A Not-So-Routine, Illustrated Sermon.

When life is filled with the likes of a socially distant existence, taking a Sunday morning bike ride off the beaten path, offers the best kind of illustrated sermon.

The sunshine and spring time beauty brings a welcome change to the normal routine, that is anything but normal and routine these days.

Our world is facing a crisis of great proportion! Yet seemingly out of nowhere, I sense a stirring, a profound sense of hope. It comes to me (on my bike), thru beautiful countryside illustrations and the words of the Psalmist,

“The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in green meadows;

he leads me beside peaceful streams.

He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.

Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.

You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil.

My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life,

and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” PSALM 23 NLT

I remember with great fondness the day my children could recite this portion of scripture from memory. But today, it filled my soul in a way it hasn’t ever before.

Tomorrow I will resume my duties alongside an incredible team of healthcare professionals. I will choose calm, over chaos. I will choose peace over panic. As I adjust and re-deploy, as I pivot and realign at a moments notice, may it be this message of hope, awakened during a bike ride mission and a not so routine illustrated sermon , that becomes my message and my mission to a world in need.

Crystal

AUTUMN TREASURES

May the seasons — ever changing as they are — breath life and hope and beauty into your being .

#1 HE IS SOVEREIGN IN EVERY SEASON! HE WORKS IN OUR WAITING!

#2 IN THE IN BETWEEN… HE PREPARES US FOR WHAT IS TO COME.

#3 WE MAY WALK THRU UNCERTAIN PLACES, BUT WE TRUST IN HIM!

#4 IN EVERY MOMENT WE FEEL HIM BESIDE US, AND WE HEAR HIM SAY, “THIS IS THE WAY, WALK IN IT.”

#5 IN THE HERE AND NOW… IN THE THERE AND THEN… HE IS PRESENT!

#6 THERE ARE GIFTS AND ANSWERS HIDDEN IN HIS PERFECT TIMING!

#7 THROUGH EVERY SEASON HE IS KIND, FULL OF GRACE, EVER FAITHFUL, TRUE!

CRYSTAL

The Real Miracle

As our ministry team sat around the table discussing and dreaming together about next steps, about plans and purpose, and about ways to impact a community, one common thread stood out. We’ve go to change what we do, we’ve got to get uncomfortable and WE’VE GOT TO GO DEEP (deeper than ever before).

And just like God, when he is speaking to my heart, that common thread somehow finds a way to show up over and over again until it sinks into my thick skull.

It was no surprise (but kinduv it was), when my morning reading took me to Luke 5:1-11. Peter had just finished a long night of fishing with nothing to show for it, when along comes Jesus. As the account unfolds, in essence, what Jesus reveals to Peter, an already expert fisherman, is this… it really isn’t about the pile of fish, rather, it is the discovery of who I AM.

“THE PILE OF FISH WAS NEVER THE REAL MIRACLE. IT WAS THE DISCOVERY OF JESUS.” – S. Eller

When we are tired and weary and worn, we don’t look at the odds, we don’t rely on our own expertise of what we know or how we might already know Him, rather we take a step back, and we push INTO THE DEEP with HIM (because there is so much more to know)! We open our hearts to His possibilities! We kneel in awe of who He is and we look to Him with renewed expectation.

When Peter walked into the deep he came out a changed man. Let us be like Peter…. walking into the deep because then and only then do we live and multiply THE REAL MIRACLES.

Crystal

Count It All Joy

Do you ever find yourself in a season or a trial that requires more of you than you think possible?

I recently completed a rigorous 17 weeks of physical therapy following a rotator-cuff repair to my right shoulder (dominant hand side), complicated by months of “frozen shoulder” prior to the surgery.

Recovery was a S L O W process. Some days demanded more than I thought possible…..incredible amounts of patience (not one of my strongest qualities), endurance, pain, hard work, humility, persistence, an occasional tear… and oh, did I mention patience? Many people told me it would be so, but no amount of forewarning could have prepared me for the day to day grind of walking it out.

James 1:2-4 says this: Count it all joy, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Perfect! Complete! Lacking nothing! Sounds like a pretty good deal. But could I? Would I count it all joy?

In the early weeks following surgery: *sitting in the recliner to sleep, for weeks. *a friend taking me to lunch and having to cut up my food. *my daughter coming for a visit and doing my hair (because I couldn’t) *my husband being there for better and for worse (helping me get dressed, opening jars, putting my seat belt on, enduring my occasional frustrated temper tantrums) Then as the weeks wore on: *working through persistent pain, that I thought would NEVER subside. *physical therapy sessions 3 times a week that were no joke. (eventually 2 times then 1 time before reaching my goals and being discharged) *feeling like my arm would never “work” normal again. *always two steps forward and one step back. *recovery felt daunting and insurmountable. *making the DAILY choice, both physically and mentally to work hard, to stay the course, and yes, to count it all joy (even when I had to dig deep, or rely on those around me, to count it).

I wrote a blog just days before my surgery about getting my mind right. Little did I know I would face that challenge time and time again on the road to recovery. At 51, I believed I had the mental strength to count it all joy, but could I endure the physical strength & movement limitations (again, not one of my strongest qualities) ?

I’m the first to admit, it wasn’t always easy, not even close. But, this is the first week in 5 months where my days off weren’t spent going to therapy. (I’m celebrating by painting a glider for my porch and it feels so good (and productive). Counting it ALL JOY does come with a price, but with the help of an incredible family, amazing friends and the greatest group of physical therapists on the planet, the dividends are far reaching and beyond compare.

Counting down the days to porch sittin’ on my newly painted glider with Haddie Lou (my granddaughter)

It’s not a road I would choose to walk again anytime soon, if ever! But, at the end of the day, my life is richer because of it….(one step closer to perfect, complete, and lacking nothing). As for my physical progress, I am happy to report I am about 90% to my goal. January 31, 2020 will mark the one year anniversary and I am believing for 100% by then….. on the way to that goal, I AM COUNTING IT ALL JOY.

The amazing PT Team @ Nova Care Rehabilitation Center

My hope and prayer for you is this: perfection, completeness, lacking nothing (in context)! When trials come (because they will), may you find it in you to count it all joy.

Crystal

Love Like There Is No Tomorrow

Quote by Max Lucado

I remember like it was yesterday, our first Valentines Day together, tokens of love and endearment exchanged under a cold, midnight, moonlit sky. It marked the beginning of you and me… loving like there was no tomorrow. And as life would have it, the tomorrow’s would keep coming, and we would keep loving, again and again, and again.

29 years of Valentines Days and you’ve shown me that sometimes love looks romantic and elegant and lavish. But more often than not, it looks simplistic and practical and routine. 2 weeks into recovery from this dreadful shoulder surgery and the way you have put my needs before yours has shown me the deepest kind of love in the most practical of ways, by caring for me, prepare amazing meals, and most of all, exchanging the comfort of our bed for a makeshift one to be alongside me on the reclining sofa.

And above all else put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:14 ESV

Another February 14 is drawing to a close, but tomorrow is another day, Loving like there is no tomorrow and being bound together in perfect harmony.

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY MY LOVE ❤

Crystal

“Get UR Mind Right”

“Get UR mind right” is a popular slogan used by best selling author, personal trainer and master motivator, Todd Durkin. His goal is to IMPACT and inspire the WORLD to greatness (thru physical, emotional and spiritual avenues)! Recently my adult son (who is in the early stages of his career as a fitness professional and personal trainer) had the privilege of attending one of his live conferences. When he returned home, he presented me with a small gift that he purchased while at the conference.

To understand the significance of this gift, it’s important to know that for the better part of 15 months I have been living with some physical limitations brought about by chronic shoulder pain. Having exhausted all treatment efforts and now facing surgery, (one that will grossly limit the use of my dominant hand for quite some time) had me feeling fretful and fearful and defeated.

That small gift…..

a bracelet with the slogan “Get UR mind right”. He said, “mom wear it as a reminder as you prepare for your upcoming surgery.” I could go on and on about what a great young man my son is, but the point is this: having a “right mind” is vital to “facing the giants” in life. And, every one of us can benefit from that reminder every now and again.

For me, getting my mind right starts at the foundation….in the WORD, anchoring into that shelter, that secret place of His Presence. A place where I take thoughts of fear and worry captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) because God has not given me a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Rather than worry; I fix my thoughts on what is true and honorable and right, thinking about (a myriad) of things that are worthy and excellent of praise (Philippians 4:8).

He is my healer. He goes before me. He has surrounded me with amazing caretakers, friends, family and prayer warriors–I am not in this alone. When I am weak, He is strong. He holds me ever in the palm of his hands. He is my comforter. He is my shield. I take refuge in Him!

In T-24 hours I will finally be on the road to physical recovery! The journey may be long, but I’m taking the step. When my thoughts waver or my physical body grows weary, I just have to look down at my bracelet and be reminded…”GET UR MIND RIGHT!”

Crystal

Never Once, Did We Ever Walk Alone

It was Christmas socks that would make a “favorite photo”, and it was that “favorite photo” that would set the tone for my New Year’s Eve reflections.   
I could spend hours writing stories about the places these feet have walked in 2018 (and in some cases I have).  These feet belong to those nearest and dearest to me.  
In our walking, we love deeply and laugh heartily.  In our walking, we face challenges and endure, together. 
The places we walk always lead us to friends, sometimes new and sometimes old.  And almost always, we walk with purpose and a mission greater than ourselves.  Some of my greatest joys and fears have come while walking “in step” and “alongside” of them. 
There are moments where we take giant leaps, but most days we plod along, one small step at a time. From the smallest feet (my sweet Haddie Lou) to the biggest feet, from the fastest feet to the slowest feet, we are…

Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come

Knowing that for every step

You were with us
Kneeling on this battleground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us
Scars and struggles on the way

But with joy our hearts can say

Yes, our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
Never once did we ever walk alone
Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once, no, we never walk alone
Every step we are breathing in Your grace
Evermore we’ll be breathing out Your praise
You are faithful, God, You are faithful!
Matt Redman Lyrics – Never Once
Christmas socks and all, we are walking into 2019 together, and never alone!
Happy New Year,
Crystal