Springtime Snow

 

It’s not what we were expecting, a snow storm on the first day of spring.  A snow storm was harder to swallow, because here in Indiana we had a day of warm sunshine, followed the next day with snow filled tree limbs.  Indiana weather is extremely fickle and constantly changing, those of us who struggle with change, really struggle living in the Hoosier state.  Social media is going crazy with “snow in spring” comments and small talk the past several days has consisted of folks in shock of this sudden snow storm.  This early spring snow isn’t all that unique, I recall at least one Easter in Indiana with snow on the ground.  I remember years ago, two little boys eagerly looking for eggs inside closets, toys, and underneath furniture, simply because it was too cold and snowy to be outside.

Friends, God’s beauty in our lives almost always happens in the {unexpected}.  Think about it, the moment you meet that perfect partner, after years of fearing you’d spend life alone.  That moment when you see a positive sign on a pregnancy test, not quite ready to be a parent; but when that sweet baby is placed in your arms the joy you feel is indescribable.  Sitting beside someone you love dearly as they enter into the gates of Heaven, the pain is intense, but a deeper joy within is immense.  When your dream goes unanswered, but God shows you later that His plans for you far outweigh any dream you could have imagined!

The snow storm that hit yesterday, was certainly {unexpected}.  In keeping with God’s very nature, he turned the {unexpected} into something truly beautiful and stunning!

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Today’s white covered Earth certainly wasn’t expected, the beauty of the dangling snow covered limbs is awe-inspiring.  Looking down our long winding driveway, it seems like we’re in a present day Narnia.  There’s nothing like the beauty I see today, standing outside on the second day of spring, gazing upon a wintry blanket of white.

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I miss the warm 60 degrees we felt here in Indiana just two days ago, but I refuse to “Lose the forest, for the trees!”  I choose to be thankful for the beauty each day brings!  Spring will come soon enough, then summer, then fall, and winter will roll around again! It’s the beauty of being alive!  I recall loved one’s lost in the last year and others who are struggling with illness and hospital walls the only thing they see on this gorgeous day!  As I gaze upon God’s beautiful artistry, I say a prayer for those who are fighting for their lives, others who are sitting at the bedside of someone they love, and for those who are finding little hope in the midst of emotional darkness.

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Thank you God for the beauty of a wintry white entrance into spring, even though your timing may seem a bit off, we can’t deny the mastery of your artwork.  The land you’ve blessed us to live on is absolutely gorgeous,!  The children are loving the soft, fluffy, perfect for snow ball making snow!  I thank you that even though we don’t understand your plan, that we can trust in your plan with confidence, knowing that nothing happens outside your control!  Lord, I am thankful that there’s not a day I journey this Earthly path alone!  I thank you for revealing your glory through nature, especially in the most unexpected ways.  Thank you for loving me!  And extending grace and mercy to me each and everyday!

Psalm 145:5 “On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.”

Psalm 96:11-12 “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy.”

Psalm 8:3-4 “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Friends, Is God showing up in expected ways in your life right now?  Are you struggling with a pain so raw, so real, that you are finding it difficult to endure daily life?  Are you praying for God to heal a sick loved one?  God will use each and every pain in your heart for his glory!  Are you struggling underneath the hopes of a dream unfulfilled?  God is in the business of showing up in the most {unexpected} moments of our lives.  Don’t lose hope, just look up and keep trusting God!  You’ll find him in the {unexpected}!

Love, Crystal Ridlon

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Erupt or Look – Up “To Fulfill the needs of the Flesh or to Fulfill the Greater Calling”

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Today has been one of those days… when it seems everyone and everything is against me!  These are the days that seem to test my patience the most.  It’s the day when a lot of tedious encounters seem to pile up, almost like an overflowing volcano.  Feels like the world around me is working overtime to get my inner volcano to explode.  Trust me, I’ve had my share of days when my volcano has erupted.  I hate the destruction that my “erupting volcano” leaves in it’s path; sad children, frustrated husband, etc.  My volcano has erupted more times than I care to admit and I always end up feeling terrible afterward, when I’ve calmed down and observe the aftermath of my fury.

Today began as such… Without going into my “poor me” morning,… Despite my fleshly desire to vent in anyway possible the wrong that’s been done to me today… I allowed God’s still small voice to speak to my heart.  As I entered my offie today, I had two spare hours due to a no-show and a last minute cancellation, rather than taking this time to pout, I allowed God to draw me to His word.  The pull toward God’s perfect plan, requires tremendous effort, in order to break the cycle of our fleshly desire to vent our frustrations to the world. God uses scripture to speak truth into my heart on a regular basis… Today’s scripture…

Ephesian Chapter 4:1-6 “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body and one spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called — One Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  But to each on e of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

This isn’t the first time God has gently drawn me to this passage, in fact, he drew me to this exact scripture last week.  This is how God most often speaks to my heart; through a gentle nudging of the soul to seek Him… to seek His word!  Suddenly, my entire day was altered as I allowed the Holy Spirit to convict my soul.  My frustration began slowly fading away, as the Lord’s conviction began to “right” the attitude of my heart.  Somehow, the Lord’s conviction was all it took to grab the fibers of the fleshly roots tugging at my soul, causing bitterness, anger, and frustration to build.  Sitting at my desk, with calming worship music playing in the background and my peppermint essential oils diffusing into the air, I surrendered to God’s better plan.  With my Bible sprawled out across my desk, God began to speak to my heart straight from his word, suddenly my heart is at peace!  Not only was my heart at peace, God in his firm but gently convicting manner, replaced my frustration toward His people with compassion.  In fact, the very people that crossed my path this morning infusing frustration into my spirit, became a different kind of burden.  God replaced my frustration with a burden to pray for the very people who originally frustrated me.  This is when I am reminded of the powerful God who reigns over all, the only one who holds my heart in the palm of his hands.  My Heavenly Father who loves me wholly and completely, despite my worldly mannerisms.  Several scriptures came to my heart as God began tenderly pointing me toward him, rather than focusing on all the problems in the world.

1 John 4:12-13 “No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in union with us, and his love is made perfect in us. We are sure that we live in union with God and that he lives in union with us, because he has given us his Spirit.”

Mark 12:30 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these.”

Sadly, I am a slow learner!  God has been teaching me this very lesson for 25 years, to love others, more than we love ourselves.  Folks, in all my years of following Christ, I’ve learned on profound truth… I CAN NOT love people in my own strength… I am only capable of truly loving people through God’s Spirit residing within me.  Friends, we certainly CAN NOT love difficult people in our own strength… but we absolutely can love when we allow the Spirit to love through us… which is done by surrendering to thyself and allowing God’s will to take over our fleshly desires.  Simply put… “We must die to ourselves daily!

Blessings,

Crystal Ridlon

 

Turning Forty… “Not Bad… Not Bad At All!”

The long-dreaded 40th birthday arrived yesterday!  For whatever reason, 40 has been a dreaded birthday since I was 20 years-old.  I recall on my 20th birthday I struggled with the thought of being half-way to 40, I realize this is strange!  Honestly it is one of the few things in life that caused me anxiety.  Please understand, when I say “anxiety” I’m not saying I spent inordinate time crying and didn’t have panic attacks, it’s just something that has always puzzled me negatively.

Yesterday, as I sat around the house in my pajamas, my 40th birthday seemed like just another day!  Another day to rest at home in the morning, drink coffee in the living room with my husband, cuddle with my children and of course, my fur babies.  The simple pleasurable moments at home talking about life with my husband and sweet kiddos.  All of a sudden, my youngest son Daniel sprinted out of his bedroom yelling, “There is a limo coming up our driveway!”  Our house sits in back of a 1/4 of a mile long driveway in the middle of the Southern hills of Indiana.  I thought, “No way!  He must be referring to an extended UPS truck or something.”  I ran to the door, which was opened in a fury by my 9 year-old son; Right there in front of my country home parked an extended limo.  Standing outside the limo was a well dressed man.  I kindly explained that he must have the wrong address, in which he replied, “Who has a birthday today?”  I responded, “Well, I do!  But, this can’t be for me!  Your at the wrong house!”  My husband stood across from me with a big smile beaming across his face, “Happy Birthday!  Are you surprised?”  I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or tell him to send the limo back {because after all, this couldn’t have been a cheap}.  Standing there in my lounge clothes, the clothing I wear around the house on a lazy day, three of my dearest friends climb out of the limo and yell, “Surprise!”

As I write this a day later, tears escape from my eyes.  I am still in awe of the events that took place yesterday!  Still shocked by the events that took place on this long-awaited 4oth birthday.   My friends encouraged me to get dressed quickly, as they looked at one another with knowing looks in their eyes, “Come on!  Today is already pre-planned for the ladies!”.  For the life of me, I can’t recall how many times I randomly stopped to hug and kiss my dear husband, prior to leaving the house, and upon my return home.  Driving away from our home, my friends were so excited for me and proud of their ability to completely and utterly surprise the pants off of me.  Driving down our country road, observing the all too familiar sites, sitting in a vehicle intended for the elite, my heart was full!  Driving along, I never came to grips with the present happenings and the driver just laughed in amusement… I blurted out my thoughts: “Can you tell I grew up on food stamps?”  The driver responded, “You too?  And… government cheese?”  We all laughed and the driver and I pondered our meager upbringings for a moment, before moving onto discussing our lunch plans.

Suddenly, my thoughts bombarded my emotions, as my heart felt it just might burst.  Pondering to myself, “Look how far God has brought me!  From poverty and broken…  to happy and completely loved!”

Friends, it was the most wonderful day!  Better than anything I could have ever imagined!  Although, the limo was exquisite and wonderful, the most wonderful part of the day… Was the realization of how much I was loved!  I felt loved by my husband, to have orchestrated such a wonderful day, just for me, WOW!  {Again, tears drip down my cheek at the thought of his unconditional love me little ole me!). I felt loved by God, to have blessed with the desires of my heart, more than anything I could have imagined! I felt loved by my sweet children, who were absolutely excited at the present dad planned for my birthday.  I felt loved my dear friends, who took time away from their own lives, to celebrate this memorable occasion with me!  A special thank you to my amazing husband, who truly gave me the best birthday, EVER!  I feel like the most lucky and loved woman in the world!

The afternoon consisted of a wonderful lunch, painting with friends, which was escorted to and from in a limousine.  After painting, my husband picked us up in the family van, opening the front door for me his bride, and the side door for my friends!  I was proud of the man I married and thankful he chose me to journey this life with him. I was proud to serve the most loving God, the giver of all good things!  I was proud to spend the afternoon with a few of my closest friends!  My heart was well-beyond happy!

The evening ended with our family friends from down the road spending the evening at our home, we ate delicious pizza, listened to music from our growing up years, and laughed till our sides literally ached.  Of course, we ate cake and opened presents!  My day was complete; full of love, joy, and fun!

As I climbed into bed on the night of my 40th birthday, several thoughts rushed through my mind and filled my heart with joy…

  1. I am loved, completely!  And… It feels amazing!
  2. I am thankful for the life God has given me!
  3. I have the most amazing family!
  4. I have been blessed with wonderful, Godly, and fun-loving friends!

The thought that reigned above all other thoughts…

5.  Turning 40 was… Not bad… Not bad at all!

Friends, My life started out painful and broken.  As a child I often wondered if anyone loved me, if I mattered to anyone.  God has absolutely redeemed my broken childhood, by continually filling my life with his wonderful and countless blessings!

I recall a quote from the movie Hope Floats…

Berdie’s daughter ends the movie with this statement, “My dad say’s that childhood is the happiest time in my life!  But, I think he’s wrong!  I think my mom’s right, she say’s…”  {The voice changes to Sandra Bullock’s voice}…  Birdie say’s, “Childhood is what you spend the rest of your life trying to overcome!  That’s what momma used to say!  She say’s, “Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most!  You need to remember that when you find yourself at the beginning.  Just give hope a chance to float up and it will too!”

Click the link below to see the scene…

Psalm 37:3-4 “Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.  Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Always remember..

God’s plan for our lives is better than anything you could ever imagine!  Keep the faith and trust His word and plan for your life!

Blessings,

Crystal Ridlon

Our Lifelong Love Affair

You, my dear are a part of me… a wonderful addition to my soul. Together we’re better… somehow more whole.

When we’re apart… the void is immense. The pain at times… entirely too intense.

My heart has been yours since our eyes first met. Summer youth camp 94’… A week I will never forget.

After camp, I officially became your girlfriend… Driving away I knew you were a godsend.

You, my love, stole my heart 24 years ago… The moment you first held my hand… our love began to grow.

In your arms… I felt safe and secure… A once in a lifetime love, many thought premature.

Five months filled with purely innocent passion… The next six years growing in friendship and compassion.

Six years later, standing before God and a crowd… We said “I do!”… A commitment to love for better or worse, in sickness and in health we vowed.

Young and in love… praising our father above.

The preacher said “You may kiss the bride!” Walking down the aisle… my heart filled with pride.

The future before us unknown… Content knowing God was on the throne.

Together we walked hand in hands… giving a whole new meaning to our wedding bands.

18 years of marriage… we’ll soon pass. The kisses we’ve shared exceed a meadow full of grass.

Lives lived in full… Raising four children sure has been a handful.

Together we’re a team… Rearing Godly children is our theme.

Missing you as you travel far… To Korea, China, Croatia, and even Myanmar.

Awaiting your return from every departure… Long hours spent missing my partner.

The time spent apart… Never fails to break my heart.

Missing your presence around the house… Makes me thankful to be your spouse.

Time away from you, my love, is bittersweet… Without you here I feel incomplete.

The distance between us… always leaves me feeling blue. A great reminder of the gift I’ve found in you.

Thank you, darling for loving me so… You, my dear, are my very own Romeo.

Desperately longing for your embrace… Simply longing to see you face-to-face!

I admit I may sound sappy… For in your arms I’m always happy.

I treasure the love we share… Forever grateful for our lifelong love-affair.

Happy 13th Birthday Christopher

 

I can’t believe 13 years-ago to the day, this wonderful gift joined our family!  None of us knew what we were getting ourselves into, especially his older brother Robby, but Christopher was the perfect addition to our family!  In fact, Christopher and Robby have the most amazing bond and for some crazy odd reason… they get each other!  The two of them laugh at things no-one else can understand and can communicate without speaking a word!  I know that being the oldest middle child out of four children, is certainly not an easy endeavor!  Somehow, you make the best of it!  You never complain, you take the good with the bad, and your growing in gentleness and responsibility everyday.

Over the past several months, we’ve sat back and watched his height grow 4 inches (several inches taller than his momma), cackled as his voice drops, and observed his personality develop into that of a wonderful young man.  Christopher is as funny as a standup comedian, as smart as Einstein… the kid is a perfect mixture of… amazing! To top it off, he’s sensitive and creative to the core.  Everyone who gets to know Christopher, falls in love with him instantly!  He’s amazing with children and special needs kids are his forte!  He never hides away from people who are different, rather he gathers them close and gives them a reason to smile!  The kid is patient, kind, helpful, compassionate, and wonderful!  Christopher, is the kid that always keeps us laughing!  Even during the most intense and stressful settings, he somehow always lightens the mood with his spontaneous humor!  I mean… this kid gets the entire family rolling!  I simply can’t imagine a world without our terrific Christopher… Today, I want to say….

Happy Birthday, Son!  I am proud of the young man your becoming and truly thankful God placed you in our family!   I love being your mother!”

I love you, son!

Mom

Well With My Soul

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Sitting in front of a warm fire on New Year’s Day 2018, gazing out the window at the afternoon sun, with temperatures below zero throughout the midwest.  I find myself contemplating the events of 2017.  Saying goodbye to the previous year, I am filled with a wide array of emotions!  Over the past year, I lived a full and wonderful life, complete with countless moments of joy, happiness, & peace!  Sadly, 2017 also consisted of abundant grief, sorrow, and pain!  The turmoil surrounding my life included, my mother’s diagnosis & treatment of cancer, my stepfather’s death a month after being diagnosed with cancer throughout his body, my grandmother’s transfer from home to a nursing facility, and my sister’s death.  Throughout the tribulation in my life over the past year, I found solace in my Savior, Jesus Christ!

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As I ponder 2017 … One particular hymn resonates with my soul.  The hymn…

{It Is Well With My Soul}.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

In the midst of the pain, grief, and hardships of 2017…

I was continually reminded that…

  1. I can have peace and joy even when my heart is aching.
  2. I can be content in the midst of sorrow & grief.
  3. I am never alone!  God is always an {ever present help in times of trouble}.
  4. Although Satan may tempt me, I am victorious through Christ’s blood shed for me.
  5. There are always blessings abounding, which help offset the trials & tribulation.  
  6. There is always something to be thankful for!  

One of my very favorite versions of “It is Well With My Soul” is from Audrey Assad… Here’s the link… As you listen ponder the words in your heart and thank God for the good times & the hardships of 2017!  The Christian life requires tribulation for spiritual growth and character building!  The hardships remind us of our desperate need for the Savior!

Romans 5:1-5 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[ have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

2017 was… Well with my soul.

2018 will be… Well with my soul.

It is my prayer that whatever comes my way in 2018… that God would continue building my dependence on Him and His word!  In addition, I pray I will recognize more of the blessings along the way, live more intentionally, and continually give thanks for the goodness in my life!

Thankful for another year to love, learn, & grow…

Blessings, Crystal Ridlon

Grieving My Sister (The Ugly Side of Drugs)

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My second oldest sister left this earth almost 2 months ago.  The loss was unexpectedly expected, as I knew her health was failing, but I never imagined a sudden heart attack/stroke to be the final cause of her earthly departure.

 To be honest, I was shocked!  I was shocked with the quick finality of her death.  I was shocked with the anger that escaped from the deep places inside my heart!  I was shocked with the utter sadness I felt the days and weeks that followed.  I was shocked with the regret, the feelings of powerlessness, the pain, and my inability to easily manage the loss. 

The past several weeks I’ve been left with overwhelming emotions.  In fact, I was surprised with the level of difficulty I experienced while processing the death of my sister.  I struggled to make sense of the ache within my chest, the vast pit I felt within my gut, and the struggle I had for weeks to function in a normal manner.  The weeks following her passing, I found it difficult to complete normal daily tasks, tasks that once were second nature to me. Everyday chores became tedious, caring for my children, cleaning my house, and even going to weekly activities such as Bible study.  The hardest struggle, was a sudden lack of desire to be in God’s word; which was exactly where I needed to be during my time of grieving.  I would open the Bible, only to discover an inability to process the words on the page.

I visited my counselor several times after my sister’s death, each time I walked away having gained an increased understanding of my grief.  Walking out of the counseling office after each session, I felt a more refined pain. This pain was familiar to me, a result of the dissection of broken and hidden places within the deep recesses of my sub-conscious awareness. Throughout my life, I’ve grown accustomed to the fine art of burying painful experiences and memories, all for the sake of coping.   In that office I found myself fighting back the very emotions that lead me to make the appointment in the first place.  I was by no means consciously aware of my effort to fend off emotions, reading my therapist I saw empathy and awareness in her eyes.  My “counselor-self” was quite aware of the gentle knowing I saw in her eyes, which made me push through the {hard stuff} toward greater healing and understanding.  The process of bringing forth repressed memories after so many years is difficult, but healing. I sat there with tears falling from the corners of my eyes, yet there seemed to be no real connection between the wet droplets trickling down my face and a conscience awareness of the fact that I was crying.  Throughout my life, I’ve become quite efficient at hiding my pain and brokenness from myself and others around me.  The job of a counselor is to aid clients in the process of bringing repressed memories and pain into one’s conscience awareness, for the sole purpose of long term healing.  As a counselor myself, I’ve walked through this process with my own clients.  Thus, I know the vital importance of owning one’s past memories and pain in order to find deep-rooted healing.   Somehow, seeing the root of pain in my clients is more easily accomplished, than seeing the root of my own pain.  As a counselor, I know that losing a loved one is a unique journey for each individual and there is no time line for the grieving soul.  I have minimal compassion for myself and placed unreal expectations upon myself to heal and process quickly and efficiently. Thankfully, I am much more patient and empathetic to others who are grieving.

As I exited my counselor’s office she gently reminded me that this type of grief is not easily endured, the pain involved in losing an estranged family member to a life of drug addiction, is complicated and messy.  It is complicated grieving, due to losing a family member to abnormal loss after years of broken relationship. Much to my shock, the estrangement from family members resulting from the evil stronghold of drug addiction, complicated the grieving process. Through the process of counseling and processing my pain, I can to realize several factors complicating the grieving process; 1). Not only am I grieving the loss of my second oldest sister, I am grieving the loss of my childhood family to drug addiction.  2). I found myself re-grieving the loss of my oldest sister, Carolyn, who died due to the disease of alcoholism at the age of 36, when I was 20 years-old. 3). I realized I am pre-grieving the impending loss of others soon to follow, as addiction continues to steal the people I love through estrangement and ultimately death.  4). I grieved a childhood of pain and loss. 5). I grieved the sad fact that I have always been unable to have healthy relationships with my siblings. 6). I grieved the unfortunate fact that my sisters’ lives were miserable and without joy. These 6 areas of grieving were dissected for the purpose of healing and understanding, which manifested awareness, understanding, and ultimately healing into my soul.

The words complicated and messy most accurately described my daily struggle. The definition of complicated is…

“composed of elaborately interconnected parts; complex.”  

This definition is entirely accurate in explaining my recent emotional struggle. Once again, I came to realize that everything I feel today is interconnected to the pain from my childhood.  Thus, the importance of allowing God to reveal the areas in my life still requiring deep/rooted healing. The path to healing is certainly not easy, my childhood didn’t begin with a bed of roses, it was filled with elaborately interconnected; neglect, abuse, and rejection. This stuff forced a young girl to develop lifelong coping skills and defense mechanisms, which have required an intimate relationship with the Lord to heal.  Healing requires gentleness, understanding, and patience to heal.  Praise the Lord, I’m in a place in my life, with God, my family, and close Godly friends to journey through the healing process.  Healing began at the age of 15, the moment I became a Christian, and continues today!  Healing is a journey, not a destination!  The healing process will continue everyday until I see the Lord’s face and hear him say, “Well done my good and faithful servant!”  

My sister Cindy’s death has awakened feelings within me that I’ve worked hard to shut down my entire life.  I’ve become quite skillful at shutting down my needs, as a result of the difficult areas I suffered as a child.  Needs such as having healthy and peaceful relationships with my siblings and parents, to be unconditionally loved and cared for, and any sense of normalcy in regard to my childhood upbringing.  As skillful as I’ve become throughout my lifetime at shutting down these needs from my past, I am beginning to realize they were in fact needs and simply shutting them down failed to provide wholesome healing.  Processing the pain, neglect, rejection, and trauma from my childhood is essential to longterm healing, peace, and joy. My life has been a journey of healing, just when I think I’ve overcome, God gently reveals another broken area that requires healing.  God has been with me every step of the way, I’ve gained increased understanding, empathy for the pain of other people, a tremendous dependence on God, wisdom to make good choices, and the full awareness of God’s ever present help in times of trouble.  My heart has ached, I’ve felt broken within, and I’ve been rejected by some of the most important people in an individual’s life. Praise the Lord, he has taken my brokenness and used it for his good.

Romans 8:28 “All things work for good to those who love the Lord and have been called according to His purposes!”

One thing I know for sure, I’m much less broken and more whole than when I began the journey.  I have joy and peace in my heart! My life is a story of God’s redemptive power through the life of someone surrendered to the Holy Spirit. Thus, my life is victorious through Christ Jesus!

Grieving my sister’s loss has definitely been a heart-wrenching and confusing process. Losing a loved one to drug addiction, after years of estrangement, is difficult.  There are many complicated factors to process while grieving the loss of a loved one who ultimately died from a life-style of drug addiction.  As I continue this journey of grieving, healing, and finding closure; I know that my joy is found in God alone!

I will hold onto this…

Psalm 30:5 “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

My hope is found in God and the hope of eternity!  I will rejoice in the knowledge that my sister made peace with the Lord before her death and I will see her in Heaven again one day!  Until then, I will look forward to the day when our relationship will be restored and we will spend the rest of eternity serving the Heavenly Father together in complete unity and harmony!