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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

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Letter to Catelyn

My sweet niece Catelyn, I can’t believe I will outlive you! This isn’t the way it was supposed to be! Soon God will call you home! Throughout much of your life I’ve comforted you, protected you, guided you, challenged you, and lead you to Jesus! Seeing you suffer these past four months, has been the most heart-wrenching experience of my life!

I know God is comforting your soul during this time and is preparing a room for you in Heaven!

You were my shadow when your were little and I was proud to have you with me! It was a pleasure to pick you up for church each week! I am thankful for the many precious weekend get togethers and the times you visited me once I was married! I am grateful for our many fun excursions! Although, I wish we could have shared many more special moments in this Earthly life! I thank God for the many moments we shared together!

After I found out on July 26 that you were hit by a car, it was like a place inside my heart was crushed and it competently shook my world! Walking downtown and getting the phone call, I questioned whether my feet could find their way back to my office. Those moments are a blur, I cried, I shouted, I cried out to God, and once back in my office I fell into my chair and bawled like a baby! The first month it took all my strength to function! You were everywhere! In every photo album, everywhere I turned memories piled on, and my heart ached! If it weren’t for Jesus, I wouldn’t have been able to endure the sadness! After the initial phone call, all my mind could see was the huge smile you wore at my wedding! You looked beautiful and I was so very proud of you! I am so glad you were my junior brides maid and it was so special to have you stand with me! I will always cherish this photo of the two of us! The smile on your face throughout the wedding will remain in my heart and mind all the days of my life!

Sometimes life doesn’t make sense and there will always be unanswered questions… I will trust in God and his plan! I will thank him for the memories! The hugs! The special connection we had!

I am will forever hold onto the way you looked deep into my eyes this week and tried your hardest to say “I love you, too!” You were unable to say what you wanted and I know it was frustrating, but you didn’t need to say anything! Your eyes and our souls communicated in a profound way! Everything our souls needed to say, was said! I will always thank God for the special moments that I had to see through the “unconscious” state, to your inner soul and to know that despite everything our special bond remains intact! A bond like ours… will never fade away!

Once my girl, forever my girl! Sweet Catelyn, God’s got you! Your not alone in this final trial! He’s ever present in this time of suffering, the end will be eternity in Heaven! Hang onto Jesus, dear one! He’s never left your side and he will be holding your hand and your heart on Earth until he holds you in Heaven!

My heart aches thinking of your soul leaving us here on Earth! But this is not about me, this is about what is best for you! I know you long for peace and have always longed for peace! This is your time my sweet niece… You will soon have peace for eternity! I will be with you one day and all things that were broken on Earth will be whole and wonderful in Heaven! Hang onto Jesus! He is the only answer to the heartache we face throughout our lives!

I love you!

Aunt Crystal

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Sinner Saved By Grace

Wow!  When your up late praying about an overwhelming, stressful, and ultimately difficult situation.  You pray for God to lead you to answers and this video comes up!  Spoke right straight to my heart!   Pierced the very core of my heart and my wicked, sinful, and hurting flesh crumbled to the ground!  I can’t imagine living a life without Christ at the center!  Christ uses “whatever” means to speak truth to my heart and works to get my attention!  So thankful for this message of hardship, grace, & forgiveness!  

Suddenly, I don’t feel like such a “sound” Christian… I feel like a baby needing to be reminded of the most basic facets of the gospel!  Purpose for our difficulty & tension, forgiveness for others through the forgiveness we’ve received, and grace to be human and to allow others the grace to be human!  

To think… my problems today seemed so overwhelming and huge… then I watched this video and God surely got my attention!   Corrie Ten Boom a Hallacaust survivor is asked to forgive a soldier who tormented her almost to death and succeeded in killing her sister!  Yep, my struggle today was nothing!  Why, did I allow this struggle

to steal my joy?  Cause tightness in my chest?  Sabotage my peace?  Take my eyes off of Jesus?  Why, am I so weak?  Yet, other times, I feel so strong?  

“We like sheep have gone astray!”  After all these years of following Christ, why do I still  find myself wandering away from the truth I know?  Why???  Why do I fail to relax knowing God in in control, even when my husband tells me, “Relax, God is in control!”  

It’s because I’m human!  I’m a sinner, saved by grace!  I am not God!  

I now focus on getting my heart right with God!  Not allowing Satan to instill tremendous shame and guilt, but to allow God to teach, comfort, and guide me into his truth, understanding, grace, love, and forgiveness!  “Worldly sorrow brings death, Godly sorrow brings repentance, that leads to life abundantly!”  

Thank you God for loving me too much to keep me in a place of brokenness, forgive, and trust!

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Call For John McCarthur to Publicly Apologize to Beth Moore

I used to be a regular Beth Moore student. I learned many spiritual and life lessons through her studies. I am thankful for her ministry during a time when I needed the material in her books. God knows what and when we need certain lessons! Although, I do feel for me her teaching has lost emphasis and depth; Or, I’ve learned to more specifically love reading God’s word alone, which is more likely the case. I personally no longer feel lead to study her material.

I also believe the Bible is clear regarding requirements for pastors and overseers. Men are to be the head spiritual leaders of the church and the home. I do believe women are highly valued, respected, and used by God to enrich and grow the kingdom. Women have their essential callings in the ministry and they are of equal value to God, church, and the ministry. To name a few women of the Bible… Mary the mother of Jesus, Ruth, Esther, Mary of Magdeline, Elizabeth, Sarah… Case in point! Women are a vital and important part of God’s kingdom.

The issue here is not about whether women should be “preachers”. John McCarther has preached this countless times in many situations and circumstances. The issue is whether or not he responded in a Christ-centered and Biblical way. No, he did not! He belittled Beth Moore, a sister in Christ, in front of a large audience. He put her down in a demeaning manner! He did NOT speak in love! There is no place in God’s word, where this behavior is acceptable!

In his defense, I feel he was put on the spot due to an uncomfortable “game”, which he should have either refrained from participating in or paused a moment longer to formulate a Biblical response . Looking for “acceptance” and “popularity”, he responded poorly! I do know a little about God’s word and what Christ-like behavior looks like! This response does not match the manner in which Christ calls us to live and treat others!

My husband and I respect his ministry and feel he is a solid Bible scholar. However, we all sin and fall short of the glory of God! He sinned in placing himself in the seat of her “judge” and in front of the world, showing a prideful and judgmental heart.

“This is when we have the opportunity to grow in our faith, by admitting our human frailty and doing everything in our power before God to “be at peace” with all men.”

This is a wonderful opportunity to live out the Biblical truths he so wonderfully teaches, by responding Biblically to his sin. This is the difference between a Pharisee and a follower of Christ. A true follower of Jesus, not only knows God’s word, but responds properly in everyday life to the word of God. We are called as believers to live out God’s word in the face of adversity!

I call for him “To publicly apologize”! I will continue to respect him as a Bible scholar, if he responds according to God’s word and admits his mistake! This would truly show a man who is humble in His calling as a teacher of God’s word!

Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Titus 2:7 “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness.”

Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”

1 Peter 2:17 “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”

Blessings, Crystal