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Thanksgiving 2015

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This Thanksgiving 2015, I have come to realize, a negative aspect of myself.  I am not thankful!  Throughout my life, I have never had this huge and happy family that celebrates holidays together.  As a child, holidays always ended in everyone getting drunk and huge ripping/roaring domestic violence problems.  It was not uncommon for the police to end up at our house on any given day, especially on holidays.  As I grew older, I left the violent environment, but the brokenness within my heart followed me throughout my journey.  Part of this brokenness, was that holidays always reminded me of “what I didn’t have”,  A “happy” and “caring” family.  Leaving a deep-rooted sadness deep within my heart on holidays, rather than a thankful heart.

Unfortunately, I have spent every holiday continually focused on the fact that I don’t have a big, happy, and loving family to share holidays.  In general, I have never really struggled with an envious spirit.  Yet, the one thing I do envy, is other people’s “wonderful” families.  I am not a particularly envious person, I don’t covet people with big homes, name brand purses, or fancy cars.  I do envy people, with loving mothers and fathers, many close siblings, and big happy families.  God convicted me in  this area and I realize this is just as sinful as envying “material” items.  God revealed this area of my heart and desires for me to find true healing from this broken area within my heart.

Throughout my life, I have spent much of my time wishing for the “perfect” extended family.  I have often failed to recognize the joy and the blessing of my immediate family, my husband and children.  I feel like a total hypocrite, as I tell my children on a daily basis, “Be thankful for what you have!  Stop thinking about what you don’t have, and focus on what you do have!”  You see, I have been so focused on “all that I don’t have or feel I missed out on”, that I have failed to focus on the greatest blessings. God, my husband, and my children are the greatest blessings I have on this Earth.

As an adult, I am married to a wonderful man, and we are blessed with 4 wonderful children.  I have a family!  A wonderful family!  Why do I become so “hyper-focused” on the family I never had, when I have the family of my dreams right in front of me?

I have taken time this week and prayed fervently to God for peace and understanding.  He revealed to me, my “unthankful” heart.   He revealed an unhealthy focus on my “ideal and perfect” extended family.  God is teaching me the importance of focusing intently on the blessings in front of me, rather than focusing on the areas I feel I was shorted in life.

This year, my focus has been on God, my husband, and my children.  God is good!  He is revealing broken places within the deepest places of my self and guiding me through the route of pure healing.  In this situation, true healing arose from being aware of my “unthankful” self and recognizing the importance of being thankful for the blessings before me.

Thanksgiving 2015, has bee filled with joy, love, laughter, family, and friends.  This Thanksgiving, has been documented, as a time of healing and genuine thankfulness. Simply because, instead of focusing on “what I don’t have”, I have focused intently on “what I do have”.

As I reach to turn out the light on another Thanksgiving coming to a close, my heart is filled with joy, peace, and love.  Today, I am “thankful”, truly “thankful”, for a life full of abundant blessings!

Blessings, Crystal

Psalm 106:1 “Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”

 

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Lord, Take Control!

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This habit of looking down comes natural to me,

I get hyper-focused on life’s problems and forget to bow my knee.

This downward focus causes an unbearable heaviness within my chest.

Stealing my soul of much needed rest.

The ache so deeply washes over my heart,

I worry the pain will never depart.

My strength is gone and I’m crying out,

I ask God to remove this fear and doubt.

 

Lord, I’m weary and in need of peace,

Please take back control and make the pain cease.

Lord, I admit I failed to seek,

Your name on my lips I failed to speak.

Lord, I’m sorry I took control,

Forgive me and make me whole.

Lord, life’s problems I freely give to you,

I’m over myself through and through.

Lord, thank you for loving me,

For taking my pain and making me free.
Written by … Crystal Ridlon

Family Bonding Time, Motherhood, Parenting, Uncategorized

Childlike Faith

 

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This afternoon when I picked up my 4 year-old daughter from preschool, I noticed she had a Princess brush in her hand.  As any normal mother, I noticed immediately that the brush didn’t look like it came from our home.  I asked my daughter and she insisted it was hers.  Knowing the brush was not hers, I realized this was an important teaching moment.  I whispered into her ear, “Caroline, if you take this brush knowing it doesn’t belong to you, you will be stealing.  God tells us we are never to steal.  Stealing is disobeying God.”

Unfortunately, the lesson didn’t sink in immediately.  I left the brush at the school and told her we would talk to daddy, if he said the brush was hers we would pick it up on Monday.  Caroline was very upset and cried profusely for about 1o minutes.  (In her defense it was a pretty amazing brush, pink with a little diamond, Aerial, Cinderella, and Belle.)  I dropped the topic of the brush and she didn’t bring it up for several hours.  Later that night, after our family swim night at the YMCA, we were combing and drying her hair.  As I combed her hair, she said, “Mommy, the brush wasn’t mine!”  Immediately I gently stroked her hair and looked into her eyes, “Thank you Caroline for being honest!  I am so proud of you!  You know what that tells me about you?”  Caroline, “What?”  “It tells me that you have a beautiful heart.”  Caroline responded, “Mommy, does it mean I didn’t disobey God?”  “Sweetie, God is so proud of you!  He loves you!  You were honest about the brush, so you didn’t disobey God!”  I hugged her and we both walked out of the locker room holding hands.

As I pondered this event throughout the evening, I couldn’t help but feel extremely proud of my daughter.

I thought to myself, “I am not a perfect mother and I make more mistakes than I can keep track of… but I love the fact that my children are sensitive to the matters of God.  My greatest desire for my children is that they will understand God’s love and understand the importance of obeying God’s word early in life.”  BINGO!!!  This parenting moment brought joy to my heart!

The Bible iterates the importance of teaching children about God.  There is no greater joy for a Christian parent, than the moments when you see your children grasping the concepts of the Bible.

I am so proud of my sweet daughter!  I couldn’t imagine raising my children in any other manner.  John 14:6 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way they should go and they shall never depart from it!”

Could it be that my daughter’s story, is what God is referring to in Mathew 18:3. Mathew 18:3, “And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

I pray, I will have childlike faith all the days of my life!  I pray my children will be sensitive to the matters of God all the days of their lives.  I thank God for the opportunity to raise my 4 children according to God’s word!

Blessings, Crystal

 

 

 

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Am I Enough?

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Disappointment… utterly heart-wrenchingly sad… To give so much…. And watch it unravel before your very eyes.  To know your best wasn’t good enough.  Such an awful sinking feeling washes over my heart and soul.  As a loved one rejects God…  Thus rejecting  you… Speaking paralyzingly painful words  into your heart.  This hardship has endured for almost a month… My soul… weary… My emotions… raw.  My heart… Sad.  Literally feels bruised within my chest. One thing I know for sure… There’s no controlling the emotions of a crushed spirit.  Eventually the hurt… Disappointment… And sadness will overflow… Either in the form of anger, tears, or unhealthy behavior.  For me the hurt and disappointment overflowed in the form of endless tears and gut wrenching sobs.  Sobs from one who grieves… One who hurts… One who’s confused… One who’s disappointed.

Suppress… Suppress… Suppress… The art of suppression only works for so long… Eventually your heart reaches it’s maximum “all I can handle” limit and explodes. In this particular case… My heart’s “all I can handle” limit happened at the beginning of Bible study. Sounds like a perfect place to be broken… Right? Not exactly… Today’s churches have  unfortunately become another place that expects you to be happy and perfect… All the time. Not always a place that allows you to be “real”, especially if your “real” at that time is… broken and sad. The world tells us… “It’s  never okay to cry… It’s never okay to be sad.  Toughen up!  Don’t take it personally.  Just hand it over to God!  Don’t worry!  Trust God!”  This unfortunately is the motto of the world… “No room here to handle your brokenness… Your disappointment… Your pain.”

Unfortunatelay the world and even many of today’s churches… Sends a quiet message… You’re only welcome if you are completely whole… And without any form of blemish or scarring.  Thus… Much of the population remains unchurched.  We hide our true selves… Our “real” everyday pain and struggles behind a facade.  Our daily attire consists of a happy plastic face.  Always wearing it to hide the fact that we are imperfect… That our hearts do break… To hide our “real” self.  Always trying to show the world we’ve got it all together.  Yet… How many of us truly have it all together?  If we had it all together…  Would we need God?

I find myself questioning… Am I enough?  Is there anywhere I can go… To just be “me”?

You see… I’m imperfect… I’m broken… I’m sensitive to a fault.  I’m scarred. I have wounds.  In time and with intense therapy my wounds have begun to turn to scars. Problem is… my scars occasionally still bleed. It’s usually when I least expect it… The wounds will reopen and threaten to steal my present day joy, hope, and peace.  Despite my best intentions the past still occasionally creeps up on me… And at times the broken pieces of “me” challenges my current day healing.

I begin to wonder… Can the world handle the “real” me?  Can the church handle the “real” me?

I’m certainly not a human picture of perfection.  I’ll be the first to admit… I am not perfect! In fact…  I’m broken. God has been working overtime to mend my brokenness. Yet… After all these years of healing and thousands of dollars in therapy costs… I still feel the broken pieces of my inner child deep within my being.

I’m NOT a perfect… smooth… and flawless pot. I’m a pot that appears from a far to be whole… But up close you will notice the ridges, holes, and rough edges. Up close you will notice the broken places. Can the world handle me just the way I am?  Does the world want an imperfect pot?

To my amazement… God has somehow continues to use me despite my broken past… my childhood scars… He continues to make something beautiful out of my brokenness… He’s saved me! In Him… “I am a survivor!”

Occasionally… I will still question… Am I good enough for this world? Am I good enough for the church?

Yet… In my questioning… I WIILL remember… God chose me for Himself… Therefore I will claim God’s words… “I am enough!” “I am enough!”

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Happy Birthday, My Love!

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Snuggled up next to the one I love… My heart at peace.

 I feel safe lying next to him.  

I feel at peace when I look into his eyes.  

I feel loved when he holds my hand.  

I feel wanted wrapped in his arms.  

So many loves in this world…  Yet… There is only one love of my life.

Holds me through life’s heartaches.  

Always wipes away my tears.  

The security of his arms protect me through the night.

Listens to my heart.  

Encourages my weary spirit.  

So many times he’s hugged my brokenness away.  

Willing to challenge my feelings, thoughts, and behavior.  

First a teen love… Now a deeper love… A strong… committed… and forgiving love.  A maturing love!  

Together our love’s experienced a few bumps, trials, and misunderstandings.  

Yet… Through it all… Our faith increased… Our hearts firmly united… Our love  stronger.  

Happy 36th birthday my love… Looking forward to another year of maturing… aging… And loving together!  

Yours Truly, Crystal 

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God Do You Hear?

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Lord,

I am crying out!  For weeks… my heart has poured out before you.  Tears have fallen… hope seemingly unattainable.  My prayers are not in isolation… but others have poured out prayers for loved ones in need of your healing.  One of your own… is lost… hurting… in need of your saving grace.  I’ve seen the battle… the painful battle of the soul.  I’ve seen innocent little ones lost in the midst of a battle… a battle not their own. Innocent little ones… seeking peace… comfort… and your love.  I’ve seen broken souls desiring your peace… love… and comfort.  Yet… returning as a prisoner of the world.  Yearning for support, comfort, and attention… ran back into the arms of Satan.  Sadly, Satan was there waiting with open arms… with droves of people.. ready to draw your child back into the prison of the soul.  Where were your droves of people?  Your children waiting to embrace your child?  Why does the path leading to you… offer only a chosen few for support, love, and fellowship?  This question… I have offered before you… and you answered… in that still small voice deep within… “Child, If I had sent you endless droves of people… would you have realized your need for me?  Would you have called out to me for comfort in the loneliest hours?  Would you have asked me to hold you in the middle of the night?  Would I truly have been able to show you the extent of my love for you… the realness of my presence within your heart? Would you have realized your need for me?”  I recall the darkest nights of my soul… The world had left me broken.  Somehow when I recall the most painful moments of my life… I remember them as a time of close intimacy with God.  During the darkest and most lonely of nights… God was there… Meeting the needs of my broken and hurting heart.  These are the moments when God became my Savior, friend, comforter, counselor, healer, friend, and Father!

Tonight as tears fall from my cheeks… on my knees prostrate before you… yearning for the cry of my heart to be answered… for your child to finally choose… you.  To come to understand you as the one true God… the only path to healing, peace, comfort, and Eternal life.  Lord, forgive me for in my desperation I have almost lost hope in your mighty power to save… I have doubted your ability to win a victory… a victory you already won.  Lord, tonight as the tears fall down my cheeks… I pray for my beloved… for your beloved.  In the lonely hours… in the midst of the emptiness deep within the soul…  reach your child.. hold your child… comfort your child… show the depth of your love and affection.  Lord, win the victory of the soul! Call your child to yourself!  I lift my beloved to your throne.  I trust!  I believe!  After all, I know firsthand the power of your love.  You saved me!  You comforted me!  You held me!  You healed me!  You have proven your ability to save!!!  Take the victory, Lord!!!

Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Your beloved,

Crystal

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Yes… I am a Holy Roller!!!

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Throughout life I have always been a saver.  Anytime someone was in trouble, hurting, in conflict, or heading down a path of destruction, I have felt this overwhelming need to save.  God is continually teaching me the very important lesson, that I am not capable of saving another individual.  God gave us the gift of free will and He alone is working to save His children.  I am continually relearning this lesson and God is teaching me that sometimes I need to get out of the the way and allow Him to speak into the heart’s of His children.

Unfortunately, this path of destruction became the theme of my childhood.  The youngest of 7 children, I was an observer, I sat back and observed the people I loved chasing after “anything” to numb pain.  I have seen many unhealthy forms of numbing, anger, drug abuse, alcoholism, sex addiction, and co-dependency. In a family plagued with bondage, I unfortunately endured the consequences of these sins.  I endured all forms of abuse.  For years, I sat back and observed sin (Satan) take control of every member of my family.  Every member?  Yes, every family member.  You know what?  These unfortunate circumstances have left me with scars… and wounds that will never completely heal until I stand next to Jesus in Heaven.  I have spent my entire life trying to heal from the past.  In my life I have felt lonely, scared, empty, and terribly sad. I used to be a broken and wounded little girl.

But… God loved me too much to leave me in such a frail and miserable state.

I was SAVED from this path of destruction at the age of 15. One of God’s beloved continually invited me to church every week, until one day I agreed to attend. This was the day that changed my life FOREVER!!!

Immediately after accepting Christ as my Savior “Saver”… I wanted every member of my family to taste and see that the Lord was good.”

Psalm 34:8 ” Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”

With the best of intentions… I took on the responsibility of “saving” my family members.  The more I told them about God, His love, and the freedom I found in Christ, the more they seemed to follow down a path of destruction.  The fact that I could not save the people I loved, my family members, often times left me feeling like a failure and continually pulled me down.  Thus, I realized I needed to separate myself from the dysfunction of my childhood, in order to save myself.  Physically, I began the process of cleaving from my family at a very early age.  This left me feeling alone, sad, and like I never actually “belonged” anywhere.  In time, God became a substitute for my family.  He heard the endless nights I spent crying into my pillow, held my lonely and broken heart, and made himself known to me throughout the long hard nights.

Everyday I prayed for the salvation of my family members and I longed  to see them break the painful, empty, and destructive path of bondage.

I have hope!

I have been tempted at times to lose hope… But I am reminded that God is a God of hope.  He is a merciful, loving, and miraculous God.  He desires to win souls and he will work in the heart’s of His children until they take their final earthly breath.

Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

The day I accepted Jesus, to be honest, wasn’t some miraculous day, where all my wounds, scars, and brokenness disappeared.  In fact, after accepting Christ, He began the process of healing my brokenness.  The healing process hurt and left me feeling raw, vulnerable, and fearful.  Throughout the years God has been working to heal my soul, He has provided Godly mentors, utilized the Holy Spirit and His word to speak into the most broken places of my heart.  He’s provided caring friends, Godly counselors, a loving husband, and the most amazing children to continue the healing within my heart.  This “healing” I have come to realize will never be complete, at least not until I get to Heaven.  I have come along way… I have peace in my heart… joy in my soul… and continual hope in my life.

This “healing” process has forced me to chase after God.  To seek Him for comfort, answers, guidance, and fulfillment.

Generational bondage used to be my normal… it was all I knew.

Through an intimate relationship with Christ, He has begun the process of breaking the generational bondage.  He has guided me through my marital life, raising my children, and overcoming my brokenness.

I am blessed today with the most amazing family… A loving and Godly husband… The sweetest 4 children this side of Heaven.  God has used my family to break the cycle bondage that has plagued my family for generations.

I have heard people, even friends, tell me on occasion “You are a Holy Roller!”

My response, “I am a “holy roller” because my childhood was filled with pain, abuse, and trauma.  God called me His own!  He accepted me!  Loved me!  He has never left my side!  He has proven faithful to heal, comfort, and guide my heart! He has been my father, mother, sibling, husband, and friend!!!  He has given me hope!  Blessed me more than I could have ever imagined!  Turned a little girl destined for a life of destruction… Into something… someone… His beloved.

Friends… This change in my heart didn’t happen overnight, or in one month, or even one year.  Healing has become a permanent life-style.  Everyday I feel more whole than the day before.  EVERYDAY I need God more than I did the day before!

My God saved me!  He SAVED me!  He SAVED me!

So….

Yes… I am a Holy Roller!!!

I can’t imagine another way to be…  I can’t imagine a life without God at the center! I can’t fathom living without the unconditional, love, hope, comfort, wisdom, and healing found through an intimate relationship with the Savior.

Yes… I am a Holy Roller!  I am a Holy Roller!!!

And… I am proud of it!

Mathew 16:24 “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”

If you have never asked Christ to come into your heart… Here’s the process…

Follow the link below to find out… How to become a “Holy Roller”.

http://www.sbc.net/knowjesus/theplan.asp

Don’t put off this decision another minute… Begin the “healing” process today!!!

You don’t have to become a holy roller… But, I think once you get a taste of God’s love…

You’ll soon realize… “There’s no other way to be!”

Roll on my friend!  Roll on!

In God’s Love,

Crystal