Help From Heaven

This afternoon driving home from an appointment, I was thinking and praying about the many stressors in my life recently.  As tears filled my eyes, I quietly prayed, “Lord, I need to hear from you.  Can you send me a word through a song?  I need to hear a word from you!”  Immediately after I prayed this prayer, I turned up “The Message” on the radio and Matt Redman’s “Help From Heaven” immediately started from the beginning.  Wow!  God really came through!  Take a moment to listen to this song, especially if your feeling overwhelmed and stressed in life.  There’s one thing I know for sure,  “Heaven is closer than we know!  In fact, Christ lives inside my heart!  He’s always there and ready to reach down and help his children!”  In a matter of minutes, the state of my heart changed from deeply overwhelmed to hopeful!

Psalm 34:6

This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him And saved him out of all his troubles.

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons Learned From Little House on the Prairie

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In this day and age, it has become increasingly difficult to find wholesome television shows and movies.  As a mother, I am cautious of television and have been continually let down with most of the choices available currently for families and children.  My husband grew up watching old shows with his parents and thus, he has a great love for the classics. Therefore, before our children could walk, he introduced them to many of the old shows.  As family, we watch more old classics, than current and popular television shows. Our children are quite familiar with shows such as, The Andy Griffith Show, Flipper, Leave It To Beaver, Alf, and several other shows from generations before their time.  In addition, they’re even familiar with old television actors, such as The Three Stooges, Fred Estaire, Ginger Rogers and Charlie Chaplain.  I find it very strange, when I hear of children, teenagers, and even young adults who have never heard of these old shows and actors.  I have to remind myself, that we are in fact the minority.  Few people in today’s society appreciate the wholesome messages from the shows and movies of the past.

Recently, I purchased the first season of “The Little House on the Prairie”.  The entire family is watching the show together, from beginning to end.  We watched a beautiful episode tonight, Laura and Mary  were to speak in front of their peers and parents, and share an essay they wrote for school.  Not only did the show bring tears to my eyes, but it convicted my mother’s heart.   In the show, Carolyn the mother, saw a beautiful fabric in the local store.  She struggled with the decision to buy herself something special, but ultimately decided to purchase the material to make herself a dress.  The evening before the girls were to speak in front of the school and all the parents, Mary told her mother she was afraid the other students would laugh at her and not like essay.  Carolyn held her daughter tight and her heart broke for her daughter’s fears.  Carolyn stayed up into the wee hours of the night, working on a special project.  The next day, as the girls were getting dressed, she gave each girl a special dress made from the material she purchased for herself.  The girls were touched deeply, as was I.  Mary’s wrote her essay about her mother.  She discussed how hard-working her mother was, shared how she sacrificed for her family, and told the story of how her mother made them each a special dress out of material she purchased for herself.  As I listened to the essay, I was deeply touched and even more convicted by the profound words spoken.  Mary spoke wonderful accolades about her mother and my heart was convicted.  I realized the importance of being a kind and loving mother.  The past several days, I have been short-tempered, ill mannered, lacking grace, and I was certainly no Carolyn Ingles.  I was convicted of the importance of a mother’s love and how absolutely essential it is to show devout love to my children.  In addition, I was reminded that my children need me to be an example of Christ’s love to their little hearts.

Conviction was a strange feeling and a feeling I haven’t felt in quite awhile.  Let’s be honest, conviction isn’t something we experience often in this day and age.  The world tells us, “If it feels good do it!  If it feels bad, well then “who cares”!  It’s all about me!”  The world tells us to shrug off conviction and move onto… “Whatever makes you happy!”  I admit, tonight my heart needed to be convicted!  I am thankful for this old show and the wonderful lessons taught in each and every episode.  I am thankful that tonight I was reminded of what is most important in life, God, my husband, and my children.

Today, I was blessed with the ability to go back into the past for one hour.  Within that hour, I escaped from today’s anxiety and realized how truly blessed I am.

What are you waiting for?  Go watch yourself some good old “Little House on the Prairie”!

The Future of the Past is Today

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Today I write from a place in the past, not looking into the future, but recognizing the present.

Looking into the past I recall…

A young woman eager to marry.

A positive sign on a test, indicating “soon to be a mother”.

A little red headed baby boy, the first to call me momma”.

A young mother overwhelmed with the present.

A fatigued mother from years of sleep deprivation.

An eager mother, praying I would make it through another day.

A mother feeling such guilt, she cries herself to sleep.

A poor wife and mother living in inefficient square footage.

A tired momma watching little boys grow and picturing future prospects almost impossible.

A time when thoughts of major milestones seemed too far off.

A mother who learned early, that prayer is the greatest tool in a her toolbox.

 

Today, I write the thoughts of today with still so much future ahead, and realizing the future of the past is today.

 

I know what 16 years of marriage looks and feels like.

I know the fear of watching your first child walk into a junior high and a high school

I know the bittersweet emotions, realizing the second oldest boy is following the leader.

I know the fear of sitting next to the bedside of ill children.

I know the definition of true empathy, as a mother watchers her children experience crushing dreams and consequences of mistakes.

I know all the fear of watching that one child with the wildest hair, test boundaries.

I know the depth of a mother’s love, no matter what the offense, the love never fades.

I know the frustration of deep ridden sibling rivalry.

I know that bittersweet feeling, when those children stand taller, stronger, and more mature.

I know the fear of knowing there is only 3 full years left before your oldest child heads to college.

I know the fear of watching your baby turn into a little girl.

I know the sadness felt watching your baby grow up and knowing there will never be another.

I know the guilt a mother feels, as she looks back over the years, and knows there was so much more she could’ve and should’ve done.

I know the love, joy, fear, frustration, anger, and concern of a seasoned mother.

 

I am a seasoned mother who understands all too well, the surreal emotions of recognizing the past is the present.

 

 

 

Privileged… I Am!

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Today I deactivated my FB account!  If you know me, you know this is a {big} deal!  I have friends from all over the world, very close friends, and utilize FB as a means of keeping in touch with long distance friends and family.  Over the past several months I’ve noticed a feeling of discontentment in my heart.  I’ve payed close attention to this feeling and have noticed these discontented emotions are worse after scrolling through my newsfeed.  Today, I received a personal message via instant messenger, and it became clear immediately;  “Facebook is actually feeding hate, judgement, resentment, anger, and discontentment amongst people!”  To be fair, I will rephrase this to, people are using “social media” as a means of feeding hate, resentment, anger, and discontentment in people’s lives and in relationships.  After receiving and replying to this particular message, I began thinking, “The way people communicate with others on social media, is nothing like they’d communicate in person.”  Due to the lack of physical proximity in a conversation, people are more likely to attack someone for their beliefs, call someone out in a rude manner, not know someone personally, and are entirely less likely to filter communication and words.

The 2016 election just took place 3 days ago and a true and unexpected {miracle} took place;  Donald J. Trump became the president elect over the well known life-long politician Hillary Clinton.  The republicans basically won the White House, from president to the senate, and the house!  This is huge!  For evangelicals “like myself”, this is a {huge} prayer answered!  Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton supporters were lead to believe by the mainstream media and biased polls, that she’d win by a landslide!  Yet, God had other plans and Donald Trump won the presidency of the United States of America, in a political miracle few have seen in their lifetimes.  As you can imagine, like many other relieved and excited evangelicals, my Facebook posts have predominantly focused on this wonderful achievement by Donald Trump, his campaign, and the Americans whom voted him in!  Unfortunately, what is stealing the focus of the media, isn’t Donald Trump’s miraculous win, or his plans for America’s future; The center of the news media rests on the liberal millennials evil attacks on our nation!  Videos of hatred, violence, burning cities, burning of the American flag, people screaming obscene and horrendous words at Trump and his supporters, and an absolute disregard for America.  The most upsetting aspect is the manner in which universities and other liberal entities are coddling these {overly} upset Hillary supporters, which is only fueling anger, rather than shutting down these outrageous behaviors!  In my frustration with violence and hatred, I made a statement via a Facebook post,  “Time to get back to work!  Life’s what happens when you have other plans!  When Obama won twice, those against him didn’t completely come unglued and begin rioting, burning cities and flags, or standing in streets with obscene signage, all while screaming and causing a ruckus within cities.  Time to put this behind you for the sake of our nation and handle disappointments like adults.  I know all to well what it feels like to have your presidential campaign lose an election, as we lost to Obama 2 times, and have spent 8 years being hushed, disregarded, and having anti-christian policies shoved down our throats.  However, I prayed, and endured!  Life is 10% what happens to you and 90 % how you react!  Stop being cry babies and go back to class!”  This was the post that fueled a young woman to send me a private message via Facebook.

Let’s talk about this personal message…  A well intended young woman sent me a message, basically stating, “As a counselor you should have more empathy and be more understanding to the those rioting (the acts of violence and hatred permeating the streets of this country, huh?).  It is important you understand the reason why people are so upset and not call them cry babies!  I  and other people are literally scared for our lives! ” (Although, nothing about Donald Trump being elected in the past 3 days, is sending a message that anyone’s lives are seriously in danger)  The most upsetting part of her message was,  in a nutshell, “Your a privileged white Christian middle class woman, who can’t possibly understand, because everything has always been easy for you.”  (These are just a few highlights of the message, it is not necessary to disclose the entire message.) Although, I don’t think she intended to attack me in so many personal areas of my life, my mothering, my career, my faith, and my ability to be empathetic, it certainly felt like an attack!  I responded to her message in the kindest way I possibly could, while also explaining that the evangelical community has experienced the same fears over the past 8 years.  I attempted in my response to her,  to bring some kind of peace to the situation.

As the day progressed, I thought about her words!  In particular, I thought about her comment regarding my being a “privileged white Christian middle class woman”.

This young lady only knows me from afar, we may have said a few words across the foyer at church, but she certainly doesn’t know me!  She doesn’t know my story!  You see, all she sees is me today, the happily married woman, married to an amazing Godly husband, with four of the cutest children in the world, carrying a Coach purse, a Bible, and a smile on my face!  Other than what she sees from the outside, she doesn’t know the story of my childhood abuse, my severe PTSD struggles from those first 16 years of abuse, nor the fact that I pretty much raised myself from childhood into adulthood!  She doesn’t know I had bruises on my body most of the time as a child, or the fact that my heart was bruised tremendously more than my body.  She doesn’t know that my step-father was the worst alcoholic.  Nor does she know that my step-father and my mother spent almost every night in a bar, into the wee hours of the morning.  She wasn’t there when I was only 5 years old and my 7 year old brother and I, put ourselves to bed every night and awaited for the sound of an intruder, or worse an overly drunk and uncontrollable step-father!  She doesn’t know that I was the youngest of 7 children and that I emotionally lost all my siblings to drug addiction.  And… she doesn’t even know that I sat in a hospital room and watched my sister leave this world at the young age of 38 from alcoholism, when I was only 20 years old.  She certainly doesn’t know that it took years to build a positive name for myself, rather than being prejudged by the sins of my family members.  She doesn’t know that I pretty much fought for everything I have in life!  She doesn’t know that I {literally} paid my own way through college, from food, shampoo, toiletries, and my own car payments and gas.  She doesn’t know the years I lay in bed, feeling alone and wanting nothing more than to kill myself to end the emptiness within my heart.  She doesn’t know that my biological father chose throughout my childhood and teenage years to want nothing to do with me, or that to this very day he still wants nothing to do with his daughter.  She doesn’t know that I accepted Christ at the age of 15 and without my faith, my life would have turned out much differently!  She doesn’t know that God literally saved me and plucked me out of an abusive and dysfunctional family.  She doesn’t know that my faith is my EVERYTHING!  She doesn’t know that without God and his love for a lost, battered, broken, and lonely little girl; I certainly wouldn’t be the “me” I am today… the middle age church going mother, who walks through the church with a smile on my face, a Coach bag hanging from my shoulder, a Bible in my hand, holding the hand of the most handsome and wonderful husband, and laughing at my 4 adorable children!  Unfortunately, she doesn’t know the sacrifices, pain, heartache, and sweat that went into becoming the woman she sees today.  She doesn’t know… does she?

My salvation story is extreme and literally saved my life!  When my faith is under attack by an anti-christian government, I will take a stand!  I refuse to allow the God who saved my soul, to be hindered by an agenda that seeks all tolerance, except tolerance of Christianity. This doesn’t make me a judgemental middle class white woman, who doesn’t understand privilege!  I understand privilege, all right!  I understand that the God who reigns in America, walked alongside me, paved the way for me, and is the reason I succeeded in my life and overcame the unfortunate events of the past.

Privileged in the world’s understanding… I was not!  Privileged in the eyes of the Heavenly father who loves me completely and saved my battered heart… I am!

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”

Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord in all that you do, and he will establish your plans!”

Election 2016 – Violence & Hatred

 

 

 

I’m an Overcomer

Fellow prayer warriors… This past week was a living nightmare.  Our well stopped working and we couldn’t figure out why we didn’t have water, only to realize we had water but it was literally muddy water.  Not to mention, there was sickness in the house.  This momma  was sick and when mom is sick, nothing seems to manage in the home well.  Thankfully, our well seems to be back up and running! It was certainly a tough week, especially with my son and I having pneumonia and asthma issues.  In addition, I had hives for 5 days! Still not sure where the hives came from. When I couldn’t take another minute, I called my mother.  Covered in hives and unable to breathe well, I felt completely hysterical.  In teas I said, “Why does God seem to hate me right now!  I’m covered in hives!  This is the plague!  It’s all too much!  And to top it all off,  we have no working water!”  Yes, I was freaking out, I’m not going to lie!  

Although, in the midst of the struggle, there were days I thought God had fled from me; I was reminded on the way to the doctor yesterday in tears, via a song in an answer to prayer…   I’m an Overcomer! He sent this song at a moment when I literally thought I couldn’t handle another moment.  As I was covered in hives, unable to breathe, and seriously thinking I’d been struck with some kind of plague, God spoke into my heart.  
Listen to the words of this song… I jumped in the car fully in tears, freacking out… And… I begged God to speak to me! This song came on immediately!  God is good!  Even during the hard days and weeks, he rally hears the cries of his children!  Praise the Lord, He is good!  

“Overcomer- Mandisa”
Staring at a stop sign

Watching people drive by

T Mac on the radio

Got so much on your mind

Nothing’s really going right

Looking for a ray of hope

Whatever it is you may be going through

I know He’s not gonna let it get the best of you

You’re an overcomer

Stay in the fight ‘til the final round

You’re not going under

‘Cause God is holding you right now

You might be down for a moment

Feeling like it’s hopeless

That’s when He reminds You

That you’re an overcomer

You’re an overcomer

Everybody’s been down

Hit the bottom, hit the ground

Ooh, you’re not alone

Just take a breath, don’t forget

Hang on to His promises

He wants You to know

You’re an overcomer

Stay in the fight ‘til the final round

You’re not going under

‘Cause God is holding you right now
“Here’s he link…. Take a few minutes to listen to this powerful song.”

Overcomer, Mandisa

Broken & Fully Cracked

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I feel attacked!

Everything around me falls apart.

I feel broken and fully cracked.

 

The painful ache within my chest.

It’s tightened grip.

Steals much needed rest.

 

I think to myself, “I’m done!”

Sometimes think, “I’ll run away!”

This stress weighs a ton.

 

You say, “You only need to pray!”

Countless prayers lifted to Heaven.

I need you, Lord!  Please, come and stay!

 

Spewing like a little child.

Numb and weeping.

My spirit’s running wild.

 

Each new day brings heartache and pain.

Fear prevails.

Lord, break this burdensome chain.

 

Facing another day,

I try to catch up,

There’s just too much to repay!

 

What I give is never enough.

Leaves me weak, empty, and alone.

Yet, somehow I still appear tough.

 

This happy plastic face,

I carry around,

Is too heavy, So Lord, I plead my case!

 

Heavenly father, I’m weak,

Overwhelmed and exhausted!

Come into my heart and speak.

 

Come into my heart and heal!

My heart is frail, my fight is gone!

The enemy has come to steal.

 

Lord, please win this war!

I need you, like never before!

Recently life has become quite a chore.

 

Lord, send me peace.

To wipe away these reoccurring struggles.

Lord, I beg!  Make this pain cease.

 

Lord, this burden is intense!

Yet, I refuse to give up!

Cause, one day I know, it will all make sense.

 

Until that day, Lord above.

I cry to you,

For, I know you are love!

 

Why this pain?

I may never know!

I know, on your throne you still reign!

 

At times, I fear I’ll break.

The overwhelming darkness.

Feel I can’t escape.

 

Lord, I give to you my heart.

I’m laying everything at your feet.

Please dear Lord, don’t let me fall apart!

 

In the midst of turmoil and pain.

I will trust,

In your holy name!

 

Written by, Crystal Ridlon 10/31/2016

“Happily Ever After”

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Disney princesses teach young girls a false understanding of what “Happily Ever After” truly means! The countless popular Disney movies with their “too good to be true” love stories!  

Like the story of sleeping beauty, who was poisoned by a wicked step-mother for her true beauty!  At just the right moment, her prince charming randomly galloped by and kissed her in a glass box and “wala” she’s awake… and they live happily ever after!  

My favorite story, Aerial the mermaid, who happens to fall in love with a “human”… And gives up her voice for 3 days for legs, in the hope to make Eric, her prince, fall in love with her!  In fact, in order to keep her legs, she had to get Eric to kiss her within 3 days! Somehow after a huge ocean sized debacle and one furious “King of the Ocean”, Aerial’s father,  they married on a dock overlooking the ocean.   And… of course they lived happily ever after!

As little girls, we grow up watching these Disney movies, listening to Disney songs, and reading disney princess books.  Fast forward, we little girls grew into women, with unreal expectations and dreams bigger than the world.  As a little girl, I too grew up watching the same Disney movies.  Except, my home portrayed the absolute opposite idea of happily ever after!  To spare you and me the details of my childhood sob story, let’s just say the memories of marriage from my childhood, was certainly not something I {ever} wanted to relive.

Thankfully, as a young 15 year old, I found Jesus!

I decided to trust and follow him fully!  This single decision I made, altered my heart for a lifetime!

Actually, that very summer I met my Lord & Savior, I also met my future husband at a Christian camp.  Neither one of us ever imagined we’d spend the rest of our lives together. In fact, having come from my upbringing, I never would have imagined being liked, loved, or admired by someone as dear as this youthful teenage boy.

However, the next summer at the same Christian camp, somehow this handsome boy noticed me!  By the third day, he was sneakingly holding my hand under the desks.  I will never forget the physical feeling of one who truly loves you!  There was fire in our hand holding and and chemistry in his gaze.  I recall in the church van ride back home, I made an announcement to anyone listening “I’m going to marry that boy”.  As you can expect, everyone laughed, snickered, and thought “yea right”!

Robert and I married at the young age of 21 and 22 years of age.  We were young and extremely happy.  We knew we had made the right choice in marrying!  During our newly wed days, we experienced normal ups and downs.  I recall the first years of marriage, long walks, Friday night Pizza Express, and all the tender {firsts} experienced as a couple.  I also recall, some pretty heated arguments, hurt feelings, and feeling tremendously misunderstood.  All in all, we knew our marriage was ordained by a loving and caring Heavenly Father, thus we always came together in commitment to God and each other.  

It didn’t take me long to realize the “happily ever after” experienced by the fairytale princesses from my childhood, was not exactly the “happily ever after” I was living. It certainly didn’t take me long to realize the multifaceted emotions experienced within the bonds of marriage. I learned one thing for sure early in our marriage;  Marriage is A LOT of work!

This past June 10, 2000, my husband and I celebrated our 16th year of marriage.  We have 4 children, aging 5-14.  Over the past 16 years, I’ve experienced love at it’s deepest and most profound depths.  Not to mention, we’ve experienced some heated and painful arguments. We’ve hurt one another’s feelings, focused more on ourselves than one another, and have gotten side-tracked with other facets of life.  Most importantly, the two of us have shared the joy of delivering 4 perfect and beautiful children into the world.  As a couple we committed to raising our children in the Lord, a commitment we still uphold today.  Our marriage has been complete with feelings of love, joy, grief, pain, anger; a wide spectrum of emotions.  I’d be lying if I told you every moment, day, or week together has been wedded bliss.  In fact, there have been moments in our marriage, where one or both of us wanted to walk away.  I have learned a few things about marriage over the past 16 years.  I have learned that regardless of what emotions we’re feeling and everyday life stressors, our love is strong!  I’ve learned that God is the glue that holds our marriage together.  I’ve learned there are times in marriage, when the only thread holding you together is God.  We have learned a love like ours is beautiful, wonderful, and the most wonderful gift on Earth!  As we have aged, my husband and I have observed marriages around us, fall prey to divorce!  This sadness our hearts tremendously!  However, these divorces have continually reminded us of the importance of keeping God at the center of our marriage!

A marriage without “real life” happening in the midst of the bonds of marriage… Is not possible!!!

16 years of marriage has taught me …

“Happily Ever After” is possible!