His Strength is Perfect

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As a counselor, my job requires me to enter into the “messy” of people’s lives.  The “messy” varies in degree of severity and intensity.  The most painful aspect of entering into the “messy” of people’s lives, are the moments when I feel completely unqualified to “fix or solve” the painful areas in my client’s lives!  These are the moments when love and compassion, isn’t enough to make a positive impact!  When trust, rapport, and understanding isn’t enough to put a smile back on client’s faces!  When the “learned text book material” isn’t enough to lead clients to healing!  When your faced with your own humanness, weaknesses, pain, brokenness, and insufficiencies.  Somehow, Satan uses this inner struggle to make you feel like a failure in the ministry, God himself called you into!

Today, wasn’t my strongest, bravest, wisest, or most knowledgeable day!!!  Today, I felt scared, confused, and weak!  Today, I was left questioning my ability to help anyone!

After enduring the hustle and bustle of graduation traffic, rude baristas, and my own inner struggles;  I came home and cried into my pillow!

Once, my tears allowed for the exit of repressed emotions, God whispered this old song into my heart!  A song I listened to for countless hours as a hurting and broken teenage girl.  God used this song to pull me through the roughest, darkest, and most lonely nights of my teen years!  There were many nights when the only thing that kept me from taking enough pills to end all the pain, was a loving God!  A God who held me through the pain, wiped away all my tears, and slowly began the process of healing a broken-hearted little girl!

I am alive today… for one reason!!!

GOD!!!

{God became my strength, when my strength was gone!}

In all honesty, there were times when my strength to live, seemed to hang on by a thread!  The pain was intense!  The pain was real!

Despite, the realness of the pain, God’s strength, love, and compassion was greater!  God, literally became my reason to live!

At some point during my early years as a believer, I began to understand the depth of God’s power and strength; my heart grew stronger and my resolve increased!

My resolve;  To survive, thrive, and live my life sharing the saving power of God’s unconditional love!

God reminded me tonight, in the midst of my own struggle and doubting; that I am not capable or qualified to save hurting souls! I absolutely don’t have the ability to save my clients, nor did I have the power to save my own broken and battered spirit!

He reminded me through the words of this familiar old song, “His Strength Is Perfect”, by Steven Curtis Chapman.

He reminded where strength originates…

Philippians 4:13 ” I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!”  

I was reminded tonight, “I absolutely don’t have what it takes to be a Christian counselor!”

He does!!!  He has the strength, wisdom, unconditional love, and knowledge required to win the heart’s of His children!

My job;  To love!!!  To pray for and with my clients!  To seek wisdom!  To fall on my knees when I don’t know the next step!  To be there and available!

Most importantly;

To continually lead them to the God who healed my soul!

I admit!  There’s nothing special about me!  I am human!  I am “messy”!  I am confused!  I make mistakes!

The only thing that sets me apart; Is my calling!

My resolve;  To be the hands and feet of Jesus and to lead hurting souls to the “One True” Healer!  To direct anyone who crosses my path to God!!!  

 

John 13: 34 & 35  “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Mathew 4: 19 & 20 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.  At once they left their nets and followed him.”

Blessings, Crystal Ridlon Master’s Level Therapist  

 

Long-term Consequences of “If it feels good, do it!”

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Yesterday, I took two of my children shopping at a new store in town.  My 6th grade son is an avid reader and read this sign to me, which didn’t set well with my soul.  Of course, I utilized the opportunity to discuss the message in depth and used it as an opportunity to teach a vital lesson.  A lesson in how the world promises “fun” “beauty” and “fame” as a direct result of doing whatever feels good!  By the way, my children have grown up in a Godly home and are quite familiar with these “regular” little life lessons!

As I left the store, of course NOT purchasing the sign… My heart felt burdened.

Friends, this sign hit close to home for me, as it was a reminder of the “very real pain” I suffered as a child, as a consequence of family members “doing whatever felt good”.   I grew up in a home where my closest family members followed this advice in their life, despite the pain it placed on those around them!  In my family there were seven children and I was the youngest… I grew up observing my parents and siblings seeking “fulfillment” and “fun” from world pleasures.

As I drove away, I thought to myself, “Too bad these careless signs don’t follow these “If it feels good do it!” behaviors into their adult lives.  If they did, they would surely find broken, empty, and hopeless lives!  They would certainly discover the very real and painful consequences of living a life of “feel good endeavors”… STD’s, drug and sex addiction, life-long regret, broken relationships, pain, brokenness, emptiness, and spiritual and physical death!”

The rules we should follow in our lives are conveniently outlined in God’s word…  They are called {The Ten Commandments}!  They are God’s rules for His children, which he set in place, to guide us through a world of inconsistent and harmful messages.  These “worldly and thoughtless” messages will ultimately lead to one’s spiritual and physical death!  Trust me!  I’ve grown up watching abuse, heartache, pain, and brokenness all around me!  I am still “overcoming and healing” from people’s decision to do whatever felt good.  From my perspective… “It certainly did NOT feel good!”   Thank God, He had other plans for my life!

Friends, when I was 15 years old, I asked Jesus to come and live inside my heart!  I haven’t looked back!  I have never questioned my decision to follow Christ… as the past held pain, brokenness, and abuse!  God held my future in His hands and has rewarded my obedience to living a life of obedience!

It is my prayer that you would {never} start down the road of worldly pleasures, only to find yourself with painful consequences and life-long regrets!

If you would like to know how to become a Christ-Follower… Click the link below!

 

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/faith/becoming-a-christian/coming-home-an-invitation-to-join-gods-family

 

Friends, God is the God of second chances and unconditional love and forgiveness.  If your life has been de-railed by harmful worldly messages, promising fun and contentment, and your on the other side filled with deep pain and regret… It’s never too late!  God is waiting to take you by the hand and lift you up!

 

Let’s decide together, to put an end to these worldly messages from Satan!  Let’s be honest about our own struggles!  Let’s invest into the lives of young people!  Let’s reach out with a hand of grace and love to those who’ve fallen prey to this dangerous, yet prominent message in today’s culture!  Let’s be the hands and feet of Jesus!

Exodus 20 (NIV)

The Ten Commandments

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  2. You shall not make idols.
  3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet.

When God Shows Off; Be Ready To Be Knocked Off Your Feet

 

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{Today’s blog is dedicated to a kindred soul, a friend who loves God and His people whole-heartedly!!!}

This morning, my entire being is feeling God’s love so deeply, I feel I could scream it from the roof top… “God is good!  He truly answers prayers, the deepest yearnings of the heart! If you don’t know Him;  STOP what you’re doing… And RUN… RUN… RUN to Him! Life without Him… is miserable and no life at all!”  As I sit at my dining room table, having quiet time reading, praying, and listening for God’s voice, I feel God’s love so powerfully, that it {literally} hurts!  There have been only a few times in my walk of faith, where I have felt God’s love so deeply, that it has literally hurt… it’s pounding wildly inside my heart!

Today, for the first time in a long time, God is revealing his amazing plans!  He’s answering the deepest yearnings of my heart, the fervent prayers lifted over the past several years and months!  The excitement of seeing Him pave the way in my career as a Christian counselor and realizing His desire to use me as a vessel to reach God’s people!

The hope of my son’s new school, as an answer to the yearnings and deepest concerns of my heart!  The tears I’ve cried on this child’s behalf are innumerous and the fears run deep!  God is showing his unconditional love to me and my little boy!  He’s working to meet my little guy’s needs and calming this momma’s heart in the process!

He’s showing up… In countless ways!  In powerful ways!  In obvious ways!  In “HIS PERFECT WAY!

He’s ever-present in my life!

Let me tell you…. He’s {SHOWING OFF} big time!

I can envision him in Heaven, sitting with His son and the angels… Smiling and filled with pride and excitement;  As he looks down and beholds the joy, excitement, and awe washing over his child;  As he {finally} and in His perfect time… begins the process of laying out His plan!

Honestly, there is a part of me doubting His plan!  Actually, it’s more a feeling of fear; fearful of allowing myself to fall prey to such in depth eagerness, excitement, and joy.  At the risk of being let down {again}… The risk of getting hurt!

Maybe your feeling much of the same… Hope for the possibility of your dreams coming to fruition and hope that {things} will be different, even enriching.  Yet, this deep ridden doubt and fear that it’ll continue to be much of the same!

Friends, I am experiencing these feelings, fears, and doubt…  I wonder if you might be as well?

In prayer, the Holy Spirit revealed to my heart that Satan is working overtime to steal away my joy, excitement, and hope of future possibilities!  I refuse to allow Satan to have this effect on me!  I refuse to allow him to use his sly and manipulative tactics to render me ineffective for the Kingdom of God!

{Let’s make a deal!  Shall we?}

Let’s choose the path of hope!  Let’s cherish the joy and excitement; And believe in advance that He is the Almighty Healer, Miracle Worker, Comforter, Relationship Mender and Giver of all good things!  Let’s allow this joy to permeate through our entire being. After all, God promises to give us the desires of our hearts; as long as they align with his word and his calling over our life!

Let’s watch God show off!!!  Praise Him!  Applaud Him!  Thank Him!
Proverbs 16:9 – A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.

Psalms 138:8 – The LORD will perfect [that which] concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, [endureth] for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.

Epesians 2: 8 – For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: {it is} the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Blessings, Crystal

Dear Lord, I trust in you!  I love you!  I believe you, everything about who and what you are!  I applaud you!  I praise you!  I thank you!  Lord, show off!  I super excited and I refuse to allow Satan to cause me to doubt you.  You have ALWAYS shown up, ALWAYS comforted, ALWAYS loved, ALWAYS guided, ALWAYS planned my life in the most wonderful ways!  I could never doubt your amazing ways!  Lord, do your thing!  I will continue to trust!  I will shout your love from the rooftops for all to hear of your amazing love and power!  In Your Holy and Almighty name, Crystal” 

 

Trusting God with the BIG “Somethings”

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Have you ever had a day when you just thought, prayed, and begged for answers and guidance all day?  Today, was that kind of day for me!  It was a “too much” thinking kind of a day.  The thoughts weren’t sad, negative, or self-defeating, like the one’s I’m typically accustomed too.  My thoughts today began with a sermon in church.  The sermon was wonderful;  cutting to the very core of the deepest places within my heart and soul.  It was wonderfully convicting, spiritually uplifting, and thought provoking.  The worship was AMAZING!  It’s been awhile since I have lifted my voice to Heaven in such an in depth manner.  Sincere worship lifted to my Father in heaven.  As I sang out, hands lifted to God, my heart felt at home!  Oh, how I miss such powerful worship and the feeling that God is standing right there with you!  I cherish these wonderful moments, when God is speaking and the Holy Spirit is so thick within the sanctuary, it actually feels like your inhaling the breath of God.  I walked out of the church, spirit renewed, heart convicted, and a fresh word permeating through my mind.  The power of God’s presence didn’t stop when I left the parking lot, it clung to me throughout my entire day.

Here I sit, writing at almost 12 a.m…  A plethora of thoughts have ravaged my mind and my heart is yearning for peace regarding “particular” issues in my life.  For quite some time, part of my spirit has felt like “somethings” are missing, not just little somethings, but a “BIG” somethings!  As I sit here thinking, praying, and absorbing the first peaceful moment in my house today, I realize this isn’t a feeling I can ignore any longer!  I must make peace with these “somethings” plaguing my heart, mind, and soul.  Why does God often allow these “somethings” in life, to carry on for lengthened periods of time?  I am fervently praying for guidance, wisdom, and supernatural understanding, as I attempt to sort out these overwhelming emotions and thoughts stirring within my heart and soul.  It is all too easy to shake my fist at God, when the answers I so desperately need are unavailable.  There have been moments in life, when I was angry with God,  Times when I felt alone and forgotten, times when I felt my answers were hitting a brick wall and bouncing right back.  Despite these moments, I have learned that God always shows up!  He’s never let me down!  Therefore, I will trust in Him!  I will continue to listen for His still small voice!  I will always pray for guidance! Why?  Because, God has proven himself real in my life time and time again.  Sometimes, his answers show up immediately and other times he’s made me wait!

I’ve learned;  The times God has made me wait the longest, he’s shown up the strongest!

I am thankful for a wonderful experience at church today!  I am thankful God spoke into my heart!  I will continue to wait for God to pave the way!  I will trust Him and continue serving Him with all of my heart, mind, and soul!

Why?  Because…

I know…

The times God has made me wait the longest, he’s shown up the strongest!

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. Psalm 37:5Dear Heavenly Father,

You know my heart!  You know the big “somethings” that have been yanking on my heart for so long!  Lord, my heart yearns for what pleases you!  My heart longs to hear from you and with absolute clarity!  Lord, speak into my soul!  Teach me patience and comfort me as you prune away areas in my life, that fail to glorify you!  Lord, I lay these “somethings” at your feet and trust you will provide answers, clarity, and peace in your perfect timing!   When the time is right, in your perfect timing, I know you will show up in the most undeniable and miraculous way.  I am almost giddy thinking about how amazing you have been, how amazing you are, and how amazing you’ll continue to be in the future!  I am thankful for your love and guidance in every area of my life!  I trust you completely with my heart! I trust you completely with the BIG “somethings” in my life!

Your beloved daughter,

Crystal

My First Love

The house is completely quiet, the children are in bed, and loneliness is setting in.   Seven days without the love of my life beside me… is taking a toll.  He’s been traveling abroad… His side of the bed is empty…  My heart longs for his closeness, for the tender touch of his hand through my hair, and the comfort of his presence.  He’s my best friend, {my favorite person}, the one who knows my deepest and darkest secrets, the one I can always talk to, the one I know always has my back, the one who considers my needs above his own… he’s my high school sweet heart… the love of my life!  As my heart yearns for the arms of my husband… I recall my first love.

Prior to my heart belonging to the love of my life, my husband, it belonged to my Heavenly Father.

Throughout high school, I recall the familiar feeling of loneliness.  In those lonely moments of my youth, I found peace and comfort of God’s love!  There were moments in my youth when I {literally} felt no one loved me, let alone felt cherished or fully accepted for {me}.. for who I was.  Many nights, I cried myself to sleep!  That feeling of intense loneliness ran deep and it interfered with my ability to sleep.  I was slapped with a diagnosis of {insomnia}…  Yet, I knew it wasn’t insomnia… it was a broken, battered, and lonely heart… simply longing for someone to love me.  The intense pain of loneliness kept me awake at night and it physically hurt.  Many of you reading this blog post, will not understand the depth of such intense pain. However, some of you know it all to well!  Some of you have lost a loved one, a spouse or a child, and every night you enter the bed only to be wakened by intense grief, loneliness, and despair!  Regardless, of the cause of your pain, I learned an important lesson during my dark moments of the soul…

{Lesson}… God is near the broken hearted!

Psalm 34:18 “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

It’s true!  When I was stuck deep in a bottomless pit, feeling lonely and hopeless, God became real to me… He taught me what love was… he whispered and guided my aimless spirit… and comforted me during those dark and lonely hours.

As a teenager, I recall lying in my bed, feeling such intense loneliness and pain, I {literally} felt death was the only answer to my pain!  Night after night, I longed for the pain to end… to be loved… and to feel like a {somebody}.  Each night, when my spirit was broken and lonely, God became my comfort and source of love!  I remember, my pillow soaked from tears… asking God to hold me and put his arms around me… he {did}.  Friends, God physically held me!  Within moments of asking God to hold me, I would feel a warmth wash over my body… and I would slowly drift off.

What I learned in my brokenness… is… God is {certainly} near the broken hearted!

Friends, God has performed miraculous healing within the depths of my spirit!  The {healing} all began in those moments, when God held me and began healing the heart of a broken, abandoned, and heart broken young girl.  His love is real… it’s unconditional, it’s life-altering, it’s forever, it’s healing, and it’s comforting!

This particular night, many years later, my heart longs to be near my husband, lover, & best friend… I am thankful for extra time to spend with my {first love}… my Heavenly Father!  Tonight, reading God’s word, raising my voice in the form of worship songs, and lifting my voice in fervent prayer, has completely fulfilled my soul!

The one that taught my heart to love…  The loving God who blessed this lonely young girl, with the man of my dreams… a man who loves me unconditionally and is {always} there to warm me on cold nights, hold me when I cry, and lead me to the foot of the cross!

Tonight, I am thankful for the {temporary} loneliness that lead me back to… {my first love}!!!

Tonight, I’m thankful that I will be reunited in a few short days…  with my best friend and love of my life!

 

Revelation 2:4 “”But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!”

 

One True Love ~The Gift I Treasure

 

After 17 year of marriage, it seems that Valentine’s Day may be losing it’s luster and pazazz.  Or, it could just be the chaotic and busy lives we’ve been journeying through recently!  Living life with four children, jobs, and endless appointments is inevitably time consuming!  Regardless, of the busyness our lives take, there’s one thing that never changes… My love for my Valentine, my husband, lover, and best friend!

I’ve learned so much about {love} in 17 years of marriage!  Most importantly, I’ve come to understand that true love isn’t always butterflies, smiles, flirting, gifts, romantic dinners, or long romantic talks.  Happy marriages certainly consist of all these wonderful aspects, just not everyday!  There are conflicts, disagreements, moments of irritability, and busyness!

True love is more than romance and butterflies…

 

What is True Love

True love is … comfort.

Sitting in a room together… Enjoying your lovers presence… Even when your not talking… Just “being” together!

True love is… unconditional.

Knowing despite your irritable moods and heated debates, the marriage is stable, strong, and secure!

True love is… fun.

Knowing each other so well, you make one another laugh with ease… even the familiar joking that leads to only a smile!

True love is… silly.

Being able to let down your guard and be goofy together.

True love is.. dreaming together.

Knowing one another’s dreams, goals, and aspirations.

Working behind the scenes to bring those dreams to fruition… wishing and wanting the best for the love of your life.

True love is… familiar.

Knowing one another intimately and feeling complete together.  Whether, just sitting in a room or having an intimate conversation.

True love is… self-sacrificing.

Putting the other’s needs, wants, and dreams first… And selflessly giving and serving for the needs of each other.

True love is… forgiveness.

Talking, making-up, and {never} holding a grudge.

True love is… A gift.

Having your soul mate… living, walking, and dreaming beside you everyday.

True love is.. Rare.

This kind of {forever} love is not common in our world today… Experiencing love so intimately and deeply is something to cherish and behold.

True love is… True.

It’s knowing… nothing can separate your bond, your marriage, or your love!  Knowing regardless of the circumstances surrounding you… your love is strong enough to carry you through!

 

Mathew 19:6 “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Mark 10:9 “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Mathew 19:5 “‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?”

“You have captured my heart, my treasure, my bride. You hold it hostage with one glance of your eyes, with a single jewel of your necklace.”  —Song of Solomon 4:9

“Scarcely had I passed them when I found the one my heart loves. I held him and would not let him go till I had brought him to my mother’s house, to the room of the one who conceived me.”  —Song of Solomon 3:4

“Your love delights me, my treasure, my bride. Your love is better than wine, your perfume more fragrant than spices.”  —Song of Solomon 4:10

“You are so handsome, my love, pleasing beyond words!”  —Song of Solomon 1:16

“Kiss me and kiss me again, for your love is sweeter than wine.”  —Song of Solomon 1:2
Dearest Robert,

Happy Valentines Day!  You are my one true love!  My familiar place!  My place of comfort & joy!  The one I behold and cherish!  The one I thank God for every single day!  We are better… together!  Together we are silly, goofy, and serious!  Our love is a dream come true!  It’s passionate, familiar, forgiving, and all things good! Although, I get easily distracted {as you know all too well} and often caught up in life’s chaotic moments… I know how truly blessed I am to be loved by you!  I thank God for the beautiful and rare gift of… our marriage!  Robert, Our love is …. true!

Love Always & Forever,

Your’s truly,

Crystal {your bride and biggest fan}