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

CAN YOU HEAR IT? CAN YOU SEE IT? IT’S ALL AROUND YOU!

Consider intently, the life all around you….. your neighborhood, your community,  your job, and yes, even your church… 
 One doesn’t have to look far to see it or listen long to hear it…….
There’s a hunger!  There’s a need!  There’s a passion!  
FOR MORE!
  MORE WHAT?  
Encouragement…  Strength….  Inspiration…  Understanding…  Depth…  Unity….
Fulfillment…   Joy…   Contentment…   Togetherness…    Hope…

I recently prepared and shared some scrolls with a group of beautiful women (and moms)  in my life. 

The scrolls held a three-fold purpose…

1.  To offer an intentional focus 
2.  To spur them on and encourage their hearts 
3.   To inspire them to read, to write and to pray….HIS WORD 
(and I’m leading the way) 

Writing Psalm 119: 90 this morning, reminds me that, “his faithfulness extends to every generation, as enduring as the earth He created”.  

This brings great comfort and peace to my heart as I prepare to celebrate my own daughter becoming a mama.  I hold onto this great truth for my precious first grandbaby.  

I’m so grateful for the things in our lives that bring us the “MORE” we all desire. 
But I want to encourage you today,  through all of the busy-ness, through all of the striving, 
Consider intently….
To Read His Word!  To Write His Word!  To Pray His Word!  

You’ll be amazed at what you hear, at what you see….an how it will change your hunger, your needs and your passion.  




My child, keep my words and store up my commands within you, guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.  Bind them on your fingers, write them on the tablet of your heart.  Proverbs 3:1-3
Crystal

BLESSED ARE YOU — A MOTHER’S DAY TRIBUTE

The hallways of time hold dear a treasure chest of memories.  Each treasure and every memory, tell a story.   The rows and rows of neatly stacked, brilliantly colored boxes are filled with unfailing love, laughter and the warmth and comfort of togetherness.  These boxes by far outnumber the other boxes, but to be heartfelt, is to examine ALL of the   treasures.  There are some slightly tarnished silver tools in one corner.  They represent the values and lessons of hard work.  The

empty space over to the side represents the discipline of doing without or making the most of what little we did have.  Scattered throughout various places in my treasure chest are some grey looking boxes, tattered and worn from tears and struggles that adversity and heartache rendered.  

           A cracked and delicate teapot wrapped in a lace doily signifies to me the never ending pouring out of wisdom thru gentle words, and sometimes necessarily harsh words.  At the center of it all lies the most cherished treasure of all….a small leather bible.  This is a constant reminder to grow in faith and worship and praise, and to always know where to find “guidance in” or “shelter from” the storm.  Your example, your love and your encouragement have remained steady through the good and the bad, through doors opening, and yes, even some doors closing. Thru the ever changing seasons in our lives, you have given to me as a daughter…..as a friend…..as a wife…..and as a MOTHER, more than I could ever have asked for!

You have sacrificed much to give me tangible treasures!  But, the ones that are most precious go to the depth of my being and make me who I am today.  These are by far…..more precious than rubies. 

My daughter Sarah, My mother Julia, and Me

BLESSED ARE YOU! 
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY 
Love, 
Crystal