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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

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What Do You See?

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I snapped a photo in the moment, as the beauty of the forest overwhelmed my senses.  I looked at the photo afterward and immediately noticed the dead trees stood out like ogres. I questioned whether I should post the photo on Facebook or if I should delete the picture permanently.  As I stared at the photo on my smart phone, God began to speak to my heart.

“Life is full of beauty and “dead trees” are a part of everyone’s story!  Are you going to focus on the two dead trees and fail to see the beauty of the forest in it’s entirety?”  

With tears in my eyes, I thanked God for the beauty of the forest!  

I didn’t stop there…

I thanked God for the beautiful day, a day at home with my family, for dear friends, the amazing weather, for the gift of life, and for gentle life lessons!  As I looked at the forest and thanked God for the blessings in my life, my heart grew peaceful and joy filled the deepest recesses of my spirit.

Suddenly: The forest came alive and the beautiful colors “popped“! I encountered a divine moment there in the woods; A priceless and unexpected gift!  The Holy Spirit’s presence,  whispered to my soul!  I was in awe! Wow!  God is good, ya’ll!

As I encountered God’s presence and spirit in the woods…

I thanked God for the dead trees!

The lesson God taught me through the dead trees, was nothing short of profound!  Without the dead trees, I would have missed an important life lesson and a precious moment with my Savior!

The lesson:

Never miss the beauty of life, due to a couple of dead trees!  Life, like the forest, is full of living, vibrant, colorful, and wonderful gifts and scenery!  We will experience pain and hardship in this journey of life!  There will be “dead trees” along the journey!  We get to choose, whether we allow God to use the dead trees in our lives for His glory.  Or do we needlessly “fight” the pain, brokenness, and trials; And fail to experience the life-breathing lessons these trees produce.

The strangest thing happened in the midst of this God-ordained life lesson. The dead trees, were now at the top of my ‘thankful” list!  Without the “dead trees” the moment wouldn’t have been near as powerful, beautiful, or life-changing!  Without the “dead trees” along our life’s journey, we will never fully be able to appreciate the gift(s) of life!  Without the dead trees along life’s journey, we will never be able to experience the power of redemption, forgiveness, & unconditional love of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ.  In fact, our Lord & Savior, died on “a dead tree” to give us eternal hope, power over death, and purpose & meaning in this life!

James 1:2-8 “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.  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”

John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full!”

Friends, May I ask you…

What are the dead trees along your life’s journey today?  

Are you experiencing difficulty, pain, confusion, brokenness, trials, or hardship?  Have you lost your job?  Do you have a broken relationship?  Are your children walking away from the Lord?  Is your marriage filled with pain and loneliness?  Are you struggling to make ends meet every month?  Have you lost a loved one?  Are you struggling with anxiety/depression/trauama?

God desires to use these “dead trees” in your life to draw you closer to himself!  He longs to turn the brokenness in your life into beauty, purpose, & meaning!  In order for God to turn our greatest trials and heartaches into beautiful life lessons… We MUST first surrender our hearts, our lives, and our struggles over to Him!

What are the “dead trees” causing pain in your life today?  How can I pray for you?  Please comment below and I will add you to my prayer list!

Blessings, Crystal

 

 

 

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God’s Word ~ Challenge to Read Daily

A month ago I started reading “at least” a chapter of God’s word daily… There have been a few off days… But for the most part I have read God’s word almost daily!

I began in 1 Corinthians and today begin in James! Many days I couldn’t stop after a single chapter and have had to read several chapters. This journey is not hurried!

As I tell my family, friends, & clients… It’s the journey that God uses to prepare us for destinations. We will not arrive at our destinations until we’ve learned the necessary lessons along the journey! For this reason, I have decided to take my time and really absorb God’s words!

What a difference it has made in my mind, body, & soul! God alone changes hearts! He changes desires! He changes people! We can NOT become more like Jesus, when we fail to ingest God’s word!

Make a commitment today, choose to read “at least” one chapter a day and sit in silence for even 10-15 minutes. I write up my Bible ~ I want special verses to pop out as I turn the pages of God’s word! Whatever works for you, do it! Commit to reading God’s word on a regular basis! Spend time praying for guidance from the Lord, he will show you and put on your heart a plan that will work! He’s patient & loving like that! God accepts us right where we’re at, but loves us too much to leave us in that place!

Friends, my spirit is renewed and my heart has been much lighter! I hear myself laughing out loud, making jokes, and have a deeper joy inside! I feel freer to truly live and enjoy the gift of life that is today! As we focus on becoming more like Jesus and deciding to spend “intentional” time each day sitting with him… We become better people! We begin to show the fruits of the spirit; Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, & self-control! (Galatians 5)

My challenge for you today ~ Read God’s word!!! Not because you have to, but because you desire to know God more and grow closer to Christ your Savior! Blessings, Crystal

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Post For Mom’s – ALL Mom’s Must Read

This morning as I was getting ready for the day, this song came on Apple Music. It is called “Mom” by Donna Taggert.

“Little baby told God, hey I’m kind of scared
I don’t really know if I want to go down there
From here it looks like a little blue ball
It’s a great big place, and I’m so small
Why can’t I just stay here with you
Did I make you mad, don’t you want me too
God said child, of course I do
But there’s somebody special waiting for you

So hush now baby, don’t you cry
‘Cause there’s someone down there waiting, whose only goal in life
Is making sure you’re always gonna be alright
A loving angel, tender, tough and strong
It’s almost time to go and meet your Mom
You’ll never have a better friend
Or a warmer touch to tuck you in
She’ll kiss your bruises, your bumps and scrapes
And anytime you hurt, her heart’s gonna break
So hush now baby, don’t you cry
‘Cause there’s someone down there waiting whose only goal in life
Is making sure you’re always gonna be alright
A loving angel, tender, tough and strong
It’s almost time to go and meet your Mom
And when she’s talking to you, be sure you listen close
‘Cause she’ll teach you everything you’ll ever need to know
Like how to mind your manners
To love and laugh and dream
And she’ll put you on the path that will bring you back to me
So hush now baby, don’t you cry
‘Cause there’s someone down there waiting, whose only goal in life
Is making sure you’re always gonna be alright
A loving angel, tender, tough and strong
Come on child it’s time to meet your Mom

Immediately, upon hearing the words, the flood poured! Yes, it was immediately after I put on my mascara. Ha! Why the tears? Because, although I fail at this “mom” thing pretty much everyday, many times a day… I have wanted nothing more out of life than for my kids to know they are loved by me, no matter what! I have made it my goal to ensure my kids know I love them before they go to bed each night, no matter what! As a child & teenager, I went to bed almost every night feeling unloved and unloveable. As a result, I never wanted my children to feel the emptiness that comes with feeling unloved!

Even if we have the biggest argument, my kids will tell you, I go into their room before bed and tell them, “I know we’re upset with each other, but I do not want you to go to bed feeling that I don’t love you! I love you! And we will get through this! Okay?” Usually this solves any disagreements between us… interesting! 😉.

More than anything in this life, I want my children to know and understand the unconditional love of God! I want them to know that God made them with a special purpose and has amazing plans for their lives!

I will fail them… I will hurt them… I will selfishly yell at them… I will get distracted… One day, I will die!

Thus, I am trying fervently to continually point them to Jesus!

Because…

He will never fail them! He will never hurt them! He will never selfishly yell at them! He will never be distracted! He will never die!

I am thankful that we serve a God of grace! I am thankful for my children’s forgiving hearts! I am thankful for songs that, even though the timing was poor, force me to step back and look at my actions, my heart, and my desire as a mother! Link to song is below… Listen at your own risk! Trigger alert is a euphemism!

Blessings, Crystal