Love

The Ugly In Me, I’m No Better Than You.

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I woke up and quietly made my first cup of coffee (yes I usually have at least two, sometimes three cups) and snuck out to my oasis.

Before you get all excited, I should warn you, it’s my back patio. My little getaway or staycation. LOL.

Praying he doesn’t hear me stirring in the kitchen . . .

“Crystallllll”, and there it is, the dreaded sound I am trying to escape. (Ugly thought, I know)

I holler back, “Whattttt?”

And he asks for a cup of coffee. I make it and take it to his nurse, all the while asking myself, who is this person that I have become? Selfish. Ungrateful. Frustrated. Ugly. Not me. Not good enough. Need to be better.

I reflect on those moments and shame starts to fill me.  Those emotions I was feeling were foreign to me and I hate myself now for feeling them. Let’s be real though, I am human. I am not perfect. I am full of sin, living in a sinful world that is filled with nothing but other sinful humans.  I’m not making excuses. I’m making statements of truth. I realized that I am better than no one. That I have my own forms of sin, or struggles, or vices, whatever name we each have given the things in our life that make us innately human, and without Jesus’ redeeming sacrifice, initially unworthy of God’s love.

Because Jesus Christ did what God wanted him to do, we are all purified from sin by the offering that he made of his own body once and for all.

Hebrews 10:10

You see, my husband’s oldest boy, now 21, is a quadriplegic. He is on a ventilator 24 hours a day, has a tracheostomy, 24 hour nursing care, and needs assistance with just about everything. I assist his nursing staff in meeting his needs and mother him as much as he will allow, LOL. I mean, after all he is a 21 year old male.  He doesn’t always want my mothering, but he graciously accepts it and I love him dearly and am grateful for his accepting me into his life and trusting me .

Somewhere in the last couple of years I had lost or stepped away from my gracious Daddy and all I know He says I am.  I had started to allow the world to influence my thoughts about myself and therefore, my behaviors.

I am a firm believer in divine appointments, that He works all things for the good of those who love Him, according to His plans and purposes.  I have seen His faithfulness, and know full well exactly how blessed I am.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Romans 8:28 (NLT)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–

Ephesians 2:8 (NIV)

I cannot lie, I have days that I struggle with the flesh monster in me.  I know who God made me to be and I know He is at work in me.  I desire to do His will but my flesh and my spirit are at war constantly and that keeps me humble, knowing I am human and not perfect.

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I could tell you I work in a terrible environment and never see my husband, nor have time for my younger children, or a life of my own, but I would be lying through my teeth.

I get to be at home. I get to spend more time with God. I see my husband every evening, and he is a great help, even after working all day in the heat.  I get more time with our children. I can cook homemade meals. We have phenomenal spiritual family who encourage us and walk life with us daily.  Our bills are paid.  We just bought our first home.  I could go on for days.

See this season that I am in has me grappling with myself. My pride wants to take over and be elated at where we are and how well I am managing in my current situation with the ex-wife visiting our home, a disabled adult son who lives with us, coping with the changes in my youngest kiddos’ lives, and the fact that my life is no longer my own.  Truly though, what I am having revealed to me is that my life has never been my own and so long as I’m working at the purposes He created me for and drawing on His strength, I will not grow weary.

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31 (KJV)

See I have had to learn to love myself in spite of my faults and failings because He does. I cannot love others this way if I don’t love myself this way.  We are called to love all of His children.  Not some.  Not just the poor. Not just the rich. Not just the children. Not just the healthy and emotionally stable.  Not just the broken and needy. ALL. We are all made in His image.

I’ve got to get the focus off of me and aim my searching light back on Him.

When I take time to recount my blessings, review my shortcomings, and consider from where God has brought me, my complaints, grumblings, and self-centered musings disappear from sight.  We truly have so much more to be grateful for than we take the time to acknowledge.  I’ve learned that if I keep my searchlight aimed in the right direction then I can see that God is working in me to grow me up, mold me, and shape me.

Throughout all of this I have come to desire a time each day to self-reflect.  During this time I try to see myself through my Father’s eyes.  This helps me to see everyone through God’s eyes and pour out His grace as it floods over me. It strengthens in me the desire to do His will and at the same time remember that He is the source of my strength for accomplishing such supernatural goals.

Let me know what you feel God is working on in you.  Drop me a comment. Have you felt distraught, worn-out, or ashamed about something you’ve done or thought or felt?  You are not alone. I look forward to hearing from you.

Faith, Family

“What Are You So Afraid Of?”

“What are you so afraid of?” This is the question I asked myself this last week during my reflection time. I was afraid to lose. Lose something, someone, or some false sense of control or security.  Let’s remember, nothing we have is ours. This reflection had me knees bent, eyes flooded, heart humbled.

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.”

Psalms 24:1-2

Now that I understand my fears and that they have little basis, I could spend all day telling you about times I have been fearful, Lord knows there have been more than a few occasions in my life.  They all allow me to see how He has moved in my life.

I was an army brat, so we moved every two years or so, and making new friends was scary.  I went to the dentist and doctor as a young kid and that was scary too. I was a teen mom and man was I afraid of so many different things during that season of my life. I fell in love and was fearful of being hurt. My father went to prison. I got a divorce. I got a second divorce. I was a single mom of three kiddos. I got remarried.  I became a stepmom. I moved to a whole new state. My baby girl moved states away from me. I’ve had to change occupations. I’ve been in unhealthy friendships and relationships. I’ve had medical complications.  I have lost loved ones.

All of these things have a common theme. Change. Whether for better or worse, change was the common denominator. Change stirs up fear.

So during my reflection time ( a time I spend thinking about the things that have been going on or are about to happen in my life and how God is moving in them and truly addressing my feelings with Him and His will for me) I was pondering a situation that  quite honestly is a touchy subject for me because I’m weak. My babies.

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You see, my husband and my two youngest children, and I moved to Texas in late spring/early summer of 2016 to provide a home to his middle child who was gonna be turning 21.  He’s a quadriplegic and we wanted to be able to give him a safe home to live his life in.  This move was massively scary for me.  Almost to the point of refusing to do it.

“What are you so afraid of?”

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV

Hear me out, I’m not cold hearted. I knew that my young children who were accustomed to seeing their father every other weekend and several times a week for short visits were gonna be severely impacted.  Their whole lives had been in the town we lived in Kansas that we had lived in.  Their family was there, on both their dad’s side and mine.

I longed to be here in Texas too. I wanted so badly to be able to give Zak a consistent loving home with his family present and extend the length of his life as long as possible by being sure he has the very best option for living arrangement and nursing.

So we packed up and moved to the grand, beautiful state of Texas.  We all love it here and it is truly has captured my heart.  However, not all of us settled in as well as the rest.  My sweet young daughter had left her best friend/practically sister behind and her father, and school, and assorted family members.

I know what you’re thinking, she can adjust.  I agree so I made a deal with her and her father that she would live in Texas for a year and attend school and try to make friends and really give Texas a go.

I thought for sure that she would grow to be happiest here, with me, in Texas.

As of August 2017, she went to Kansas for a trial period of living with dad.

“What are you so afraid of?”

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”

Proverbs 16:9 NIV

The adjustment was difficult for me at first, I felt I had lost her and in that I had lost myself. After several weeks of, kind of, just existing, I realized I truly needed to wait with God during this time instead of waiting on Him.

I allowed my spiritual family to speak life into me and started seeking my Daddy in Heaven for the comfort He promises me. Through this period and my leaning in and being held I am learning that I have been afraid.  All of those times I listed earlier in this post I had been afraid and generally had lots of emotions coming to the surface. Anger, sadness, depression, loneliness, frustration, and a need to control.

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This is truly the first time I have addressed the feelings and got beneath them to figure it out. I’m afraid.

At first it was nearly a petrifying fear. I felt immobile, drowned in a fog. Lost.

“What are you afraid of?”

I saw my sweets (Dayla) over Thanksgiving break and cherished every moment I had with her. Delighted in her antics and the joy she seemed to be carrying around with her.  When I left I knew it would be bitter sweet and it was.  A few days later her and I were having conversations and struggling tearfully through our recent parting.

As I watched crocodile tears roll down her cheeks during our video chat I was at war within myself.  Everything in me wanted to beg her to come home. She missed me. She wanted me. I cannot move to Kansas, so she should just move back here. God’s spirit was moving in me swinging that sword of truth around slashing through all that selfishness. She was struggling, tormented inside, she needed comfort. I dug deep grabbed hold of God’s hand and told her if she feels happy and healthy where she is at, that she should stay there. I encouraged her that we could always video chat, we will see each other on school breaks and over the summer.

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I was afraid of not having her. It reminded me recently of the story in Solomon about the two women and their new born babies. One of the infants died while sleeping and the mother of the dead child swapped the children before the mother of the living child woke. When they went before Solomon they both were claiming the live child as theirs and that the deceased infant was the other woman’s.  Solomon gave solution to cut the child in half. Out of fear of her child being in pain the actual mother of the living child said let her have him.

Fear can be a motivator or a stumbling block.

“What are you so afraid of?”

I  have been afraid of so many things and most of them caused me to stumble like crazy and muddle around like the hot mess I am. Fear is a human response. It is a response that God created us with. A weakness He gave us so that we can rely on Him.  He can move us in those moments, if our eyes are on Him.  As I spent more time focusing my gaze on Him and hearing Him ask me, “What are you so afraid of?”, I realized I was afraid that what I wanted wouldn’t happen, which in turn helped me realize I don’t trust my God like I believe I do.

This is another growing faith season for me and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t painful, but I get to delight in the joy that our Father is at work in me, through me, and for His kingdom.

Let me know something that causes you fear, something that you may not be trusting God for, or a moment when you took your eyes off our Father.  We all have and He is not finished with us, so I am almost sure we will again.  Be strong. Philippians 1:6 (NIV) being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

 

Faith, Family

Faith: When it Hurts and it’s Hard, You’re Growing.

I’m not a saint and I will admit that sometimes this life is more than I think I can bear.  The struggles are real, and painful, and emotional, and I know I am not alone in feeling this way.  Walking with Christ requires growing our faith. Growth is change and change is often painful or uncomfortable, sometimes both. My prayer is that we can encourage one another and be encouraged during those times when our growing faith pains overwhelm us. I hope through sharing my Jesus experiences and my heart that y’all will come to know the me that Jesus knows. Let me get to know the you Jesus knows, we are after all, brothers and sisters. We are all made in His image and made with weaknesses so that His power can work best.  Our weaknesses are where Christ works best through us.  Let’s share them and be glad for the triumph of His victory at work in us.

2 Corinthians 12:9 
9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

New Living Translation (NLT)

Good day to each and every one of you. Welcome to my very first blog. My name is Crystal and with the encouragement of my family (blood, step, and spiritual) I have decided to begin this journey of blogging.  I’ll be honest, truth in love right? I have a very vague idea of how this all goes, so please bear with me. I’m open to feedback and constructive criticism, I find that those things have helped me to grow over the years. This is the me that people know.

By divine appointment I am wife to an incredibly inspirational man. Yes ladies, he drives me absolutely crazy daily and I wouldn’t have it any other way (that’s another post for another day). God, of course, knew what He was doing when He put us in each others lives. Kenny’s testimony and a life transformed by God, has truly increased my desire to seek after my Creator. Kenny is the perfect leader and helpmate for me and our family and definitely one of my greatest blessings.  It has not been all birdsong and sweet kisses. We’ve traveled a difficult, sometimes ugly, and always purposeful path, that has led us right where God wants us, more on that in future posts.

Our Lord above saw fit to make me mother to a total of six astounding children (kind of like the Brady Bunch), three of them I got to choose to be momma too. Having that many children and becoming a blended family has had its challenges, joys, and growing pains, but they have all been worth it. Yes, yes it is true, at the young age of 36 I am an elated grandmother to three littles, who live too far away for their gammas liking.

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God made me a people lover and so I have rarely met a person I have not come to love in one way or another. I mean, let’s face it, that is the second greatest commandment.

Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV) Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

I have also been immensely blessed with spiritual family galore, who I do life with. We encourage one another, hold each other accountable, and laugh like no one is listening.  We walk each other through sorrows and struggles and we joyfully celebrate all the victories and triumphs, just as God intended us to.

I have not always been where I am now and by the grace of God I will continue to grow and will not stay in the place I am now. We should allow God to renew our hearts about how we see change.  I know, I know, in the midst of change it rarely looks good, or feels good. Let’s take a moment to reflect and look back at the changes in our lives. Ok. How many of those changes can you honestly say have not grown you?  I’m gonna take a chance and say that each change in your life no matter how difficult led to growth in you and your journey with Christ. He never promised it would be easy. He promised to do a work in us and that He would always be with us.  I have found that I just need to tap into His presence. He is always there but I may not always be leaning on Him and let’s face it we were not made to do this life thing without Him.

Deuteronomy 31:8 
8 Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

New Living Translation (NLT)

Have you had some of these changing moments?  What person, verse of scripture, song, or thing helped you to get through that time? I’d love to hear from you.

Updates

Keep on the Lookout.

My first weekly post will be published the evening of Tuesday January 23rd.  Please check back and feel free to explore in the meantime.  You can subscribe on the contact page.  Looking forward to sharing with y’all.