Coming Alive Again

It’s a crazy mixed up world we live in.  All you have to do is turn on the news to realize that.  Then there’s our own personal challenges added to the mix.  And…well…that can make us feel overwhelmed.  But there’s still beauty to be found in the middle of the broken.  My camera helps me seek and find it.  I’d like to share another poem that I wrote, several years ago, that was just published.  Go figure…just published after all these years!  Another surprise for me.  I thought I better hurry up and post this since spring is going to shift into summer soon…

Coming Alive Again


In spring there’s a freshness

and a beauty unfolds,

all that was sleeping

awakens for us to behold.


There’s a sigh of relief

that winter has ended,

even the birds are aware

of all that is splendid.


Woodland animals awaken,

peeking out their faces

slowly at the beginning,

from their resting places.

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Everything comes alive

like a rebirth,

a sense of anticipation

fills the whole earth.

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Dormant flowers rise up

to feel the sun’s warmth,

brown grass turns green

and color comes forth.

colors of spring

Gray skies become blue,

clouds look like marshmallows,

a tapestry on the ground

that is no longer fallow.


A colorful picture

and a marvelous sight —

when the world around us

is no longer black and white.

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Written by:  Nancy Janiga

All photos taken by: ©Nancy Janiga

When Being Thankful Seems Hard

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If you look back on my last few posts, you’ll discover a pattern.

I’ve woven the word steal into my text a few times.

In the article I wrote for FullFill Magazine I used the word rob–same thing.

My point was to help us realize that nothing can rob our joy or steal our thankfulness.

I mentioned in Don’t Let Them Steal Thanksgiving (part 1) and Don’t Let Them Steal Thanksgiving (part 2) that in the world of advertising and retail–the focus is to get our attention on the next best thing to buy and they zip right past Thanksgiving and into Christmas often before the end of October.

I’m a true fan of Thanksgiving.  It’s a holiday that isn’t surrounded by purchasing gifts and commercialism.

For me Thanksgiving means gathering the family around the table, with a delicious spread of food, conversation, laughter and love.  When I sit back and enjoy the day, all I have to do is look at the people who are sharing it with me and give thanks.

However I realize that for some this whole season, beginning in November through the end of December, is the hardest time of year to make it through.

Recently I spoke to a woman who is contemplating divorce.  She has a fractured family and her pain runs deep.  The Norman Rockwell images of family and home can haunt a person in her circumstances especially at this time of year.

My husband knows a young man who lost his father at the tender age of 15 mo. and struggles in a difficult relationship with his mother.  His feelings of loss and abandonment are real and they intensify starting in mid-November.

Some people are separated from family by miles and can’t make it home.  Some are estranged from family for various reasons.

Those who have lost loved ones, during this season, carry that reminder with them every year while trying to wear a smile.  A loved one’s passing (at anytime of the year) can create a deeper void during the holidays.

I’ve heard people gloss over others’ pain with the trite remark, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle,” as if somehow those words are ointment that can heal a wound.

First of all that statement cannot be found anywhere in the Bible.  This imperfect world sometimes gives us more than we can handle and if we rely on “The God doesn’t give us more than we can handle” theology then the question becomes “how am I going to handle this?”  The emphasis is put on I.  That sort of ointment doesn’t work.

So what works?  The healing ointment of grace and mercy from Jesus–that works.

Jesus Himself told us, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  He said we would have trouble not that we might have trouble.

His overcoming power is available to help us through any obstacle, hardship or painful situation and that’s something we can always be thankful for.

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When we are weak He is strong.  That’s what 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us.  In other words, when we tell the Lord that WE CAN’T HANDLE IT–whatever IT is–that opens up the connection for His resurrection power to flow.

That’s the key.  It’s how we lean and how we wait during the blackest of days that gets us through them.  Leaning on God, waiting on Him and looking for even the tiniest things to give thanks for restores hope and joy.

If we keep seeking Him through prayer–even when we doubt that he is there–even with our questions–our load becomes lighter, because in the seeking and the waiting we start expecting.

We become expectant for the arrival of an answer, a direction, a change in us, a change in circumstances, and just plain help.  Whatever form it takes, it will come and we start believing that truth while we seek and wait.

Sometimes taking a look back at our lives helps.  Pause for a moment in that place that seemed dark at one time.  It’s good to recall how God took the ashes (adversities) and made something beautiful out of them.  This practice always helps me when I’m in a troubling season, because it reminds me that what He did once He will do again.

In Isaiah 61 He promises a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

So this Thanksgiving I hope that we can all find something that we are thankful for even if it’s just giving thanks that God has seen us through difficult days before and He will do it again.

Written by: Nancy Janiga ©2014

Don’t Let Them Steal Thanksgiving (part 2)

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How do we give thanks in a culture that continues to tell us we’re not enough, we don’t have enough, and that our self-worth is only measured by all that is external?

Thankfulness can often be stolen from us, not only as we navigate through the retail stores during the month of November, but during any month.

You only have to glance at the magazines lining every check-out in every supermarket.

The messages that we’re hit in the eyes with are how to fix ourselves, our families, our relationships, our houses, our diets, our hair, our skin, our figures, our finances and how to have the best, be the best, want the best and never rest until we get the best.

Whoa!  Put on the brakes.

If we buy into all those plastered/plastic messages sprawled across the media, the advertisements, the displays or we get pulled into the enticements at the magazine counters how will we ever be thankful right here; right now?

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As I count down the days to Thanksgiving, I’ve been purposely keeping my focus off of the commercialism that begins this season and all the other messages I’m hit with at every checkout counter.

Before I start focusing on Christmas (too early) I’ve tried to cultivate an attitude of gratitude and finding one thing to give thanks for daily.

Often that one thing leads to many more things but concentrating on one is a great place for me to start.

One of the benefits of giving thanks daily is that the by-product of thankfulness is JOY.

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You can’t give thanks and be discontented, downcast or distracted at the same time and you really can’t give thanks and be depressed or angry either.

The out working of a thankful heart is always JOY and it’s deeply rooted in being aware of the blessings from God and it’s not dependent on circumstances.

Even in the middle of undesirable circumstances we can still have JOY.

Maybe that’s why 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to give thanks in all circumstances.

As an overwhelming sense of gratitude works its way in and through our lives, we’re often moved to give thanks in new and unique ways to God.

A few of the ways we can offer thanks is through worship, by our lifestyle, by telling others about what God has done and is doing in our lives and by giving generously.

I don’t think there’s a better way of giving thanks to God for all He has given to us than by giving to others…in time, talent, resources, or other ways we may feel led to reach out to someone in need.

After all, we’re told in Matthew 25:40 that whatever we do to the least of these we’re doing it to Jesus.

When I concentrate on the simple truth that everything that I have belongs to God, and that I’m just a steward of all of it–even my very life–I’m more ready to loosen my grip and give to others.

So as I cultivate an attitude of gratitude in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, I’ve also included a simple prayer–Lord, who is it that you want me to help this season?

I pray my simple gesture (to whomever God leads me to this year) will have a ripple effect and that they would see it coming from the hand of God and offer thanks to Him.

Then the gift of thanksgiving won’t stop with me but will keep on going…

Written by: Nancy Janiga ©2014