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Discerning God’s Will In The Midst of Uncertainty

It is hard to discern next steps in the midst of uncertainty… I’ve been in this place many times! Every single time I find this phase extremely difficult! I have learned a few things during these uncomfortable times in my life.

1) Never act until you feel the Holy Spirit leading. “This is tough because our flesh always wants to lead us astray and this only causes greater difficulties, hurt, brokenness in the long run… But sure feels good in the moment.” BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD!

2) Pray without ceasing and READ READ READ the Bible! The answers are written in the book of life! Even when it feels God is silent and it seems all you see in the future is unclear direction… God is working in the midst of the situation! He has not forgotten about the difficulty, your hurting heart, or your fear… Do not lose hope, remain focused on Him, His word, and praying… He will show up and continue showing up at just the right times! ASK AND YOU WILL RECEIVE, KNOCK AND THE DOOR WILL BE OPENED, SEEK AND YOU WILL FIND!

3) Do not lose hope! Christ died on a cross for our sins, simply because of His unconditional love for us! He warns us that we will have trouble in this life over and over! There is no promise of a pain free life! We can through Christ find joy and peace in the midst of our trials! He says in his word that he wants us to not only live, but live abundantly! We must not lose hope at the first sign of hardship… or even when hardships keep hitting us relentlessly! Stay focused on God!

Hebrews 12 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Friends, Do you feel your living a real life game of wack-o-mole??? I do, it has been one of the most difficult years for me and my family! Even in the midst of the trials, I see clearly where God was trying to protect us! He’s doing the same for you! He is working and he hasn’t forgotten your trials! He hasn’t forgotten your broken heart! He hasn’t forgotten your fears! Don’t lose hope my friends! Keep looking to God!

Ephesians 1:11 & 12 “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.”

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Fear, Coronavirus, & Resting in God

I have a tremendous tendency to be fearful… To live with anxious anticipation of the future! I haven’t always been a fear or panic driven individual… Actually, that’s not entirely true! I have always been overly cautious and struggle to fully live in the present moment. But, the level of fear of the unknown has grown tremendously over the past several years. Is it a part of getting older and realizing I’m not invisible? Is it seeing how quickly life passes before your eyes, causing a fear of blinking? Is it a weakened faith? Is it hormones? I’m not sure of the cause… I do know it’s always been a part of my story, and recently feels more overwhelming! The Lord continues to teach me lessons about trusting in Him fully! He continues to comfort me, even when I lose sight of His protection and grace. He continues to bless me, even though I wander like a bewildered sheep; Even though I so easily lose my focus and succumb to fear.

The Conronavirus has definitely threatened this fear response! Part of me refuses to succumb to fear… I know God is in control and our days are already numbered, despite the virus that is wrapping around the globe. There is another part of me that sees the hysteria, the empty shelves, the cancelled schools and events worldwide, the numerous Facebook Posts and news articles, and it threatens my ability to feel joy. With all these avenues of concern bombarding next left and right, I can easily get internally trapped in the mass hysteria. To the point if feeling fear and dread, about running out of toilet paper. I have never been afraid of running out of toilet paper; The response, came from those around me frantically emptying the shelves of every square of toilet paper on the shelves. Toilet paper has gone from an easily disposable commodity, to me telling my family to use it sparingly!

Every time I turn around there’s more news, information, or people talking about this virus. I know it’s scary! I feel it! I have decided to live cautiously, wash my hands, be smart, and teach my kids the same! I’ve also decided I am not going to refuse to live! I’m going to live, love, and look forward to the future! I refuse to allow Satan to steal my peace! I’m going to trust God! “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, mind, and soul. In all my ways acknowledge him and He will direct your paths!” Proverbs 3:5&6.

I’m an empath and feel EVERYTHING very deeply. This Coronavirus has “absolutely” been no exception. Every since it hit China, I felt the struggle of those suffering, often drawn to tears by watching the news. As it’s moved around the globe, my heart has ached over the news stories and posts of friends from abroad. My heart aches for the most vulnerable, those who have been quarantined and stuck away from home, those who have fallen ill to the virus, and those who are being indirectly impacted by the virus. When anyone hurts, I hurt alongside them! It’s a part of being an empath and having a sensitive spirit to the needs of others. Yes, it’s exhausting! Sometimes, I want to have a tougher skin and be more able to let things roll off my back. I must remember, this sensitivity to the feelings and needs of others is a gift! A heart like Christ’s… Pretty sure Jesus was an empath and felt the needs of His beloved, even more than I do!

For now, I am going to focus on keeping my heart, mind, and soul focused on Jesus! When I feel overcome with fear, I will take it to the cross! When those I love become ill, I will pray and be the hands and feet of Jesus! If I get sick, I will know that God will use it for good in His perfect timing! I trust he’s got a plan and I know this virus does not surprise Him! He’s prepared! He’s in control! He’s holding each and everyone of us in His hands!

Blessings, Crystal

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Love Proves Greater, In the Midst of Life’s Greatest Trials

My Valentine’s gift from my one and only sweetheart! Such a special gift and abundantly meaningful after a full year of joy and precious memories; in addition a tragedy in the family, tremendous trials in life’s battles, and heartaches greater than the average year.

This year… Love has proven greater… on the upside of life’s trials and struggles… I see a love more enriched through commitment to God and one another!

We’ve laughed together!

Explored the World together!

Journeyed family tragedy together!

Hurt together!

Shared life’s greatest joys and trials together!

Love Proves Greater, In the Midst of Life’s Greatest Trials

A dozen roses… more meaningful in the depths of love!

Feel good feelings and butterflies come and go… true love is much greater!

True love is deeper… roots run deep into the soil of God’s word and grows pure when it’s foundation rests in the hope of Jesus Christ!

Made stronger in the midst of life’s trials, when committed to living, loving, and serving God and one another!

Marriage is full of bliss… only when ordained in Heaven, held together by prayer in times of trial, together praising and thanking God for the gift of one’s soul mate! Made in His image, to love one another! This kind of love is greater than looks, Earthly pleasures, or worldly gain!

This love is a spiritual love… made stronger through a Heavenly and sacrificial focus to present one another to God without blemish.

This kind of love is only possible… as surrendered vessels of His unconditional love and the Spirit of God himself.

God uses this unconditional love to heal the heart of the broken!

God allows this type of love… only when His children obey his commandments… and maintain a teachable and discernible Spirit!

There is only one greater love on Earth… The Holy, undefiled, unconditional, and perfect love of the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit.

God’s perfect and Holy plan for marriage… Is a beautiful symbol of God’s perfect and true love… A perfect symbol of how Christ loves and gave his life for the church! God’s plans are always perfect and good! No Earthly person, place, or thing can even slightly compare to the perfectly fulfilling love of God!

Happy Valentine’s Day! To my one true Valentine and greatest gift on Earth!

Thank you for loving me well! Most of all, thank you for being willing to surrender your heart and will to Christ’s purpose and plan for our marriage! Thank you for maintaining our marital commitment before God himself! Our vows taken with great commitment and as a covenant to God himself! “To have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy law.”

I am blessed to be loved with a love ordained in Heaven! To be loved by a God-fearing man!

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Congratulations Robby!

This amazing young man officially and successfully finished the 12 grade yesterday! With an amazing 4.0! What can I say, he is one amazing individual! He loves God, has a heart to obey God’s word, and is one all around fun and caring person! He has always had a sensitive heart to God and the things of the Spirit.
This memory from my archived blog brought tears to my eyes! It was indicative of his heart for God! He wrote an essay that he read before the baptism called… “Jesus is my body guard!” From an early age, he understood God in a deep, intimate, and powerful way! He is much like his father, would be considered an older and wiser soul from a young age! I am so thankful to be his mother! Raising a strong-willed and independent child certainly comes with it’s challenges. I desperately need God’s wisdom, patience, and unconditional love, as I attempted to raise each one of my children.
What can I say? Robert IV is simply a blessing to me! I am encouraged by the depth of his personhood and love for God and God’s children1.
In the past year, I have seen him mature spiritually in profound ways! He has a strong spirit, but at it’s core he’s teachable and longs to have a heart more and more like Jesus Christ! He is brave! Courageous! Firm in his spiritual morals and beliefs!
Watching your children grown up and love, serve, and live for the Lord… There is truly no greater joy! I know God has great plans for this young man! I am so honored to be a part of the beautiful path that Jesus has him on!
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 1:4
Congratulations Robert Ridlon! I am so proud of you!
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Happy 15th Birthday Christopher

15 years ago this young man came rushing into the world! Funny thing is, he hasn’t rushed at anything since. He’s more slow & methodical, deep, intellectual, easy-going, and so unbelievably hilarious! He’s not photogenic in the slightest and his pictures used to drive me crazy. Since I’ve come to better understand “who he is” the silly in his photos are now met with joy & laughter! Christopher has far outdone any expectation I had, of the type of person he’d grow into. I’m thankful wisdom, God’s continual guidance, and my dear husband helped me to back off enough “at the right times” to allow him to be molded into God’s perfect design for him! He’s so much more amazing than I could have ever imagined! He’s truly a gift to our family & others. He loves God, has tremendous love and empathy for others, he’s the most non-judgemental and accepting human I’ve ever met! 15 year ago today, this fun guy joined our family! I can’t believe he’s old enough to get his permit and I know teaching him to drive is going to be a series of hilarious memories! More than all that, I Can’t believe he’s 15 and 6 feet tall! We couldn’t be more proud of Christopher! He is one fine, upright, smart, & God-fearing young man!

If you see him today… be sure to tell him “Happy Birthday!” He’s a natural encourager and I would love for him to be on the receiving end of lots of encouragement today!

Happy 15th birthday Christopher! I love you and I am sooooooo very proud of you!

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Grief Comes in Waves

Grief has a way of hitting you out of the clear blue!

Today, sitting in the lobby waiting for my allergy shots, I fight tears! I still can’t believe my niece is no longer wandering this Earth! I think I’ve come to grips with her death and out of the blue it hits me like a rushing wind! The pain in my heart flares back up, the tears flow endlessly, and I work through the current wave of grief all over again! Grief isn’t something that can be placed on a time table! It is different for every single person.

Thankfully, life has calmed down recently and the peace I feel in my heart has been a true blessing! However, when the storms of life stop blowing, other storms being pushed down and put aside begin to stir! This bout of grief won’t due me in, but so it is with grief! You have to feel it, to heal it! It doesn’t just disappear. It’s something you learn to live with it.

The stages of grief by Elizabeth Kubler Ross are Shock, Denial, Anger, Depression, and finally acceptance! I’m thankful for these stages and use them often in my work with grieving clients. However, I find them confusing at the same time! Seems to me, once you move through a stage, it should become a thing of the past! Not so, they come and go! I felt I was already at acceptance recently, and today went all the way back to shock! I just can’t believe it!

The Bible says, “We grieve like those with hope!” God’s word keeps me going! Encouraging words from loved ones and strangers! God’s provisions along the way! And… songs! Songs become good for my weary soul! This song was a blessing to me this morning!

I certainly miss her! I would love to see her face and hear her voice! Songs like “Face to Face” remind me that her death is not final and I will see her face and hear her voice again in Heaven one day! For now, my comfort is that she is dancing with the angels and experiencing true peace and everlasting joy!

Blessings, Crystal

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Lessons Learned from Remembering 2019

As I’ve pondered 2019 in depth, God has revealed several important concepts to my heart. This has come at just the right time, partly through personal prayer & Bible study, and through a sermon I heard today! I was convicted of how I have failed to remember God’s blessings this year, in the midst of many heart-wrenching trials. Just this week, I caught myself telling someone “I am soooo glad 2019 is a thing of the past!” I was convicted in my spirit immediately!

Although, 2019 brought many hardships, griefs, and at times pain that weighed my spirit heavily… There were amazing blessings in 2019! However, in the midst of these struggles, I allowed Satan to sway my focus on the negative aspects of life. As much as I hate to admit it, there were times Satan lead me to doubt God’s plan! And… times when it took everything in my inner being to say out loud “I trust you, even in this!”

Life is hard at times and this year I’ve encountered several trails that have knocked the wind out of my sails, for days, weeks, and even months at a time! In my personal life this past year, I’ve encountered many difficult trials! This year, my resolution is to remember God’s goodness! To focus on His precious promises, especially when Satan tries to torment me! That’s when I need Jesus the most! I will memorize Psalm 124 and will speak these truths out loud! When the storms of life start to overtake me, I will lift my eyes to God! I can’t imagine living this life, without God by my side! “If God is for us, who can be against us!”

Join me in writing a list of all the wonderful blessings God has given you in 2019 and how he has been by your side through it all! What a great way to force our hearts, mind, & souls to refocus on the good of God’s abundant love, provision, and blessing! This is cognitive behavioral therapy in action! Join me this year, in making a point to

force ourselves to focus on God and his precious promises, especially when life hurts,

Blessings, Crystal

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New Year’s Resolution 2020

New Year’s resolution…

Couldn’t have said it better myself!

Resolution based off of today’s devotional reading…2 Peter 1:3-11

My heart and goals for 2020!

To fully comprehend that God will meet every need of my heart! To trust in His promises, rather than doubt Him due to my own insecurities. It is only when I fully grasp this concept, that I will experience true peace and joy! This is the recipe for managing the evilness rampant in the world around me! I will make every effort to add to my faith, good deeds! To goodness, continued understanding & built knowledge of God’s word! As I acquire Biblical knowledge, the result will ensure greater self-control! Once self-control is matured, I will be better able to perseverance under pressure and in the midst of hardships! As I persevere and walk closely with God, surely the fruits of the Spirit will be more prevalent in my life! This, will allow me to experience greater love for God’s people, and greater ability to love those who are difficult to love! Through these steps, I will possess the very nature “Christ-likeness” that is essential for Godly living! Living out these Biblical steps to Godly living, will strengthen my faith and my resolve! Only then will I be fully able to live the productive, effective, and victorious life God so richly has planned for those who love him!

Blessings, Crystal

January 1, 2020

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You’ve Moved Onto Your Heavenly Home

My niece & her kiddos moved to Bloomington a few years ago, she wanted a new environment to get her life back on track! I thank God from the bottom of my heart for these 6 months! Our relationship grew so much during the time she lived close to us! I was soooooo proud of her! She learned so much during this time and every week she took her children to church! We loved having her sweet family attend church with us. Shortly after she moved to Bloomington, I dedicated this song to her! She (we) loved this song and she’d tell me how much she could relate to the message! We always played it in the car while driving to lunch. Man, I sure miss those lunches! I sure miss her! I am so thankful for this special memory and this song! She and I would tear up and I’d tell her how proud of her I was… I have always been so proud of her!

We were all so heart broken when she decided to move away from Bloomington, still chokes me up thinking about it. When Robby and I visited her in the hospital in Peoria, she was still in a deep coma and didn’t really respond to our presence. Except for when we played “I’m Movin On”. Her heart rate went up, she tried to open one of her eyes, and she heard and her body responded to the song! Last time I visited she was semi-conscience and she tried to smile and got emotional when hearing the song. Music is powerful to the soul and connects souls in ways words sometimes can’t!

Little did I know, this song would end up with a new meaning! You’ve moved onto “the best” place! Your eternal home! I am so happy for you and I can’t even imagine the reunion your having in Heaven today! My heart aches, I will continue to grieve, and I will feel pain! The joy I feel for you being in the presence of the Lord and your loved one’s who’ve gone before, is what will keep me going! Knowing I will see you again one day, gives me the ability to grieve with hope! I miss you, my dear sweet Catelyn! My, first girl! My, shadow! Our hearts have always had a special bond, even when things got messy, there was always a unique and special bond between us! Rest In Peace Catelyn! I love you!

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Hope In The Midst of Tragedy & Pain

Life is full of joy and sorrow! I am thankful for the beautiful, wonderful, and joyous moments of life! I’ve been alive for 41 years and I am familiar with the difficulties of life!

Sorrow is a part of life! God’s word is filled with people who endured hardship, loss, persecution, and heartache! Why is it we feel as believers, that a Godly life equals no or very little pain? His word teaches us by example, that humans suffer! Our suffering teaches us, increases our faith, and builds our endurance for the future.

Personally, I have found at times that life has a way of beating us down!

There will be times when we find ourselves whirling in a hurricane of tragedy, grief, & despair. Every single individual, will at one time or another, find themselves in one of life’s hurricanes. It’s not a matter of “if”, but “when”!

Anyone know those people who seem to live in denial? There are a handful of people who have this manner in which they somehow separate themselves emotionally from the pain and difficulty of living in a broken world. These people seem to be incapable of feeling any emotion, empathy is a foreign concept? People who deny or suppress their ability to feel pain, hurt others, by spreading an indirect message of… “I don’t care that you’re hurting! Your problems are not my problems!” We all know at least one person who lives in such a manner! Rest assured, no matter how much they try to shut down the pain of life, it will one day catch up to them!

In the midst of heartache there are rare moments, when I wish I had the ability to separate myself from the evilness and pain of living in a fallen world. The blessings of allowing yourself to “feel” and show compassion and empathy is a true gift! Learning empathy is the only way to have a wholesome relationship with God and others! God can only use us to be the hands and feet of Jesus; When we learn to build a bridge of empathy.

In the past four months, I have found myself in a hurricane of heartache and pain.

On July 26, my niece was struck by a car and has been in a coma every since. My niece was my shadow when she was a little girl and lived with me for a year. This was a tragedy and it has literally shaken my world. She is now on hospice and her body is slowly shutting down, this entire situation has been gut wrenching! This “nightmare” has lasted over four months and at times, the difficult emotions have come in epic proportions. To be honest, it has been one of the most difficult life circumstances, I’ve had to walk through.

In addition, my son has endured a pretty intense bullying situation, which forced us to have to transition to another school. He was physically assaulted by two boys in the restroom and the adults failed to handle the situation, leaving him sitting at school all day in fear. The name calling, teasing, and belittling also endured in the same manner. He continually received messages like “fat boy”, “you’re unwanted”, “un-liked”, “you’re bad”, “inadequate”, and “un-liked”. For a young boy at a vulnerable age, this has caused significant damage to his self-worth and negative beliefs about himself and the world. He has been seeing a counselor to work through the after effects of this painful situation! Please pray for my boy, that we will be able to help build him back up and his faith in God will grow in the midst of the situation.

Life can be devastatingly painful!

In the midst of tragedy, how can an individual remain steadfast? The answer is the same for each and every difficult life circumstance, we need to maintain our focus on God. Our souls were created for rest and peace. We need time away from “the noise” of this world to refuel, refocus, and heal! God knows His children best, he knew we’d need time with Him to be renewed! Sadly, we tend to drift further into chaos and busyness, as a means of distracting us from the pain and turmoil we feel inside. In the long run, this tactic creates more noise and decreased peace inside our souls.

God knew that this world would at times, “figuratively & literally” punch us in the gut!

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Life is absolutely tough at times! I get it! I get pain! I get heartache! Some life events will beat us down so hard, that they leave us wondering if we will ever find the strength to get back up again. The overwhelming sorrow, grief, stress, sadness, & evilness brought on by living in a fallen world, can make it hard for us to get back up. Our creator knew we’d be weak; He knew we’d wander like aimless sheep; He knew we’d look to comforts from the world! He is our creator and created us with such frailties for a purpose! The purpose was to draw us to a place where we’d need a place to run for renewed strength, comfort, and peace; To draw us to Jesus!

God knew we needed a Savior, which is why he sent his son Jesus! God loves His children! He isn’t ever taken off guard by our weak & frail moments. In fact, I’m pretty sure he expects we will be drawn to our knees from time to time. This is His plan for suffering! To bring us to a place where we know the “only way to get back up” is to reach up our hands like little children; To cry out for Him to save us from the pain, confusion, and brokenness that we feel! This world has a way of making us feel like a punching bag… Trust me there have been times in my life, when I have felt like a life size punching bag! After all, hurt people, hurt people!

As I lay in bed the other night feeling emotionally beat down… I was continually reminded of the suffering Jesus endured on the cross… for me! For you! For each and everyone of us! Suddenly, my soul was awakened to the fact that Jesus understands my pain! He understands what it feels like to endure a tragic hurricane in the midst of life! He endured the cross for me! Suddenly, my pain isn’t quite as overwhelming and I thank God for the sacrifice of His son! This is my hope! Jesus… is how I can remain steadfast and anchored in the midst of life’s greatest tragedies! Jesus… is the hope that anchors our souls in the midst of life’s most heart wrenching trials!

Hebrews 6:19 “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.

Friends, What are your greatest struggles today? Do you know Jesus as your Lord & Savior? If you need to know how to find this “hope/eternal hope” please message me on this post? It would be my honor to introduce you to Jesus, my Savior, Redeemer, Comforter, & Friend!

Blessings,

Crystal