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Are You Growing Bitterness or Growing Faith?

Anxiety has the potential to steal our joy, ruin our relationships, and destroy our lives! Anxiety is none other than Satan himself lying, conniving, and trying to lead us to destruction! In fact, he is working harder than ever and is attacking the minds of people all around the world, in our communities, our churches, and in our own homes! Satan is in the business of preaching {stinking thinking} and we must fight him off with the Lord’s strength! Anxiety tells us that we’re worthless, we have no hope, that there is no one who cares about us, etc. If we listen long enough we will begin to believe Satan’s lies and then begin behaving in a way that creates our very own self-fulfilling prophecy.

“We think what we think… which causes us to feel what we feel… which causes us to choose what we choose!”

We get to choose!!! We control our minds! Our minds DO NOT control us!

Life will be hard at times! People will hurt us! We will hurt other people! In fact, often our own poor decisions are the very thing that causes us our worse pain! However, if we surrender our lives, our hearts, our relationships, and our pain to God… We will begin to see God use our brokenness for His glory! In fact, we may even get to the point where we can thank God for the pain we experienced in our lives! I am!!!!!

The Bible says “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart. I have overcome the world!!!”

God uses our brokenness and valleys as a conduit to increased faith and growth!

James 1:2-5 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

The only requirement is that we allow God to use our pain to help us heal, rather than allowing Satan to use our hurt to build bitterness in our hearts!

The choice is always ours…

Grow our faith or grow our bitterness!

What will you decide today?

Blessings,

Crystal

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Watching Kids Become Adults… My Amazing Christopher!

This is Christopher! He is in the 8th grade! What can I say about this kid??? He’s just amazing! He helps make lunch for his little sister almost daily, he always wakes up early for school and has his brother and sister’s breakfast on the table (mostly because he does NOT want to be late for school), he is working so hard at school and his goal this year is to make A honor roll, he puts away the dishes from the dish washer daily, he always offers a helping hand, he always wants to do the right thing, he is funny, he has a caring heart, and he’s one wondeful human being! He’s our quiet middle child and he can easily get overlooked… I am learning the importance of paying close attention to this young man, he is an amazing kid… he is full of wonder and brings so much joy to my life! He’s grown so much this year in his faith and relationship with God, academics, and maturity! Watching him become an adult is an honor! I love you Christopher Lucas! I couldn’t be more proud of the young man your becoming!

Deateronomy 22:6 “Train up a child in the way they shall go and they will never deaprt from it!”

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Hope Over Difficulty

I love the movie “Hope Floats” with Sandra Bullock. The movie has been around for a long time, in fact I believe it came out when I was in high school, so it’s over 20 years old. Anyway, I love the movie for many reason, but the thing I love most about the movie is the very last scene. The last scene Bernice is walking and holding hands with her mother and they are smiling and happy. This was a powerful moment in the movie, because prior to this scene the family was quite heart-broken and sad. The watcher gets to see a broken mother/daughter go through the pit of brokenness and find joy and meaning by the end of the movie. Their brokenness was due to their husband/father walking out on them for another woman. If you have not seen the movie, it is a must see!

Here is the quote from the end of the movie…

“Bernice Pruitt: My dad says that childhood is the happiest time of my life. But, I think he’s wrong. I think my mom’s right. She says that… 
[Bernice’s voice fades as Birdee takes over]
Birdee Pruitt: [laughing] Childhood is what you spend the rest of your life trying to overcome. That’s what momma always says. She says that beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will, too…

I love this scene! In fact I use this scene in my office with clients, as a way of showing that all too often our lives start out scary and painful; Yet, God had bigger plans for us and wants to change our story from broken and painful… To victorious and joyful!

The key is … us! We get to choose the way our stories end. Will we allow our painful childhoods to hold us captive and forever stuck in bondage; or, Will we surrender to God and do the necessary work to heal from our painful pasts! It is completely up to us!

My job as a counselor is to help people regain hope and to help them find the necessary tools to achieving victory over the brokenness of their pasts and their own sin!

Friends, perhaps your life didn’t start out so well!  Perhaps you faced abuse and pain a a child.  Regardless of how old you are, there is hope for healing over childhood brokenness!  There is always a chance to gain victory over your life!

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Blessings, Crystal

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Confused By God’s Behavior

The assigned reading for my BSF study today was Joshua Chapters 5 & 6.  Bible Study Fellowship (BSF), is a worldwide non-denominational Bible study- an amazing place to learn about God’s word, they have studies for women, men, children, and teenagers.  Several years ago I visited BSF with very little understanding of the program.  I recall walking into the church expecting, superficiality, judgement, and a lack of authenticity.  However, I found the exact opposite of what I expected.  As I walked in women flocked to greet me, to lead me to my destination, and accepted me into the community with open arms.  Most importantly, I found a level of scripture reading I haven’t received in any church or arena to date, the study was purely based off of Scripture.  In fact, within the first month I grew to love being in God’s word, developed a passion and yearning to know and understand the truths found in the scriptures, and my heart was changed/renewed.  After a long period of struggling, needing a reminder of the basics of the gospel and who I am in Christ;  I was able to go back to the basics of the gospel (the BSF study at the time was John).  Within the first month my faith was renewed, hope was restored, and I once again remembered exactly who I was “A Child of God”!  My heart had been battered and broken down slowly for several years and the solid biblical teachings of the Bible, helped me to find my grounding and hope!  God knew what I needed, when I needed it most!  Sorry,  I wasn’t anticipating this blog post turning into a mini commercial for BSF, but it is a program I would gladly advertise any day!

Moving on…

Today’s passage is found in Joshua chapter 5 & 6-

Funny story- After looking at Joshua 5 & 6 and reading the words, I initially found myself struggling to understand or draw any nuggets out of the text.  Seemed like am boring Old Testament passage that would have bore me to shreds in the past.  However, BSF has this way of asking tough questions that forces you to dig into God’s word to find answers.  This socratic method of learning has helped me to discover meaning and applicable answers to my present day life each and every time I read God’s word!

God shows up to Joshua in the form of a “Commander from the Lord”… Which is God, because Joshua is told to take off his sandals for the place he was standing was Holy Ground!  Joshua in the presence of God fell facedown in reverence to God (which is typical of the human response to God’s overwhelming power and sovereign grace).  The Lord gave Joshua very specific directions regarding taking over the land of Jericho.  In the picture above you will see the exact words from my NIV Bible and the commands given to Joshua.

As I read the commands God had very clearly given to Joshua in Chapter 6, I found myself confused!  Thinking to myself, “What kind of battle plan is this?”  Friends, I would have been terrified of going into battle with a place where no-one who went in, ever came out, with the commands given by the Lord to Joshua!  As I continued reading and processing; looking for understanding:  The meaning suddenly hit me, like a heavy encyclopedia to the head… God was giving commands as a sign of testing their obedience, the directions had very little to do with the siege of the city.  The city was successfully taken by Joshua and the Israelite’s because of their obedience to God and trust in His perfect plan!

As I thought back on the events of my life and the times when God seemed to make little or no sense.  Friends, there have been many times when I felt he was asking me to walk around cities, remain silent, and wait for His perfect timing!   I wish I could say I was stronger in these moments – or that I was always courageous and obedient.  However, that would be a lie!  At my core I am a big baby; I struggle with questions, doubts, impatience, and have even gotten downright angry with God at times.  I can promise you this;  Never have I looked back in hindsight at God’s provisions and felt he had failed me!    In the process, I have always come out stronger, closer to Him, and my faith has always grown through these difficult times.  I have learned he is more than capable of handling me;  He is patient and desires all to know him intimately.  I wasn’t always able to see or understand how God was working during the seasons of difficulty in my life.  After the season came to a close, in hindsight I could always see his hand working in mighty ways!  God is looking for hearts of surrender and obedience!  He is not looking for perfection, intelligence, or talent – He is looking for hearts who will trust him in the battles of life!

Friends, Are you struggling with the inability to fully understand what God is doing in your life or the lives of the people you love?  Are you feeling overwhelmed with the demands of life?  Are you fearful of health screening results or tests?  Have you been waiting on a much needed job, answer to prayer, or a broken relationship to be mended?  You are not alone!

If you’ve lost hope today, let me lend you my hope for awhile!

“God is there!  He is more than capable!  He is working things out according to his good and perfect will!  He is in control, even when you feel life is out of control!”

Let’s determine to be a Joshua in a world full of anxiety… Focus on God in the midst of the trails and battles in your life!  You too, will eventually see… “He was always by your side and in control of every facet of your life!”

Blessings, Crystal

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My Best Friend

This guy is my best friend! Even though I can be difficult, emotional, and down right needy at times… Somehow he always has my back! He reminds me that God is in control, when everything is is spiraling out of control! He tells me I am loved, when I don’t feel lovable! He tells me I am special, when I feel unseen! He makes me feel grounded, when nothing in life seems certain! He is my safe place on this Earth! My favorite place to be! My best friend! He’s my person! Thankful for the blessing of being loved, even during my weakest moments!

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Loving A Teenager

I am proud of this young man! Raising him from birth to a junior in high school has been an adventurous ride! He has always had a strong personality, since the moment he took his first breath! Raising him has required increased strength and endurance, which thankfully we found in Christ! As we’ve watched him grow up from a strong-willed little tyrant (this is an accurate description) to an amazing young man, who is committed to God, his family, his friends, and his work; has truly been a blessing!

Due to his innate determination, the two of us often butt heads, but he knows he’s loved and I know he loves me! We’ve become a team as he’s grown up! We’ve become friends! We have not seen eye to eye from time to time! Thankfully, I know that being a loving parent doesn’t mean your child will always be happy with you! In fact, at times, it will mean their downright furious! In these times it is vital to remember “It’s in the valleys that we grow!” It’s how we respond in the more difficult waters, that determines the overall success of a parent/child relationship! It’s laying a boundary, while saying “I love you!” It’s teaching through loving correction that builds the bonds of a firm relationship!

Together we live to serve the same loving and holy God! There will continue to be moments over the next couple of years, when correction is necessary and times when we will have some long conversations, this is the love of a Godly parent! There will be times when he will minister to me, in helping me to see where I need to grow and mature in this walk of faith! Regardless, we know that the love of a mother and a son runs deep, steadfast! I know he loves me when I am difficult! He knows that I love him when he’s being difficult! Isn’t this how God is??? Loves us even when we’re being difficult! Raising teenagers is a new & unique journey for us… “It’s a journey with a few bumps, but enormous joy!”

I am proud of this young man! I am proud of his bold stance against Satan’s present day evil schemes! I am proud of his confidence in who he is in Christ! I am proud that underneath his strong-willed determination, he has a teachable spirit! I am proud to call him son!

Deuteronomy 22:6 “Train up a child in the way they shall go, and when they are old they shall never depart from it!”

Blessings, Crystal

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Be Prepared

Today’s passage is Joshua chapter 3 and chapter 4. As I read this passage, such a feeling of peace came over me! Today’s passage is a reminder of how God prepares us in advance to do his works.

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

Joshua remained in careful prayer and continually listened closely and attentively for God’s instruction! As Joshua prepared to move the Israelites into the Promised Land, he recognized his need for God! He could have easily allowed his flesh to get the best of him, as the nation looked to him for guidance. Joshua remained steadfast in prayer and was careful to listen to God’s voice!

Joshua was prayed up! He didn’t run into this big moment with an ounce of fear, pride, or confusion! Why? He had spiritually prepared himself in advance. He was focused on obeying God’s commands and recognized his need for God!

Friends, What big life situations are lying in your future? We all have things looming in the future, the unknowns have the potential to create considerable anxiety. Although, we don’t know the outcomes of future events, we can rest assured that God knows and is already there!

How can we ease our anxiety and fear regarding future events? Joshua Chapter 3 & 4 answers the question… We are called to prepare ourselves spiritually, to pray, read God’s word, and seek wise Godly counsel! This is the answer to courageously heading into the future, whatever may come!