"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17
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!
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!
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
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!
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?
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
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.”
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.”
Amazing how Satan plans attacks when we’re already weakened. A family member, who I do not communicate with because she is quite toxic and full of anger, completely and out of the blue, for no reason at all sent me a FB message. This isn’t the first time this person has verbally assaulted me, in the message she attempted to trash my character, claimed she knew my “evil” thoughts and motives on certain matters, even brought up completely untrue things, just to ensure my heart was sliced deeply. Which it was! Although, this message hit hard and definitely broke my heart and caused me many tears, it also lead me to Jesus in prayer. Which was refreshing and healing!
I lay here in the other side of the hurt, unable to sleep, as God reminded me several profound truths. I wanted to write them out, as I’m certain I’m not alone in having someone hurt me with a verbal thrashing and the pain it can leave behind. I thought, perhaps there’s someone else out there who has endured the foul side of another’s bad day. If someone has been unkind to you, it is my hope and prayer that you find peace in these truths.
Truths Revealed During My Prayer Time
1.) People project their feelings toward themself onto others.
I know this is exactly what happened tonight. The hatred and anger has nothing to do with me, but their own world of pain. I have walked away from the dysfunction, simply because it is a form of toxicity that is hazardous to one’s mental health. Thus, I’m not around enough to create such hatred and bitterness. God reminded of of the true condition of their hearts, lost, empty, defeated, and without hope. He whispered to my heart… Pray for her!
Mathew 5:44 “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”
2.). My identity is in Jesus Christ’s unconditional love and acceptance of me.
My identity is not in the defeating untruths poured onto me. I belong to Jesus! He is the only one who has a say in my value and worth! I will rest in His promises and in His unconditional love for me! I will not allow Satan’s attack to shred my ability to serve God whole-heartedly!
Galatians 2:20 “ I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
3.) My only job is to love, serve, and please God!
It is not my job to make sure everyone is happy with me. It is my job to treat people in a Christ-like manner and show His love to this se in need.
In fact, living for Jesus has a way of making many people unhappy and insecure. Jesus was perfect and most wanted him crucified. I live for Him, should I expect less, even though His word says; “We will be persecuted for His sake.”
Galations 1:10 “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
4.) People will have to answer for the sins they commit on this Earth. It may feel like they get off Scott free when they attack with such hatred and you refrain from “giving it to them”. It wouldn’t help! Trust me, I’ve learned this the hard way! God will take care of it and I can hand it over to him.
Romans 12:19 “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
5.) Never lose hope! I’ve spent many years praying for my family members to repent and turn their hearts to God! At times, especially after getting these nasty grams, it can begin to feel hopeless. Yet, we are called to never lose hope!
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 “Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”
Friends, Having people spew hatred, bitterness, and lies at you is extremely painful! I know this all too well! I am thankful that God knows what we’re feeling and identifies with our heartache and is always ready to comfort us and show us his loving truths!
Hebrews 4:14 & 15 “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet he did not sin.”
May you be comforted, as I was comforted by our loving Heavenly Father!