What I Learned from Viola

Last night millions watched the Academy Awards show. I was one of them. I have recently been watching shows and movies Viola Davis acts in and I am truly amazed. Words really can’t describe her acting talent that she has honed and shared with the world.

In the candid moments is when you see who celebrities really are. I saw a glimpse of  a candid, transparent Viola this morning as I watched Live with Kelly Rippa. Kelly was backstage last night talking to celebrities as they exited the stage. After Viola’s speech, Kelly asked her: what did you do differently this year?  I was inspired by this exchange:

Viola: “This year, I held his hand.”

Viola:
Last year I was in my own world.
Last year I didn’t hold his (her husband’s) hand.

This year she wasn’t in her own world.
This year she held tightly to her husband’s hand.

This year she won. And we all remember her speech that left us speechless.

viola-davis-and-husband

This exchange inspired me to challenge myself and others:

This year, let’s commit to do life differently.
For those of us that are SO close to “winning” we can taste it:
This year we’ll acknowledge those that truly believe and support our dreams. And this year we’ll hold tightly to His hand. #beblessed #holdtight#enjoythejourney #oscars #violadavis

Just Jump

This Christmas I got to spend some time with the newest member of our family… this 7-month old cutie:

jackson

Jackson.

Even though he is technically my second cousin, I have adopted him as my nephew and he is SO ADORABLE! I have thoroughly enjoyed myself watching him explore his world, communicate his needs and interact with others.

Babies bring so much life to the scene. Babies aren’t pretentious. They rely on others to help them and live life unafraid.

On Christmas Eve, Jackson and his mom came over to spend some time with us. After brunch we gathered in the living room to play cards. Jackson was sitting on the couch and his mom got up for a moment.

 

Suddenly,  we heard a thump, his deep intake of air and then his cry of shock. Jackson had moved ever so slightly, lost his balance and his small, round body hit the floor. His mom had only turned her back on him for a second. Quickly, his mom scooped him up, said a few encouraging words, and Jackson stopped crying. Thankfully, he wasn’t hurt.

He made a move. Not knowing the outcome, he made a move.

While sharing a meal that same evening with my brother, Jackson’s mom and my cousin Albert, we started talking about life. Jackson was also there. I shared my recent frustrations that I wasn’t really living my passion…yet.While looking at Jackson, Albert shared with me:

“There is a reason [as infants] we learn how to physically move before we learn about the outcomes associated with particular movements”

I finished his reasoning in my head:

If we always knew the outcome of our movements, we’d never progress. We’d never experience the exhilaration of exploring some new place, new relationship, new territory or life experience. We’d never learn. We’d stay stagnant.

Faith works the same way. According to Hebrews 11:1

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Albert’s last words to me that evening were, “Nonie, take the jump.”

I learned a lot from Jackson:

It’s in the actual moving that we begin to grow, not in the stagnant fear of “what if.”

Take the jump. Like Jackson, make a move. That thing God is asking you to do. Do it. And if you happen fall, He’ll be there to scoop you up. Just jump.

Love,

Nonie

Chasing the Sun

I literally chased the sun this morning. I had to get a shot of the sun rising after a series of unexpected events last night.

Last Night

Warning after warning came, urging everyone to take cover. News stations aired severe weather coverage non-stop from early evening into the night. Tornadoes had been spotted nearby and were possibly heading my way. I heard the warning siren. Two days before Christmas. This was a little ridiculous I thought. Especially after such perfect weather the day before. And what about my travel plans? What about the presents? What about CHRISTMAS!?

This Morning

An unbelievable peace came this morning. I rose. Unharmed. Unscathed. And nothing lost. There were, however some that lost their lives, property and hope this Christmas.

The sun this morning. Beautiful. Not a cloud in the sky. There it was. To greet me. The sun reminded me that it always rises. Even in the midst of a storm, the sun remains and shines again. But. This lesson was too cliché. God had a bigger lesson to teach me this morning and share with you: Seek Him and you will find Him.

I went to my usual spot to reflect this morning before heading home to visit family. I was planning on getting a great shot of the sun rising over the peaceful lake. You know the shot. Where the sun’s rays make the water glisten and you just take it all in. I had it all planned out. The picture. This blog post. It was going to be perfect. Not today. But here’s what I did get.

Picture 2

A little disappointed, I made my trek back to the car. Planning my next move to get that perfect shot.

And There it Was

And there it was. As I looked up. The sun. The sun I had been looking for, chased down and anticipated. But at the same time, not expecting it so quickly. Right in front of me. It was beautiful.

Picture 1

2015 has been tough one for me. I’ve experienced many changes, unmet expectations and had relationships challenged. Maybe you find yourself in the same place.

Just as you celebrate this season, remember to also seek. Just as the wise men went to seek Him: The King. The Savior. Emmanuel. This same King is available to us. Today and forever. I call Him Jesus.

Celebrate and Seek.

With Love,

Nonie

Embrace the Stretch

Philippians 3:14 I press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

As the holiday season kicks off, many of us are looking to get a head start on improving our physical fitness for 2015. I saw many pictures on Facebook from Thursday’s “Turkey Trotters:” people that braved the cold and left their turkeys roasting at home to run, walk, skip and jog all in the name of fun and fitness.

One thing that I’ve noticed that is paramount for endurance during a run or any type of physical exercise is taking the time to stretch. Some people do it before they exercise, others after a brief warm-up, some at the end of their routine and any combination during those times.

Stretching is an important component to strengthening the body.

Stretching

Stretching is meant to protect the body from injury during the upcoming exercise. When exercising, we push our bodies beyond what they may normally be accustomed to. The body needs to be prepared for this activity. So, we stretch. And sometimes it’s a strain. It may hurt a little…make you groan. But hey, you know you need it.

In life, we’re faced with “stretching moments” almost daily. We’re called beyond our comfort zones to face life’s demands. Sometimes we see those obstacles coming, and a lot of times we don’t.

Why does God provide these stretching moments? Why does He ask us to do and say things that we think are impossible, maybe intimidating and down-right hard? Simply because. He loves us. He’s training us for that extra, maybe unforeseen mile to endure. For the obstacles we have yet to face, He’s preparing us for the victory, now.

It’s how we deal with these stretching moments that makes the difference. It’s in these moments we either grow or stay stagnate.

In those moments when it would be easier to give up and quit. Stay. Try.

When you have to say good-bye, do it.

When it would be easier to just keep quiet. Say, “I’m sorry.” First.

When it would be easier to make excuses and not show up. Show up. Early.

When it would be easier to brush them to the side. Extend grace.

Choose to embrace and feel the stretch. Reach. Bend. He does it for us. Let’s do it for Him. And after the sweet release that will come at the end of your stretching, you’ll have a greater range of flexibility. You can jump over that next hurdle or climb that next hill a little easier than before, because you’ve been strengthened.

You chose to embrace the stretch.

I pray this messages blesses you, my friend.

With Love,

Nonie

The Growth. Process.

James 1: 2-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

 “Are you afraid of people seeing you go through the process?” Boy, was that a loaded question. My best friend in the whole-wide world knew just the question to ask to make me honest with myself. Yes. Yes I was and I must admit, I still am. I’m afraid of people seeing the real me.

What prompted the question was the conversation around whether or not I should take my kinky twists out, cut the relaxed ends off and allow my hair to grow in its most natural state.

I’ve been debating “going natural” with my hair. I haven’t had a relaxer in almost a year… the longest I have gone since I was 4 years-old. (That’s 25 years for those counting 😉 ) 

But, back to the original question: “Are you afraid of people seeing you go through the process?” In other words: Are you so concerned with yourself and the way you look that you won’t take the necessary steps to do what you want to do for yourself, even if it risks looking “less-than” your desired best for a brief time?

I feel there’s so much theology in this it’s almost too deep to excavate. But, I must. It’s not just about my hair. It’s much more. It’s about being transparent. It’s about finally being real.

I remember the first time in my adult life when I got serious about living my life for God. It was wonderful. God was awesome, I felt awesome and life was just (you guessed it) awesome. Then, He started showing me some things about myself. Some real ugly things. Life with God started getting real. He showed me some areas in my life that needed a lot of “cutting-off.” I knew what was coming. It was going to be a process. One snip at a time. Was I going to run and hide, or face it and turn it over to Him? Well, currently I’m somewhere in between. (Remember, it’s a process)

God has this great way of humbly exposing me to the lies I have been living under for the past 20+ years. It’s been upsetting. It’s hurt. A lot. It’s required a lot of “go there” moments. But it’s been necessary. In a previous blog post, I mentioned that God isn’t necessarily interested in my feelings. He’s more interested in mending my brokenness and making me whole. He desires I live in His Truth: The only truth. He desires I live in His freedom.

So, the real question becomes: Am I ready to reveal my REAL life? My struggles, my hopes, my dreams and my past. Yes. I owe it to Him. This life isn’t all about me. It’s about my witness to the world so that HE may be glorified. So, l’m taking my life back. Today. Growth is necessary. For this next season in my life and thereafter, I’m committing to transparency and letting go.

Image

Here it is folks, the new Nonie. The Nonie that’s not afraid to share the details of my beautiful struggle with you, so that He may be glorified. I’m so glad I serve a real God that understands my real life.

I pray this post and all future posts will bless you.

With Love,

Nonie

Oceans

On vacation last week I got to see and experience the ocean. It was amazing. It was so amazing it made me think about what a Big God I serve. He created this… this small glimpse I get of a BIG ocean. I see freedom. I feel His wind. I am His and He is mine.

Oceans

I thought of the song “Oceans” by Hillsong United after I took this picture. It’s become one of my favorites, lately. It’s so powerful and speaks to me.

Part of the lyrics say: “Spirit lead me where my trust is without boarders, Let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me.”

I pray:  Spirit lead us, where we trust you more and more everyday. Spirit lead us where we have no boarders and we are free. Take us deeper into a place where on our own, we can’t go, but by and through You we experience life, and life more abundantly.  Spirit, lead us.

With Love,

Nonie

 

Listen to “Oceans” here: “Oceans” by Hillsong United

The Promise of a Father

The Promise of a Father

Saving Mr. Banks is a great movie. According to the movie, a driving motive for Mr. Walt Disney to turn the Mary Poppins book series (authored by Ms. P.L. Travers) into a movie was that he promised his daughters he would make Mary Poppins fly off the pages of their books. It was compelling (according to the movie) that Mr. Disney spent 20 years pursuing Ms. Travers to gain the rights to transform her writings into a motion picture.

He was willing to go the extra mile to make his promise a reality for his daughters. He provided an all-expenses-paid trip to Hollywood to try and “woo” her. In the scene when Mr. Disney finally gets Ms. Travers in his office to speak with her, he glances at photos of his daughters and begins to explain to her the time his daughters were reading one of her books one evening. As he peered into their room, he found them giggling at “Mary Poppins.” Hoping she would finally understand his plea, he says to her:

“Now Pam, a man can’t break a promise to his kids. No matter how long it takes to keep. No matter how long!”

After 20 years of pleading and bargaining she finally gave in. Mr. Disney’s persistence paid off.

We all know what happened when the book series became a movie… it was epic. I remember watching it several times as a child.

Mr. Disney recognized Pam had a gift that needed to be shared with the world. What more can we say about our Father in heaven? Much more. It dawned on me: When The Father makes a promise (to his sons and daughters) He always comes through, no matter what.

father and daughter

2 Corinthians 1:20 says The promises of God are yes and amen. When The Father promises something to you, He is faithful to fulfill that promise.

I pray this message blesses you, just as it did me.

With Love,

Nonie

How can I obtain real and lasting change? Think Differently.

How can I obtain real and lasting change?  Think Differently.

Only 4 months  ago, people across the world were celebrating the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014. We celebrated the hope, promise and change that 2014 could bring. I’ve found in recent days, my New-Year-newness has worn off just a little. I have found myself in my normal routine of going to work and resuming my life pretty much just the same as I did in 2013. My life certainly isn’t bad, but I know I can make it better. So I ask myself, how can I obtain real and lasting change? How can I do life differently, and better? I came up with one word: MOTIVATION.

If I take an honest look into my heart, my motivation for doing certain things has been to please others. Yes, I said it and I admit it, I’ve been a people-pleaser. So how do I change my motivation? Where does my motivation even come from?

IT STARTS IN THE MIND. The Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8 “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

God spoke to me so clearly a couple of weeks ago and said

“Change your world with your mind”

Our immediate situations may stay the same, but because our mind is continually being transformed through His word, we begin to view and approach life differently. We change. We change our attitude. We show grace. We give love. We become patient. We begin to exhibit fruits of The Spirit. Ultimately, we lead a better life.

But do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…”

We have the permission and the power to take on the mind of Christ. We’ve been given the best tool to help us do so: God’s written word.  His word is alive and active. It remains the same from age to age. The Bible is filled with 66 books of promise, after promise, after promise.

I am vowing this year to read His word more than ever before, because quite frankly I need His word in my life. Can you make this vow with me? I know we’ll both be better for it.

So, my dear friend,  if you have felt the same way I have, be encouraged that although our surroundings and life situations may seemingly be the same as they were in 2013, we serve a God that through the power of a changed mind we will think differently, speak differently, act differently and ultimately transform our lives and the lives of those around us to glorify Him in 2014 and beyond.

Take a different approach this year: Think differently.  Think about those things worthy of His praise.

I pray this message blesses you just as it did me.

With Love,

Nonie

Little Is Much

Little Is Much

Do you sometimes feel like you’re running on fumes? Like you have absolutely nothing left to give… Not another minute, another hour or dollar. Not another anything? Sometimes we think holding on to what we do have will serve us.  I was reminded of this simple truth today:

Little is much when you place it in The Master’s hands

What happens when we place our little in His hands? I looked to the Bible for answers.

One passage:
In 2 Kings 4:1-7 a widow was fearful her sons would be taken from her by creditors to become slaves. She was instructed to borrow empty jars from her neighbors and fill them with the little oil she had in her home. With her little oil, she was able to fill all the jars she borrowed with oil. The woman paid off her creditors and there was such an abundance of oil remaining, she and her 2 sons had enough to live off of.

Another passage:
In John 6:1-15 a boy brought his lunch with him on a journey. He had 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread. Out of obedience, the boy placed his food in The Master’s hands (Jesus) and his little fed 5,000. His little provided nourishment for thousands of hungry men, women and children. And there were leftovers.

What you really don’t think is much, is.

We serve a God of: multiplicity, providence and overflow. He will provide not only for you, but others around you so that He may be glorified. He’ll respond when we’re responsible with our gifts, talents and resources. The widow in the first passage looked to the prophet Elisha for help when she thought her sons were going to become slaves. Elisha asked her a simple question: What do you have in your house?

I propose this same question to you. Instead of telling yourself and others “I have nothing,” ask yourself: what do I have?

Place what little you have in His hands. Your little is much.

 

I pray this message blesses you just as it did me.

With Love,

Nonie

I encourage you to read John 6:1-15 and II Kings 4:1-7 for greater understanding regarding the accounts mentioned above.