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Traveling Together

Before I met my husband, my world was small. I grew up in the same rural area and rarely left the city boundaries. The few times I did travel, it was within a four hour radius from my home. Due to limited exposure to traveling, the thought of leaving my comfort zone was fearful, as it was all I knew and understood. My husband grew up in a military family and as a child he traveled the world. Traveling was a huge part of his childhood and created within him a longterm passion for seeing the world.

Soon after we married, literally on our honeymoon, he began introducing me to travel. On our honeymoon, I flew on an airplane and saw the ocean for the first time. I immediately fell in love with the ocean, I couldn’t and still can’t get enough of the beauty of the sea. My husband is an explorer at heart and isn’t afraid of the unknown. In fact, he runs into the unknown of a new environment and thrives! I have always admired his adventuresome spirit and tenacity to see the world.

I wish I could say, I easily picked up my husband’s love for seeing the world. However, traveling is intimidating to me, overwhelming, and fearful. I have always had a difficult time with the “unknown”. Thankfully, my dear husband, has been challenging me and my comfort zones for as long as I’ve known him.

I was a small town girl, who rarely traveled too far from home. I had never seen anything beyond the Midwest, until after we were married. In all honesty, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to see “The World”! Traveling was not something I grew up being accustomed to and I had little knowledge and understanding of the world at large. Looking back over the past 19 years of our married life, I see where my husband has challenged me.

Traveling is only one area where he challenges me. There are many areas of my life where he challenges me, especially in my walk with the Lord! I am most thankful for the way he challenges me spiritually! He speaks truth to me when I need it, accepts me as I am, and encourages me to keep my focus on God!

Back to traveling… Due to the intimidation I have to traveling and stepping out of my comfort zones, I’m embarrassed to say, all too often he has had to almost “pull” me into these excursions. The fear of leaving my “comfort” zone has always been strong. I am thankful that he has never given up on me and continues to challenge me in many wonderful ways.

As a child, life was about survival, it was all I knew and understood. As a young girl, I never really had a childhood and had to become an adult at a very young age. As a result, I never learned how to have “fun” or to live with excitement. To be completely honest, I have to work at finding “joy” in life. For this reason, at my core I am reluctant and ambivalent when it comes to stepping out of my comfort zones. I feel bad at times, as I am sure my reluctance can be difficult to understand. I know it is easily misunderstood as lack of desire and excitement. I admit, I can be a boring individual, content to do the same things day in and day out.

Growing up, the “unknown” was almost always frightening. Thus, I have learned the key to survival is to always be in control and fully aware and prepared for anything that might happen. The instinctual way my flesh responds to the world around me, is something as a believer I am continually working to overcome. Healing is a journey, not a destination! God has used my husband’s love for traveling, to challenge me along this journey of healing!

As a result, I am learning to enjoy exploring God’s great big world! In fact, it has become a dream of mine as well. Although, at times my poor husband has had to begrudgingly pull me into new and unknown experiences. After 19 years of marriage, traveling is not near as overwhelming as it used to be. In the present tense, it takes much less time for me to embrace the journey with excitement!

God has blessed me with a husband who is able to see beauty in the world, humor in life, and excitement in the journey! Robert {my husband} has been teaching me to “see” the beauty of God’s creation, since we dated in high school. He taught me to stop and smell the roses, to gaze at the fascinating colors of a sunset, and to {never} allow fear to hold me back from experiencing God’s best! Walking with him along the journey of life, has taught me to be more intentional about living life!

I will never forget, as a young girl madly in love; This amazing guy of mine would gently touch my shoulders and turn me toward the skies and quietly say, “Crystal, come here and look at this beautiful sunset!” Sadly, I remember “stopping” only to appease him, as I had never grown up in an environment where anyone stopped to appreciate the beauty of a sunset. The concept was completely and sadly foreign to me! It didn’t take long before his love for God’s creation, rubbed off on me. As an adult, I can’t get enough of the vibrant colors of a sunrise/sunset. As a mother, I am trying to instill this love for God’s beautiful creation into our children.

Nineteen years ago, my husband surprised me for our honeymoon and planned a trip to the ocean. Little did I know, our honeymoon was the introduction to the most amazing life God had prepared. A life he was going to use to heal a broken young girl, who clung to him for hope. Not only did he bless me with the hope of salvation and healing; He blessed me beyond my wildest imagination. I am thankful to God, for providing me with a partner who teaches me to see the beauty in the world and to never take for granted the beauty of God’s world.

Currently, I am writing this post from Europe! My husband and I are blessed to spend 2 1/2 weeks exploring Croatia, Paris, Germany, & Austria! Walking through the streets of Paris, drinking coffee in outdoor cafes in Zagreb, riding in a train through the Alps heading to Austria, sleeping in the hotel where The Sound of Music was filmed, and swimming in the Adriatic Sea. Many times on this trip, I’ve had to pinch myself to see if I am dreaming! I am truly blessed to spend time with the love of my life, journeying through Europe and seeing God’s most magnificent world together.

This trip has been such a blessing! A celebration of God’s goodness! In June, we began our twentieth year of marriage! I can attest to how faithful God is to bless a marriage that is surrendered to a life of loving, serving, and honoring Christ!

Thank you, Robert! My truest friend, life-partner, travel buddy, brother-in-Christ, and the love of my life! Thank you for opening my eyes to the magnificent aspects of God’s great big world! Thank you for blessing me with the ability to travel to many places and always being patient with me along the journey! Thank you for continuing to challenge me and ensuring that the life we live, as a couple, is exciting, vibrant, and eventful! With you, my world is “full of life”! Thank you for walking with me through life’s many journeys! I am truly blessed to be your bride!

Blessings,

Love, Crystal

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How wide And Long And Deep Is the Father’s Love

My theme verses for fall, 2019! So often, even though I’ve been a surrendered vessel for over 20 years, I can find myself struggling with grasping how wide and long, and high is my Father’s love for me… My spirit needs to settle on these verses and allow the truths of this passage to encompass every question, doubt, & fear that plagues my spirit! My desire is the be more Christ-like, to be so lead by the Spirit, that anything outside of God’s perfect plan disappears! To be filled with the fruit of the spirit at my very core!

“Cast away all anxiety, because he cares for you!”

It is my prayer that perhaps, these verses reach into a deep part of your being and give you hope, peace, & comfort!

Blessings, Crystal

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Generational Bondage & It’s Longterm Effects

You’d think after 25 years of not living amongst my family members, I’d no longer be triggered by the level of hatred that is my childhood family. The level of hatred and dysfunction breaks my heart. Seeing my niece lifeless on that bed and family members outside her room bickering and being hateful to one another, made me want to vomit. Which I almost did! So, I say my peace to my niece and my husband and I pray over her and head back to Indiana. Why? Because I can’t handle seeing the level of hatred and the hopeless interactions that marks my family of origin. So, I stay away! As much as possible, I stay away!

In fact, every time I have to endure my family, I have panic symptoms. I have to push down the adrenaline that suddenly rushes through my body, sending my entire body into flight or fight. I no longer fight, so “flight” is engaged like a jet ready for takeoff. The “danger, danger, danger” alarm that goes off each and every time, is due to the years of neglect and abuse. I see my childhood family members, and immediately want to run away. I want to change my phone number. So many times, I’ve wanted to completely cut myself off from the people who have inflicted and continue to inflict the most harm to my sprit from the earliest years of my life.

In these moments of wanting to run away, something deep inside reminds me that I am not here for me. God has a plan and desires to use me! Seems crazy that God chooses to use me to minister to my family, as they obviously do not want to hear anything from “Goody, goody,” (my nick name my family gave me when I became a Christian at 15 years-old) me! Which is interesting, because very rarely do I feel “good”… I usually struggle with feelings of insecurity, not being enough, or being flawed. Regardless, I struggle understanding why God chooses to use me to minister to my childhood family.

Yet, I am called to minister to the people who reject me, belittle me, and hurl insults! Reminds me

of Christ’s plight and helps me to understand that he can identify with my heartache. Knowing, I am

called to minister causes such conflict-ion in my spirit… So, I will sit and wait for God to tell me to move! I will go when he INSISTS I go… but until then… I will remain here in the life where I feel loved and can easily love! I will continue to live for God, to the very best of my ability! I will work at becoming the most Godly and loving wife, mother, friend, and counselor I can be. This, is in my control! Where he leads, I will go! Until then, I’m going to pray fervently and wait on God! I am going to try to surrender the pain, worry, heartache, and uncertainty to God. I am going to love my family! Because, this is what is in my control!

“Trust in the Lord, with all your heart, mind, and soul. Lean not on your own understanding! In all your ways acknowledge him and he will guide your paths!”

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Who’s Approval Matters?

This verse changed my life around the young age of 17. It was at this point, in the midst of trying to please everyone around me, that God lead me to this truth. “Being a people pleaser”… Continues to be a struggle in my life, thankfully the struggle is getting easier each year! As my faith grows in God, my need for people’s approval lessons! Galatians 1:10… Is one of the most freeing verses in my life! I am thankful for this vital lesson that God continues to teach me throughout my life!

Blessings, Crystal

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Happy 19th Anniversary to My One True Love

Happy 19th Anniversary to my one true love! Our love has grown tremendously over the years and I am ever so grateful.

Over the years we’ve experienced countless joys & trails. The joyful moments have held us together through the trials. God has used the trials to make us more Christ-like as a couple. I cherish the joyful moments and I thank God for the trials! It’s the trials, that although painful, act as the glue to instill greater trust, unconditional love, and grace into our relationship!

I am so proud of the man you’ve become! It has been an honor to watch you through the years! I admire your many accomplishments in life, in your career, in our marriage, as a father, and mostly as a believer growing in faith and dependence on God! I loved you as a young girl and I love you so much more now! We’ve literally grown up together and I thank God for choosing me to be the “girl” that gets to be your lifelong sojourner!

Today, I celebrate our love! Today, I praise God for the gift of our marriage! Today, I pray for many more years to come! I love you, Robert!

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Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

There is no fear in love… Perfect love drives out fear! Love how comforting the words of God are to the fiber of my being. Thankful for the consistent & solid truths God reveals to my heart. Always in awe of His mighty ways, his unconditional love, His patience, and how He’s an ever present help in times of trouble!

Are you struggling with the fear of uncertainty today? There is hope in Christ and in our relationship with God the Father, there is no fear!

Pray today for a spirit of love that casts out all fear! Pray today for peace of mind and quietness of soul! Pray today and thank God for always being present in your life! Read truths of the scripture to help us cast off any spirit of fear. Blessings, Crystal

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Because He Lives… All Fear Is Gone

Battling fear and uncertainty has the potential to possess you, to steal your joy, and make you feel like your losing your mind. I love this verse, because we are reminded that “God” alone is to be the stronghold of our life! We all struggle and need the hope of Jesus Christ. As I read this verse, I was convicted, because I have fallen into a trap of feeling fearful often. I do not want anything to be the stronghold of my life, especially not fear! Satan uses fear to wreak havoc on our minds and souls. I am seeking to replace any stronghold of fear in my life, with God! God alone is the stronghold of my life! When I keep God as the stronghold of my soul, all fear is gone. God always has a way of leading me to the perfect words from His word to speak into my hearts and brokenness!

This past Sunday, I sat in church and we began singing the old hymn “Because He Lives”! As the words on the projector ahead read “Because He lives … ALL fear is gone!” The dam of my soul broke and the tears flowed like a never ending waterfall. God simply reminded me the most profound and basic truth; Because of Christ’s death & resurrection… I DO NOT have to live in fear! I can rest knowing that God has always been, will always be, and will forever be in control of everything that happens in this world and in my life!

If your struggling with fear today, you are not alone! Me too! However, we absolutely do not have to continue battling fear… We can live in peace, joy, and hope simply because Christ arose in victory over this world’s greatest enemy!

Blessings, Crystal

“Because He Lives”

God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus;

He came to love, heal and forgive;

He lived and died to buy my pardon

An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow

Because He lives, all fear is gone;

Because I know He holds the future

And life is worth the living

Just because He lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby

And feel the pride and joy he gives;

But greater still the calm assurance:

This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow

Because He lives, all fear is gone;

Because I know He holds the future

And life is worth the living

Just because He lives!

And then one day, I’ll cross the river

I’ll fight life’s final war with pain;

And then, as death gives way to victory

I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives!