Posted on 2.13.2015 by Jody Noland

The comfort zone. It’s a place that most of us want to stay…and a place that rarely produces personal growth. In reality, permanent residence in the comfort zone can be equated with stagnation or decay. And who wants that?

But stepping outside of one’s comfort zone? Most of us have an immediate blood pressure surge just thinking about it.

Recently, I was facing oh-yet-another step outside of my own comfort zone. And, yes, I was terrified. For someone genetically risk-adverse, the thought of pulling the covers over my head was highly appealing.

Posted on 2.06.2015 by Jody Noland

When my daughter was born, a friend shared a comment that stopped me in my tracks. She said: “If you’re only going to have one child, I’m glad you had a girl, because daughters never leave you. Sons do.” 

I nodded knowingly, but I didn’t really have a clue what she meant. But as the years have passed, and friends’ sons have married, I now understand. 

Posted on 1.30.2015 by Jody Noland

Friendship. It’s something that all of us need for our emotional health and for our growth.

Yes, some people cultivate a long list of friends…and others are content with just a select few.

Some friendships last for only a season of our lives…others might be lifelong.

A person might have thousands of “friends” on Facebook, but few who really know them behind their electronic facade.

How many great friends do you have? And what makes for a truly great friendship, anyway?

Posted on 1.23.2015 by Jody Noland

Today is National Handwriting Day. (Yes, I heard you yawn!) The date was set almost 40 years ago to coincide with the birthday of the most recognized signature in America: John Hancock's. 

And yet in many of our schools, cursive writing is no longer even being taught. Most of us are more comfortable using some sort of digital device and typing than we are with getting out a piece of stationary and writing (or printing) a note or letter.

Posted on 1.16.2015 by Jody Noland

Oh, how I want to be like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. Constantly filled with optimism, enthusiasm, and boundless energy. But if I’m honest, I’m much more like Eeyore, focused on my fears, failures and inadequacies. To the outside world, I mask it behind my smile and the standard answer of “Fine. I’m fine.”  But when it’s just me and my faithful, ever-napping dog, my inner Eeyore usually reigns. It’s a constant battle.

Posted on 1.09.2015 by Jody Noland

In this world of achievers and go-getters, do you ever wonder what difference you could possibly make? Do you feel too average, too ordinary, too old, too invisible? 

If so, I’d encourage you to eat an apple, and when you get to the core, stop and look at a seed.

The miracle of one little seed. 

Have you ever stopped to think about what can result from a tiny apple seed?

Posted on 12.19.2014 by Jody Noland

Are you in pain this Christmas season? Carrying the burden of grief, the terror of a recent cancer diagnosis, the heartbreak of rejection…or the incessant ache of loneliness?

While Christmas is the most beautiful of seasons because of the hope it represents, it can also be extremely difficult for many of us. If you are one of those who is suffering, I hope you will be encouraged by the story of God’s redemptive love in the life of my friend, Lanise Shortell.

Posted on 12.12.2014 by Jody Noland

Are you looking for that “special something” to tuck into a loved one’s Christmas stocking?

A priceless gift that costs nearly nothing but will have meaning long after the Christmas season has passed?

Last Christmas, I found such a gift wrapped in my stocking. 

What was this amazing gift? It was a stack of handwritten cards from my exceedingly thoughtful daughter. 

Posted on 12.05.2014 by Jody Noland

“Today is a gift. That’s why we call it 'the present.'” I know. Hokey, but true.

Lately, I’ve been struck with the amount of energy I spend focused on the past or the future.

And, yet,  I often miss the gift of today.

I’m all for reflection. For learning lessons from the past, both the good and the bad. For letting go of old hurts and forgiving others…and myself…for mistakes, selfish decisions, hurtful words. And for cherishing the sweet memories and the countless examples of God’s faithfulness in my life. But it’s easy to get stuck in the past.

Posted on 11.28.2014 by Jody Noland

Have you ever felt overwhelmed with emotion, but unable to "label" it? 

That was me this past week. Emotions as strong as gale force winds.

But exactly was I feeling? 

Joy? No. Happiness? Nope. Fulfillment? Not that, either. Pride? No way.

None of those terms aptly described my sentiments. 

Finally, the lightbulb came on.

It was awe.

Awe. “A feeling of reverence and amazement.”

Yes, awe. 

Awe: that God had allowed me to be part of something so incredibly beautiful.