The Value Of Today Is The Music In Tomorrow’s Song

Although this season of my life is no longer defined by one school year ending or another school year beginning,  I wrote this in 2006, during a season when it was.


*****
As the carefree days of summer fade, I look ahead with anticipation to the more structured schedules of school days.  There are preparations and plans to be carried out. There are hopes and dreams to be fulfilled!  I cherish this moment of solitude to ponder the value in a day.   
Thru all of the summertime amenities we’ve enjoyed this year, it is the sweet simplicity of two days in particular, that I especially hold dear.      

Today we’ve taken a road trip, visiting friends of yesteryear, celebrating newborn babies and having lunch with “the aunts and grandma”.  Driving down the road, my 13-year-old daughter and I exchange the quiet hum of the air-conditioned car and every hair in place for open windows, tousled hair, and loud music. Not many words exchanged, we occasionally chatted or laughed, but mostly we sang.  We enjoyed the music and were thankful in  “just being together”.

With our favorite teams and high fives, my 10-year-old son and I spent the day at the ballpark, complete with highlights and statistics. Not many words exchanged, we occasionally chatted and laughed, but mostly we cheered as the fans roared.  A different kind of song, a different kind of music today, yet so much the same… enjoying the game and thankful in “just being together”.

Sometimes the value in a day seems ordinary, even undefined for the moment.  It isn’t always ushered in with grand pomp and circumstance. Oft times it is quite the contrary.   As I settle in for a good nights sleep, (after both of these days) I am deeply assured, the simplicity and the value in these days extend thru all of life, and rest quietly in the music of tomorrow’s song.  



*****
In the blink of an eye 12 years have come and gone and 
 I am joyfully and with gratitude, living in the music of tomorrow’s song (as far as a raising a young family goes anyway).  The time, the investment, the “just being together”, teaching, admonishing, and that song in my heart is reaping dividends greater than I could’ve ever imagined. 
There is something for all of us in understanding the value of a day, everyday!  Maybe you aren’t living tomorrow’s song just yet, but be grateful for every moment! See the value in time spent together no matter how simple.  Even when the seasons look different or a day seems undefined, cherish it deeply.  

I love how Paul, the writer of Colossians admonishes us, 

 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. — Colossians 3:16 

Make today count! Spend time together! Let the fragrance of thankful worship surround you.  There’s always music waiting to be heard in tomorrows song.  


Crystal

WALKING IN FREEDOM

Getting up long before the heat of the day makes its presence known, I head out the door for an early morning walk.  It’s a walk I’ve taken a hundred times before, but today…Today is different!  There is no agenda, there are no fitness goals to reach and no schedule to keep.  It is simply a morning devoted to stepping away from the routine and the noise of a busy life, quieting my heart and remembering to give thanks for the FREEDOMS I have, both as an American and as a Believer.      

For you were called to freedom, brothers.   Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.   Galatians 5:13 ESV 
At the foundation of our great nation, I see Galatians 5:13 lived out. The men who signed the Declaration of Independence served with love by pledging their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to one another.

I am especially grateful today, to all the men and women in uniform who continue devoting their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to keeping our nation free.  It is thru that freedom, I can make the choice….to shut off life’s noise for this moment in time, to walk thru my neighborhood and see the goodness of humanity all around… free people, serving one another in love.
A young mother walking her sleeping baby, 
Two grown sons helping their ageing father with yard work,
A seasoned veteran, gently and without fear, sweeping his driveway,
An athletic dad jogging (in flag shorts) behind his toddler’s stroller,  
Two brothers working together, tearing out and rebuilding a cement porch,
A stranger watering her yard and taking time to greet me with joy,
and, lots of beautiful flowers and flags and porches at every turn, that beg, “come and sit awhile”, this is the land of the free.
Psalm 33:12 says Blessed is the Nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom He has chosen as His heritage.  
My heart is filled up this July 4, 2018.  May we as a free people 
 always remember
to give thanks…
and cling to the one who offers freedom, everlasting.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
John 8:36
WALKING IN FREEDOM
                   

FOCUSING THE LENS

I admit it!  I’m somewhat of a photo junkie.  Taking pictures has been a hobby  (an obsession) for as long as I can remember.  The evidence is everywhere!  In my prized collection of scrapbooks, in boxes and boxes of prints (from way before the digital age), and NOW in files and files of electronically organized photos… each good (and not so good picture) tells a story!

Capturing each moment along the way has brought me great joy!  The art and science of photography (and sometimes even a little irritation from my teenage subjects), has been a great way to mark the past, the present, and yes, even the future.

My husband and (now) adult children, (those once slightly irritated teens) have come to fully appreciate my picture taking habits.  Recently, (for Mother’s Day) they gifted me a brand new camera.  I’ve gotten some great shots over the years with simple cameras, and I love my iPhone camera, but this one is a “fancy one”,  loaded with lots of settings and lens options.   It’s been fun experimenting, learning new techniques and angles and lighting features… all for the sake of capturing the moment…with creativity…quality…and you know, “THE PERFECT SHOT” 


Interestingly, as I expand my lens on photography, I am learning it isn’t just about a hobby, it’s becoming a daily reminder to expand my lens on life (my perspective if you will),  allowing me to push beyond my narrow borders—both physically and spiritually, to sit (or stand) in awesome wonder!  To consider, ALL Thy Hands have made. To take in, ALL of His creation.

I am reminded of the English merchant and a renowned poet who stood watching the sun come up out of the sea.  The bright yellow disk of the sun emerged, gilding the water and painting the sky with a thousand colors.   “Ah! I see gold!” the merchant said.  The poet answered, “I see the glory of God! And I hear a multitude of the heavenly host crying, “the whole earth is full of His glory.”

one of my favorites- Wrightsville Bridge


There is a myriad of people, places and things I am already planning to capture through my “Canon Lens”,  but what about the lens of a busy life, filled with noise that I sometimes have to sift thru? What about the circumstances where I struggle to see the beauty,  the desperate needs in the lives of so many, overwhelming me at every corner?

Whether it be photography, some other form of creative interest, or just plain ole’ good intention and discipline…

Let us push back the narrow borders of our individual worlds, let us refocus our lens.  Through the BEAUTY and the BROKEN,  let us take in the WHOLE creation of God.

IN THE EVERY DAY, SEE HIS GLORY! 


Thou art worthy,  Lord to receive glory and honour and power; 
for thou has created all things.
  
Revelation 4:11 

Taken in Alaska in 2016
A recent favorite…not taken by me, of course 🙂  
Hadassah sending Uncle Matt graduation well wishes

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle Is The Hand That Rules The World

    My two-year-old daughter toddled down the ramp.   Boarding the plane to grandma’s house (with stuffed animal in hand), she enthusiastically exclaimed….”it’s the greatest adventure!”
(her independent, risk-taking spirit was already evident at the age of 2)

Sarah (3) and My mom in 1996 

Since that day, there’s been a lot of great adventures!  Now, so many years later, she’s on another “great adventure.”  One that will last the rest of her existence…Motherhood.

In a 19th century poem, What Rules The World, penned by poet William Ross Wallas, he praises motherhood as the preeminent force for change in the world.  From his writing has come a famous saying that goes like this.   


“The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.” 
  
Talk to any mama, whether her children are grown up and gone or she’s just starting out, the assignment of motherhood can at times seem monotonous, demanding, unglamorous, exhausting, isolating,  thankless and overwhelming…  i.e., far from ruling the world.  

But in time, sleepless nights give way to first steps, and all too soon, our babies are riding a bike, then learning to drive.  Thru the never-ending mountains of laundry, grade school, high school and college, the years pass by.   

Mother’s Day is a special time to celebrate moms, everywhere.  But, it’s also about celebrating the great adventures, influenced by mom, along the way.
  
Think about it, every day you have influences in your life, I have influences in my life, our children have influences in their lives, 
BUT NONE….so profoundly influence like MOM!


Hadassah and Sarah – Mother’s Day 2018


The Shaping

        The Loving
              The Forgiving
The Teaching
       The Praying
              The Playing
The Cheering
       The Believing
              The Guiding
The Saying I’m Sorry
The Late Night Talking
The Caring
       The Holding
              The Laughing
The Commitment,
The Investment, and on and on and on! 

The stage is being set for God’s perfect design when one day the daily feeding and care of them no longer demand our undivided attention.  Of course, our lives remain interwoven and vitally connected thru every season, but with proud joy and honor, we pass the baton and the legacy continues.   

Watching first hand, 
a daughter giving birth, becoming a mother! 
The celebration of life, 
a new generation born.
  
Giving life to another human being doesn’t just change you…it makes you, for the rest of your existence!  

Me and Hadassah in March 2018 (at her new home in FL)

In just a few short weeks my baby girl will board a plane with her baby girl, from Florida to Pennsylvania.

 I’m embracing it ALL, because

 slowly and surely,
 “The hand that rocks the cradle IS the hand that rules the world!”

To all the wonderful moms out there, 
Keep rocking the cradle, 
Keep ruling the world. 

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY
Crystal  (AKA, NANA) 

The Power Of A Praying Mom.

One of the greatest blessings in my life as a DAUGHTER has been the power of a praying mom.  My life has been guided and blessed immeasurably because of my mom and her prayers. 

One of the greatest blessings in my life as a MOM has been praying for my own children, pouring my heart out like water before the face of the Lord, on their behalf.  

For 4 years now,  conversations and praying together during finals (over the phone) have held a special place in my heart.  
The reality of my son’s college graduation (in a few short days) was hitting home, and tonight as we prayed together,
“one last time before finals”
my heart was filled with a bittersweet gratitude.  
I’ve learned a lot about prayer over the years.

Raising a daughter, who is now a mom of her own
AND
 Raising a son, who is celebrating one chapter closing, and a new one beginning,
(with a great husband and father by my side)
I have known the joy of prayer, the urgency of prayer, the discipline of prayer, 
AND THE POWER OF PRAYER! 

4 Generations — Me, my mom, my daughter and grandaughter

Celebrating Matt’s 21st birthday (last year) 

“Prayer is acknowledging and experiencing the presence of God and inviting His presence into every aspect of our lives and circumstances.  It’s seeking the presence of God and releasing the power of God which gives us the means to overcome anything.  Praying not only affects us, it also reaches out and touches those for whom we pray.  When we pray for our children, we are asking God to make His presence a part of their lives and work powerfully on their behalf. All that needs to happen in our lives and the lives of our children, cannot happen without the presence  and power of God.  Prayer invites and ignites both!” 1

Whether you are MOM to a 2-year-old or a 22-year-old, (or maybe both)
won’t you pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord?  
Lift your hands toward Him for the life of your children. 
Lamentations 2:19 

CRYSTAL


1 FOOTNOTE

  The Power Of A Praying Parent, Stormie Omartian  Copyright 1995

A New Thing!

Three days into the New Year (2018), I received this picture text from a dear friend. 
(picture to the left) 
IT TOUCHED ME DEEPLY AND PROVED SO TIMELY.  

You see, 2017 was a year committed to intensely focused prayer. 
 Having lived a lot of life,  I was no stranger to the desert, but getting thru this one would surely take a miracle. 

****
I possessed a deep, inexplainable stirring for something more, something new, something real! 
Not just in my life, but in the life of every believer in our immediate circle of worship, those we’ve been called to shepherd, and for all of God’s people everywhere.  
But sadly, 
I also possessed a deep, inexplainable discouragement.  My lens was blurred, my soul parched and weary.  Lying dormant, deep beneath the harshness and pride of humanity was an incredible amount of untapped potential and great purpose.  

I knew that no amount of striving on my part was the answer, so I remained steadfast!  
IN PRAYER,
THRU SCRIPTURE,  
 Luke 18:27 – What is impossible with man, is possible with God.  
 Matthew 19:26 With man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.  

 IN QUIET SEARCH
“for that WAY in the desert and those STREAMS in the wasteland”. 

Perhaps today, you too are shut up in a wasteland.  Does discouragement run deep?  Is there something hindering you that seems impossible?  

Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.  
Isaiah 43: 18 & 19

Today, I am thankful to God for signposts along the way. 
Walking in the desert is not for the faint-hearted, but today, my lens is a little less blurred and my weary soul filled with hope.  I am drinking from that stream in the wasteland and rejoicing in His plan coming together (just like he promises). 

The start of a New Year is now a distant memory, but that stirring for something more, something new, something real, is just beginning to unfold. 
With God (and a few great friends by my side) 
ALL THINGS are possible! 
Are you believing for A NEW THING?  Hold Fast!  

Crystal  

Writing A Great Story- Our Story

As the morning sun peeks over the horizon, I pull a book from the shelf. It isn’t just any book.  It is a gift that I deeply treasure for the words inscribed on its pages.  

“I  hope that these stories of love, bring you laughter, joy, a warm feeling in your heart
and an attitude of thanks to God for ALL that he has given to us in each other.  
Let ours be a story that is greater than any contained on these pages”

WITH LOVE BOTH NOW AND ALWAYS,
       Your Husband, Rick 
       Dated: April 13, 1992
           (our first Wedding Anniversary)  


More years than I can believe, have slipped by us!  And since that day, I have learned that great stories aren’t just “written”.  They are walked out and felt deep in the soul. They are forged thru great responsibility and every decision point along the way.  After 27 years, there are a lot of chapters!  All of them making us who we are today.  I sit in the still of the morning with a sense of awe and wonder.  A sense of accomplishment and reward.  We’ve camped in some pretty green pastures along the way, but we’ve ascended some pretty rugged terrain too.  True love binds our hearts, and it binds our story!  How does one celebrate so many years of writing together, walking together, feeling together?    


It’s been fun to reminisce how we’ve marked each year.  
 Big or small, there has always been a special celebration. 
And, because there is still a lot of “story” to write, we keep walking, we keep feeling, 
and ALWAYS making time to do some of our favorite things…..


today, April 13, 2018, we push the pause on schedules and responsibilities
to seek out a corner coffee shop in a quaint little town
and we write yet another page in “our great story”,
Thanking God for ALL he has given to us
IN EACH OTHER. 


Happy Anniversary My Beloved! 
With Love, Both Now and Always,
Crystal 

(our 27th Wedding Anniversary) 

PASTOR APPRECIATION

As a young girl growing up without a father in the home, life wasn’t always easy.  But God, in his infinite wisdom, grace and mercy, always saw fit to bless my family (both as a child and as an adult), with  some of the best men on the planet…..Godly Men, Great Pastors! They served and taught and guided….AND, they loved our family unconditionally and often with great sacrifice.   


When I think of life in the big picture (and in the everyday too), 
THEY MADE ALL THE DIFFERENCE!

Eventually, I would go on to marry a Godly Man, one who is also a Great Pastor.   Our journey has been one of great honor!  Thru all the loving, serving, teaching, exhorting, and equipping —- we’ve done life and ministry in a lot of places and with a lot of people.  
We’ve collected our own box over the years, filled with notes of encouragement, gifts of appreciation and stories of “making all the difference”, and we treasure them deeply.   But this October, and every October really, we look beyond ourselves and say THANK YOU to all the Great Pastors who have played a part in our lives….Shaping our family, our story, and our own call to ministry.  
To the ones who serve us……
To the ones we serve with…..
Thank you for making a difference. 
With gratitude and appreciation for Pastors everywhere.  

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you
and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you 
and give you peace.”  Numbers 6:24-26

50 LIFE LESSONS ON MY 50TH



                       

 Realizing there are likely more years behind than in front, can be quite sobering.  But I learned a long time ago, put anything in the right perspective, and it becomes an opportunity.

SO,
In honor of ALL the seasons that have quietly shaped me,
In celebration of ALL the seasons that have loudly and boldly made me,              
And ALL the ones still to come, here are 50 LIFE LESSONS ON MY 50th     (#hashtagsincluded)
  1. FAITH, FRIENDS AND FAMILY…these are everything!
  2. Surround yourself with people who aren’t afraid to CELEBRATE you, CHALLENGE you, CARRY you… these make all the difference. (coming soon, in my blog:  A Portfolio Of Friendship—50 Years and Counting)

  3. Vulnerable communion is a risk….but a risk WELL WORTH taking.
  4. Communicate well! Listen well!
  5. FEAR GOD and OBEY HIS COMMANDS. (period)   Eccles 12: 13&14
  6. A STUDENT and a TEACHER….be willing to be both, IN EVERY SEASON!  
  7. Every road travelled teaches something new.  

  8. Experience is GREAT….Virtue and Character are GREATER.
  9. Fruit doesn’t lie! (and I’m not talking about apples, oranges and grapes) #thefruitofyourlife
  10. Meaning comes not from filling oneself up, rather it comes from pouring oneself out.  #bepouredout
  11. BE PROACTIVE!!—a great phrase, a great philosophy….just ask my kids.  
  12. Don’t put off for tomorrow, what you can do today. (kinduv goes hand in hand with being proactive)
  13. The Truth WILL set you free!  Always seek to KNOW The Truth.    
  14. Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her; happy are those who hold her tightly.  Prov 3:18
  15. ACTIONS speak louder than WORDS. (lining them up, takes character and maturity)
  16. There IS power in prayer!  #prayoften   
  17. Spend LESS TIME keeping up and MORE TIME enjoying right where you’re at!  #golden
  18. There is a time for everything!  EXPECT CHANGE!  ACCEPT LIMITATIONS!  ENJOY LIFE!  Eccles 3
  19. Making a living isn’t the same thing as making a life.  #learnthedifferencefindthebalance

  20. A job worth doing is worth doing right!   #mymotto  
  21. On Parenting… THERE IS NO GREATER CALLING!!  #stewarditwell
  22. On being a BRIDE… It’s about your day!
  23. On being the MOTHER OF THE BRIDE…. It’s about your daughters day!  Knowing the difference allows for a perfect, beautiful, special, one-of-a-kind, forever memory, shared with deep joy and great honor.
  1. On the Empty Nest…it’s a time to reminisce, but more importantly, a time to re-discover. Falling in love with the same person over and over never gets old (but it does take intentional work and commitment).

  2. On Grandparenting…stay tuned, I’ll know in a few short weeks.  #JustcallmeNANA.
  3. On Failure…it isn’t as daunting at 50 as it was at 25. (I’ve experienced it, lived thru it & grown up because of it)
  4. On life’s hard knocks…don’t fear them.  Face them! They refine, make wise and strong. #ittakesguts
  5. “There really is a silver lining in every cloud, you just have to want to see it.” –Alice Jane Blythe 1914-2016 (from my in-home interview with her in 1998) #sheisright

  6. Dark times are never easy, but just as the color black adds depth and contrast to the artist’s creation, so the dark times in life add depth and contrast and give beauty to the whole.  
  7. Life’s brightest moments often come after the darkest hours. Scripture says it best, Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5
  8. It takes GREAT TRUST to believe in the smallness of beginnings. (revelations from a church planters wife )
  9. First steps are the bravest, they start the journey.  Don’t fear the first steps…..
  10. But finish well too.  

  11. Look beyond your scope of comfort. There’s always more to see (the people in #2 will help you).
  12. Those who are confident are often misread by those who aren’t….BE CONFIDENT ANYWAY!

  13. The good you do today, won’t always be noticed.  DO GOOD ANYWAY!
  14. “Don’t compare what you know about yourself with what you don’t know about someone else.”  (wise words from a wise man, aka Pastor Rick, my husband of 26 years.)
  15. Country life, City life…they each have their place.  I much prefer the country.
  16. Open your windows and let the sunshine in.

  17. Eat healthy.  Indulge sparingly.  Exercise Regularly.
  18. Don’t be afraid to “pluck thistles” figuratively speaking….but, plant your fair share of flowers too.

  19. Black and White really is sometimes Gray…..it took me a long time (like 50 years) to learn this.
  20. There is always room at the table.  (evaluate often who is at your table)

  21. BUSY is a choice.  STRESS is a choice.  JOY is a choice.   #choosewell!
  22. Shake hands, look people in the eye and say PLEASE and THANK YOU  #commoncourtesy
  23. A merry heart doeth good, like medicine.  (Be Joyful)  Prov 17:22

  24. Laugh often, but don’t be afraid to cry either.
  25. SIMPLIFY….and when you lose sight, simplify again….and again.
  26. As much as my 40’s were fueled by ambition, I want my 50’s to be fueled by compassion.  
  27. Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning.  Great is His Faithfulness, Oh Lord.  Lamentations 3:22-24

Hello 50,  I’m so Grateful! 
C R Y S T A L 

INFINITELY MORE!

It was 1995 when the first Toy Story Movie hit the big screen.  By 1999 Toy Story 2 was being released, and we had a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old in the house.   It didn’t take long for those famous words of Buzz Lightyear to become a frequent part of our household vocabulary.  “To infinity and beyond”.

In our meager attempts as parents to quantify the great love we had for our small children, it often became a Saturday morning (and even sometimes, a bedtime) ritual.

Cushions removed and placed on the floor (for safe landing), their tiny legs would climb up the couch and they would wait.
“How much do we love you?”  With gleeful, “fullness of life” squeals, they would take flight,  leaping through the air (just like Buzz), proclaiming proudly and joyfully, “to finity and byond!” (that was the 2-year-old). 

The couch and the kids. Couldn’t find an action shot, sorry 🙂

The word infinity has many forms. Infinite, infinitely, finite… all defined by some means of endlessness, boundlessness, limitlessness, or without measure.   In other words, the love for our children was and still is so big and so great it never ends, it is without limits….”To Infinity and Beyond!” 

It isn’t surprising that God (in all of His perfectness) uses the words of the Apostle Paul to reveal his great love for us.  As a young wife and mother then,  his words found a resounding place in my heart.   Words that would confidently carry me thru many miles and changing seasons.  Words that have profoundly marked my walk. 

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it.  Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.  Now glory be to God!  By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.   Ephesians 3:18-20

As I sit on “that couch” (one of the few remaining pieces of furniture in our home today, from that era),  I am keenly aware… despite life’s fears and failures, despite any obstacles or unfulfilled dreams…
HE IS ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH INFINITELY MORE THAN I COULD EVER DARE TO ASK OR HOPE FOR! 

What are you daring to ask for?  What are you hoping for?  His mighty power is at work!  
Even when we don’t fully understand it, we can be filled with the fullness of life that comes from it!  Walk with confidence in his “infinitely more”. 

Crystal