Where’s Your Boat?

This Christian counselor saw a Christian counselor today and she pointed me towards the hope found in God’s word. Everyone needs a counselor from time to time, especially counselors! She spoke truth to my heart in areas where I have been intermittently tempted to worry! She reminded me of the importance of self-care! How funny is it that every counselor I’ve ever seen has reminded me of the importance of self-care? Could it be an ongoing issue in my life? It’s true, all too often I put myself on the back burner and attempt to take care of everyone and everything else. It’s always a helpful and much needed reminder! She showed me in God’s word where Jesus himself needed an escape from overwork and was drained by ministry. This was freeing! This is the passage she lead me to. I love how God’s word is full of applicable and time sensitive truths!

“Crowds Follow Jesus”
Mark 3:7-12 “Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. When they heard about all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” But he gave them strict orders not to tell others about him.”

She asked me to think about what my escape boat entails? What do I have in my life that allows me to refuel, refocus, and regain energy? Good question??? As tears filled my eyes… {Of course, I pushed them down! I’m tough after all!} 😉

Thankfully, I have many blessings in my life! Many things that bring me joy and rejuvenate my weary spirit! However, I need more discipline in this area! These days I’m finding myself more weary, side tracked, and overwhelmed!

{For women only section}
We women often take on the weight of our jobs, husbands, kids, parents, family, friends, church, and more. It can be downright overwhelming! This aspect of womanhood continually threatens to steal my joy due to weariness, from worries and overwork. I’ve sat with many Christian women who’ve spoken the same series of concerns to me, we women don’t have a “shut off” {ever}. I’ve heard men can pull out their empty box in their brain on a whim??? I sometimes long for an empty box! I DO NOT have an empty box, my brain and mind is {always} going! What about you? Ladies; Our shoulders aren’t made for such heavy weight.

{Back to everyone} 😊

Somehow it freed me and helped my to realize that it’s okay to have my limits and I’m not expected to carry the weight of everyone and everything around me! I sure get caught in this trap easily!

This isn’t a “get out of jail” free card, we are called to be witnesses and ministers to those around us. Just not everyone and everything! Contrary to what Satan tries to tell us all the time “We don’t have to be responsible for everything!” Only the things and people God specifically calls us to.

Listening to the Holy Spirit and not our internal “people pleasing”’bully! This is the key!

For me, I need to remind myself that even in this season… “That God is our every {need meeter} and I don’t have to fret or worry… or labor or spin!”

Mathew 6:24-34

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

Jesus came so that we can have joy filled lives, not to be continuously frazzled and worried!

John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Where’s your boat? What’s does your boat entail? Join me in pondering this thought with me this week!

Blessings,
Crystal

The Mountaintop Experiences Sustain Us When Life Gets Hard

I love this memory! God blessed us with a trip to Europe, just the two of us the summer of 2019! What a blessing! So grateful for the trip of a lifetime! A gift God so graciously lavished on us! I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was a gift meant to sustain us through the storms we never anticipated were headed our way!

That’s the thing about storms, they always come out of the blue! When we least expect it! New England was hit with multiple feet of snow last week and the Midwest is preparing for a major blizzard as I write this blog! Last month, the Midwest had horrid and tragic tornadoes that ripped apart city’s and neighborhoods! The storms of life are painful and always completely unexpected!

Every time I see our Europe pictures I’m reminded of how quickly we can be caught off guard with the most unexpected hardships in life! I’m thankful for the mountain top experiences God grants to sustain us when the trials of life hit hard!

These pictures were taken when our hearts were overjoyed! Exuberant with the hope of the future! Innocently unaware of the ground shaking trials we’d soon endure in our world, our city, our jobs, our lives, our marriage, our family, and in our souls!

These pictures from our dream Europe vacation, we’re taken before our world began spinning. We’ve endured 2 1/2 years of unexpected major life trials! I’m comforted when I see these pictures! Simply, because they are a reminder of the good times! They were taken during a time when life felt more certain, stable, and less fearful! The pictures were taken before the pandemic! They were taken before the understanding of the devastation of unemployment! … Before medical trauma! … Before the loss of two of the most important people in my life! … Before moving from a place we considered home for 20 years! A place we thought we’d retire and eventually our children would marry and bring grand-babies to visit us. It was before several years of trial after trial! It was before we felt displaced in a multitude of ways! These pictures are a reminder of God’s blessings!

I won’t lie, there have “at times” been major parts of my spirit that have yearned to go back to the “simpler” days! There have been days when I can so relate with the Israelites desire to run back to Egypt, because the path to the promised land is heavy, painful, uncertain, and certainly not what we expect! There have been days when I hurt for the Israelites, simply because this life has handed us an overflowing cup of “hard” for an extended period of time! I hurt… because in some way “I get it!” God has a way of allowing life circumstances to connect us more intimately with His word! There’s nothing like experiencing hardship to make us more empathetic, compassionate, and understanding of the struggles others encounter! God knows this and uses our pain to mold us into more devout followers and more empathetic and caring disciples! In all honesty, I’m still at the place in the journey when I wish he could have used another method, a method that wasn’t quite so life-altering, difficult, and fearful! But… I’m not God! I can’t see the end! In my flesh I see the ruggedness along the journey! When I earnestly seek Him throughout the journey, I see the beauty along the path! The flowers, the streams, the sunsets, and the answered prayers along the way.

There are certainly those days, when it feels like Satan is getting the best of me! When the journey has been so very long and there seems to be no end in sight. When I’m overwhelmed with the wait, the struggle, and weary from the journey! There are days when like the Israelites my spirit cries to return to the familiar! The only problem is there is no running back to Egypt! The days of Egypt are long gone and God has us hiking on a new path, a new journey! My only choice is to straighten my God-given crown, cry out to God, and run back to His word for comfort, hope, and security!

I thank God for the glimpses of the Promised Land! These moments bring me hope, energy, and sustainability! The view is in sight! Occasionally, we dip into a valley and the trees and rugged terrain threaten the view I so desperately yearn to grasp in my hands! It is during these times, Satan hurls on doubt!

As I await for the mountaintop to replace the difficult rocky & rugged journey of this valley we’re trudging through… I will cling to the promises of God!

“All things work for good to those who are called according to His plan!”

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord! Plans for you to prosper and never to harm you’ll.”

Mathew 6:28- 34 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

As I sit here overwhelmed with my own thoughts, feelings, and concerns… I realized we have made it to the Promised Land! We’re only waiting for the crop, the land, and the provisions! We’re so very close! I will not lose focus! I will “Seek God first and foremost!” I will trust His promises! I will not lose hope!

As a counselor, I know I am not alone on my journey! What mountain in your life is causing your pain, hardship, and difficulty?

  • Are you struggling to see hope in a broken relationship?
  • Do you have a wayward spouse/ child?
  • Are you facing financial hardship/ illness?
  • Are you struggling to see God’s plan past the doubt Satan is using to cloud your heart/mind?

We all have difficult aspects to this life! Jesus said “In this world, you “WILL” have trouble! But take heart I have overcome the world!”

Friends, I don’t have all the answers! I don’t have the power to stop the storm! I don’t have in my power the ability to smooth out and shorten the long journey your enduring! If I did, I would have began with ending my own trials/ pain/ broken relationships.

I will point you in the same direction, I point myself to when life gets hard! Jesus! When I take my focus off the problem’s of this life and place my focus on Jesus, I feel grounded and the fear subsides!

Blessings,
Crystal

Be Joyful Anyway

I miss my grandmother’s sweet grin! I grew up seeing this grin every time I was around her! Everytime I called I heard joy in her voice when she heard my voice on the other end.

This is her look of “I love you! I’m so proud of you! You make my life a better place! Seeing you brings me joy!”

She always lit up around children, she LOVED kids, especially her own grandkids! I can’t see a toddler in a cart at the store, without remembering how my grandmother would always stop and say hello and play with “stranger” babies everywhere we went. Funny how it used to embarrass me as a young girl and now it’s one of my fondest memories! 🥰

To have a grandmother like her was such a gift! I’ll miss her everyday until I see her again! I am so thankful she was able to meet and know each one of my children. Every time her grandchildren came for a visit she always wanted to give us something. She had the most giving heart! The last time we visited her in the nursing home she looked around her room (where she had very few belongings) and found something to give to Caroline. She always wanted to send us away with a piece of her! I guess this is where I get my desire to give specialized gifts to the people I love!

Everyone needs someone in their life who believes in them! Loves them unconditionally! Most importantly… shows joy and excitement in their faces when they’re around! This is why I try to always greet my children with an excited and loving “Hello! How was your day! You okay? I missed you today!” I want them to know they are loved completely and they make my life a better place! I want them to see pride on my face when they’re in my presence!

It is easy to be critical, but it requires discipline to focus on the strengths and gifts of those you’re around! The ability to be an encouragement and to bring life giving words to those around you is only possible through living each day for Jesus!

These qualities come from a heart filled with God’s love! Spending time in prayer, reading the Bible, Bible study, fellowship with other believers, actively searching your heart and laying down our pride, and practicing opening up our hearts to those around us! The rewards reaped from actively working at uplifting those you’re around, makes life abundantly joyful! Healthy relationships fulfill us with the Heavenly fellowship and abundant joy God intended for His children!

What kind of energy do you bring to the people around you? Especially, those closest to you? Are you hypercritical, negative, always thinking pessimistic thoughts? Or are you one to bring love and encouragement to those in your presence?

I know who I want to be! I want to be one that brings God’s unconditional love to the people around me! I’m not always an encourager and it is way to easy to slip into a cycle of criticism and negativity! That’s when the Holy Spirit convicts my heart and I run back to Jesus and make things right with the people around me!

I want people to remember the “love and fondness” on my face years after I’ve left the earth!

In a world filled with grumpies, I want to be joyful! I want to bring Christ’s love to everyone I meet!

  • Sometimes people won’t like your “joyful”, be joyful anyway!
    *Sometimes people will mock your Jesus, bring Jesus anyway!
    *Sometimes people will respond to your compliments with negativity! Compliment anyway!
    *Sometimes your teenagers will be disgruntled when you show love and affection. Love and hug anyway!
    *Sometimes negative people will despise you and say you’re annoying! Be annoying anyway! (Their not annoyed with you, their annoyed by the Jesus in you!)
    *Sometimes people will be intimidated by who you are in Christ! Be who Jesus called you to be anyway!

Proverbs 16:24 “Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”

Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

Blessings,
Crystal

Raising Teenagers to Be Strong in their Faith

Driving home from church this evening with Robby and Daniel, I was blessed with such great conversation! I cherish the moments when my teenagers open up about “real stuff” and allow me to see their heart! Daniel is naturally a complete introvert and rarely opens up about heart matters. Tonight he shared that the school environment is a distraction. Upon asking questions and gently entering into this “rare” moment of vulnerability, he stated distraction is anything that takes his focus off of God. We talked about peer pressure, comparing ourselves to others, and realizing that when someone is unkind it’s a red flag pointing to their true character!

Attending First Baptist Dallas has greatly increased his passion for wanting to know Jesus more! What a blessing! Makes the long drives to Dallas well worth the extra time and money spent! We are thankful for our church and that God lead us to this amazing place of worship.

We continued to talk about the struggles of junior high and Robby shared his experiences from Junior High; The trials and everything he learned during this time. Hearing the two of them share from their heart and be vulnerable about their struggles in life, was such a blessing!

It is a lie from the enemy that teenagers don’t want anything to do with their parents. Parents, DO NOT fall for this lie! Our teenagers need us and long to connect with their parents! We need to pave the way for them by not constantly nagging them, observing and pointing out their strengths, listening for moments of vulnerability, and gently entering into conversations with grace, mercy, and encouragement!

3 John 1:4 “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

I am blessed and I love being a mom! The best, hardest, and most important job I’ll ever have!

Blessings, Crystal

An Antidote to A Nation In Trouble; God Has The Answer

The direction of our nation is terrifying! Can’t believe what people are fighting for… America is the home of the free! What will America look like when those fighting with impure motives win the battle? Scary to think about!

What are you fighting for? Be very careful the battles your fighting, you have to live with them! In fact, we all do! Our children’s children have to live with the fallout.

Sadly, the people fighting the wrong battle do not care about the generational fall out, they only care about themselves! What makes “me” happy! And… now!

Friends, we have to stop complaining about the direction our great nation is headed! We have to do something about it. I’m not saying argue with people to change their minds, that WILL NOT work! I’m not saying hand out a gospel track, I’m not saying go to church and come home. Nope, these things will not change the direction our country is headed.

We have to do the hardest thing, but also the most rewarding thing. We have to build relationships with people! We have to renew our heart and focus on Jesus! We have to be in continual prayer and asking God to show us how we can be a vessel for Him!

We have to STOP feeding our souls with “things”, “popularity”, “fame”, “bigger houses and more expensive cars”, “ease of life”, and begin feeding our soul with God’s love and find purpose and fulfillment in serving Jesus! We have to get out of ourselves and into God’s will, fully! Friends, during this time in history we CAN NOT be luke warm Christians! We must be hot, we must be on fire for Jesus!

We have to talk to our neighbors! We have to build relationship with our youth and show them the culture is empty and they are more fulfilled by Jesus and God’s people! Lost people need to see Jesus through us! People need to feel God’s love through us! This is the only thing that will change our nation! If all God’s people all around the world lives out the gospel message, our world would change! As individuals we have access to individual people and this seems small, but they find hope and lead others to hope! I’ve been blessed to see this play out in real life and it is the most rewarding aspect of living for Jesus! Seeing the Hope of Jesus spread!

Sadly, our vote matters very little in today’s society, because the same people fighting for the demise of America are manipulating our right as American’s to vote, by cheating the voting system! It’s scary!

Sooooo…. It’s time to get off your high horse and get out your boats…

Time to do what Jesus tells us and exemplified so perfectly in His word. We are called to be fishers of men! Lead them to Jesus through your actions motivated in Holy love, not through empty words! Words are empty, without purposeful intention behind them!

Let’s face it, we’ve become a selfish people, more so than ever before! And… we are more
more miserable and hopeless than ever before! The suicide rates are unbelievable! The anxiety and depression rates are off the charts! Being selfish, is actually the most miserable way to live! Interesting, but so very true!

Thankful Jesus is on the throne! This is a challenge to me and to you!

We have to save our nation, by getting right with God! It’s going to take an army, God’s army standing to fight! We have to fight a different battle, with different weapons, not the weapons of the world! We need to fight with God’s weapons! “The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, patience, gentleness and self-control.”

Go make disciples of all men!

Mathew 28: 19-20 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

2 Corinthians 10: 3-6 “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.”

Blessings,

Crystal

God is Everywhere; He’s Ever-Present in All of Life’s Storms

God speaks in repetition and the message I keep hearing through scripture, the Holy Spirit, and by spiritual mentors and friends… Is, “Bad things happen! Life is hard! God has never promised he would remove the storms, but that He’d walk through every single storm with us!”

God is everywhere… EVERYWHERE! In our homes, offices, at Walmart, on the interstate, in the ICU, He’s everywhere! He never leaves us and never forsakes us.

Friends, please remember this, when you’re facing insurmountable mountains and trials! Trust me, I know this from personal experience! In the scariest and most uncertain places of our lives, Satan will work overtime on our vulnerable hearts and minds. It’s his agenda! He wants to lure us away in our weakened state of suffering, this is when we’re most susceptible and Satan is clever. After all, he tempted Jesus after he had fasted fourty days and nights. He attacked when he knew good and well that Jesus was at His weakest. Thankfully, Jesus is the victor over Satan and drew his strength from His Father in Heaven! Be alert and recognize the enemy’s evil schemes. He ATACKS hardest when we’re at our weakest!

Remember… Satan attacks hardest when we’re … Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired, & Sick or Sad. “HALTS!”

When we’re walking through the hardest trials, the one’s we prayed and pleaded for God to remove; the cancer, the loss of a loved one, unemployment, divorce, wayward spouses and children, broken relationships, etc… God is walking right beside us! He’s our strength, comfort, wisdom, and Waymaker.

He is our ever-present help in times of trouble! Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” He is mindful of our suffering and our struggles, he genuinely loves and cares about our hearts. Psalm 8:3 & 4 “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”

When my sweet little girl was being life-lined to the PICU at All Children’s hospital in critical condition… There was a point when seeing her suffer was entirely more than I could handle. At one point I wanted to run away… my heart couldn’t handle seeing my baby girl so sick. In this moment, I was just plain out honest with God… “God, I can’t stand seeing my baby this sick! I need you to hold me up! Be my strength! Lord, please!” Immediately, a whole new strength and supernatural endurance showed up! I became her strength, encourager, and walked her through the hardest and most frightening moments. This was only possible, because God was holding me up and walking with me through the trial! She doesn’t know about my weak moment, all she knows is I was her safe place and I was taking care of her every need and praying for her fervently! She saw Jesus’s strength through her momma! She saw the prayers and the answered prayers! God is so good!

I hate to be the bearer of bad news…

Friends, life will give you more than you can handle! Time and time again this awful truth will ring true! Life will never give us more than we can handle when we’re clinging to Jesus in the midst of the storms! This is our one true promise and assurance! Our “Blessed Assurance”!

Cling to Him today! He’s got you! He’s got your baby! He’s got your spouse! He’s got all your needs taken care of! He’s right there with you! Always!

Blessings, Crystal

Trauma Changes Us: How a Traumatic Illness Changed Me and My Family Forever

Part I “Trauma Changes Us Forever: How a Series of Traumatic events Changed Me Forever”

True transparency for a moment. Rest assured, I am not sharing my story for sympathy. I’m sharing to reach the heart’s of others who may find themselves on a similar dark, frightening, and taunting journey!

The past 2 years have threatened to take me down more than I care to admit! Especially, the past 4 months have been the traumatic icing on an extremely awful and fearful cake!

Friends, this Christian counselor who continually points people to the Hope of Jesus, found myself struggling at times to find the ability to face the day (afraid of the next attack)!

I showed up at work (most of the time), I tried to be the best wife I could, I tried to love my kiddos the best of my ability! I continued pointing people to Jesus, as much as I could! It was effective for the most part, ( I sure hope it was, my prayer is always that God would fill in the gaps when I’m feeling weak. This is the hard part of ministry, we’re called to be on our game all the time, yet we’re all human and we will never be at our best all the time.).

Something within me, kept me from connecting at the deepest level with God, my husband, my children, my friends, and my clients. I know when I’m at my best and know the way I’m able to connect with people. It wasn’t happening at the same level. It broke my heart, and at times made me question my value and effectiveness as a wife, mother, friend, and counselor. Even as a Child of God! Thankfully, I know how to talk through the negative talk enough to keep going! I don’t think my clients noticed it, at least I hope they didn’t, but I felt it in my spirit! I did my very best for where I was during this trial! It’s all we can do… our best!

Why did this happen to me? Answer… My heart was crushed! I was afraid! I was terrified! There were a series of attacks and when I was feeling overwhelmed beyond my ability to handle the weight of it all, the largest attack came at us completely out of left field. When I realized I needed soul rest, decided to go on vacation to the beach, and upon landing in Florida my little girl immediately became gravely sick.

For five days I took care of her and worked with every ounce of my being to help her get better. Sleepless nights worrying about 104 fevers that seemed impossible to maintain and several other symptoms. Three trips to the ER with poor care and inaccurate diagnosis. Two urgent care trips. Three virtual appointments, this all took place in a 5 day period. This doesn’t count the doctor and nurse friends I reached out to for guidance. For five days her body was quickly dwindling and no one could tell me what was wrong. This was traumatic in and of itself. Then the final and correct diagnosis occurred on the fifth day when I took her to the best hospital in the area and risked being charged, as it was out of network. When it comes to saving your children, money is no longer an issue! They diagnosed her with MIS-C (Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in Children). A life-treating condition that comes on about 4 weeks after Covid and causes the bodies antibodies to go crazy and frantically begins attacking the organs. They said she was in critical condition and that you’re little girl is very sick. You brought her in at the right time! We need to work quickly to get her stablelized and get her to St. Petersburg’s, John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. They sent a lifeline to transport her and that was the longest and scariest trip of our lives! This is where our lives went into survival mode and sensual overload became overwhelming to our brain’s ability to properly file away memories, input, sounds, thoughts, information, and unanswered questions. Caroline and I both developed PTSD due to this near death and extrmeLy scary situation. In part II, I will explain more about the journey with MIS-C and how the trauma revealed it’s head upon returning home.

Friends, during this 4 months time frame it seriously felt like I was living out a real life game of Wack-A-Mole! Every time I’d feel a little bit stronger, another attack would crush me right back into my brokenness! Every time I felt I was coming to grip with the status wiping her condition and starting to find peace, the phone would ring informing of another concerning blood test result. I was on high alert for several months, watching every symptom to ensure she would be safe and healthy. At times her heart rate accelerated for no reason and got to the 180’s without exercise being the cause. It was a scary time! Praise the Lord her body is returning to a more normal state, her emotional well-being will take some more time! Although, she’s made great strides in this area by talking to me, her dad, her brothers, her counselor, and her art work! I couldn’t keep up and my stomach couldn’t either.

Stomach issues became a real issue, tension, headaches, sleepless nights, nightmares, and I even had a few clients who during my trial acted in ways that made it feel like they were stabbing a knife right into the deepest places of my heart. Of course, I can’t tell the circumstances, but just know that ministry doesn’t come without its own share of heartache, pain, and frustration. Especially, when the counselor has endured their own trauma. Usually, I’m more equipped and confident to handle these situations. At this time, I was barely hanging in and the attacks were overwhelming. When you are a counselor who truly cares for your clients, it opens you up to great potential for hurt. Therefore, many counselors remain emotionally absent and completely neutral, it’s “safer” this way, but it doesn’t produce the path to healing. Love is the only avenue to healing! I am so thankful that the majority of my clients were so very caring and chill throughout the process. They were patient when I had to cancel for Caroline’s doctor’s appointments, or had to take important calls from the hospital during a session (which I never do), or I messed up my schedule and botched up appointment times. So thankful for this blessing during this trial in my life!

My heart has faced so many of Satan’s attacks at such an accelerated rate, that there were times I thought to myself “I want to stay in bed all day, bad things happen out there!” I knew this was the epitome of living in fear! I’ve seen how this impacts my clients and I didn’t want to go to this dark of a place. I knew that he key was never giving up! I kept fighting!

Thankfully, during these intense attacks, I knew that succumbing to the defeating voices of Satan would only destroy me. After all, God says “Satan comes to kill, steal, and destroy!” Even on the hardest days, I forced myself to get up and face the world! I’d always read at least a little scripture and listened to a lot worship music, even though to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t feel it! At least not like I’m accustomed to. This was the most terrifying aspect of the experience. Why? God has been my firm assurance throughout life and Jesus my one true hope, wisdom provider, almighty counselor, and hope! Not feeling in connection fully with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, created the most noice and discomfort in my soul. It wasn’t God, it was my trauma, my fear, my struggle! Trauma does this!

Something inside of me threatened to shut off all emotions and connections! It was in these moments I developed a greater understanding, compassion, and empathy for how Satan can cause us to spiral downward fast! I’ve always been sensitive to this, but living through it has a way of bringing more and more empathy and love to others in pain!

In part II, I will continue sharing our healing journey through the illness, the traumatic impact, and how I’ve been able to work through the journey. Check it out!

Love you all!

Blessing,

Crystal

Blessings In The Midst of Raging Storms

“Blessings in the Midst of The Raging Storms”

It is so easy to take for granted the MOST precious gifts of life! Sitting in this airplane flying away from my family, I ponder how very blessed I am! In fact, I am reminded in the quietness with God the abounding and overwhelming blessings He’s bestowed upon my life! God is near, even when we feel alone!

Listening to our wedding song “I Will Be Here”, I’m reminded of my amazing & Godly husband! He loves and cherishes me! Leaving him is never easy, but the time apart is always a reminder of the depth of our love! Absence truly makes the heart grow fonder! He is patient in many ways and has never tried to guilt or manipulate me for personal gain. He’s always put my needs above his own, this was evident even in our dating days. He never pressured me and has always supported me! He is an amazing father! He always listens to, provides for, challenges, and supports our children in their dreams and endeavors! He is the Godly man I prayed for as a child. I am ever so grateful!

Leaving my children never gets easier. When they were babies, I thought it would be easier to leave when they were older and more independent. Nope, leaving them ALWAYS feels like I’m leaving my heart behind. Man, these amazing people God gifted us… I am blessed! They are kind, loving, silly, respectful, considerate, and they all have a desire to be the best version of themself! The best part is that they love me and forgive me when I’m human! These four keep me laughing all the time, even when life feels overwhelming and difficult.

My family is a gift! They can drive me crazy at times, that’s a part of life! I even love the “crazy times”… because these are the growth moments that draw us closer together. I know this is God’s plan, to have a place on Earth where you feel safe and loved for who you are. I didn’t grow up with this gift and know the fear, heartache, loneliness, and miserableness of a lack of love and security in a home. I made a decision to follow God whole-heartedly and do everything in my power to ensure my children grew up in a home of love, stability, and security. Obedience to God and continually searching our hearts offers us the most rewarding gifts Earth has to offer!

Sure, I tell them everyday that I love them and often how proud of them I am, but do I tell them they make my world a better place? As this airplane flies to the other side of America, I am reminded of the amazing gifts God has given me! My husband and children absolutely make my world a better place! I need to tell them this more often! They’re the sunshine that I love to come home to after a long day! They’re the reason for the tears that spill from my eyes every time I leave them behind for a trip! Life is hard! The past several years have brought one trial after another, God has been faithful through the storms. The storms are scary, God has never left our side! He’s given the blessing of family and friends to hold us, cry with us, pray for us, support us, and make us laugh in the trials! My heart is full of gratitude for the answered prayers and presence of God in my life!

Friends, when life is hard, Satan works overtime in our minds! He wants us to be so caught up in the fear of the storms, that we’re unable to see God at work in our lives! In fact, he convinces us that God has forgotten us, that he’s not present, that we’re alone, that our trials will never end. It’s not true! Today was a reminder of God’s goodness, even when the storms have been raging! The goal of our life is to live victoriously, not perfectly, or without pain! Live victoriously through Christ! Blessings, Crystal

Choosing Faith Over Fear

My heart is breaking today for a fellow mother of a child enduring the MIS-C nightmare, not once but now a second time. This is every parent and child with MIS-C’s worse nightmare. That MIS-C may reoccur and to see the data being made in real life is unsettling! It is a relatively new condition and there is little information to provide answers. Being the pioneers for this illness is terrifying. Thankfully, we now have a support group to pray for, encourage and help each other through the hard times, and to celebrate healing and victories!

I know all of us parents have asked the infectious disease, rheumatology, and specialists doctors this question about 100 times throughout the duration of the journey! “Can my child get MIS-C again?”

As time passes the data “our very own children’s health occurrences” are filling in the blanks. Friends, this is terrifying! I am not going to lie! I DO NOT like it and absolutely wish my Sweet Caroline didn’t have to be a part of the MIS-C club. We are now a part of the club, wishing we weren’t, living in denial and fear, and throwing tantrums is not going to help! Trust me, I’ve cried so many tears, felt my heart would beat in angst right outside of my chest, and I’ve wrestled with God about “why”? The only thing that has kept me sane throughout this entire process is God!

God loves His children and longs for our souls to be quieted in His presence. Once calmed, I remember to ask myself…

What are my choices? I ask my clients this all the time… It’s the best question to ask ourselves when facing insurmountable trials.

1.). I can be crazy scared, act frivolously, and move into absolute “control” mode.

Admittedly, more times than I can count… I’ve had the thought to run to the school and pull her out to homeschool her. Thankfully, I calmed down quickly and turned my fear into prayer! God reminded me that “our” little girl is relational and is so happy at her school, she loves her friends, and being in school is good for her spirit. I calmed down and didn’t run to the school and demand to bring her home to her momma bear! Lol! I remembered to check my fear at the cross.

2.) I can take my fear and anxiety to God.

This calms me and grounds my fearful heart. In His presence I learn that I can exercise caution and be careful with her care and symptoms. This is a much better option!

I’m God’s presence he continually leads my wandering and fearful heart back to option 2. Therefore, I’m not acting in hysterics, fear, and attempting to control everything and everyone around me!

Covid is REAL! It is directly impacting each of our lives! It is hitting close to home in more and more families. If I had a magic wand… I’d wave it around and wish away all the brokenness due to this Covid pandemic. I don’t have this ability and neither do you… Even our finest doctor’s still have limited information. I have something better and so do you… FAITH! Faith in a God who is in control! Lean into Him with your fears and concerns! He is walking through this pandemic with us and has a purpose for all our pain. He will redeem this and return what has been taken from us in His time… He will redeem!

Since the start of this Covid pandemic we have all been faced with the absolute uncertainty and vulnerability of being a human! We are not immortal, contrary to what we like to think and convince ourselves! We are mortal beings with a beginning and end! Not a single one of us knows our final day. None of us know the outcomes, if there will be answers, or if the virus will ever be contained. God knows! He will use this, ALL of it for good! It breaks his heart to see His children suffering! This I know! He is near the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Some of us have experienced nothing more than a bad cold! Some of us have faced near death experiences that have woken us up to what is important. Some of us have witnessed our children face near death experiences. Sadly, many of us have lost loved ones during this pandemic. Shockingly, there are still some who say it’s nothing more than a “flu”. Everyone of us has been impacted by Covid-19, either directly or indirectly. It’s heart breaking, frightening, and comes with much uncertainty!

There are many things we don’t have control over… The pandemic is one! And… how others respond in the midst of the pandemic is another.

There is one thing we have control over… How we respond to the pandemic? What do you choose?

1) Be crazy scared, frantic, and attempt to control everything around you… All in an attempt to quiet your own fears.

2). Take your fear to God and allow Him to lead, guide, direct, and comfort you during a difficult time. Allow God to quiet the noise in your soul and calm, comfort, and ground your spirit.

The choice is yours. I choose… 2!

Over and over again I run back to option 2, it is the ONLY THING that calms my spirit!

Today, I’m praying for God’s mercy, wisdom, and healing over this pandemic! I’m praying for the individuals and families impacted by Covid! I am praying for all children and parents whose lives have been turned upside down due to MIS-C. I’m praying for my very own Sweet Caroline!

Please join me in choosing option 2. Let’s flood heaven with fervent prayers for healing!

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6 & 7

Blessings, Crystal

Finding Joy In The Trials

This little girl is getting her heart checked to ensure it’s healthy and doing well since the MIS-C diagnosis. She’s a trooper! She’s happy, confident, joyful, and tough!

Right before having her heart tests, she asked me if she could have some of my coffee. I’m like … “Ummm.. no!” Caffeine before heart tests is not a good mix! Lol! Doc be like “Why is her heart beating so fast???” We sure had a good laugh! Haha! Finding joy in the trials! I sure love this huge smile! She’s come so far since the day in the hospital, 3 weeks ago, when she was lifelined to All Children’s in St. Petersburg, FL! Thankful for God’s provisions!

Friends, if your world looks dark, depressing, painful, and overwhelming today… Borrow my hope for awhile, joy is around the corner! Joy may look different than it was before, but we grow through hardship!

James 1:2-6 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

Blessings,

Crystal