Family Bonding Time, Motherhood

The “Perfect” Picture or “Perfect” Memories?

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Behind the camera. Intent on capturing the “perfect” picture.

Smile… Kids… Smile… Now!

Look here… Look over there! Turn your head. Act like you love each other.

Snap… Click… Click… Click… Snap!

The kid are determined to NEVER crack a smile.

How much do I miss?

Looking at life through a glass lens.

Intent on capturing the “perfect” picture.

In the process missing out on the “perfect” life.

Mounds of beautiful pictures, are there beautiful memories to match?

Will I spend more time looking through a lens in an attempt to capture the “perfect” picture?

Or will I spend more time looking directly into my world in an attempt to make the most “perfect” memories?

I’m learning to hand over the camera.

And the importance of making life-long memories by jumping into the pictures.

Sent from my iPhone

Encouragement for a Weary Heart, Learning to Love Your Husband, Motherhood, Praise God, Trusting God, Uncategorized

Life’s What Happens When You Have Other Plans

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Life’s what happens when you have other plans!

A good friend, mentor, and mother figure has stated this quote to me, on countless occasions. Needless to say, it’s not my favorite thing to hear, but I will admit it is the truest statement, I think I’ve ever heard.

Do we plan on a loved one getting cancer? Do we plan arguments with our spouses? Do we plan on our children getting sick? Do we plan on loved ones unexpectedly dying? Do we plan on giving up on a friendship, in which we’ve put much effort into, only to realize the friendship has been one-sided the entire time? Do we plan on our children throwing tantrums in public places?

No… we don’t plan these things. We plan for the opposite, yet, “Life’s what happens when you have other plans!”

Let’s admit it, life is not easy! Life is not always filled with good feelings, every friend won’t end up a true friend, loved ones won’t always be healthy, our marriages won’t always be effortless bliss.

Our children will suffer, our relationships at times will suffer, and “we” will suffer.

Am I the only human being, who faces insecurity? Who worries about what others think about me? Who wonders if I’m good enough? Who wishes for abundant friendships? Who dreams dreams that will never happen?

If your “truly” honest with yourself… Your life’s not all flowers and perfection, either?

What makes life worth living, when the hard times, hit us square in the face? When the doctor has bad news? When our children are sick? When our marriages struggle? When our friends, turn their backs on us? When our spouses leave?

There is hope in the midst of our suffering!

There is hope for our broken hearts, marriages, and relationships.

Where can we find hope? Peace? Relief from the trials of life?

Let’s face the facts…

Life at times is tough!

Our hearts will be broken!

Friends will betray us!

Our loved ones will get sick!

Life is not “always” a walk in the park!

Yet, we can find everlasting peace, in the midst of life’s trials.

Nehemiah 8:10 “The joy of The Lord is our strength!”

Acts 2:28 “Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.”

Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”

Psalm 68:19 “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
who daily bears our burdens.”

How do you face the trials of this life?

Where do you find peace?

My peace is found in the Creator of my heart!

In the nail scarred hands of Jesus Christ!

Please watch this music video by Laura Story, Perfect Peace, and be blessed!

Blessings, Crystal

Uncategorized

When I Began Loving Motherhood

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To be perfectly honest, there was a time as a new mother, when I remember “secretly” feeling more stress than joy. I recall my oldest boy, his strong willed determination, and how he had a special way of sending my world into a tizzy. The second child came along, so different from the first. Night and day these two. Second child… A good sleeper, calm, and a watcher. The first… NEVER slept, ALWAYS on the go, and a doer. The only thing these two seemed to have in common was their ability to work together to conquer this poor… tired momma.

The third boy came along… A gift from god to aid me through my personal wilderness. He was calm, cuddly, and funny. No… This child has definitely not been perfect. He’s my sneaky one. He’s the one who finds the best hiding spots to scarf down his “hidden” Easter candy. Somehow all three boys together, seemed easier than the first. Be it their growing ages, my maturation as a parent, answered prayers for patience, acquired parental skills from the previous years, or a mixture of all the above.

The final addition a little girl. An uncanny youthful portrayal of myself. She’s Sweet Caroline. She’s definitely sweet, with a similar temperament to my own. These four children are a perfect blend to our family. They are the reason I desire to become the best mother, I can be.

This afternoon, we went apple picking as a family. Looking into the eyes of my children… I noticed, somewhere along the line, the “joys” of motherhood had overcome the “stresses”.

I love being a mommy! I often joke to my husband that I will be one of the old ladies in the nursing home carrying around a baby doll. I’ll NEVER be ready for them to grow up. I’ll NEVER be prepared for their time to spread their wings and soar into their futures.

Today… I realized how much, “I love being a mommy!” I’m not sure where the joys of motherhood surpassed the anxieties. I’m sure of one thing… I love my job! I love being called “mom”!

Encouragement for a Weary Heart, Praise God, Trusting God

When To Confront

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You ever get the feeling someone is judging you and they don’t know you enough to judge you, in the first place? Have you ever been hurt by another’s casual and unplanned attack on your personal character? Don’t get me wrong, I am a sinner, and I have a lot of becoming more like Christ to do. I will be the first to admit, I have a tremendous amount of spiritual growing up to do. I will also be the first to admit, I love God and desire with all my being to please Him. I will also admit, I don’t enjoy being confronted. However, I have a heart that desperately longs to grow in my faith and to recognize and fix any characteristics that hinder my walk with The Lord.

Let me say, I am shocked by a few people in our midst, our churches, our families, and in our lives whom feel it is their place to inform others of their character flaws. I am going to school to be a Christian counselor. I would like to pass along a vital nugget of wisdom I’ve acquired through my studies. (Not just through my studies, but through God’s word.)

Are you ready?

There will be a time when we are called by God to confront sin in other believers! These are necessary points to ponder before we confront anyone of their sin or personal character flaws.

1). We should NEVER confront sin in another person, unless we have CLEARLY heard, The Lord informing us to confront. More often than not, it is people just being plain petty, judgmental, and attempting to micromanage the world. God himself doesn’t micromanage his creation, therefore, why do His followers feel it is their place to micromanage their friends and family members.

2). We must NEVER cause harm to another person. As a counselor in training I take a pledge, “To NEVER” cause harm to my clients. Confronting someone, before God has prepared their hearts to receive the confrontation. may cause irreparable damage to that persons spiritual walk, self-esteem, and frankly their relationship with you.

3). The relationship between confronter/receiver, MUST be strong enough to withhold the confrontation. Several examples would be the counselor/client, friend/friend, husband/wife, and pastor/parishioner relationships. In other words, the receiver has to come to a place, where they know you genuinely care about them and deep trust is built into the relationship, prior to the confrontation.

This next one is EXTREMELY important… Put on your attention caps!

4). Anytime we feel lead to confront anyone, we MUST do so in humility. God NEVER calls someone to confront without a personal heavy dose of humility on the confronter’s part. Let’s face it, we are all sinners, we’re all in desperate need for a Savior, and NONE of us is better than another.

5). We MUST… MUST…MUST… MUST only confront in love. Confronting another is a serious matter and confrontations are never taken lightly. The receiver MUST know the confronter genuinely cares for their well-being and loves them unconditionally.

Matthew 7:1-5

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

Galatians 6:1-2

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;”

Friends, I pray you be blessed today! And remember, we are all sinners, and we NEED to practice forgiveness. People will hurt us and it is essential we extend the God’s grace, to others in our midst!

Blessings,

Crystal

Family Bonding Time, Motherhood, Parenting

Thank You, Jesus, For My Daughter

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My daughter is a priceless treasure. I am thankful for her smile, her sweet giggle, and her amicable nature. I love her tiny little pig tails and the way she proudly shows them off to her brothers. I love the way she wants to show daddy her cute little dresses. I love how she carries her baby dolls around the house, trying so hard to love her baby the way mommy loves her. I love when she says, “Nails!”, wanting me to paint her nails a bright sparkly pink. I absolutely love it when she sings, talk about my heart skipping a beat! I love the way she tries to do everything her mommy does amd loves me despite my failures. I love her little voice, her temper, her dramatic effects, I love the way she looks up to her brothers! I love the way she jumps up and down, runs throughout the house, and squeals in simple delight! I love the way she folds her hands, when it is time to talk to Jesus! I love the way, she talks in sentences at the young age of two. I love, love, love my daughter! Thank you, Jesus, for the gift of my sweet daughter Caroline!

Encouragement for a Weary Heart, Trusting God

I’ll Never Forget

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September 11, 2013.

12 years ago today, evil reigned over our country, like a dense blinding fog. The Twin Tours were hit by terrorists and thousand of people were killed. Americans have their share of problems, but one day a year, I am encouraged by the way our country comes together to remember the lives lost.

Today I dedicate this blog post to, remembering that tragic and heart wrenching day.

God’s word states, “All things work for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purposes.”

Let’s remember, shall we?

I was living in Naperville, Il (a suburb of Chicago). My husband was in downtown on his second day of his new job. I was pregnant with my oldest son Robby, completing my final year of college, and I was in the bathroom getting ready (like any other normal day). I was listening to K-Love Christian radio, heard the news, and the phone stared ringing. I remember being in shock. Some of my family members thought the Twin Tours was the Sears Tower, and my husband’s building was next door. I’ll never forget, worrying about my husband all day, there was no way to reach him, it took forever for him to get home because all downtown workers were sent home.

Remember that feeling? Remember the deep heart-wrenching agony that came with this evil act? We may not be able to explain the feeling in words, but trust me… Those of you who lived through 9/11, you remember! There are not enough words in the English dictionary to adequately explain the feelings we experienced on the day of 9/11.

This is why we REMEMBER! Why, we’ll never FORGET! Why we realize our desperate need for the Savior.

Where were you? Do you remember?

Please share!

Uncategorized

Happy Monday!

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I woke up a few mornings ago, and right away, several annoying things were thrown in my direction.  All these annoying incidences occurred before 9 a.m.  I recall the irritation that threatened to steal the joy from my day.  I woke up, and thought to my self, ” I choose Joy!”  I ran my errands and the day proved to be wonderful and amazing!  I realized, so much of our everyday emotions, evolves around our own “attitude”.  Trust me, I am quite guilty of allowing my negative attitude to ruin a perfectly good day.  Choosing joy, is a decision!  A decision I hope to make all the days of my life!

I saw this picture on Anne Voscamp’s blog (Anne is one of my hero’s).  The picture is gorgeous, peaceful, and a reminder of the “JOY” of the Lord.  I thought to myself, “How, can I have a bad attitude, when all around me is God’s beautiful gifts to His children?  How can I have a bad attitude when I have a Father who provides all joy and fills our lives to the brim with blessings?  Take a minute to look, really look around you today!  Those crying children, their beautiful!  The overgrown yard, wow, we are blessed with a home!  My husband is late again for dinner, thank you Lord for protecting my husband!  Those dirty dishes in the sink, praise God for supplying your home with good food!

Friends, it all begins in the heart!  Do you choose joy today?  I do!

Smile, it’s Monday!

1 Thessalonians 16-18, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”

Philippians 4:4,” Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.”

Blessings,

Crystal

Encouragement for a Weary Heart, Family Bonding Time, Learning to Love Your Husband, Motherhood, Parenting

Few Days Away From Facebook

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I deleted Facebook applications from my iPhone and my iPad for several days. I felt my spirit needed a break. My break only lasted a few days and that’s okay. All I needed was a few days.

A few days to realize a few VERY important things.

1.) {EVERYTHING IN MODERATION} goes for Facebook, too!

I was too focused on everyone else’s business and not focused enough on my own business ( my family, my self, my spiritual life, my friends).

2.) {NEEDED TO SET LIMITS} I needed to establish much needed boundaries and set time limits. Too much, is too much!

3.) {SILENCE IS GOLDEN}. When the children were napping, outside playing, or I was resting before going to sleep, I would check Facebook. Guess what? Facebook is loud! Not loud in the decibel sense, but loud in the mentally over-stimulus sense. So much screaming for my attention and I wasn’t taking time to listen to God, to think, to feel regular emotions from my own world. Facebook must not overtake my quiet times! I NEED quiet time, like the air I breathe!

4.) {MY TANK WAS EMPTY, I NEEDED TIME TO REFUEL}. Spending inordinate time on Facebook maintains the potential to leave me suffering from extreme burnout. I believe God knows we are human and we can only {handle} so much. To be anything for others, we must be certain our own tanks are full, otherwise we will crash and burn. We don’t think of Facebook as being too much, but for those of us who take things to heart and truly care about the needs of others, Facebook can throw too many emotions in our direction and if we’re not filled ourselves, we can deplete our resources and prove invaluable to our husbands, children, family, friends, and others in our physical presence. Word to the wise, take time to refuel!

5.) {FACEBOOK IS A BLESSING}. Facebook allows me to stay in contact with good friends from Korea, Boston, St. Louis, local friends, and people I love all over the world. I am thankful for this form of social media which allows me to stay in contact with people I care about.

There you have it, what I’ve learned from a few days away from Facebook.

Oh, and I decided to homeschool my sweet Daniel who is currently in kindergarten. He is excited! I am excited! His books came in the mail today, we’ll see how excited he is tomorrow, when we begin our work! Here’s to being able to have the best of both worlds! My older two are in public school doing well, and I have the opportunity to experience the joys and struggles of a homeschool mom. I’ll keep you posted on how homeschooling is goes!

Now for a few minutes to rest before the older two monkeys get home from school!

Blessings, Crystal

Encouragement for a Weary Heart, Family Bonding Time, Learning to Love Your Husband, Motherhood, Parenting, Trusting God

Taking a Break From Facebook

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I’ve decided to delete my Facebook apps. Those of you who know me personally, know that I am a true advocate of Facebook. I have friends all over the globe and Facebook allows me to keep in touch. Lately, for whatever reason, I’ve been feeling “blah”. I haven’t been able to pinpoint what is causing the feeling, and decided to pray. The Lord has put it on my heart to take a break from Facebook. I’m not sure why, but I’m certain that God’s will is where I want to be. I look forward to learning the life lessons God wishes to teach me throughout this time.

It’s been about 6 hours since I’ve deleted my Facebook applications. I keep picking up my iPhone and iPad fully expecting to see a Facebook notice and remembering, “Oh, yea, I deleted my Facebook apps!” In six hours I have realized how much my mind tends to wander to this addictive blue and white app. I’m not sure, but in a way I can escape my own world and enter into the worlds of all my friends on Facebook. The problem is, I need to be “here” in my world. I must be fully present in my relationship with God, in my own home and in my relationships with my husband, my children, and my friends.

How long will this break last? To be honest, I’m not sure! It could be a few days, a week, a month, or a year! I know I need time to refocus my attention back on my primary priorities, God and my family! I’m truly expecting to experience a revival of my spirit. I can’t help but ponder the way Satan will use anything in our lives to distract us from focusing on God. I refuse to allow Satan to use Facebook to distract me from focusing on Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, often God speaks to me through Facebook, but right now I need to spend time allowing God to speak directly into my heart. Don’t worry, you know me, I’ll keep you updated on what God teaches me through this time!

Blessings,

Crystal