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

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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!

When Love Hurts “Leaving Grandma Behind”

 

This past weekend my family and I took a day trip to St. Louis, which is a four hour drive both ways.  Several days prior to visiting my grandmother, she had been unexpectedly placed in a nursing home facility.  As we drove home that evening in the quiet darkness of the night, I was left to process my deepest emotions, feelings, and fears.  The day was especially difficult for me, as it felt like I was on a long and overwhelming emotional roller coaster.  My grandmother was my greatest support person throughout childhood and the reality of the present situation was almost unbearable.   Driving away with my grandmother’s heirlooms in the back of my family mini van was entirely too surreal.  As my husband drove in the darkness of the night and my children quietly watched a movie;  The suppressed emotions of the day bubbled up to the top. The heirlooms filling my back hatch were special;  Personal belongings she’d always wanted me to have.  In fact she had encouraged me to retrieve the majority of the items years in advance, but something deep inside refused to allow me to remove cherished items from her home. It was as if taking the items, in a strange way meant, saying “goodbye”, which I fought with every fiber of my being.  This trip was complete with overwhelmingly mixed emotions, as I fought back tears the entire day.   

Driving away with my grandmother’s special possessions, I was hit with this sudden realization.  Each of the items were only special, because she was special!  And because… I  was special to her!  The antique sewing machine, photos, picture frame, dolls, and each unique novelty only held value.. for one reason…  because she was special.  Each item brought cherished memories. In all honesty the possessions I drove away with, had little monetary value, but the personal value… invaluable. My dear husband drove along on the interstate, in the pitch black night, as my children remained unusually quiet.  Throughout the day my children were respectful, kind, and empathetic; completely aware that this particular day was quite difficult on their momma.  Driving in the quiet blackness of the night, the emotions began pounding within my chest.  Eventually the overwhelming emotions of the day, succumbed to weeping, as the memories of past days flooded my heart and mind.  Not to mention the overwhelming guilt and sorrow I experienced, as I walked away and left her in a nursing home.  This thought seemed to haunt me the most!  

In the quiet blackness of the night, with the sound of diesels and vehicles whizzing past us, I began to process the events of the day.  The awful memory hit me like a bolt of lightening, “She didn’t remember me!”  Although, only for a moment; the stab of anguish remained; she didn’t recognize me. The reason? Sudden relapse of her memory, dementia, boredom, fear of losing her independence, or old age…  Only God knows!  Please understand, there isn’t a single part of me upset about her momentary forgetfulness, it’s just the realization that Alzheimer’s is beginning to win the battle.  It’s the terrifying fear of knowing that one day my sweet grandmother may not be able to remember me and our cherished memories. 

My first glimpse of her, she was sitting against the wall in a dining room chair with a blank, faraway stare…  “Grandma!”  This woman I’ve loved since before I can remember,  looked at me with a confused, yet friendly gaze…  Her response,  “Your awfully pretty and you seem like your a very nice person, but I don’t think I know you. The words slammed against my heart like a tsunami hitting the shore after a category 10 earthquake.   The words hit hard, as it gave a clear indication of her true medical condition.  I was sad for her!  I was sad for me!  But mostly… I was sad for us!  Turning my head away to hide the tears filling my eyes, I prayed harder than ever before.  “Lord, please let her remember!  Please, Lord!”   Thankfully a loving look into her deep blue eyes, the eyes that most match my own, seemed to jog her memory.  In a gentle voice, I looked into her eyes and spoke into her soul, gently holding her wrinkled hand, as she recognized me. “Grandma, It’s me Crystal. Do you remember me?” As she recalled the memory of me, life breathed back into her eyes and suddenly she sat up a little taller. “Crystal? Did you come all the way here to see me? Is it you my granddaughter?”  Joy filled my soul… “Yes, grandma I came to see you, to check on you, and to make sure you are okay!”  There are not enough words in the English language to accurately depict the comfort and relief that filled my heart upon her remembrance of me.

The two of us found a quiet place in the lobby to spend time together.  As we talked I held her hand, as her cognitive awareness jumped in and out, I tried to hide my fears and concerns. My heart ached, as she recalled memories from long ago, as if they occurred only yesterday.  Sitting there listening to her thoughts jump in and out of rationality, I found myself wishing for a time machine.  I suddenly yearned to go back to the age of 6, even for just a brief moment, to relive the plethora of positive memories surrounding the times spent with my grandmother.  The memories flashed through my mind as if I’d somehow pushed the fast forward button; the stories she’d tell me, silly songs she’d sing to me, hats made out of newspaper, the early morning coffee made with 3/4 warm milk and plenty of sugar.  One of my most treasured memories is the time she’d take talking to me on the telephone, countless hour long conversations throughout my childhood and well into adulthood.   It was a bitter/sweet day, complete with countless memories and the realization that life would never be the same.

After visiting alone with my grandmother, my four children and husband joined me for the duration of the visit.  As each child walked up to give her a hug, a huge smile filled her face, she was beaming with pride and joy; our visit made her day.  Upon seeing my 6 year-old little girl, my sweet grandma was overcome with emotion as tears filled the eyes of a woman who rarely cries.  I will never know for sure, but I am almost certain her mind was triggered back to 30 years ago when I was a little girl.  The afternoon was filled with sweet memories, fellowship, and deep sorrow and grief.  My ability to hold my emotions in and maintain a tough face for my grandmother and children, was quickly waning. 

Saying goodbye… One of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I wanted to carry her out of that nursing facility; I wanted to take her home, I wanted to pretend none of this was happening. I wanted to make it all disappear.  Saying goodbye, I kissed her soft cheek and gently hugged her fragile body.  As I watched her walk off with a nurse who was holding onto a mesh colored belt around her waste, the ache was real. The 39 year bond of a grandmother and her granddaughter is greater than dementia!  It’s a genuine connection, complete unconditional love. As she walked away, I know in that moment her heart hurt more than mine, and my heart was breaking into a million pieces.

The final leg of the journey was going to her apartment, to retrieve the cherished items she set aside for me.  My grandmother lived in the same apartment building in suite 518 for 30 years, a small 500 square foot area that was my childhood safe place. The smell, the familiar objects, the calmness of her home, it all came back to me! Looking through her belongings to gather precious heirlooms, the memories washed over me, and I could no longer hold back the tears. My insides were screaming, I didn’t want to remove a single item!  I didn’t want to leave her in a nursing facility!  I wanted my dear grandma to remain in her apartment forever!  I wanted things to stay the same!   Removing her belongings meant forever change, meant she was no longer able to care for herself, it meant my childhood safe place would soon become only a memory.  The memories crowded my senses and the momentum almost knocked me down.

I remembered spending the night at grandma’s House and constantly begging my mother on a regular basis to let me go. I recall the feeling of safety when I was with my grandmother and remember the dread I felt when it was time to go home. My childhood was not easy, it was filled with tremendous fear, pain, and rejection.  When I was with my grandmother, I was at peace! I was accepted!  I was safe! I was special! I was loved!  As tears fell from my eyes, I was reminded of the saying “I’d rather to have loved and hurt. Than to have never loved at all!”

Love is joyful, comforting, safe, secure, and reliable!  Sometimes… Love hurts! Tears fell well into the drive back to Indiana and I couldn’t have made them stop if I tried.  It’s all a symptom of having been fully loved, accepted, and cherished by a loving grandmother.  Small price to pay… to have been loved so deeply!  

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”

Warmth From Within

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Today is a typical cold, dreary, and gray autumn day!  Despite the cold crisp breeze hitting my face and the numbness overtaking my toes, I am full of warmth on the inside! This is not a feeling I take for granted, much of my life I didn’t know what a “warm” heart felt like.  My childhood was cold, teenage years hard, and the college years seemed like an uphill climb.  Today…. I am thankful for my current life stance!  It’s certainly not perfect, but it is good… very good!  Today, I feel encouraged knowing that God loves me, is blessing me, and he’s guiding me daily!  As I sit in a warm coffee shop, overlooking the people walk by through the massive glass windows and studying God’s word, I am overcome with feelings of warmth, peace, and joy.

Today’s blog is short… Where are you in your life today?  It is my prayer that you feel God’s peace in a very real way , that you will yearn for the peace that is found only through God’s love.

Is there anyway I could pray for you today?  If so, please simply comment your prayer request below and I will lift you up in prayer today!

Blessings & Love,

Crystal Ridlon

10 Signs My Husband Loves Me


Yesterday I came across an article titled “10 Signs Your Husband Really Loves You”.  I am a sentimental softy by nature and these articles snag me every time.  I eagerly anticipated reading the article, with the hope that all 10 signs would fit into our marriage.  Much to my disappointment, only about 50% of the 10 signs fell into the category of “how my husband shows me that he loves me”.  Let me be real and honest with you for a minute, I was not sad or upset in the least.  I was not upset with the outcome, because I know 100% that my husband loves me, and I don’t need an article to prove it.  My husband, has proven himself to be continually loving over the past 17 years of our marriage.  Due to my astonishment over the article, {or maybe just to prove a point}, I decided to write my own… “Top Ten Signs That My Husband Loves Me”.  

Without further ado…

  1. He is faithful to God.

I fell in love with my husband because of his commitment to serving God!  We committed our dating relationship and our marriage to God!  The two of us have wavered in our faith at times and doubted God’s presence from time to time, but God has never let us down.  The two of us have hurt one another’s feelings, we’ve angered each other to the very core, we’ve been selfish; Through it all our commitment to God was the glue that held us together and continues to hold us together today.  In the midst of joy, pain, and sorrow… my amazing husband remained faithful to God.  He’s shown me love every time, he’s stood up to be the spiritual leader in our home. 

2. He is faithful to me.

Seventeen years ago, I walked down the aisle toward the man I would spend the rest of my life with.   That beautiful and exciting moment is forever ingrained in my memory.  I recall easily the joy and hope I felt as I walked toward my “soon to be” husband. As excited and certain as I was on that warm June evening, I honestly had very little understanding of the vow I would soon take to God, my future husband, my future children, and our friends and family.  Much to my amazement the disagreements and quarrels began as early as our honey moon {I was married to an only child after all}, and seemed to intensify over the next couple of years.  Don’t get me wrong we’ve shared countless moments of romance, joy, and fun; But marriage was much, much, much harder than either of us anticipated.  However, this man I vowed to spend the rest of my life with, stayed!  He stayed!  Through all the tears, trials, and disagreements… He stayed by my side! 

 3.  He is teachable!

My husband shows me love by having a teachable spirit.  {Perfect, no! Teachable, absolutely!}  The two of us met at a Christian camp at the age of 16, married at 21, and {literally} grew up together.  We’ve watched one another mature spiritually, emotionally, and physically through several major life phases.  One thing I know about this man is, he has a teachable spirit!  Through all the trials and difficulties we’ve endured as believers in Christ, as a couple, as parents, and as people. This man loved me enough to humble himself and allow God to teach him how to become the husband I needed him to be… If this isn’t love, I don’t know what is.

4. He is comforting when I’m upset!

Probably, the most outward sign that my husband uses to show his love to me, is that he is always there for me, especially when I’m sad.  He is the first place I want to run when I’ve encountered hurt on this Earth.  I recall several years ago when a friend betrayed me and after a very difficult phone conversation, I walked into his office with a pain so deep, raw, and intense and literally fell into his arms bawling.  He didn’t ask me to talk, or try to talk me out of my pain, or tell me I was overreacting.  He held me and let me cry!  The man’s shirt was soaked from the endless tears that fell from my eyes that evening.  He held me during the worst of the pain and held me until my heart began to heal.   It’s a moment ingrained on my heart forever!  I am not at all thankful for the reason for the tears, but I’m forever grateful for the compassion I received from my dear husband.  Another time I recall, was last spring when I found out my mother had cancer.  I called him bawling, but wordless, as there seemed to be no words to describe the pain I felt.  From past experiences, he knows this “silence” means extreme hurt and pain.   He doesn’t immediately try to fix my pain or offer problem solving tactics, he holds me and allows me to cry.  How do I know my husband loves me?  He cares about my feelings, holds me when I’m upset, and let’s me cry on his shoulder.

5. He accepts me for who I am.

This may come as a surprise to ya’ll, but I am not perfect!  I am guilty of losing my temper from time to time, I become overly emotional, and obsess about unimportant life circumstances.  Despite my imperfections my husband allows me to be human, to make mistakes, and never holds an itemized list of all my faults.  He accepts me warts and all!  This aspect of our marriage has been freeing and one of the things I am most thankful for.   He loves me despite extra weight gained, bad hair days, and the many signs of aging cropping up as I approach the age of fourty.  Growing up in a dysfunctional and abusive home, I never experienced the pleasure of being unconditionally loved and accepted!  His unconditional acceptance has allowed me to develop a greater sense of identity in myself and the freedom to become the woman God desires me to be.  I am truly thankful!

6. He makes me laugh.

The man I married has a “different” sense of humor.  It’s intelligent, logical, and witty; over the years I’ve grown quite accustomed to his unique humor .  It’s the kind of humor in which you have to listen and pay attention to fully comprehend, but he’s hilarious.  One thing I love most about him is his positive outlook on life.  He doesn’t look at life through a purely serious lens, but is able to crack jokes and have fun.  

Several months ago I was having a terrible day, another day when I was my own worst enemy.  As I vented to him about my inadequate feelings, “I am not a good mother!  I am not a good wife!  I am not a good counselor! blah blah blah!”  He suddenly got very quiet and began looking up a song on YouTube, suddenly his phone started playing Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re no good!  You’re no good!  You’re no good!  Baby, you’re no good!”  He could have spent hours speaking truth into my insecure spirit, but he knew in this particular moment that “laughter was the best medicine”!  The two of us started laughing hysterically!  Suddenly, Satan’s defeating thoughts were no longer defeating!  I felt loved, understood, and thankful for the gift of the most amazing husband.

7. He does “little”things to remind me of his love.

On one hand I wouldn’t refer to my husband as a ‘hopeless romantic”, but I would refer to him as romantic.  He’s not cheesy in his approach, even though at times this girl likes {cheesy}, but he shows his love in unique ways true to his character.  Little text messages, doing laundry, conquering household tasks, bringing me a cup of coffee, and creative gift giving.  The past seven years have been a challenging and wonderful course in learning his primary way of speaking love and it’s wonderful.

8.  He spends time with me.

He is my best friend and is always happy for the opportunity to spend time with me.  Actually, he is always beckoning me in a “loving” way to slow down, to sit, talk, and have a cup of coffee with him.  Regardless of how busy or stressed out he is with work or life, he schedules time to spend with his wife.  We go to dinner together and talk, we really talk.  We enjoy spending time talking and laughing together.  We can talk for hours, about anything and everything!  I cherish our talks and especially our coffee dates! I love, that he loves spending time with me.  

9. He takes care of me.

Since we’ve been married, I’ve always been the more sickly partner in our marriage.  He is healthy, strong, and rarely gets sick.  He has always been my strong rock and stability. Together we’ve had four children and with the birth of each child, he took care of me and our newborns.  In addition, I’ve broken my foot while pregnant, endured several surgeries, and seem to catch every illness brought into the house from my children. Yet, he never {okay, I take pride in honesty on this blog}, he rarely complains!  He is a caring and compassionate man; I am truly thankful!

10.  He Holds me Accountable in Love.

I know what your thinking; Really, you love this?  Let me explain, I am a counselor by vocation and have encountered countless women over the years, who’ve run the household, their husband, their children, and anything and everything allowed.  In my life, I’ve seen firsthand the damage this paradigm creates in marriages, families, churches, and in the community.   I am probably, most in love with my husband for this very reason, he holds me accountable {in love}.  Certainly, being called out on poor behavior, dysfunctional thinking, or over spending has the tendency to frustrate me at times.  The Holy Spirit living within my heart, gently reminds me that my husband is speaking truth.  Suddenly, the anger disappears and I relent, apologize, or pray for further guidance. The manner in which he holds me accountable is loving, kind, & gentle; And intended for the well-being of our family. I am able to take his occasional criticisms, because I know he loves me and has proven faithful and loving over the years.  God is using him to help me grow into the woman he desires and I’m truly thankful!  

In the same manner, my husband allows me to hold him accountable.  I believe that this aspect of our marriage, along with our commitment to serving God together, is the greatest cause of any success you see in our marriage.  

My husband is great!  Please don’t walk away from this blog post thinking, “Oh, her husband is perfect!  Her marriage is perfect!”  My husband is not perfect!  Our marriage is not perfect!  I could just as easily list his faults, but I’ve determined to focus on his strengths, rather than his imperfections.  What a wonderful difference altering my thought processes have made on the wellbeing of our marriage.   It’s all a matter of perspective and accepting the entire man, has given him freedom to grow and mature into the Godly husband and father he is today!  After all, I am not perfect and I can be difficult!  My husband and I’s marriage is not perfect, but it is beautiful, wonderful, & safe!  The only thing perfect in our home is God!  This is the key ingredient to “happily ever after”!

 

Pumpkin Spice in the Midst of Pain, Heartache, & Loss


Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
The weather is suddenly turning cool and the fall autumn breeze is whipping through the windows of my country home. The first signs of fall has begun to blossom, the minority of colored leaves on the trees, the yard filled with sporadic splotches of brown, cool crisp air, and pumpkin spice advertisements everywhere I turn.  Once again, I am reminded of the fall festivities we proudly share as a family each year, pumpkin patches, apple picking, bonfires, and of course pumpkin spice EVERYTHING.  However, this year in the midst of all the turmoil surrounding our nation, I’ve found myself a little less excited. As I was pondering my lack of zeal this morning and began searching my heart in quiet contemplation, it hit me like a slamming door; My spirit it downcast within me. 

Like most of you, I’ve kept up with the news regarding the natural disasters around the world, especially those hitting close to home, within our very own country.  Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, and all the fires blazing out of control in several other states. 

This year I’m finding it hard to rejoice and partake in traditional seasonal festivities due to the loss, heartache, and trauma facing the people of our great nation. Somehow, it’s hard to partake in the pleasures of a pumpkin spice latte, while my friends and fellow citizens in Texas are simply trying to cope in the aftermath of hurricane Harvey, Floridian friends and family are dreading possibly the largest hurricane seen in Earth’s history , and many others are facing fires resembling a present day hell. 

My heart aches for the friends & family I know personally, and for the friends I may never meet. This year my family’s fall festivities will look and feel different! Because, this is a year of suffering, loss, and pain. “My heart’s place this fall…

“Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.”  
Despite the rampant suffering, fear, and loss this fall brings with it… I am reminded that it is also a year of triumph a reminder of the things that are most important; national unity, harmony, and universal survival.  
“There are no politics in 8 feet of water; there are people in 8 feet of water.” Sandra Bullock
This fall there are people hurting, traumatized, and engulfed with loss all around them due to natural disasters. Personally, I can’t make since if it all, but I continue to trust in God’s promises!  
    Romans 8:28 “All things work for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes.”

Despite all the suffering, damage, and loss we see all around the United States this fall… I’ve seen beauty, survival, togetherness, and unity abound! I’ve seen videos and pictures of people all across the nation coming together in heroic endeavors to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Whether driving their boat from Kentucky to Texas to rescue lives in flooded waters, handing out food to rescuers, filling up diesel sized trucks with survival resources to drive across the nation, writing sacrificial sized checks for relief efforts, or praying fervently; I’ve seen something that’s so rare and beautiful in this country. I’ve seen unconditional love, sacrificial support, and unity!  

I’ve seen the goodness of the Lord show up in the lives of His people!
In my pursuit of attempting to find a balance between enjoying fall pleasures and feeling empathy and heartache for my fellow friends; I have decided to continue enjoying my fall traditions, all while maintaining a sober & prayerful mindset for those suffering from today’s natural disasters. Each tradition relived will be a reminder to pray for my friends across the nation and to remain mindful and open regarding how God desires to use me to help; whether in talents or financial resources. In addition, I’ve determined to get my entire family on board and pray together for the trials facing our nation and the American people.  

Today I anticipate having my first pumpkin spice latte of the season, an eagerly anticipated occasion every fall. With each sip I will lift up prayers for those suffering at the hands of nature.  Praying especially today, that God will calm Hurricane Irma and calm the storm that is terrifying the world.  Please join me in praying for this storm to calm!  

Psalm 107:27-31 “Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.”

In my prayers, I will listen to God and his heeding… because wherever he calls “I’ll go!” Whatever he asks “I’ll do!” There is one thing I dread most in life, one thing that terrifies me the greatest, to be out of God’s will! For now… I’ll allow my fall festivities to remind me to pray and I will pray without ceasing! With every cool crisp breeze that blows across my lawn, every apple I pick from an apple tree, every cup of pumpkin spiced flavored coffee I sip; I will be in prayer for my fellow citizens, friends, and family!  

“Please join me in praying for the natural disasters plaguing our country!  Let’s pray for the sea to be calmed, the hurricane to greatly and quickly drop in intensity, for our fellow neighbors surrounded by flooding and disaster, and for the many losses experienced due to tragedy.  Finally, lets be doers and give of our time, finances, and energy as the Lord burdens our hearts with compassion for others.” 

Here is the most touching story I’ve seen to date in the news.  This Kentucky man prayed and heeded God’s call to go and help. He went to the Lord in prayer, God burdened his heart to go and rescue people, and God used him in mightier ways than he’d ever imagined!  Click the link below to be touched, make sure you have your tissues handy!  

http://www.wymt.com/content/news/Kentucky-minister-inspires-with-trip-to-Houston-442279093.html

God bless America!  
Blessings, Crystal