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Conflict is What’s Making This Global Pandemic Unbearable

All this hatred and discord over masks vs. no masks, vaccines vs. no vaccines, makes my heart sick! To be completely honest it increases my anxiety and I know for a fact that I’m not alone! People are being pushy, judgmental and lacking understanding & empathy. Everyone operating at these extremes is making this pandemic more uncomfortable, upsetting, challenging, and frightening!

We are all in this together! But, we’re acting like our friends, neighbor’s, and even family members are our enemies!

Wake up call…

To all the people pushing tooth and nail masks and vaccines to the point of stirring anger and bitterness… there’s still so many unknowns! The data is showing that the vaccines aren’t the complete answer to our suffering! I’m not saying we shouldn’t get the vaccine, I’m saying “WE DON’T KNOW… NOBODY DOES! Even the best of the best medical doctors and biologists are still trying to figure out Covid.

Wake Up Call…

To those acting like this pandemic is just another flu, my daughter almost died from a rare condition caused by Covid, MIS-C. Don’t think for a minute I haven’t endured fear over whether she can get this condition again, the top doctor’s DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT have enough data to answer that question. I have found myself at times feeling tightness in my chest over what our future has in store over this Covid “hell” we’ve all been living! I have decided to trust God and trust that He holds the future. He knows the answers to the questions regarding the future. He holds our tomorrow! I’ve come to realize that if I allow this fear to be my primary focus it will continue to scare the living daylights out of me. My living in fear is not going to help my daughter, my children, myself, my marriage, my relationships, or the people around me! In fact, fear will hurt myself and my relationships!

I choose to spend my time loving and leading people to the hope of Jesus! I choose to pray fervently and heed the Holy Spirit for answers.
I choose to seek the Holy Spirit for guidance over masks, vaccines, and how to live wisely in the midst of this global pandemic.

I refuse to control what I don’t understand!

This pandemic is real and there are so many unknowns! Let’s all stop acting like we know everything cause we DO NOT!!! During this time of uncertainty and tremendous unknowns, I know a few things are absolutely certain…

1.) We all NEED Jesus and God is in control!

2.) We NEED each other to ensure that during this time of tribulation and difficulty that we come out stronger, still standing, and mentally and physically put together!

3.) We NEED to pray for others and not judge, ridicule, or slander!

4.). We NEED to ensure our eternal lives are secure and work to love others to Jesus. We need to do our part to be sure we all make it to Heaven together! We can’t do this when being unkind and judgmental!

5.) We NEED to allow this time of uncertainty to build our empathy and compassion!

6.) We NEED to trust God!

We’re all suffering and hurting! Please STOP causing unnecessary hurt and suffering! It’s not helping and we all know it! Trust me, as a counselor I hear the hearts of people and everyone is afraid of the pandemic, even those who say their not. We’re all fearful on some level, because it’s impacting us all!

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

Blessings, Crystal

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What is the Answer to The Chaos of our Culture? Love!

I was just thinking this morning about how broken hearted my sweet & Godly great-grandmother would be if she knew all the things going on in our present day culture!

Our culture has spiraled out of control in the past 20 years. My heart aches tremendously! God knows all and has a plan and purpose even in this chaos.

Rise up Christians, we can not be complacent!

We need to live and love for Jesus! We need to be wise, vigilant, and STOP living in denial! We need to use our energy and all our resources and begin fighting the evil schemes of Satan, by loving people to Jesus! Not “shaming” them or judging them… not trying to change their vote, lifestyle, or choices.

When we love people to Jesus… Guess what happens? God changes their desires, choices, votes, and lives! It’s God’s job, not ours! This is the only way to change the condition of our world! People are looking for hope and are desperately longing to figure out how to fill their God-sized hole! Only Jesus can fill our God-sized hole and only Jesus can complete and fulfill us!

John 4:13 & 14 “Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

What is our job? What can we Christ followers do to make a difference in our broken world? Love people to Jesus! That’s all Jesus asks us, not to change them. As a counselor
I’ve encountered my share of overwhelming days and feel inept to make a difference in the midst of heartache and pain. On these difficult days the Lord has said to me… “Can you just love them? It’s not your job to change them, but to love them! I am their Savior and I am the only Savior they need.” Yes, Lord, I can love them! Love them to Jesus! It’s our calling as disciples of Christ!

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.”

People are leaving the faith because instead of loving well, (c)hristian people are judging, being indirect and passive aggressive out of pride, fear, and insecurity. Christians, we’re the ones making Jesus look bad. In the name of “Jesus” we’ve been the exact opposite of what Jesus looks like. We’ve made Jesus look insensitive, insecure, mean, heartless, judgy, unfriendly, unkind, impossible to please, and everything He’s not. We MUST stop acting like we have the power to change people… We DO NOT! Only The Lord has that kind of power. Time to recognize our prideful hearts and learn how to love like Jesus!

What power do we have? The ability to love Jesus completely, grow in our own relationship with Jesus Christ, love others as ourselves, build healthy connection, and always be ready to tell the Good News!

Mathew 22:34-40 “Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Friends, I am so thankful to be walking this spiritual journey with you! Serving God and living for Him is the greatest calling on Earth!

Blessings,

Crystal

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Parenting Teenagers & Managing Technology In Our Families

Raising children in our present cultural is tough! As a counselor, I hear stories and my heart aches at the condition of our world! Parents, pay attention! DO NOT ignore your gut! Listen to that still small voice inside! Pray! Pray! Pray! Have accountability on all phones and computers. DO NOT allow children and teens to use technology in their rooms and have a room where technology is supposed to be used openly! Children and teens should not… SHOULD NOT have privacy on their cell phones and computers! In fact, adults shouldn’t have privacy on cell phones, we’re all prone to temptation! We all need accountability! Family wide computer/cell phone filters are essential! We are not above being lured by Satan’s evil schemes! Satan is working hard to pull our children away from love, grace, truth and lead them into darkness! Our children need us on our toes! We have to be intentional and proactive in our parenting! We have to pay attention! Our kids need us!!! They need us to continually point them to Jesus, hold them accountable, and love them unconditionally! Most importantly our children need us to love them unconditionally! #myheartthisevening #parenting

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Happy 21st Anniversary to my Best Friend and Soul Mate

We’ve raised 4 amazing kiddos together! You earned a bachelors degree and a PhD from Indiana University! I’ve earned a bachelor’s degree and an M.A. and became a counselor… we did this all together! We’ve explored the world together! We’ve had amazing moments of success, tremendous joy and faced tremendous sorrow… together! You’ve stood by me through thick and thin! You’re definitely my better half! God knew we needed each other to face the joys and tribulations that we’d face in our lives!

Happy 21st Anniversary, to my best friend!

I love you!

Here’s to a lifetime of memories still to be made… together!

Robert Ridlon, I love and admire you more each year!

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When I don’t Understand, I Choose To Trust!

Living in 3 states in less than a year is not easy! Especially, when we thought we’d retire and have our children and future grandchildren visit our home in Bloomington, IN! Where we called home for 20 years.

I would be lying if I said, “I understand it all”. I’d also be lying if I said, “It’s been easy and I haven’t doubted God’s plan, more than 100 times!” I don’t understand! There has been a lot of fear, tears, hurt, and discouragement! I have clients all the time ask me for “specific answers” to the difficulty they face in their life. I am always quick to tell them…

“I don’t have all the answers! Trust me, if I did, we wouldn’t be walking through the wilderness we’ve been enduring. What I have is faith, knowing that God is who he says he is and he’s going to do what he says he’s going to do! I know he’s never forsaken or abandoned us. He’s always provided every step of the way and his plans have always been to prosper us, even when His plan is contrary to my plans. This is my hope! This is the very thing that sustains us when life gets scary, uncertain, unfamiliar, and discouraging!”

I know I make this sound like it’s been all scary and it has been quite unnerving! But… there has been beauty in the trials! Complete moments of joy and close family moments! God has been near and it’s the very thing that has held us together!

I serve a Mighty God! A loving God! A God who loves, provides, and guides unconditionally!!!

“When I don’t understand, I choose to trust!”

Friends, life is hard! The Bible warned us thousands of years ago…

“In this world you will have troubles, but take heart I have overcome the world!”

I can’t imagine living this life without the Hope of Jesus!

Hang on to Jesus!

Blessings, Crystal

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God’s Beauty Trumps Anxiety

On hard days it’s the little things that remind you of God’s beauty! Yesterday, was a discouraging day and I found myself struggling with the current demands and the overall stress of life. Walking into the kitchen these beautiful flowers caught my attention! We have been keeping fresh flowers to make the house look nice for showings. However, these flowers were like a song to my spirit! A reminder that God is in control and makes all things beautiful in His time. They reminded me that there is beauty everywhere in our world, we just have to stop and pay attention!

Mathew 6: 28-32 “And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you,even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.”

We need to allow God’s beauty and blessings to grab our attention and yank us out of our anxious spirals! Look for beauty, blessings, love… God…. and you will find it!

What we focus on increases! Focus on God and his good deeds and beauty all around us!

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

Blessings, Crystal

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The “Meaning” Junkie!

This morning during my devotional, God whispered to my heart! It was a powerful and much needed word. God spoke in the way only He does, straight to my heart, not an audible sound, but a direct message to my spirit!

Here’s the story!

There is tremendous uncertainly in our family’s life, once again! Looking for God’s heeding, guidance, and fervently seeking wisdom. The past several days my spirit has been a bit down and doubt has been attempting to invade.

There seems to be more questions than answers. This is a true challenge for this girl who likes to have things figured out! I’m a “meaning” junkie! If I can see the spiritual meaning in a challenge, I can thrive! Yet, presently this has been more unclear than clear. I’m praying, seeking, and awaiting for answers and understanding!

In all honesty, I’m fighting the fight! The battle is thick, but God is greater! Thankfully, I have been allowing the struggle to send me to the feet of Christ, prayer, God’s word, worship, and fellowship with other Christians. I don’t want to think about where I’d be emotionally, physically, and spiritually if this weren’t the case. Trust me, I’ve been there too many times to count! I’m learning, slowly but surely!

It is during these times that God speaks in gentle, yet firm messages! This morning I continued reading slowly through Psalms and today was a continuation of 119. Powerful and in depth passage of scripture! What a powerful word to the heart of one unsure of the path before? To one who is desperately searching and seeking God’s wisdom regarding next steps. I am a girl, who desires to be in God’s will more than anything! This is my heart! My prayer is to always be close enough to God to discern his voice and his will!

During this precious time with God, my heart was drawn to ….

Mathew Chapter 6, where the message is clear… “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow has enough trouble of it’s own. God cares about the birds… How much more does he love and care for us, His beloved children.”

Wow! What a word of comfort for one caught up in a fearful place of uncertainty and fear! Thank you, Lord!

Sitting there with tears gently flowing down my cheeks… God whispers to my heart, “Crystal, remember the man you met yesterday?” What a reminder!

Wow! Here’s that story…

Driving to lunch after church, there sat a homeless man at the bus stop and he had his blue tooth speaker and was jamming to one of my favorite worship songs. I said to him out the car window, “Great song! One of my favorites!” He responded, “I may be homeless, but I still love Jesus!” Wow, his comment took me by surprise! I replied, “Amen, brother! Keep the faith! Happy Easter!”

Philippians 4:11-13 “As I sat there this morning plagued with fear, uncertainty, and disappointment… God reminded me that through Him we can be content, joy filled, and at peace regardless of our present situation. “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

I was reminded that I don’t need to fear my circumstances, because God is our comforter no matter our situation! I don’t anticipate being homeless, but even if life takes me one day in the future… With a Christ, I will be okay! With Christ, we’re always okay!

Friends, Are you weighted down by fear, confusion, and uncertainty? God is there in the uncertainty and struggle. Lean into Him! He’s got you!

“Keep the faith!”
Blessings, Crystal

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Seeing Beauty in Our Self-ies

I’m not a fan of selfies! Actually, let me be more specific! I’m not a fan of my selfies. I love seeing the selfies of my friends on Facebook. Love seeing a new hairstyle and seeing their smiles! When I see the unique beauty on the faces of my friends, I see God’s wonderful artistry, and I’m in awe of God’s creativity.

1 Corinthians 6:19 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

I am capable of seeing the beauty in others, but then again I’m not typically in a place of judging their every possible flaw. Yet, every time I take a selfie of myself, I am overly critical of my physical flaws.

“My eyes are squinted, you need to lose weight, look at those wrinkles, girl, you’re getting a double chin, look at that dent in in your nose, in fact the entire nose is not good, that scar on your eye, and you’re getting old!” OUCH!

Guess what??? I’m not alone! How do I know? I counsel countless young ladies, men, and women. I’ve never met a single person who wasn’t highly critical of themselves.

I am my own worst enemy! “We” are our own worst enemy! If we think such awful things about ourselves, then Satan convinces us that everyone around us thinks the same thing!

Except, narcissistic individuals, this another entire topic. The nature of narcissism is extreme insecurity, redirected through the lens of grandiosity, arrogance, and looking down on other people.

Back to those of us who tend to be overly critical of ourselves. Why??? I see people with looks on all sides of the spectrum of beauty. Homecoming queens to people with physical abnormalities. In addition, I see people with all levels of success and popularity.

There’s always a universal theme, they think their “not good enough”.

Common misbeliefs “I’m not pretty enough, handsome enough, successful enough, popular enough, smart enough, etc.

I’ve come to realize something that may come as shock to a culture that values beauty, success, popularity, and intelligence above all else. The problem with self-esteem and self-worth has NOTHING to do with beauty, success, popularity, or intelligence. NOTHING!

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

The problems rests in “what we’re placing our worth in”. If our worth is in looks or worldly popularity we will always find low self-worth. In fact, if our worth and value is in anything this world has to offer we will always find ourselves empty, sad, discontent, anxious, depressed, and deeply discouraged.

I’m a realist and I know that at times the world around us is cruel and judgmental. If our value and worth is in Jesus Christ, even when the world is cruel and judgmental, my worth will remain in tact. I may be hurt momentarily, but my anchor will hold me securely! With God as my anchor, I may be shaken, but will never be overtaken!

Hebrews 6:19 “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.”

Friends, Satan will attack! It will come from our own negative thoughts, attacks from other people, and the overall brokenness rampant in the world we live in.

If I am content in who God created me… His purpose for my life… His affection for me… His unconditional love for me… His fondness of me, as His beloved child… I will remain steadfast in my mission to glorify, serve, and praise God!

When I see myself through the eyes of a loving Heavenly Father who created me in His image and sent His son to die for me… I will find myself more content and joyful.

I commit myself to seeing my value in God! I will thank Him for the selfies of today, rather than overly criticize and allow Satan to distract me from God’s plans and purposes!

Today, I will see the beauty in my selfies, because this is “me” and God created me and loves me just as I am! I’m completely okay with that! What about you?

Blessings, Crystal

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Praising God through the Psalms

Praising God with Psalms as I begin my week! I am especially thankful for God’s provisions and guidance in the life of myself and my family members! I can rejoice because of Jesus! My circumstances do not define my ability to have comfort, peace, or joy! I am thankful that the Lord still offers circumstantial and present blessings, joy, and provisions! Have a great day in the Lord this week! Blessings, Crystal

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How To Deal With Life’s Uncertainty

Personally, I feel that uncertainty is the scariest aspect of life! In the midst of uncertainty, nothing feels certain or graspable, and the future is always completely unpredictable! The funny thing is that nothing in this world is ever certain… ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Over the last two years, our family has seen this ugly and hard to swallow fact of life in vivid detail! Loss of loved one’s, unexpected job transitions, moving to a new state, and much more!

The only thing I’ve encountered in this world that is certain and constant is my Heavenly Father! Jobs, relationships, friendships, finances, health, and everything this world has to offer is all filled with a level of unknown! The agnostic life style literally terrifies me, as it leaves out the only certain aspect of living in a difficult world, the love and provision of God!

Currently, the future in many ways seems more unclear than normal, but I am reminded that nothing is ever perfectly planned, organized, or certain!

“Life’s what happens when you have other plans!”

I’ve always hated this saying, especially when it was said to me countless times during the days of my youth! The times it was said, was rarely in love and empathy, but rather… “Yea, life is hard! Accept it and get over it!” Yet, the statement is absolute truth!

For example, I wasn’t planning to get an unkind message from an extended family member again this evening! I wasn’t planning to lose my grandmother in the midst of a pandemic, when I had very little time to see her over the last year! Nor was I planning for a ton of oil to spill on our driveway this afternoon! Life just happens! The good, the bad, the joy, the sad, and the frustrating! Life is complete with a wide array of emotions!

In my attempt to control my life and the world around me, I realize what little control I actually have over life’s happenings! I control to feel safe, secure, and to feel empowered over the powerlessness of this life! During the times when life spins out of my control, I grasp for certainty, assurance, comfort, promises, answers, and security! Other than temporary and false fulfillment, without God life is dim, scary, meaningless, and overwhelming! Without maintaining my focus on God’s love and his promises, there is absolutely no assurance!

“The farther I get from God, the more anxious I become!”

Being a Christian doesn’t make me immune to life’s trials, I still face uncertainty, fear, powerlessness, and frustration. Through Christ, I have assurance of my salvation, knowledge and wisdom to endure the difficult trials before me, and comfort to face the losses and difficulties of life! I have everything I need through my Heavenly Father!

Friends, if you’re walking through fear and uncertainty, I encourage you to take your focus off the world and look to God! He will sustain you and will be your ever present help in times of trouble!

Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

Blessings, Crystal

1 Corinthians 15:57 “ But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”