Family Bonding Time · Motherhood · Parenting · Praise God · Uncategorized

Count On Me “Ridlon Family”

I am so proud of my family! This song “Count On Me”, has proven to be such a good song for our family! We have all agreed that this is our family song!  I hope that you enjoy watching the video! I thank God for His abounding blessings in my life! Blessings, Crystal

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Take A Moment To Say… “Thank you God!”

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The weather is wonderful on this fine April day!  

The wind is a heavenly feeling as it gently brushes against my cheeks, and blows my hair into oblivion.  On these beautiful days, I can only think about the most amazing artist, “The Heavenly Father”!  His creation, gentle breeze, and gorgeous blue skies are absolutely breath taking.  

On these days…  

These rare…  Gorgeous days…  I can’t help but see God in the bright green trees, the deep blue sky, and feel Him in the brisk wind!  

During these “special” moments…  

God speaks to me through His creation…

Through the whispers of the gentle breeze.

Through scriptures I have hidden away in my heart.

Genesis 1:1 “In the Heavens God created the Heaven and the Earth.”

Colosians 1:16 “For by him all things were created, in Heaven and on Earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things were created through him and for him.”

Hebrews 1:10 “And, “You, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands.”

Friends, Take a moment to breathe in the fresh spring air, to breathe in the wonder of our amazing God…  

Take a moment to enjoy these special and beautiful days, for they are truly one of the best gifts bestowed upon us by the Creator of Heaven and Earth!

Take a moment to say, “Thank you Father!”

God Bless,

Crystal 

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Happy Easter 2014

Happy Easter friends!!!  What a beautiful day we were blessed with to celebrate Christ’s resurrection.  Christ is alive!!!  Therefore, we live as people abounding in love…  As people full of hope!  Grateful to the Lord for the gift of His son, Jesus!!!!

Please Enjoy my family’s Easter Pictures…

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Happy Easter!

Blessings, Crystal

Encouragement for a Weary Heart · Follow Your Dreams · Trusting God · Uncategorized

I Trust “Him” With My Heart

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Recently I spent a week at Liberty University for an intensive in the pursuit of earning my degree as a mental health counselor.  These classes aren’t called intensives for no reason, they are INTENSE!  The work load alone in these classes is intense but, the hardest part is the level of sensitivity to your emotions.  I am not complaining, God has been healing my heart tremendously due to these classes.  However, the intensity on your emotions is tough and I mean TOUGH!!!  God desires to heal my heart from the inside/out.  This healing has taken places in doses over the past several years, but lately it’s been a marathon.  The last week was very hard on me!  God challenged me to take risks, fight the inner resistance to pull away, to run or simply numb up and close off!  I challenged myself prior to taking the course, “I can’t ask my future clients to do something I have been unwilling to do myself.!”  Despite the tears, despite Satan’s desire to keep pent up hurt and pain suppressed in my soul, I “DETERMINED” to allow God to walk me through the healing process, even if it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Friends, For 36 years I have been suppressing my pain, fear, and bitterness!  I was abused as a child!  For the first time, God wanted me to say these things out loud, not under my breath, or haphazardly mentioning it in passing, but to really let it sink it, that I had been abused. Through the catalyst of the “group process” I was sent back into my childhood and was forced to face the pain that has haunted me my entire life.  Unbeknownst to myself, I have been living with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome my entire life!  Funny, I’ve been taking counseling courses for a year, I’ve read about this syndrome, never in my wildest imagination did I think, I had PTSD.  Why?  Because I have hidden my pain and fears!  In order to survive my childhood abuse, I had to be a survivor, I never had anyone saying, “Crystal, it’s okay.  You were hurt!  You were abused!  Let’s talk this out, let’s get you some in depth therapy!  Let me pray with you!  It’s okay to cry, there is healing in our tears!”  No instead, many people (some very well intentioned) said, “You got to hold your head up high!  You can’t focus on yourself, you must focus on other people! Why aren’t you trusting God?” My personal symptoms resulting from being abused, scared people, so they would say…  “Read the scriptures!  Pray to God!  Focus on the blessings around you!  Look up not down!”  Why, because they didn’t know… They didn’t understand. Don’t get me wrong, some of this is good advice, but after one has taken the {proper} paths to healing.  Let me just say, “This frustrates me, and really hurts me. If anyone leaned on God, IT WAS ME!  If anyone ran to Him for help in prayer, IT WAS ME!  If anyone read the Word of God, IT WAS ME!  If anyone NEEDED God, IT WAS ME!”  He’s all I had and I RAN to Him and still RUN to Him everyday!  Others who lived in the same abusive home self-medicated with drugs, alcohol, sex, and so many harmful things to simply numb the pain.  I medicated with God, with worship music, with scriptures!  I have never been drunk, never done drugs, and ALWAYS medicated with God… His love, His comfort, His healing, and His word. So, when someone tells me I’m not trusting God enough and that is why I am not healed, I want to scream!

It’s so much easier to tell people what they {should} be doing or {shouldn’t} be doing, rather than being present and {just loving} the person through their pain. However, I am certain that the scriptures commands us to love one another, not to tell everyone what to do!

When people should have held my hand, walked with me, found me a good therapist, loved me through my childhood dysfunction, most people {PUSHED} me to just “GET OVER IT!”  I’m a survivor, so I made it work, I worked with what I had available to me at the time. However, I am now 36 years old and I have just realized a VERY painful realization.
“I HAVE NEVER FULLY DEALT WITH MY FEARS, PAIN, AND REJECTION FROM MY CHILDHOOD ABUSE, NEGLECT, AND REJECTION!!!”

Part of my healing lies in informing people how to walk with an abused person. How to walk them through their pain and how to aid individuals into the path of true healing!

You know… Coming to grips, really admitting to myself my abuse, recognizing my 36 years of PTSD responses, all of it has been VERY DiFFICULT!

However, it’s not near as difficult as living 36 years pretending to be healed, thinking I was healed, but feeling the inner turmoil that few saw within my heart!  Nothing about my healing process has been harder than pretending for 36 years I am something I am not, whole, unbroken, completely healed, and living a life of complete inner healing. For awhile my heart may ache as I walk through the abuse from my childhood, as I face triggers and the fear of my life-long defense mechanisms.

I KNOW with God walking this path with me, healing is inevitable, and He will continue to be my protective wall. I’m eternally grateful for the Savior’s love! I’m eternally grateful to know that with Christ living inside my heart, healing is certain, and a victorious life is a very real possibility.

I love God! I love my Savior! I will always live to serve Him and continue to walk the path of healing, even when it seems too tough. You know why, Because God is in the healing business….

And…
I TRUST HIM WITH MY HEART!

Proverbs 3:6, ” In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight!”

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My First Critique: Mr. Tim Challies… A Man Who “Makes A Living” Off of Judging Others

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Okay… So today I am going to write a blog about an individual who makes a living by “judging” others.  This man’s name is Tim Challiies.  Many of you have heard of him and many of whom I highly respect!  However, I have a HUGE problem with this man and his attempt at tearing down and critiquing other brothers and sisters in Christ.  Come to think of it, I have never read anything from him where he has actually critiqued himself!  So….  Here is my first attempt at “critiquing” an individual on my blog.

First I would like to point out a “VERY IMPORTANT” scripture in the Bible…

Mathew 7:1-5,

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

The most important point I would like to make on this blog post is…

Mr. Challies is dis-honoring God’s word by… “Making a living; Judging others.”  Hmmm???

I never read an article where Tim Challies critiques himself in the same “all too often” “heartless” manner he critiques others. Yes, I found one article, where he apologizes to  Anne Voskamp, for “heartlessly” critiquing her best-selling book, “One Thousand Gifts”, he states,

        “Having said all of that, something happened inside me when I saw Ann’s name in my inbox, and that’s what has compelled me to write this little article. Seeing her name brought a sudden and surprising realization and with it a twinge of guilt and remorse. It has happened to me before, this strange feeling that comes when I suddenly realize that the name on the front of the book—“Ann Voskamp” in this case—is not some cleverly programmed, unfeeling robot that spits out blog posts and magazine articles and books, but a person. A real person. That should have been no great revelation, yet there have been too many times over the years that I have had to remind myself of this simple fact. I try to remind myself before posting a review; sometimes it only comes later.

As I read back over my review of One Thousand Gifts I could see that I had neglected to remind myself while writing it that Voskamp is a real person and, not only that, but a sister in Christ. As a writer myself, I ought to remember that words are meaningful and revealing and in some way a part of the person who writes them. Every word comes from somewhere deep inside. Every word of One Thousand Gifts is a part of Voskamp just like every word I write is a part of me. There are no idle words in her book, no words that aren’t felt and meant. Yet in my review I had treated her as if her words mean less than mine, as if I was free to criticize her in a way I would not want to be criticized.”

Here is the link to this article is…  http://http://www.challies.com/articles/in-which-i-ask-ann-voskamps-forgiveness

However, I have yet to read an article where he “really” critiques himself, in the manner a God-Fearing Christian is humbly called to “admit our failures” before the throne.

First, let me share my personal experience with Anne Voskamp’s book…  I LOVED Anne Voskamp’s book, “One Thousand Gifts”.  As a woman, wife, mother, friend, and a graduate student seeking a master’s degree in Christian Counseling, I have found so much healing in her book.  I have known many women whom God has utilized Anne’s book to aid them in their healing process.  Anne’s book is “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy” in action.  What a concept… A biblical concept at that…  “A challenge to write down 1,000 gifts.  Focus on the good, the beautiful, and the admirable acts of God himself.”   An old hymn comes to mind, “Count your blessings name them one by one, Count your blessings see what God has done.”  “Mr. Challies, please fill me in…  How is this concept of being thankful unbiblical?”

2 Corinthians 4:15-16

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.  Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

1 Timothy 4:4-5

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,  because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
Friends, the Bible is ABSOLUTELY filled with verses regarding being thankful, because being “thankful” to God is the key to living a “Victorious Life” in Christ.
Back to Tim’s apology to Anne…
He admits in the link above, that he was reminded that Anne is a person, a sister in Christ, and that he needs to remember this fact when critiquing others.  Yet, he continually goes back to “heartlessly” bombarding brothers and sisters in Christ in his articles.  I ask myself one important question…
“Did Time Challies really experience true repentance from his “heartless” critique of Anne’s book, or did he just feel embarrassed and guilty when he “suddenly” saw her name is his mailbox “tenderly” inviting him and his family to their home for dinner?”
Right now… I have goose bumps…  If ever I have admired Anne, none more than at this moment.  She was blasted by this man who publicly ridiculed her “personal journey with Christ”, and what did she do…  Luke 6:29 “If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.”  I am a woman, I have had my feelings hurt many times, but to immediately dry up those tears, and send an e-mail inviting the abuser to your home for dinner.  Wow!  What a God-Fearing woman!!!  
Back to my question…
Did Tim Challies really experience true repentance from his “heartless” critique of Anne’s book, or did he just feel embarrassed and guilty when he “suddenly” saw her name is his mailbox “tenderly” inviting him and his family to their home for dinner?
First, I think we need to understand the definition of Biblical repentance…  2 Corinthians 7:10 “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
It seems to me that if Mr. Challies had experienced true repentance, he would not be continuing to “heartlessly” critique others in the same manner.
However, every article I read it’s more of the same pattern…
For example…  This article a very dear friend posted on Facebook today.  His recent critique of “Heaven For Real?”.
This article angered and disturbed my spirit.  Why?  Because I think these book are profound truth and nothing is wrong with them?  Of course not, I feel there is an element of truth to them but the story has been embellished, “You know to make it a great book and movie!”
Few quotes from Mr. Tim’s critique of “Heaven Is For Real”, that disturbed my spirit…
“You will probably not be surprised to learn that this is not a good book.”
“The story is told with short chapters and grade school-level writing. Fine literature it is not.”
“If you struggle believing what the Bible says, but learn to find security in the testimony of a toddler, well, I feel sorry for you.”
Really???  These quotes are simply rude… mean spirited… and certainly not like the Christ I know and have read about in the scriptures.
Here is the link to Tim Chalies’s critique of Heaven Is For Real…
It’s not about his critique of books, people, or movies…  What is it about?
It’s all about his attitude!  The “narcissistic” “pharisee” and overall “judgemental” attitude exhibited by Mr. Tim Challies.  As a believer, his overall demeanor, his “heartless” words REALLY stir up my spirit, and his overall Un-Christlike demeanor rubs me the wrong way.
Friends,
I am not one to critique, especially not in a “heartless” manner.  But, I have a real problem with an individual gaining HUGE popularity in the Christian world, by people I truly admire and respect for they’re Christ-Likeness, when the individual’s character is nothing like that of Christ Jesus.  Mr. Tim Challies’s character, his words, and his demeanor is absolutely NOTHING….  Nothing like the Christ I know!  The Christ who gently convicts!  The Christ who saved me… The Christ who gently walks me through my pain…  The Christ who said, John 8:7 “Let those who have no sin, cast the first stone!”
Seems to me Mr. Tim has gained respect, admiration, and attention for being the very thing Christ calls us not to be…  For his pharisee mindset, his judgemental attitude, and his narcissistic tendencies… For being the first one to cast stones!
The scriptures calls us to become more Christ-like, “1Thessalonians 5:11, Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”,  “John 15:12, My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”  
Friends, This is my personal opinion!  The God within me has real problem with Mr. Tim Challies’s un-Christlike character.  It is your choice and your right to have your own personal opinion.  However, I ask one thing…  “When it comes time to gently rebuke me, speak truth into my heart, or help me to see God’s mindset on a particular book or movie, DON’T USE TIM CHALLIES’S WORDS AS A TOOL!!!”
Blessings,
Crystal

 

Encouragement for a Weary Heart · Family Bonding Time · Motherhood · Praise God · Uncategorized

Help Me, Help Them… “I’ll Praise You In This Storm”


In the worst of circumstances, I can still see God’s blessings and goodness!  At times I may have to look harder, but their there, nonetheless.

This week my family has been dealing with this new strain of Norwalk Virus, I think the name is Sydney, or it’s originated in Sydney… Something like that.  Anyway, it’s a nightmare bug.  Apparently it’s entirely too easy to catch, spreads through the air, lives FOREVER (maybe not forever, but 3-5 days ) on surfaces, and it literally takes it’s toll on the body.  It all started with my 6 year old Daniel, next my 9 year old Christopher, then me, and tonight my oldest son Robby.  Problem is the man of the house is out of town for a conference, that leaves me home sick with fever and a stomach virus, attempting to care for 4 children, 3 of which thus far has the same nasty bug. Needless to say, it’s been a rough couple of days.  I am so sick (literally sick) of nasty bodily secretions.  All day, I’ve dragged myself around the house, trying my hardest to keep my children well hydrated, and clean.  All the while, I have a fever and have been down with this terrible illness.

Tonight, I finally get all the children to bed.  Throughout the evening, until the wee hours of morning, I have been running up to clean bowls, check temps, and attempt to hydrate dehydrated children. However, as I sit in bed holding my own stomach.  I think to myself, “I love these little ones, so much!  I am so lucky to have such sweet, fun, and happy children!  It is an honor to care for these little people.  Thank you Jesus for the gift of my life!”

Although, I prefer to praise God when life is running smooth, I “choose” to “Praise Him in the Storms”!  Today and tonight, has definitely been a storm.  My oldest whines, “Why did God have to make sickness?”  I respond, “Honey, God didn’t make sickness, sickness is from Satan, but we can allow sicknesses to make us bitter, or we can allow it to turn us to God!”  Tonight, I have talked to God extensively… Asking for patience…  Pleading for healing…  And despite feeling ill, God has provided the necessary strength to help me, help them!

Tonight, God has been with me.  Although the hubby is away, although I am feeling feverish and nauseated.

God has answered my prayers…

He is helping me, so I can help them!

They are all hydrated, asleep, and all four of them KNOW they are loved and cared for!

“Thank you Father!

I praise you in this storm!”

Crystal

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Go To God… First

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Serving God is a journey!  My faith is a journey!  This journey at times seems lonely and people, even God’s people let me down! There is no human life that has lived a life void of heartache and pain.  On my journey with God.. He has been changing and healing my heart from the inside out.  He is walking every step of my journey with me and desires to be my “first” go-to guy!

Recently I read a book called the “Uncommon Woman”, by Susie Larson, “We alone hand people keys to our heart, we “actually” allow them to hurt us; often many times over and over”.  God is the “protector” of our heart!  He is the only one who should have this kind of power over our hearts, over our emotions.  He is the only one who should have “the key” to the center of our hearts.

This morning in my Bible Study, called “Malachi”, by Lisa Harper, she used an illustration; a picture of a heart with circles in the center. The center circle is God, the surrounding circles are husband, children, family, closest “heart” friends, good friends, and other people; in order of importance and Biblical priority.  

The picture above illustrates one important point…  

“If we go to any of the outer circles “people” in our times of need, before going to God, We Will Be Disappointed!  

God is the only one who NEVER disappoints!  Therefore, we should seek Him first and foremost in all our life experiences, in the midst of pain, joy, trauma, and turmoil we should head straight to God. Going to others first will always leave us unsatisfied!  However, God can use those around us to encourage us, love us, and support us as a byproduct of His love and support!  People should never be the first place we run!  

Honestly, it’s not fair to head to other people to fix our problems.  People are not capable of fixing our problems, healing our hearts, or meeting all our needs.  We should NEVER place that kind of pressure on other people.  I am not saying, we can’t go to people for help, advice, encouragement, or support.  I’m saying, “We should FIRST head to God!’  God uses people as vessels, blessings, and encouragers for us, but we should never expect them to meet needs that only God can meet!  

It is my prayer that this “illustration” helps your heart in the same way it did mine.  It is my prayer you too, realize that God loves you and is fully able to meet all your needs.  It is my prayer that you learn along with me, to Go To God…. First, and bypass any unnecessary pain and disappointment.  

Lesson:  Go to God… First!!!

Proverbs 3:6 “In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your effort with success.”

Mathew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Blessings, 

Crystal