Family Bonding Time, Learning to Love Your Husband, Motherhood, Parenting, Praise God, Trusting God

Thankful For An Amazing Vacation

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We drove all day yesterday and returned to our home sweet home at 7:30 p.m. We had an amazing vacation and I can’t stop praising The Lord for the wonderful memories we made as a family. Leaving the ocean was hard! When I’m standing next to the ocean with my family, watching the sunset, God feels so close. I feel His awesome power as I stand next to an almighty ocean. My heart experiences a peace that surpasses all understanding, standing there hand in hand with my helpmate and my sweet little kids. I’m reminded of the blessings in my life! I’m reminded of why I live to please my Father! I’m reminded of His goodness! I’m reminded of the Giver of life!

Thanking God today for the gift of His Son, my life, husband, children, family, friends, and His beautiful aesthetic creation! My heart is filled to overflowing!

Blessings,

Crystal

Encouragement for a Weary Heart, Trusting God

Living a Victorious Life Through the “Almighty Counselor”

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I look in their faces… No matter how hard I try I can’t see their hearts.

So many people… So many souls.

Their eyes are a window into their souls.

Usually… I can read the emotions of the eyes.

In their eyes, I can see anger… Fear… Sadness… Joy.

I can’t see “why” their feeling, what their feeling.

No matter, how hard I try I can’t “know” their hearts.

So many people… Only one Holy God.

How can God know each and every single human heart.

How is it He truly cares for me… For you… For all the souls on this Earth.

Again… I don’t know how He does it!

I just know… “I’m glad He does!”

I pray… Lord, “Teach me to be a counselor.

A Godly… Understanding… Encouraging… Loving counselor.

Give me a supernatural understanding through Your Holy Spirit.

Help me to love your people… In a Godly and unconditional way.

Help me to look beyond their quirkiness…

To “truly” see a glimpse into their heart…

Give me an understanding of their spiritual condition…

Guidance to speak your words… Into their spirits.

Lord… When your people sit before me… Yearning for “healing”…

Speak through me… Speak into their hearts!

Lord… Help me… To help them…

Live a victorious life, through an intimate relationship with you, their Almighty Counselor.”

Family Bonding Time, Motherhood, Parenting, Praise God, Trusting God

Heaven By The Sea

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Together we stroll…
Her tiny hand, holds on tight.
Walking beside the ocean, she giggles as each wave catches her feet.
Her stature tiny, in comparison to the vast… powerful body of water.
Yet, she’s not afraid.
She is filled with giddiness.
Together we sit, staring out at the sea.
The two of us watch as the Seagulls soar above.
Once again, we stand.
Holding hands we continue our walk alongside the beach.

I long for her to know Christ’s love.
I desire for her to feel the loving presence of the Holy Spirit.
I want her to fully grasp how deep and wide the Father’s love is for her!
Her favorite song escapes my lips,

“Jesus, loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong, they are weak but, He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so!”

She sings along, the sound of her little girl voice harmonizes with the sea.
Emotions fill my soul.
Love… Unconditional love.
Joy… Pure joy.
Peace… Calming peace.
Gratefulness… Praising God for the blessing of my little girl.

I pick her up… Her two year old body squeals in excitement.
I want nothing more for her to comprehend the depth of my love for her.
I look into her big blue eyes and whisper…

“Caroline… Look at mommy!” She looks into my heart. Tears of joy fall off my cheeks and return to the ocean. “Mommy, loves you so much!”

Just shy of two years old, she has a supernatural understanding.
She looks up at me… Rubs my hair… Looks into my big blue eyes and say’s, “Loooooove you, mommy!”
She rests her little head on my shoulder and gently hugs her momma.

Suddenly… I’m in Heaven.

I pray…

“Lord, thank you for answering my heart’s desire for a daughter. Thank you for going above and beyond and blessing me with the sweetest little girl. You knew she was the perfect little girl for our family. Lord, forever freeze this moment in my heart and mind. Although I will always long for Heaven, I thank you for providing moments of “Heaven” on Earth. Thank you for the tiny glimpses and reminders of what awaits us in our Heavenly homes.”

Family Bonding Time, Parenting

Reasons We Love Our Dad

Reasons We Love Our Dad

*He spends time with us.
*He makes us laugh.
* He’s silly
*Takes us sailing.
*Does lots of fun things with us.
*Goes to our school stuff.
*Gives us hugs and does “motions” with us.
*He plays with me.
*Plays good music.
*He encourages us and makes us feel special
*He loves God
*He teaches us about God

Robert,
You are the best husband and father. We are more than blessed to have you as our provider. We love you! Thank you for your hard work and desire to be the best daddy!

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The Christian “F” Word

This is revolved from a fellow blog friend. Her message is profound and one I feel everyone should hear. “Lessonsbyheart”

Lessons by Heart

Barely making eye contact, Johanna* quickly looked past me as I entered the building and asked, “How are you?”

Slowing down a bit, I responded, “I’m dying of cancer.”

She never batted an eye. “Oh, that’s nice, dear.”

Really?

(I’m not dying of cancer – just so you know!)

This was part of an experiment I’ve been running, curious to see how people would respond. Most of the time, when folks ask “How are you?” they’re doing the “polite” thing. Very few actually give a rip.

On the street, polite disinterest is to be expected. When I find the sense of “don’t bother me with the details, just give me the standard answer” among my church family members, I am saddened. Because we have the “mind of Christ,” His tender-hearted care must be evident, one would think.

My goal is to become genuine. Therefore, if I don’t care, I don’t…

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What Is “True” Friendship

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The picture above is my friend Toni Christianson. She is one of several “true” sister friends, God has blessed me with.

I’ve heard it said, “If you have one true friend, you are blessed.” I have been blessed with many wonderful “true” friends. Friends, who I can count on to lift me up before the Lord and whom I can encourage in their daily walk with The Lord.

What is a “true” friend?

Many of us have friends and acquaintances. Yet… Few or no “real” friends. You can be the most popular person in the world and still have no true friends. Hmmm???

A friend loves at ALL times.
Lifts you up before the throne in prayer.
Lifts you up in midst of other people.
“Never” tells your deepest secrets for self-gratification.
Cherishes your good qualities.
Forgives your mistakes and allows you to be human.
Friends, pray with you.
Friends trust you.
They listen and withhold judgement.
A friend will never speak negatively behind your back… Never!
Their always willing to help you out in a pinch.
Never lies to you.
A friend really loves you… Is not afraid to tell you so.
Respects your value system and convictions.
A friend likes you for who you are.
A friend accepts you just as you are.
A friend really “likes” you. {This means they don’t complain about you or secretly think bad thoughts about you on a regular basis.}.

What a friend is not.

Easily angered.
Unforgiving.
Someone who’s willing to speak against you to other people.
Someone who is overly critical.
Someone who belittles you in the presence of others.
Someone who gossips about you or to you.
One who fails to lift you up to the Father.
One who fails to lift you up in the presence of other people.

Friends are genuine people, people who love you for your good qualities and your imperfections, accepts the person you are, someone close or far away who makes time for you, regularly encouraging, eager to take your hand and pray to the Father on your behalf, and lifts you up in prayer on a regular basis.

Some people seem to know everyone and seem to know everything about everybody. However… This isn’t indicative of one who has “true” and “lasting” relationships.

These relationships will leave you with little time and an inability to build and maintain life-long, contented, Godly friendships.

Oh by the way, if you truly desire to have “real” and “uplifting” relationships, there is one important condition… Ready?

You have to be a “real” friend. “True” and “genuine” friends are attracted to “true” and “genuine” friends!!!

Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times.”

John 15:13, “Greater love has no one but this, that he lay down his life for a friend.”

God has been speaking truth into my heart about being a more genuine friend… A more genuine person. I think overall I’m a good friend, yet, I have so much more I need to work on in the area of friendship building. Most importantly, God is teaching me to talk more to Him, and to make Him my go-to person.

It’s my prayers that this blog encouraged you to be a better friend and the process of building healthy and lasting friendships.

Blessings, Crystal

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13th Anniversary

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Thirteen years ago I walked down the aisle, toward my future. I’ll never forget the look in your eye as I walked down the aisle and became your wife. We promised to love one another for better or worse. We’ve kept that promise… Although there has been a little “worse” there has been so much more “better”. Walking by your side, Robert… Has been “better” than I ever imagined. I am honored to be your wife and so happy to raise our sweet and funny four kiddos with you. Thank you for loving me! Thank you for supporting our family! Thank you for being a Godly husband and daddy! I love you!

We bought each other bikes for an anniversary gift. I look forward to family time, cruising around on our bicycles! Happy 13th Anniversary, Robert!

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Just As I Am

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Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!

Who came up with this stupid saying?

Do you believe it?

Of course not!

Why not?

No one believes it, every human on God’s Earth….

Knows the “hurt” that comes as a result of careless… mean… and impatient words.

Some are used to hearing hateful and self-centered words.

Some are used to speaking harsh and impatient words.

Some are hurt people… Looking for someone to hurt.

Most… Speak without thinking.

Most… Are clueless as to the words they speak.

What truly slays me, is hearing such words escape the mouths of my brother’s and sister’s in Christ.

We are to be the salt and the light…. Right???

Is it just me…

Do I have high expectations?

Am I overly sensitive?

How often do I speak careless words that damage souls?

Are we too busy to take time to fellowship with other believers?

Do we run in circles, frantically stressing about life, and failing to show grace to our brother’s and sister’s?

Are we too busy to stick around and fellowship with those we are called to encourage?

How many people enter the church doors, only to be ignored, and as a result never enter God’s house again?

I find hope in my relationship with Christ!

He speaks to my heart… The word’s I need to hear.

In the ways… I need to hear it.

He may temporarily allow me to broken… Only to grow my dependence upon Him.

He never speaks careless and hurtful words.

Although, people, brother’s and sister’s in Christ, family members, and strangers will continue to be human and speak in their humanness rather than through the love of Christ.

Christ will {never} speak careless and hurtful words.
Christ {will} always have time to talk with me.
Christ is {always} waiting for me to communicate with him.
Christ {always} thinks before he speaks.

Christ {will} encourage my weary soul.
Christ {will} speaks words of affirmation into my heart… When other’s word’s hurt me.
Christ {never} impatiently waits for me to finish my sentences.
Christ {loves} me, understands me, and accepts me.

Thank God… I have a Father in Heaven who loves me… And accepts me “Just As I Am”..

Just As I Am

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot;
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt;
Fightings within, and fears without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind;
Yes, all I need, in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Has broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

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Society’s Rules “or” The Maker of Society

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Today’s societal norms regarding life, love, and marriage have forced me to ponder, “When is the {right} time to get married, When is the {right} time to have a baby?” Today the world tells us we have to have all our T’s crossed and our I’s dotted before we can consider marriage or having a child. We should be a size 2 and wear all name brands. The world says we have to have graduated college, we have to own a home, and drive a new car. I have seen family’s in uproars over these issues. I especially find it interesting when such {issues} arise within Christian homes. The world tells us that we should only have one or two children. I have four children and I get those “holy smokes” looks quite often, sometimes people say, “Are they all yours?” And I reply, “Yep, and I love it!” Who made up these rules?

What do you think?

Christian’s would you agree with me that our focus has gotten off track… I think we often focus more on what society tells us we {should} do and less on what God is telling us we {should} do.

In an ideal world, society’s rules make sense. Quite possibly they are goals we should aim toward. However, the God I know and read about in the Bible doesn’t give a {hoot} about societal norms. For example… Noah building an ark. Say what? How {normal} is that? I’m sure all that wood was hard to come by and who knows how many animals he went into {debt} for to acquire all the wood he needed to build. I’m certain he had to quit his day job to find time to build {the boat that saved the world}.

Don’t misunderstand me… I think it is {wise} to be smart when making decisions. We shouldn’t just run out and get married the day after we meet someone {unless} we absolutely know that’s what God is calling us to do. We shouldn’t take out loans we’ll {never} be able to pay back, just so that we can have the world’s largest home or hottest sports car. We should take our time when making big decisions.

What point am I trying to make?

{Christian’s} we need to {stop} focusing solely on society’s norms, and begin consulting with the {maker of society}!

Guess what? God made each and everyone of us and He speaks directly to our hearts.

{Maybe}… Just {maybe} we should put down our defenses and the world’s rules… And get into the word… And truly ask God to speak to our hearts about His will for our lives, our children’s life’s, and His will for our family’s.

Folks… If I spent my life focusing on {society’s} norms… I would have missed out on so many blessings. If I would have listened to every well intentioned person’s advice, I wouldn’t have gotten married at 22… I wouldn’t have {any} of my children {and my children are the greatest [four] things I’ve ever accomplished}, my husband wouldn’t have gone back to school to become a successful business professor, and I wouldn’t be following God’s will in becoming a counselor. Had I missed out on all these blessings… Guess what? I might be debt free… With lots of money in the bank… But guess what? I would be completely unhappy… lonely… and out of obedience to God.

Are societal norms more important than {seeking} God’s will for our lives?

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Are We Too Sensitive

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Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships. Maintaining relationships is tough. If we really stop and think about it, our closest relationships maintain the potential to hurt us the most. I have seen too many relationships destroyed due to hurt feelings. One friend say’s one thing, and someone say’s another, we speak without thinking, we retaliate in anger, and before we know it, we have a broken relationship. Recently, I faced an issue where someone said something that hurt my feelings. I tend to over analyze everything and continually relive social interactions inside my mind. I have realized, usually when someone hurts my feelings, the “offender” has no clue that my feeling were hurt.

Friends, I can honestly say, there isn’t a single close family member or friend, who hasn’t hurt my feelings at some point in time. I can honestly say, there isn’t a single close family member or friend whom I haven’t hurt at one time or another.

What about you?

Relationships are tough… And all healthy relationships experience ups and downs.

Can you recall the feeling, that overwhelming “ouch”, your heart feels the moment those hurtful words slash through your chest? The quickening of your heart as you try to make since of the words or action in question. The way your body suddenly tightens up… and your heart feels like it hit the floor? It’s a terrible feeling!

How can I (we) handle our hurt feelings? As for me I have learned, to just get away. To close the door… walk away… and attempt to get my emotions under control. I have learned escaping the situation allows me time to get my emotions under control. I spend time in prayer, bear my feelings to God, and seek His guidance in dealing with the situation.

Proverbs 20:3: Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling.

1. We should do our best to avoid a fight, and try to resist a quarrel.

Trust me, I am learning that retaliating in anger or harsh words {never} has good results. After the hurtful word escape our mouths and the relationship damaged we are left with extreme guilt and sadness. We make things worse by quarreling… Trust me, I’ve learned this the hard way!

2. Occasionally there are times when we can admit the hurt right away and calmly discuss the situation. However, if you are angry or your emotions are raging… it’s probably best to move to #3.

3. Gently walk away… close the door… say good bye and deal with your emotions before retaliating or saying words you may regret.

Trust me friends, I have dealt with many “conflicts” in an improper manner, and later had to face the consequences for my behavior.

3. Evaluate your emotions and your heart. Are you being too sensitive?

At times we are overly sensitive. We need to allow ourselves time to pray and pull together our feelings, we may realize that it was nothing, and that we were being too sensitive. We need to allow people to be human; I am relieved when people allow me to be human. Christ forgives us over and over and we crucified him. Is it possible to extend a little of that grace to our family, friends, church members, acquaintances, and those we come in contact with? After all, we too hurt feelings, it’s all part of our humanness.

4. Be vulnerable.

After you’ve prayed, analyzed your emotions, and realized you weren’t being overly sensitive. Talk with the offender. We should never approach someone in anger… never without bathing the matter in prayer… and never pointing a finger. Rather, in gentleness and self-control discuss the matter. Use “I” statements rather than “you”statements. “You” statements immediately put the “offenders” defenses up. For example… “I felt…. when you…..” It’s really quite simple after we put aside our self and focus on the desired outcome and building harmony.

5. Decide a course of action for a discussion gone awry.

At times, even our best efforts, end in the offender becoming angry… bitter… or retaliating. Have a plan B… And decide ahead to handle the situation in prayer, and peacefulness. Once again… gently walk away… close the door… say goodbye… and deal with your emotions in private and before God.

6. I’ve never retaliated in anger, and received positive results. It’s true! Usually the relationship ends broken, and the hurt much deeper than before.

Friends, words hurt. We must think before we speak!

We must realize that there will be times when our feelings get hurt. Especially in the relationships we hold dearest to us. People are people… we are all human… and we’re “ALL” going to say dumb and hurtful things. We must extend grace and learn how to deal with conflict. Conflict is an inevitable part of life!

How To Handle Conflict…

1. Pray
If the other party is willing, pray together.

2. Take responsibility.
If you hurt someone with your words, take responsibility. Admitting you were wrong is tough, but necessary if we are to build and maintain healthy relationships.

3. Give a little grace.
After all, we would want other’s to do the same for us.

4. Don’t be so sensitive.
Allow people to be people, and think about how much we hurt God, and he still forgives us.

5 Forgive.
Forgiveness is the MOST important concept in ALL relationships. Forgive and “NEVER” hold grudges. Bitterness is painful and wreaks havoc on our spiritual and physical selves.

6. Trust.
Trust God. He’s an awesome and loving God. He has the ability to work in your heart and the hearts of all people. We must be open to His guidance.

Friends, I’m writing more to myself than you. Today I needed a reminder of how to deal with my emotions in regard to my hurt feelings. It’s important to remind ourselves how to handle hurt feelings and conflict. I have come to understand, that we all share many of the same struggles, and I thoughts “just maybe” you struggle with hurt feelings and conflict… just like me.

Blessings, Crystal