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The Gift of Presence {Father’s Day Post}

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As I looked through photos for this Father’s Day post, I was reminded of the amazing gift of {presence} my husband has graciously given to me and our kids.  His presence within our family is a wonderful blessing; a true gift!  As a father, he spends time with his children, he talks with them, plays with them, teaches them, and is present in everyday activities within our family!  We are blessed to have this man leading and guiding our family!

He not only teaches, but gently leads!

He not only provides, but comforts!

He not only guides, but listens!

He not only is present, he makes time for each child (including making time for his wife)!

He is not only available, he sacrifices on our behalf!

He not only loves, he has a special unique relationship with each one of his children!

This amazing man could teach a class or write a book on “How to be a loving and God-fearing father!”  Our children have amazing gifts & talents, a great ability to love, a great wealth of knowledge, and wisdom well beyond their years because of the loving relationship they share with their earthly father!

Most importantly, because of their earthly father’s example on Earth, they have a beautiful picture of God’s love for his children!

Today, I’d like to be the first to say…

Happy Father’s Day to one fantastic dad!  Thank you for loving, cherishing, and gently guiding our children!  I see the reward of your efforts in their level of security, in their confidence, in their smiles, in their desire to grow up and be just like you… their wonderful father!

Robert you are loved, admired, cherished, and greatly appreciated!

Hapoy Father’s Day!

Love,

Crystal

 

 

 

 

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Happy 18th Anniversary

This video says more in 4 minutes than I could every say! A picture is worth a thousand words!!! 18 years ago we followed God’s leading to the alter, not fully knowing what the future held. We vowed before God and loved one’s to spend the rest of our lives together! Looking over pictures from 18 amazing years of marriage, tears filled my eyes and joy filled my heart, as I was reminded of the many blessings we’ve shared together! Together, we’ve traveled, had four amazing children, laughed, fought, moved, and helped each other achieve our dreams! I’m thankful for the 18 years we’ve shared! I look forward to a million more in the future!

Click below to see 18th Anniversary Video…

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=f9wMV0wut24

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Proud Momma Moment

My oldest son, Robby is 16 years old, and will be getting his driver’s license in two very short days! He has his own lawn mowing business, job as a lifeguard this summer, and he is actively involved in his youth group. While on vacation this week, I was able to spend time observing his character, listening to his heart, and even learned some valuable lessons from our conversations. What can I say about this amazing teenager? I couldn’t be more proud of the young man Robby has become! He has a heart for serving God, he has a deep rooted sense of loyalty and commitment to his family and friends, and he is the hardest working teenager I’ve ever seen! He refuses to quit and pursues every dream or goal placed before him! He does life well, whether it’s in school, his personal life, managing relationships, spending time with his family, or his entrepreneurial world; He succeeds!

One thing I know for sure… He is one great catch! The young woman God chooses for this guy at the right time, will be one lucky lady! She will be treated as the Bride of Christ, respected, well taken care of, and loved fully! He’s never taken an interest in girls, as he is fully aware of the important factors in choosing a Godly mate. He waits patiently, loves deeply, and aligns his thoughts and actions with God’s word, all while seeking Godly council.

This week I’ve been blessed to spend quality time talking and walking with him on the beach! What I discovered? What an honor it is to see the fruits of your labor, undeserved really, mature and produce such strong Godly character and love for others! I’m one proud momma!

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

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Lessons in Humility

Tonight, I messed up!  I admit it, I failed to pause and responded out of frustration. Without going into the entire story, let me just say, my flesh got the best of me this evening!  To be honest, the weight of my failure tonight is quite heavy!  This evening, I responded to a situation in a manner that left me completely dismayed.  It’s not a new issue, actually it’s a long-running issue that I’ve been trying to manage. Actually it’s an issue I have poured my heart out trying to fix for many months, through prayer, guidance, and countless discussions.  Yet, despite my best effort the problem continues to rear it’s ugly head.  It’s a relationship issue, not in my immediate family, but in a family very dear to my heart!  The tears I’ve cried this evening are numerous and the moment I think the tears have stopped, they unexpectedly begin again.  At this point I sit in the living room alone at 1 a.m., while my entire family sleeps.  I’m wide awake struggling to differentiate worldly sorrow from Godly sorrow, at this point my thoughts and emotions seem to be colliding.  The confusion I feel lead me to cleave to the living room couch to pray fervently, open God’s word for wisdom, and ultimately to write this blog.

Immediately, upon sitting on the couch to pray and search the scriptures, God placed this scripture on my heart…

2 Corinthians 7: “Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.  See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.”

Here are a few of the thoughts battling inside my heart and mind at the present time…

“What kind of Christian counselor loses their composure?  Perhaps, your just a fraud and shouldn’t be counseling people at all?  You can’t handle everything in your own life, how can you manage things in other people’s lives?  You let everyone down!  Your a loser!  You might as well quit trying, you always mess everything up!” 

Upon reading 2 Corinthians 7:8-11, I recognize immediately the negative thoughts are coming directly from Satan himself, the very one ultimately responsible for the conflict from the beginning.  This is the epitome of “world sorrow” at it’s finest!

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.”

Satan hates Christian relationships and he exerts tremendous energy into destroying all good and wonderful aspects of God’s perfect plan.  This sudden, yet familiar, struggle jolts my awareness and ignites anger within me toward Satan!  At this point, my anger and hurt is directed at the one orchestrating all the conflict and friction, Satan himself.

Other thoughts bombarding my spirit, mind, & soul consist of:

Crystal, you failed to “practice the pause”!  You failed to stop and pray before responding!  I am here for you, all you need to do is reach out for me, I am here to give you wisdom and to give it abundantly!  Crystal, I am your strength!  Seek Me!  Ask for my forgiveness!  Ask others for their forgiveness.  Sweetie, you must now begin to forgive yourself!  You are not perfect, I am still in control!  Make it right!  Take responsibility for where you sinned! Learn from your mistakes!

As I write out these thoughts, I see God has been speaking to me and hasn’t left my side, even though I messed up big!  He also didn’t praise my bad choices, but he lovingly and gently showed me where I had sinned, reminded me of his truths, and guided my heart in the process of righting my wrong!  This is “Godly sorrow” and it is painful in a hopeful way, in a way that pulls you towards repentance, healing, and peace.  “Godly sorrow brings about repentance, that leads to salvation, and leaves no regret.”

Tonight, I was reminded that in my own strength I will falter and fail miserably!  I was reminded of the importance of “never” embracing my fleshly desires, but taking time to stop, pray, and listen before responding in difficult situations.  Tonight, God gave me a healthy dose of humility and it was painful and hard to swallow!  The most astounding thing is how God used my failure to teach me very important life lessons.  He reminded me how desperately I need him. Tonight, God showed me that even when I mess up, he will never leave me, nor forsake me!

Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord requires of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Friends, I am not sure if you have ever messed up in this manner, or if you’ve ever lost your composure in a relationship or conflict.  Somehow, I feel I am not exactly alone in my “occasional” mishap and inability to manage my emotions 100 % of the time. The issue isn’t whether we’ll mess up from time to time, we’re human we will make mistakes!  The most important thing to remember is the importance of letting down your hurt, pride, and bitterness; To allow God to reach inside your heart and teach you his ways.

It is is my prayer that my transparency, regarding the lessons God taught me in the midst of my failures, will help you in some way.

1.) We all make mistakes!

2.) We all need the Lord.

3.) In our own strength we will fail miserably.

4.) God still loves you, even when you fail.

5.) God can and will guide you through the path of making right your wrongs.

6.) God will use our greatest mistakes to teach us some of our greatest life lessons.

7.) Worldly sorrow will bring you down and render you ineffective.

8.) Godly sorrow brings about repentance, leads to salvation, and leads to eternal life.

9.) Your not alone!

10.) Growing spiritually requires us to be teachable, especially when we’ve failed.

Finally…

Romans 8:25-30 ” In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.  And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

Blessings in humility,

Crystal Ridlon

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An “Authentic” Mother’s Day Message

There are only a few things in life that really irritate me. One thing that irritates me the most is when people are “fake” or “inauthentic”. I remember as a teenager seeing my family arguing and being superbly angry… then leaving for church and watching as these furious faces turned to gay smiles and laughter. I remember feeling dumbfounded and confused! I also recall these happy gay faces turn right back to anger and fury once we were in the car headed back home.  This is not who I am… I am not fake and I am NOT good at hiding my emotions! So, today I’ve decided to stay home from church.

Let me explain, today is Mother’s Day! This is supposed to be a happy day, a together day! Having woken up to a, let’s just say, a less than celebratory Mother’s Day… My feelings were crushed! Honestly, I’ve been fighting back tears all morning! I mean, I don’t want to ruin my freshly plastered make-up. So I’ve been fighting and I mean pushing back the flood of tears that are trying so desperately to pour from my eyes. Here’s the thing… I don’t think of myself as a woman with super high expectations. Is it expecting too much to want to be acknowledged and to feel cherished one day a year. My expectations consisted of a few flowers and a card or two on the table when I came down Sunday morning for coffee. Is that a lot to ask for on Mother’s Day??? Not sure why this hurts more than other forms of rejection. Perhaps it’s because I get “very little” appreciation for the many things I do throughout the year. Perhaps it’s because I grew up with a less than ideal childhood and have spent my life working hard to be the best mother I could be.  It’s easy to take for granted the most amazing gift a child could be given… a caring, Godly, and sacrificial mother.  Unless, you know what it feels like to long for the very thing everyone around you seems to take for granted. What I would have given to have a mother who was able to care for me in that manner? Perhaps it’s because I truly sacrifice so much of my life, my thinking, my emotions, my time, my energy for my husband and four children.

Perhaps it’s not an unreal expectation!  I don’t know all the answers, that’s for sure! Nor do I understand why my husband can sacrifice an entire weekend thinking about and building a sand box (which is an awesome thing for my kids and makes me very happy, but can’t seem to add in picking up flowers and purchasing a card to his list).  Or why my 16 year old is such a hard worker and spent his hard-earned dollars buying gear this week for his lawn mowing business (which I’m beyond proud of, But, can’t seem to muster up $10 for flowers and a card.) Is this wrong of me to think these thoughts? Is it wrong of me to skip church because my heart feels crushed? Maybe so! Yet, I am human! I am made up of flesh and blood! I do bleed when cut! I cry when hurt!  I feel sad when forgotten. And… selfishly, I do have minimal expectations for Mother’s Day!

I wish I was a completely selfless mother who could handle these types of Mother’s Day struggles with grace and thankfulness.  Regardless, I’m not there yet! Perhaps, it’s something I need to aspire for… but I’m just not there today! So for today, I’ll stay home from church, even though it breaks every fiber of my heart.  I’m just not able to plaster on a fake smile, when my heart is hurting!  And… I don’t wish for this ability either, because I hate inauthenticity!

Maybe, next year I’ll be a little more mature! Maybe next year I will have grown spiritually and be able to better handle the lack of appreciation.  Maybe next year, I will have developed defenses to help keep my heart from being hurt to this extent. Maybe next year, I’ll be a mother that can be appreciated.  Maybe, next year my family will have seen how hurt I was and actually do a little thinking and planning.

I guess we’ll just have to see what next year brings…

Today, has not been the Mother’s Day I’d hoped imagined.  Please know I’m not defeated! Sad and disappointed… but not defeated! I’ll get through today and things will return to normal tomorrow.  I’ll find it in my heart to forgive and will not hold a week long grudge, because that is not who I am.  I will allow myself to feel what I feel today, I will allow God to speak to my heart!  Most importantly, I still love my husband and my children unconditionally!  My love and affection has not, nor will it ever change!  I will allow myself to be hurt today… because I couldn’t stop it if I tried!

I take pride in being authentic and this blog post is definitely authentic and raw.  If this post bothers you, “I am sorry!”  I really wish I had a different outcome for Mother’s Day today…  If you relate to this blog in anyway, “I hope it helps to know that even the happiest and loved mother’s occasionally have a rotten Mother’s Day!

Perhaps, some of you mom’s have experienced a similar Mother’s Day. Perhaps, this is your Mother’s Day every year. Perhaps, you’d give anything to be a mother.  Perhaps, you recently lost your mother and will have a bittersweet day of grieving in the midst of trying to find joy.  If so, I feel for you today!

Know that your not alone! Know that what you do matters… even if it’s not appreciated on one special day in the year! After all, “The hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world!”

P.S. I know deep down that I am loved. I know that my children and husband would really struggle without me around. I know that deep down they know it too! I also know, that although I’m not perfect, I am a wonderful mother!  Perhaps, unless your a momma you just can’t understand what our hearts feel on this “special day”. Perhaps, my sweet family lacked planning because they are unaware of how deeply a lack of acknowledgment would hurt me.  I know if they understood my heart… I know they’d be more determined to make this day special!

Happy Mother’s Day!

(Wish this could have been a happy, peppy, feel good message. But let’s face it… life isn’t always happy and peppy! Right?)

Love, Crystal

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Motherhood’s Wonderfully Overwhelming Journey

As Mother’s Day approaches I find myself mixed with all sorts of emotions;  Joy, pride, love… The hardest emotions I’ve found myself trying to manage is sadness and even grief.  I will never forget the moment I became a mother, the joy was overflowing, but the fear was almost more than I could bear. Having been raised in a home with absolutely no positive examples of how to be a good mother, let alone a Godly mother, I was filled with fear of somehow “messing this motherhood thing up”! Early on, I recall pleading with God for wisdom daily, asking women in the church for advice, and listening to sermons, or utilizing any resource that might help me along the motherhood journey. Each day I tried my hardest to be the very best mother I could be.

I recall nights I went to bed proud of the skill set I utilized throughout the day, filled with peace, joy and pride.  Unfortunately,  I remember many a day when I failed miserably as a mother and would crawl into bed and cry myself to sleep.  As a mother, I’ve made numerous mistakes over the years. Despite my many failures, there is one thing I always made sure of; If I sinned against my children, I would always humbly ask God and my children to forgive me.  My children were always so forgiving, this has always been amazing to me!

Thankfully, my children have grown into the most full of life, happy, well-rounded, God-fearing, and joyful people.  Each of them have their own unique personalities, gifts, struggles, talents, and wonderful qualities.  There are times when I sit back and observe them enjoying life, full of confidence, love, and think to myself… “I must have done something right along this motherhood journey, to have kids this confident.  There is no greater joy for a mother than observing your children enjoying their childhoods.  “Thank you God for guiding me and giving me strength to raise these amazing children!”

Throughout the years,  I have prayed for my children without ceasing!  Throughout the years, the prayers lifted to God on behalf of my children have drastically changed in content.  The theme of my prayers have altered from short term prayers, consisting of… God give me strength, wisdom, and patience to manage another day;

Into deeper and more longterm prayers…

Lord help me impress upon my children their desperate need for a Savior.

Lord help me to be a Godly example.

Lord, it is the cry of my heart that my children will know you intimately.

Lord, I pray you guide my children to your side and never let them go.

Lord give me wisdom to pay close attention to their inner struggles.

Lord help me to know how and what to say to get them through tough times.

Lord help to love deeply and without suffocating as they grown into adulthood, help me to pay attention, help me to cherish each day.

Most recently my prayers have sounded more like…

Lord help me to put aside my fears and appropriately and timely allow them freedom to begin soaring into adulthood.

Lord help me to transition into this new era of motherhood with grace, knowing that despite my overwhelming fears and emotions that you are in control and have wonderful plans for their lives.

To my amazement,  I’ve become a seasoned mother; I’ve realized how quickly children grow up. I recall the warnings from other momma’s to savor every moment, I certainly tried! There are countless moments permanently ingrained in my mind.  Sadly, there are entirely too many moments I allowed to pass me by, moments when I was distracted by unimportant aspects of life, and failed to pay attention.

I turned 40 this year and although I feel seasoned and knowledgeable about many areas of parenting, I continue to make mistakes and need the Lord for guidance and wisdom.  The most surprising realization in my seasoned years of motherhood; Is how few have warned me about the overwhelming ache which is intermixed with the most astounding joy, as you watch your children move into adulthood.  No-one told me how to handle your babies growing up, seeing the aging pictures of their tiny, helpless, and precious little bodies growing into mature, grown, and independent souls.  This is not a skill I’ve acquired, perhaps it’s not a skill at all..  Perhaps it’s not something you can achieve.  Perhaps it’s just something each mother must walk into unprepared.  Perhaps it’s just one of those things in life that keeps you on your knees in prayer.   Could it be, God never intended for us to have all the answers or even be able to acquire all the answers?  Perhaps he knew this area of motherhood would send us running into His arms for understanding, guidance, and comfort.

How do I handle this overwhelming mixture of sorrow, pride, and joy? How does a momma manage the emotions that come from the unexpected grief of saying goodbye to this amazing, eventful, difficult, and wonderful era of raising babies into adults? This is one area in which I don’t feel knowledgeable and I certainly don’t feel wise! The smiles and tears I live with these days, almost seem to collide uncontrollably!  Igniting within me an emotional war; Only God can keep calm and controlled.

I’m learning through the journey and hopefully one day I’ll have wisdom to depart to the younger generation of mothers. For now I say to seasoned mothers, soon to be mothers, and momma’s in the trenches of toddling children…

“Hold on for the ride! Cling to God! Seek wisdom from the Lord! Ask for forgiveness. And most importantly hold on! Cherish each and every moment!”

I give the advice knowing like me, you’ll listen and take my words to heart. While realizing that like me, you too will have to walk through the same journey! Knowing you’ll learn for yourself the emotional roller coaster that originates the moment you became a mother! There are few stead fast or absolute certainties along the motherhood journey… Except one…

“Motherhood is the most wonderful, overwhelming, and amazing journey you’ll experience on this Earth! Buckle up momma’s! Life is fully lived when your holding tiny little hands! Life is fully cherished as you watch them grow up and become adults right before your eyes!”

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Springtime Snow

 

It’s not what we were expecting, a snow storm on the first day of spring.  A snow storm was harder to swallow, because here in Indiana we had a day of warm sunshine, followed the next day with snow filled tree limbs.  Indiana weather is extremely fickle and constantly changing, those of us who struggle with change, really struggle living in the Hoosier state.  Social media is going crazy with “snow in spring” comments and small talk the past several days has consisted of folks in shock of this sudden snow storm.  This early spring snow isn’t all that unique, I recall at least one Easter in Indiana with snow on the ground.  I remember years ago, two little boys eagerly looking for eggs inside closets, toys, and underneath furniture, simply because it was too cold and snowy to be outside.

Friends, God’s beauty in our lives almost always happens in the {unexpected}.  Think about it, the moment you meet that perfect partner, after years of fearing you’d spend life alone.  That moment when you see a positive sign on a pregnancy test, not quite ready to be a parent; but when that sweet baby is placed in your arms the joy you feel is indescribable.  Sitting beside someone you love dearly as they enter into the gates of Heaven, the pain is intense, but a deeper joy within is immense.  When your dream goes unanswered, but God shows you later that His plans for you far outweigh any dream you could have imagined!

The snow storm that hit yesterday, was certainly {unexpected}.  In keeping with God’s very nature, he turned the {unexpected} into something truly beautiful and stunning!

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Today’s white covered Earth certainly wasn’t expected, the beauty of the dangling snow covered limbs is awe-inspiring.  Looking down our long winding driveway, it seems like we’re in a present day Narnia.  There’s nothing like the beauty I see today, standing outside on the second day of spring, gazing upon a wintry blanket of white.

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I miss the warm 60 degrees we felt here in Indiana just two days ago, but I refuse to “Lose the forest, for the trees!”  I choose to be thankful for the beauty each day brings!  Spring will come soon enough, then summer, then fall, and winter will roll around again! It’s the beauty of being alive!  I recall loved one’s lost in the last year and others who are struggling with illness and hospital walls the only thing they see on this gorgeous day!  As I gaze upon God’s beautiful artistry, I say a prayer for those who are fighting for their lives, others who are sitting at the bedside of someone they love, and for those who are finding little hope in the midst of emotional darkness.

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Thank you God for the beauty of a wintry white entrance into spring, even though your timing may seem a bit off, we can’t deny the mastery of your artwork.  The land you’ve blessed us to live on is absolutely gorgeous,!  The children are loving the soft, fluffy, perfect for snow ball making snow!  I thank you that even though we don’t understand your plan, that we can trust in your plan with confidence, knowing that nothing happens outside your control!  Lord, I am thankful that there’s not a day I journey this Earthly path alone!  I thank you for revealing your glory through nature, especially in the most unexpected ways.  Thank you for loving me!  And extending grace and mercy to me each and everyday!

Psalm 145:5 “On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.”

Psalm 96:11-12 “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy.”

Psalm 8:3-4 “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Friends, Is God showing up in expected ways in your life right now?  Are you struggling with a pain so raw, so real, that you are finding it difficult to endure daily life?  Are you praying for God to heal a sick loved one?  God will use each and every pain in your heart for his glory!  Are you struggling underneath the hopes of a dream unfulfilled?  God is in the business of showing up in the most {unexpected} moments of our lives.  Don’t lose hope, just look up and keep trusting God!  You’ll find him in the {unexpected}!

Love, Crystal Ridlon