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Grateful

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I sit here thinking about God’s true awesomeness! I’m pondering so many amazing things in my life! God has truly brought me full circle! He’s performed HUGE miracles in my life! As I sit here, tears of joy and sincere gratitude escape my eyes. You see? God has ALWAYS had big plans for my life. At the time I couldn’t see His plans, but looking back I can now see His hand upon my life every step of the way. This little girl from a family of poverty and a broken childhood, God has turned my life into something… Beautiful! He’s healed my brokenness, He’s broken chains of bondage from generations past, and He’s making me whole! He’s called me to aid Him in the path of helping His children to find the same freedom, that I have found through His unconditional love! He’s brought me full circle! I am at a point in earning my counseling degree, where I truly see the light at the end of the tunnel. God’s light is shining bright, I can “now” see it, I’m no longer afraid of failure, and I rest in Him, knowing He’s brought me this far, and He won’t abandon me now! I’m amazed that He has decided to use me… A humble girl, from a lowly home, and a broken childhood! He truly does call the weak and lowly… And He makes ALL things beautiful in His time!

This Thanksgiving I thank God for His unconditional love and His healing hand over my life! I’m thankful that He calls the weak and lowly and that He makes ALL things beautiful in His time! I’m thankful for the life He has given to me and the times He’s carried me through life’s most painful storms! I praise Him for His goodness!

Romans 8:28 “All things work for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purposes!”

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Happy Birthday to My Loving Husband, Robert William Ridlon IV

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Today is a “very” special day! 35 years ago today, my best friend, biggest supporter, encourager, the person who has loved me more than anyone else on earth, my lover, my husband, was born into this world. I can “promise” you, that my husband Robert Ridlon IV has in fact made this world a better place. This man has an amazing ability to love… He is the MOST committed man, I’ve ever known! He loves God and is committed to following Christ, whole-heartedly! He loves me as the Bride of Christ! He loves our children, our children look up to Him and love their daddy! Words, fail to describe how blessed my life has been, how blessed our children’s lives have been, because this man “LOVES” completely and is 100% “COMMITED” to serving God, his wife, our children, and the world around him. Thank you, Robert Ridlon IV, for providing the MOST amazing life, for me and our children! We absolutely LOVE and APPRECIATE you! We are so grateful for your life!

Your Beloved Wife,

Crystal

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One Year Ago

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A year ago today, was one of the “hardest” days of my life. A year ago this very minute, I was rushing to Chicago, driving as “quickly” as possible, and mentally preparing myself to say goodbye to the “most” important man from my childhood. My Uncle Hanzil Burtman… My childhood hero! The intensity and the pain of grieving, has eased over time, but “at times” it hits me in a tsunamic type wave. Often during the most unexpected moments, an all “new” and sudden realization overcomes my soul. The realization that a very real and huge part of my heart is no longer roaming the earth! He’s no longer a quick phone call away, his Facebook page is just a “memory”, the pictures of his gentle giant self are just a “memory” of his victorious life, I will never be able to sit next to his “comforting” and heart-warming body, and he is no longer a five hour dive away from my home! All these realizations, cause my heart to grieve in a new way!

Once the emotions well up within and the tears portray the outward symptom of my inner pain, God’s promises rush into my “very” being. It’s almost as if God himself is sitting next to me, holding my hand, gently wiping away my symptomatic tears, and ensuring me of the “hope” that is to come. The “Eternal” hope that I WILL be with my sweet Uncle Hanzil in Heaven one day! Yes, I wish I could see him now, talk to him now, hold his hand now, call him and tell him all he’s meant to me over the past 35 years, but these wishes will remain wishes until the day, The Lord comes for my soul. Until then, I “cling” to the promise that I will see my uncle again, I will hear his sweet southern voice, hear him sing beautiful old hymns in my ears, and I will feel his giant sized hands hold mine again. I MUST be patient! I MUST rest in The Lord! I MUST hold onto his memory! I MUST wait patiently!

For one day… In the words of my dear sweet uncle’s daily prayer, “He will take me home to live with Thee one sweet day!” On that glorious day, I will be reunited with the Lover and Savior of my soul, Jesus Christ. I will be reunited with all those I’ve loved who’ve gone before! I will be reunited with my childhood hero, my beloved Uncle Hanzil!

I miss you, Uncle Hanzil Burtman! I think about you everyday and miss you with every breath I take!

I look forward to the day, I will sit next to you at the Heavenly banqueting table!

Until then, I will cherish this picture of my “itty bitty” three year old self, looking up at your handsome and loving face, I WILL “remember” your Godly influence on my life and how much I “truly” admired who you were and all that you stood for, in your life!

Your Beloved Niece,

Crystal

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In Sickness and In Health

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This past Friday, I began to feel a little bit sick. By Friday night, I knew “I was sick”! I woke up Saturday and had no voice. Needless, to say it’s been one long emotional and ill feeling week.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, I’ve learned something this week. “When your sick, that’s when God reveals who loves you most!”

Who loves me?

God- Although I wouldn’t say I’ve been deep in the word, and my worship music has been turned off due to my hurting ears, but somehow He still finds a way to say “I love you!” It may be through the beautiful pink, yellow, and red tree out my bedroom window, the tenderness of my husband’s gentle kiss on my forehead, the extra love my children pour onto me, or a still small whisper into my heart.

My husband… When I’m sick, he takes care of me. He takes care of our four children. He shows me patience and love! He is a keeper! His care and compassion is much appreciated and I certainly love his tender kisses upon my forehead and his gentle intermittent head pats. He may think, I don’t notice, but I do, and I cherish him. What can I say, “I’m blessed!”

My children… Wow, my children are awesome! Last night my oldest son Robby said, “Ummm, mom, you don’t sound so good! Is there anything I can do to make you feel better? I mean if there is please tell me. I’ll be praying for you and I hope you feel better!” “Be still my heart!!!” This morning my sweet two year old daughter climbed into my bed… Hugged me… Told me she loved me… And patted my head as she sang, “Jesus loves me this I know, For the Bible tells me so!” Again, Be still my heart! The hugs from my children and the concern in their voices…. Tells me, “I love you, mom!”

My friends… I’ve received several Facebook messages from friends! Informing me of their concern and that they’re praying for me. I’ve received several text messages from friends, and a kind e-mail from a member of our Sunday School class. The icing on the cake occurred this morning, one of my sweetest and most Godly friends, brought a crockpot full of dinner for tonight and a White chocolate mocha from Starbucks! Wow, she really loves me! White chocolate mocha’s are my FAVORITE!

So, as much as I despise being sick… It sure is nice to know, “I’m loved!”

It’s true, “I’m blessed!”

Friends, have you shown God’s love and kindness to anyone recently? Little acts of kindness, goes a long way to show God’s love to the hurting!

Galatians 6:10, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

Philippians 2:1-30, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, …”

Colossians 3:14, “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

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My Love or God’s Love?

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The Lord revealed something to me about myself this past week. It wasn’t easy, but He was gentle in accordance with His character.

A little background history: I was saved at the age of 15 in a little Baptist church down the street from my church. My upbringing wasn’t, let’s say “easy”. You see my family members, had developed a reputation, and I being the youngest of seven children, was fully expected to develop the same lifestyle “reputation”, but God had other plans for my life.

Once I walked down the aisle to receive Christ into my heart, I knew I needed Him in a real way. Due to my upbringing and the insecurity in my heart as a result, I CLUNG to Him with EVERYTHING inside of me. It was a mighty road, a burdensome road, and a heart breaking path, but I couldn’t have become who and what I am today, without the hope I found in Christ.

What did I do to become a “somebody”? What Did I do to overcome the trauma from my childhood? How did I face the deep ridden pain and rejection, deep within my heart?

I clung to God. I clung to His word. I gave it my all and relied on the promises in my Bible. You know what? It’s all I had! I had very few supportive and loving family members. I CLUNG with all my might! When I needed someone to hold me, there wasn’t anyone in sight, so I cried out to God in those dark lonely nights… “Hold me Father! Please, just put your arms around me, and help me go to sleep! I feel so alone… I need you… I need to know I’m loved!”

You know what?

He did just that! Night after night, The Lord became my touch. After I called out to Him, I would feel a warmth wash over my body. God came, right when I needed Him, without His love I would not be where I am today.

God is “VERY” real to me! He’s more real than my ever-so-loving husband. He was there, in the loneliness of my past, He opened doors over and over again to guide me into the path of becoming a “somebody”. He provided people a long the way to offer a helping hand, just when I needed it most; whether the need was a financial matter, an emotional issue, if I needed spiritual encouragement, or a place to live. You know… Looking back… I see He had my back!

As a result of my past… As a result of truly “NEEDING” God in such an intimate way… As a result of my loneliness… As result of my pain… He’s become very “real” to me!

Still today… I continually seek God in all aspects of my life. Whether it be in conflict, finances, or spiritual warfare, I know I NEED Him to face this life.

I try my hardest to obey His word, to be the “woman” He desires me to be, to fully surrender my life to His plan.

Despite my dependence on God, I’m still a sinful being, I fail all of the time, God often reveals the sin in my own heart.

This past week, The Lord revealed a lack of Godly love in my heart. You see… I realized I’m impatient with others, in their personal walk with God, and I attempt to “tell” them what will work for them.

My acquired skill set… What has “worked” for me… Is trying to be the “good girl”.

I mean… Who wants to take a girl into their home, who’s not a “good girl”? How would I have “ever” changed people’s preconceived expectations over my life, had I not been a “good girl”? How would I have overcome my life’s preset destination had I not been the “good girl”? Had I not been the “good girl”, my life would have turned out much differently!

You see… The “good girl” skill set came in handy in my life.

Yet, without realizing it… I’ve attempted to force people to take my tools and use them to figure out their own lives.

My tool set isn’t bad, yet, God spoke into my heart… “Crystal, just love them! Can you love them right where they’re at? Let them figure “me” out for themselves.” Ouch…. Truly… Out of my own love, I’ve tried to use my tool set, to guide their paths onto the path that worked for me. Yet, God spoke into my being, “Can you just “love” them with “my” love? Pray for them, encourage them, and love them with “my” love, not your own.

Hmmm….

I think I need to apologize to “anyone”, my sister, my husband, my children, my friends; for the many times I have loved with my own self centered love, rather than the unconditional love of Christ!

Friends, It is my prayer that no matter what tool set you choose to utilize to guide you through life, that it ultimately leads you to the “real” love of a God!

Mathew 11:28; “Come all who are weary and heavy ladened and I will give you rest.”

Blessings,

Crystal