back into these three s's since returning to my school schedule of being taxi driver, task keeper, homemaker and wife. As a professed rabbit by birth, I traded my lucky rabbit’s foot in years ago for a turtle shell.  Leading me into slowing down, sitting in the simple and savoring the small.

"How do you do it?" A friend asked as we sat on my front porch.  I explained to her that I have not always lived like the turtle.  I actually use to take pride in my to do's and loved seeing my calendar filled and checking off my accomplishments. When face book came out, wow, just another way for me  to pat myself on the back with updates and statuses.

I shared with my friend how I was being groomed to be more and do more for God in the world of recovery.  A world where I had  found freedom from my past addiction to not only substances but performance.  How ironic then was it that I was being groomed for such a task?

The problem with that kind of grooming was it was preparing me for relapsing back into a victim mentality and sending me back to a prison no one could see, this time the bars would be my to do’s created by a culture of have more, do more be more.

I was being commended for my works and lifted up on an invisible pedestal as calls were coming in weekly for me to speak, teach and train others.  The roar of the crowd was intoxicating and the apparent acceptance of even strangers gave me a temporary high. My whole life I had suffered from the disease of " not enough." Now, I was the person people were calling on and it felt good.

The only problem with buying into this behavior was that I started to believe what others were saying about me. Treating me as if I had more value, better gifts and a direct line to the creator of us all.

I started noticing a shift in relationships as people started to rely on me for their truth and my silence was not good enough. People would feel rejected when I did not spend time with them and made references to me being to busy. Yet, I was only doing what they all had encouraged me to do.

Finally I put a stop to it all.  I could not continue on the journey of recovery and buy into the busyness that I was being groomed to live, all in the name of the call and all at the cost of those I loved the most.

At a deeper level I understood that my success, recognition and approval of others could not dictate my worth and value.  Though the longer I was living in the ball of busyness bouncing around from here to there, I started to believe the lie that my worth and value were based on my being busy.

I had to put the brakes on, breathing had become difficult and my schedule beyond full.  I looked around at my life and had to make a decision.  I finally decided what I valued most and let go of what others were telling me to value,  even at the cost of my reputation.  I realized I no longer could live out what others believed me to be.

That is when I stepped into the slow, simple, small moments of my ordinary mundane life and watched while God did an amazingly extraordinary work in my heart and soul.  Through excepting the slow, simple, small belief,  I was given a new set of eyes.  I could finally see why being still allowed us to know God.  I finally saw why simple was powerful and profound, God uses just that to confound the wise.  I finally saw why the abundance is found in the small added up.

All of a sudden for the first time in my life as I sat in the slow, simple, small moments I felt like I was enough.  For the first time in my life as I sat in the ordinary pockets of my day I believed that I was brave, bold and beautiful.

I challenge you my readers, if you have ended up at this post at this time to know that it is not by accident.  Embrace the slow, simple, small moments of life.  When you add them all up, the result is abundant living, the kind that Jesus spoke of and the reason He came.

Chaplain Cris
“Living In The Moment”

If Walls Could Talk

Dear New Family,
Welcome to your new home. If these walls could talk they would tell you many stories. They would start on a spring day in 1996 when a couple with two daughters one nine and the other five-months.

My family and I moved into this home after my husband and I had been married for almost three years. We found out we were expecting our son when our youngest daughter turned one. A surprise to say the least. However, a blessing in disguise.

These walls would tell you of a man who found his faith right in the middle of his struggle. When our son decided to come into this world two months early, I had been the only one going to church, taking our daughters every week. My husband would tell me “that God stuff is fine for you but leave me out of it.”

God used the early arrival of our boy to catch my husband’s attention. When he finally came to faith, he embraced it with all his heart and soul.

These walls would tell you of a woman who spent the first half of her life under this roof crying, hiding and wondering if there was a purpose to all her pain. These walls would tell you how on a late fall night God met her like He met her husband. The walls would tell you how a woman who came to the end of herself found the beginging of her Creator and a powerful testimony unfolded.

These walls would tell you of a man who loved enough to let a woman go, faith in God to bring her back. The walls would tell you of a family who fought their way back from broken places and pieces to healing and wholeness.

These walls would tell you of a family who held tight to their faith and believed in His truth that two are better than one and a greater return is what they experienced when they chose to fold not just into their family but also their community.

Almost seventeen years have come and gone since our family moved in to 8101 Golden Vista Way, little did we know back then how hard it would be to leave.

From the friends who are like family living in front behind to the left and to the right.

Please know that this place was much more then a house it was a home. Love kept it standing and faith kept it growing.

The front porch is a representation of our faith in an outwardly expression. It progressed over time, not always looking so inviting but as we grew so did the porch.

We pray that you find love, hope and peace as you fold into making memories and embracing the community, one front porch experience at a time.

Cris Nole


Chinese proverb state, “ If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.” 

A knee-jerk response usually ends up causing me to feel sorrow, guilt and/or shame.  When I go for the kill everyone ends up hurt.

My intentions are not to just love those I live with but all of humanity as well.  With that being said, I must think before I speak.  The ability to do so takes training.  Our brain is a muscle that must be exercised.

Sorrow, guilt and shame are not from the Father.  Relationships grow where love is exercised and self-control is practiced.

What if today I practice thinking before I speak?  What if today I am intentional about the words I speak and the actions I take.?

The best way to prevent sorrow, guilt and shame from growing in my soul is to be intentional about my motives.  Keep my why in check and if I do not know I will not go.

Today I will stop, drop and pray.  I will choose to be kind and considerate to all of humanity and when I fail and when I fall, I will make amends whenever possible.  I will wipe off my knees and start again.

All things are possible, all!

Chaplain Cris

What If
Greetings from the Front Porch.

What if today?  What if today I was intentional about the moment?  What if I focused all my thoughts and energy on what I was doing, seeing, saying and feeling as I allowed my faith to guide and direct me? 

I believe I would worry less and celebrate more.  I would see the blessing right in front of my face instead of trying to fix and plan for my future. 

What if I allowed for time of planning and preparing and when I finished let it be?  Sometime I can be caught up in the organizing  the plans of tomorrow that I miss out on the blessings of today. 

What if has so many possibilities.  I believe as I live in the land of in between, between yesterday and tomorrow, I would benefit from inviting what if into the start of my day. 

What if I focused solely on what needs to be done today, trusting that tomorrow will take care of itself.  Ancient scripture tells me it will. 

What if I remembered in the moment that I had chosen not to compare, compete, criticize, complain, gossip or boast.

What if I remember that slow, simple, small moments are what makes for an abundant life. 

What if I  choose for today to trust my intuition, check my intentions and train my internal editor. 

What if today I reminded myself that I am brave, bold and beautiful and I can do all things through Christ who give me strength.

I will tell you what would happen if I started my day in the what ifs.  I would live from a place of gratitude and giving instead of asking and complaining. 

Bring on the what ifs, I am ready to begin my day.
Chaplain Cris  

Walking Straight

Greetings from the Front Porch.  Many of the discussions on my blog revolve around loving and letting go.  That is because I am in the middle of the last season of my teenager’s lives and a theme that seems to be occurring not just daily but hourly and sometimes by the moment.

Letting go and loving well almost sounds like a contradiction. When I think of love, I think of holding something. If I loved you, would I not hold you?  How does this apply to parenting an almost adult child who is trying to spread her wings and fly? 

My heart hurt as I listened without fixing. I wanted to hold her and she wanted to be alone. I left her room feeling defeated.  “Did she not need me anymore?” I use to be the one she would ask for. When she was eight, she informed me by voice message that she could not walk straight without me. Now ten years later, I am the last one she wants to share her wounds with.  However, the first one she wants to pick a fight with.

Intellectually I understand the need for my girl to separate from her mama.  I understand the importance for her to grow up and learn to navigate through her own trials and errors. Intellectually I understand she hurts the one she loves the most.  I get all that.  On the other hand, emotionally, my heart is having a hard time.

How was I supposed to parent my child when she did not even want me in her presence? I sat in my room sulking. I wanted her to need me. I wanted her to run to me. I knew better. I was fighting with my flesh as my spirit reminded me that the struggle strengthens the faith muscles. I reminded myself that she is walking straight after all these years of believing she needed me in order to walk upright like all her friends.

Rescuing, fixing and enabling are not love, it is selfish, and another truth I had to remind myself as I realized I had a choice to make.

I chose to turn my sulking into thanking. I listed ten things I was grateful for about my almost grown girl. As I touched gratitude, I found myself remembering the greatest gift ever given to me almost ten years ago.

When the one who loved me enough to let me go finally did, my faith grew and my healing happened.  I drifted to sleep counting my blessings and holding tight to the truth that finally set me free.   

A few hours later I woke up to a soft knocking on the bedroom door. My almost adult daughter who had earlier wanted to be left alone was now standing at my bedside. For a brief moment, I thought I was back in the future. 

I was ready to find myself looking into two big brown eyes of my toddler trying to get my attention.  Instead, as I opened my eyes, I lifted my neck, looking up into the face of my girl. Before I could even say a word she whispered, "Thank you for not trying to fix me, I love you. “

Both her father and I received her words as a gift and conformation that all she needed from us was an ear of understanding and space for her struggle.

This I have come to find true.  Loving someone, enough to let them go does not feel loving at all.  However, if I have faith in my truth, recognize my feelings and love enough to let go, they will grow. 

Chaplain Cris

The Ouch Factor

Time heals all wounds, well not really, but human touch does help the ouch factor not feel so intense.

Her hands grabbed me from behind, holding and hugging my shoulders.  I was his wife and she his mother.  We were preparing to celebrate my husband’s birthday.  Together my mother in law and I in the kitchen, visiting and preparing.

Little did I realize how much I missed the touch of my own mother until my mother in-law gently touched me, similar to the way my own mother would when we worked together in the kitchen.

My mom passed away almost three years ago.  Found memories of the last year of her life are tucked into my heart.  Many mornings and evenings, you could find her sitting at the counter while I stood in front of the sink, cooking, cleaning, and connecting with one another.

One of the very last memories I had of her in my home was one of her shuffling along in the kitchen, grabbing my cheeks, bending my head down and kissing me on the forehead.  As she released me face, she softly said, “I am proud of you Cristina.”  I can still feel her fingers on my skin and hear her voice in my head.

Yesterday it was as if God used my mother- in- law to remind me that I am not alone.  Something about transitions that make me miss my mom even more.  The move has done just that.

The packing, painting, fixing and selling all brought back a flood of memories of my mother and the last twelve months of her life we had together.   Yesterday as I shared a moment in my kitchen with my mother in law, I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude for the family I married into. 

Twenty years this summer I celebrate being a Nole and yesterday as we gathered around as a family, celebrating the life of my husband as much as I missed my mama, the sadness was cradled by the love of those I am living life with now.

The mystery of life and death is just that.  I can never replace my mother or father nor would I try but this I know to be true.  God knew exactly where I would be and what I would need yesterday as I stood in the kitchen missing my mama. 

When my heart was hurting and my memories were alive, my mother-in-law reached out and touched me, without even realizing what she was giving.  A gentle reminder that I am not alone.  Even though time might not heal the wounds, it does give me a new perspective and a greater opportunity to live in a place of gratitude for those I call family.

Thank you God for giving me the most amazing family.  Those who share the same bloodline and those who share the same name.  I know if my mother and father were alive today, they too would be grateful for those whom I share my life with now.

The Front Porch of Folsom

“Nothing is secure but life, transition, the energizing spirit.”
 Ralph Waldo
The eagle has landed and the front porch has a new address.  I sit in my new home watching the sunlight shine through windows that are new to my mind.  I listen to the sound of music in the background and I take a deep breath.  “We finally made it.”

This is it and I did not die.  Even though it felt like it at times as I packed, boxed, and gave away many of our belongings, those days felt like I was highjacking my own life.  There were days when I thought I was going to be lost in the memories of yesterday and swallowed up by the sadness of saying goodbye.

The transition was a success due to the people, family and friends who cheered us on, even when we all felt the lose of the physical location of the relationship.

My faith, family and friends have given me the strength to be bold and brave.  I embraced every emotion, feeling and even the lose.  Tears were shed and goodbyes were said.  Because of these beautiful relationships, our family was able to walk away from the life we had known for 17 years with confidence into the unknown.

Three weeks into the landing and I was able to call a friend and share with her how as a woman of faith, we get a glimpse of the behind the scenes of our stories.  The part of the story that was not given to me when I decided to embrace the change.  A story where one family thanked us for blessing them with an opportunity to live in a home big enough for their family of eight.  A story where less then one week into the move we were able to exercise our prayer request and practice not being our things and stuff.  A story where gratitude became our theme and relationships ones again became our focus.

I am sitting in that gratitude at this very moment, looking back at the short past three weeks and see all the amazing gifts that have already been given because we chose to embrace the change. 

Every time we get the opportunity to spend time with our daughter and her family, cuddle our grandson and walk to the lake, I see the benefit of folding into our future and excepting the change.

I pause in my moment of gratitude and I lift up every person who has played a pivotal role in the process of our move. 

Dear God,
Thank you for the amazing circle of family and friends, those who walk by faith and not by site.  Thank you for placing a dream in our hearts and giving us the faith to walk it out.  I pray that our front porch here in Folsom will be a place where people feel safe to sit, share and celebrate, just like we did before.  I pray that we as a family will always remember that the front porch is more of an attitude then an address. 

Love Your Grateful Girl