BE.YOU.TIFUL

single rose 2 - Copy

Like a carnival barker the woman summoned me to the store entrance.  I glanced in her direction as she held out a sample of moisturizer explaining, “We’re sharing a few of our skin care products today.”  I hesitated.  She continued, “It’s free.”  I thought, Oh what the heck.  I took the small foil pack, thanked her and turned to walk away.

“Wait, I have one more thing for you.  It’s a sample of our non-surgical eye lift serum.”  “No thank you,”  I responded.

Before I knew it I left my husband, Bob, standing in the mall and I was sitting in a chair facing a mirror.  How did this happen?  I never fall for this sort of thing, I thought.

But there I was in a spa–as she called it–at the mall getting a trial non-surgical eye lift from the carnival (like) barker.  Her name was Lily.  As Lily applied the potions, I kept telling her, “I’m not purchasing anything.”

All of a sudden Bob appeared with a look on his face that said, “For real?”  I shrugged my shoulders and smiled.  “No no, don’t smile, don’t move,”  Lily commanded.  I sat up straight, threw my shoulders back and froze to attention.

She applied a gel substance under my eyes, smoothed it, fanned my face with a piece of paper and explained to me that the routine would have to be done a couple of times a week.  She added that I should notice amazing results in just a few applications.

“There,” she swung my chair toward Bob.  “What do you think?  This is just one treatment and look how amazing she looks.  Imagine what this will do with long-term applications?  This is like Botox in a bottle at an affordable price.”

Bob studied my face, nods and says,  “Yes, she looks great.  I see the difference.”

I started to say, “Really?”  But Lily stopped me at ‘real’ and instructed me not to move the muscles around my eyes.   She said, “Like Botox, it’s working on relaxing all your muscles.”  I looked in the mirror.  The skin around my eyes did appear smooth but only if I didn’t move any part of my face.

Lily offers Bob the same treatment stating that men use it too.  Bob declines saying, “I don’t need it.”   That’s when I thought, Hmm…but I do?

Lily informs me of the cost of Botox and then shares the price of the eye treatment indicating how affordable it would be.

Bob’s stunned look and my squirming to get out of the chair must have signaled to Lily that we were done.  She whipped out a cleanser, moisturizer, exfoliate scrub and said that the package was worth over $800.00 but for that day she’d give it to us for the price of the eye lift serum which was $400.00.

“We’re hungry, it’s time for lunch,”  I looked toward Bob and we start to leave.

Lily throws in a nail care package thinking that would seal the deal.

As we head for the exit, Lily follows us waving her business card and I see two women purchasing the products from another carnival (like) barker.  Now we’re really stunned.

Bob and I break free and make a run for the nearest restaurant.  On our way, I must have made some facial expressions, because I caught a glimpse of myself in the lady’s room mirror at the restaurant.  I leaned in closer and saw dried gel serum crackling in the lines around my eyes making me appear to have double the wrinkles.  Then I noticed flaking white stuff hanging from my skin.

I threw on some sun glasses.  We ate and ended up at Starbucks after lunch to talk about the experience and to search for reviews on our phones.

Never mind the reviews on the products.  I have to review the truth.

The truth is simple–we live in a culture caught up with outward appearance.  Aging is viewed as something to be ashamed of.  We can’t run from the anti-aging messages.  They’re all around us–telling us to tweak this, tuck that, shift this, improve that.  Anti-aging.  It insinuates that we have to be against aging and something must be done about it.  Stat!

Today I’m reviewing the real truth.  It’s found all through God’s word and it reveals what He thinks about us.  He knows we’re flawed.  He sees the creases, outwardly and inwardly and He loves us anyway, but he’s more concerned about our inward flaws.  Those are the flaws that nobody else can see but I’m reminded that they get shed slowly over time.  Those of us who are Christians are works in progress.

  • Your beauty should not come from outward adornment…Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.   (1 Peter 3: 3-4)
  • Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  (2 Corinthians 4: 16)

Being renewed day by day means that our inner glow gets brighter the more we grow in our faith.  No matter what our circumstances are, or what our age is, we will radiate outwardly what is happening inwardly and that’s true beauty.

Written by:  Nancy Janiga ©2015

Along Right Paths

bridge 5 wdp - Copy

bridge 2 wdp - Copy

walk pathx wdp - Copy

Along Right Paths

Lord, let me hear You whisper
And recognize Your voice,
For I am at the crossroads
And need to make a choice.
There are so many pathways,
But only one is right.
Point me in Your way, Lord,
I’ll let You be my light.
Allow the path to shine
And illuminate with You,
As Your presence goes before me
And shows me what to do.
May each step I take be grounded
in the knowledge that You care,
And that I can have confidence
Because You’re always there.
No road is too long or hard
When it’s you who leads the way.
I’ll follow Your footsteps, Lord,
On the path I walk this day.

…He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Psalm 23:3

Nancy Janiga

Grace Like Rain

rain drop 2 - Copy (2)wdp

I slip my glasses on so I can see my way into the kitchen.  With pen and journal in hand, I click the brew switch on the coffee maker and take a seat at the table to wait for my first cup of morning brew.

As I flip open my journal, I notice the sound of gentle rain hitting the window.  My eyes land on the sliding door as beads of moisture glide down the glass.

Dawn is trying to break through the darkened clouds.

I hear the ready ring from the coffee pot.

The Italian roast flows into my mug.  The rich aroma wafts through the still air.

Taking my seat at the table once again, I sip and write.  Sip and write.  Ideas race through my mind and out the tip of my pen.  On the blank journal page, I scribble words leftover in my mind from the night before.

I’m always thinking, feeling, trying to sort out what I envision in my writer’s mind.  Whether I have a pen, journal, keyboard or not it’s the way I’m wired.  My brain is always creating.

I close my journal and listen to the patter of rain.

Sometimes we need a dark day.  It pulls us in, it quiets our souls, we are hidden and alone, away from any commotion or communication.

It’s a necessary place to be at times–small and hidden.

The electronics beckon but sometimes we need to tuck ourselves away from TV, phones, computers–away from the “Look at me” world that we are living in.  The false realities of our day make us believe that we’re not fully alive unless we’re seen.

So here alone I ponder.  In this space, in the dark cover of morning I’m embraced in solitude.

I stop striving, contemplating, thinking, being distracted by my own thoughts and I quiet my mind.  I empty myself and it’s here that I’m fully alive.

In this place there is no communication with others, except with the Lord my God.  Here there is no pretense.  I am fully seen, fully known and fully loved.

Like the rain that saturates the earth, my soul is saturated in grace.

And like Mary I know that I have picked the better thing.

 …but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42

Written by:  Nancy Janiga ©2015

Feel free to share by using the icons below….

Amen to Wonder

bee 3 - Copywdp

Years ago when my husband and I moved out of a large city and bought a house on a wooded 10 acre piece of property, my parents would escape from city life, several times a year, to spend weekends with us.  And once a year my mother would come by herself and stay for a week.  She called it her R&R.

We did a lot of hiking through those acres of woods and far beyond.

My mother saw beauty in everything.  Especially nature.  Everywhere we walked she seemed to be soaking it all in.  Those visits, the walks, the talks, inspired a deeper appreciation for nature in me.  Without her keen eye, I don’t think I would have picked up the extraordinary beauty in those ordinary places.

It was like she was inhaling the glory of God.  Everything held wonder for her.

As far back as I can remember, sunsets, the mountains, the valleys, every plant, flower and bird were a means to give acknowledgement to God.  When my sister, Judy, lived in Arizona my mother would return from trips to her house describing the majesty of God revealed in every mountain top.  There was a bursting forth from somewhere deep within her soul, like a release, at the beauty of it all.

When I was a child, even through my teenage years, I dismissed her sense of wonder and awe as a ‘mom thing’ and didn’t enter into it fully with her.  In my adulthood, I began to understand.

She could appreciate the created fully, because she grasped the deep love of the creator.

This past summer, while walking through an art gallery my husband and I spotted a piece of art that we were both drawn to.  We studied the painting, the colors, the depth, we envisioned it in our living room but left the gallery without it.

On another visit to the same gallery, the artist who painted the piece was there.  We talked to her and we began to see more deeply into it as she described the process, what inspired her to paint it, the methods she used and what she named it.

She remarked that her paintings aren’t complete until they are enjoyed, looked at with wonder, awe and eventually find a home.

That particular painting found a home.  Our home.  After spending time getting to know the artist, the appreciation for her painting grew deeper for us.

As my faith in God deepens, the more I get to know His love for all that he has created–especially His love for us–the more my eyes are opened to the beauty surrounding me.  I see creation through different eyes and I’m more able to savor the moments.

God gives us moments of wonder.  He has painted a world that many artists have tried to replicate but none can compare to the real deal that surrounds us everyday.

The long walks through the countryside with my mother–her naming the plants, pointing out the wild basil–picking it–rubbing it between her fingers to release its aroma–saying to me, “Here smell this, Nancy.”  Ah…she soaked in the moments and the wonder of everything.

God could have created the world in black and white but He chose to wash it with color.  Even in the depth of winter–when everything can look black, white and dull–He creates splashes of color for us to find.  I found it one morning on a branch in my yard.

cardinal snow x flksxx - Copywdp

This year I want to say AMEN to wonder.  I want to recall the moments from the past that have inspired me and look for new ways to see the world and rejoice in the wonder.

Written by: Nancy Janiga©2015

Click on the icons below if you’d like to share:

One Word

holly - Copy wdp

As this year draws to a close, I haven’t made one resolution for the upcoming new year but I did pick one word.  My word was actually an umbrella word over 2014 that protected and sheltered me.

ENCOURAGEMENT.  That’s my word.  It had the most overarching effect on me and it brought me to the threshold of 2015 with a sense of being supported and loved.

As a writer, I sometimes wonder if stringing words together on a page is worth the effort, because for me it’s not about using big impressive words or strutting my writing abilities around.  It’s about trying to inspire and move hearts.

At times I look back on my writing and cringe.  As I write on, I’m amazed at how I would choose my words differently just days after I write a piece.

Then a card comes in the mail.  Someone took the time to hand write a note to let me know what my words have meant to them.

ENCOURAGEMENT.  And so I keep writing…

Whether it’s a comment in person, writing or in an uplifting email, I’m always humbled by the encouraging words from people who tell me they’ve enjoyed or been touched by my words.

ENCOURAGEMENT.  And so I keep writing…

I haven’t arrived at a place where I’m completely satisfied with my writing but the beauty of life is that we are in all in process.  No matter what we’re doing or how we use our gifts, we haven’t arrived.  There’s always more to learn.  I change and grow daily and I’m learning to be okay with that and enjoy the process.

ENCOURAGEMENT.  It has pointed me back toward my passion and to remember why I write.

As some of you know, 2014 hasn’t been an easy year for my family.  Cancer came into our life this past summer when my husband was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia.

I’ve shared some of our journey in the following posts:

Again the encouragement that we have received from family and friends through the storm has been like a ray of sunshine through the dark and like a flower breaking through the winter.

last of the hold outs 2wdp

God uses people.  All the encouragement that covered my family brought with it the confirmation that God cares and that He will never leave us.

Yesterday we got test results from Bob’s oncologist that the markers for the Leukemia are decreasing in his blood significantly.  At their highest the markers were 89.  In September they were 49.  Yesterday the good news was that they are 6.9.

The goal is to have Bob’s chemo medication reduce the markers until they cannot be seen by the human eye anymore.  Then they will call it remission and he will take the chemo drug for life to try to keep it there.

ENCOURAGEMENT.  I know how much it has benefited me and I want to focus on being a better encourager in 2015.

Words have the power to build up or tear down.  I’d rather be a builder upper!

I will have my eyes open through the new year to look for those I can buoy up and support.

I’m going to scope out my surroundings and attempt to become conscious of:

  • the downtrodden
  • the sad eyed
  • the dejected
  • the ones who have lost hope
  • the struggling
  • the ones who have given up on:
    • their dreams
    • their gifts
    • their talents
    • themselves

I know from my experiences in 2014, just how the right words at just the right time can spur a person on and keep them from losing hope.

Lists of resolutions can seem daunting, most get broken anyway, but one word to carry into the new year is possible.

Now I’d like to ENCOURAGE you.  If you’ve tried making resolutions and said “Eh, that didn’t work,” why not join me and pick just ONE WORD to apply to 2015?  Then let me know what it is and how you’re using your word.  I’d love to hear from you.

Happy and Hopeful New Year to you and yours!

Nancy Janiga©2014

It’s the little things

christmas 2014wdp - Copy

Christmas is over but there’s still remnants left.  There’s a bag of crumpled wrapping paper tucked behind a stool in my living room.  The lights still twinkle on my decorated tree and there’s a few cookie crumbs on a plate sitting next to me on my dining room table.

My fingers click away on my laptop amid all the signs of the Holiday and my thoughts drift back to when my living room was full of chatter and laughter just days before.

Family gathered around our decorated home on Christmas to share a meal, share gifts and share memories of years past.  Lots of the memories hang from the branches of our Christmas tree.  It’s always fun to look at the ornaments and recall the memory attached to each one.  And finally we shared an indoor snowball fight with a pail of forty synthetic snowballs.

I think the best purchase, hands down, that I made this year was that pail of indoor snowballs.  They actually feel like the real deal minus the cold.  I grabbed one and threw it at my son.  Startled he sat back in his chair, smiled and said, “What?  Are those snowballs?”  Then came the laughter while snowballs, being tossed at one another, filled our living room.

In those moments, watching, listening, observing nothing was wrong and all was right in the world.

A few days before Christmas, I was making my mom’s traditional date nut bread–a recipe that she handed down to me.  As I mixed the batter, I watched a couple of neighbor boys, through my kitchen window, playing catch in the street.  As they threw the ball their dog ran along side it trying catch it in his mouth.  The sun was shining, it was 45 degrees and they didn’t have jackets on.  It’s unusual in this area to have such mild temps at this time of year.  What’s even more unusual is seeing kids running and playing outside at anytime of the year in this electronic age.

As I watched the game outside and prepared the nut bread, my thoughts went back in time–a time that seemed a little simpler–with my mom baking the bread and the streets filled with kids throughout the neighborhood and usually in the snow at this time of year.  Being inside the house for too long, wasn’t that common back then for kids.

Then I burst into song.  A song that I wouldn’t ordinarily think of.  I can’t carry a tune and you won’t catch me singing out loud in front of you but alone I’ll belt out anything…

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They’re really saying I love you.

I hear babies crying, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world.

Louis Armstrong ©1967

…and I think to myself it’s a wonderful world… and I hummed it for the rest of the day.

The hum carried on through Christmas and there was nothing wrong in my world.

But we all know there is something wrong.  We read the headlines, listen to the news, hear the stories, hear the cries, see the suffering, hearts get broken, tears flow…

We’d like it to stop.  We’d like to see peace on earth and good will toward men.

putting away christmas 2wdp - Copy

Christmas began in the manger but it didn’t end there.  When we put away Christmas, let’s not put away Jesus.  That’s where hope starts.  That’s where love begins.  That’s where joy originates and that’s where peace flows.

Among the chaos of the world, that little child in the little manger brought us God. And He brought us the potential, through our dependence on Him, to have peace on earth and extend good will toward men and women.  It can only begin one heart at a time.

May we embrace it.  Embrace Him.  And in the midst of it all find joy in the little things in life–like those blessings mentioned in the song, “It’s a wonderful world” because the little pockets of joy that we find in the chaos of life are really the big things.

Written by Nancy Janiga @2014

No Lists, Just Love

???????????????????????????????

He’s making a list and checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty and nice, Santa Claus is coming to town…

Most of us have heard those familiar words many times.  The nice get a gift and the naughty, well…they don’t get anything or, if they’re lucky, they get a lump of coal.

As my husband and I were traveling down the expressway last week, my eyes caught a sign outside of a church facing the cars that were driving by.

 SANTA ISN’T THE ONLY ONE MAKING A LIST!

“What?!?  Did I read that right?  Santa isn’t the only one making a list!  That’s the message the church is communicating to those passing by,” I told my husband.

On our next drive down that same expressway yesterday, I stayed alert watching for the sign.  I read it carefully thinking that maybe I was mistaken the first time but I wasn’t.  There in bold letters fastened to the large sign of the church were the words:

SANTA ISN’T THE ONLY ONE MAKING A LIST!

“If you want a gift, you better be good, because Santa is making a list and checking it twice and he’s gonna find out who is naughty and nice,” many parents sing the song and retell the story year after year.

It’s all in fun and I don’t think there’s one kid, that I know of anyway, that has been harmed or traumatized by the story of Santa.

But the message on the church sign?  I’m not so sure about that one.

Is that the message that they want the world to accept?  The message that God is making a list of all our wrongs and that we better be good or He won’t love us?  Is their message saying that we have to perform, do good works, clean up our act, obey the rules, or else?

I know there are thousands of good churches that communicate truth with love and I attend one.  I’m not implying that I know exactly the motive behind the sign but the perception comes across as God is making a list so if you’re naughty you better watch out!

We can shut ourselves up inside brick structures to make us feel safe.  We can hide behind programs, methods, procedures to puff ourselves up and think we’re secure because we’re us inside and not them outside.

We can point out the wrongs in others, forgetting who we are (or who we once were) and erect barricades of false security, we can have rules that make us harsh judges or we can have LOVE.

There in the manger on that quiet night long ago LOVE was born.  When we were the naughtiest LOVE came for us.  Jesus was born to die that we may live.  He took our punishment so we wouldn’t have to.

He knew our list of wrongs, all too well, and left His throne of glory and came down to rescue us.

We receive the gift; the greatest gift when we deserve it the least–we don’t have to be good enough to receive it.  All we have to do is accept it.

That’s the beauty of the gift.  God wipes our list clean in one swift stroke and writes across it PAID IN FULL.  Then slowly but surely we’re transformed in a way that rules could never accomplish. 

When we have LOVE, know LOVE, and extend LOVE our pointing fingers will come down.  Then the greatest gift of Christmas, who wrapped himself in love and is LOVE, can keep on giving…

Written by Nancy Janiga ©2014