Monday, December 11, 2006

The Eleven Letter "Four Letter Word"

Infertility. To me it has always sounded like an unreal too far away for me to comprehend word. One of those things I "understood" but never "got." A word I was sure I would never really have to deal with except for maybe in offering a tad bit of support for loved ones in their journey through it. Now it sounds like a nasty four-letter word. Infertility. It sounds so final, so uncaring, so matter of fact and judgmental.

I've never been one to like labels, especially when people tried to push them on me. I like to be who I am, not what others think of and attribute to me. This label is certainly no different. Well, actually it is different... the pain it brings cuts much deeper than any other label thrown my way. It was only in the past week or so that it really occurred to me that this label has been slapped on me, no matter what I think about it. No matter how hard I try, I just can't swallow that huge bite of life sucks!

Is it even possible to be in the denial stage and anger stage of grieving all at once? That's where I am right now, possibility or not. I've found myself angry with myself, the world, God, the people who say all the wrong things... and even though I can't accept that I could be "infertile" neither can I fully accept that I might not be. I really don't know what to think anymore.

A lovely woman who has battled this demon for far longer than my frail heart can even begin to comprehend sent me to this website, Stepping Stones, a Christian organization that offers support to couples dealing with infertility and pregnancy loss. My first thought upon looking at the home page was, "I am not infertile!" Then the realization hit me, yet again like a semi, that according to the medical world definition of the word, I am. Then once I finally and carefully swallowed a tiny crumb of that huge bite of life sucks, I decided to read a few of the articles to see if I could find any comfort there. I'd do anything for comfort lately... to get back to the place where I was truly joyful and happy and in peace about things. To find rest in the arms of the Father who promised me that rest yet seems too far away to make good on it.

I stumbled upon an article on Infertility (there's that nasty word again!) and Anger, and there I was. I can identify with almost every bit of it. I found it almost funny (but not quite) that it compares the anger of infertility to the anger Moses felt towards God before Pharaoh freed His people. It struck me in such a way because I've compared myself to Moses before... not his good attributes, mind you... but his weak ones. His doubts of self, his strained belief in how God could truly use someone like him for great things... now I find myself facing yet another comparison to the man. I am angry at God much like He was, just for different reasons. (I'm obviously not trying to free thousands of people from the hands of a horrible, evil dictator... or, at least, that's not my day job.)

“O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all” (Exodus 5:22-23 NIV).

So many times I've heard my soul cry out, "O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon me? Is this really why you sent me here? I KNOW you sent me here in your name, yet I've had only trouble and you have not rescued me at all." It seems like a cruel joke to put such a deep desire in a person, push them out of their comfort zone in an attempt to fulfill that desire, then leave them standing there with empty arms. Why would God do that? Just what is He trying to do? Did He really lead me here just to leave me angry and hurting, empty and broken? Because that's where I am, and it's not like it came as a big surprise to Him.

I want to move past this... I want to be happy again. I want to spit out the big bite of life sucks and find true joy and peace and dance at the feet and rest in the arms of my Father again... but right now I'm stuck. When will I be set free from it? And if I am, will I have the courage and faith to face and walk through the parted Red Sea... or will it swallow me up and all my evil ways along with it? Will I be left to wander in the desert for years and years for my lack of faith?

Ah, Moses. So doubtful, so faltering, so angry. Much like me. Though unlike me, he still did what the Lord told him to do. He faced his demons, despite himself, and the people were freed. I guess only time will tell if I will be like him there too... but as of right now, my mouth is too full of this immense chunk of life sucks to tell God I surrender. Hopefully He'll slap me on the back hard enough to shake me to my senses before it chokes all the life out of me. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is too weak to even spit... so slap, dear God, slap away.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #4

Thirteen Skills I'd Love to Master in My Lifetime

1. Wire wrapping & other metal workings

2. Piano playing

3. Guitar playing (lead!)

4. Sewing

5. Photography

6. Photoshop

7. Managing my panic attacks

8. Keeping Molly from peeing on the carpet

9. Woodworking (no, I haven't started yet, but it looks so cool!)

10. Swirl, sniff, slurp, and spit (anyone up for a fine Pinot Noir?)

11. Keeping up with my house *groan*

12. Painting a wall and not making a mess

13. Procrastinating (hey, I had to list one that I've already mastered, you know...)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Christmas Letter

Just for grins, here's the Christmas letter we're sending out to our loved ones this year...

Dear family and friends,

Well, it’s that time of year again. The time to bundle up and button down as we hustle and bustle our way into the New Year, maybe even singing a carol or two along the way. 2006 has flown by so fast; I’m not quite sure where it all went. It has been an interesting year, to say the least.

Early on in the year, we started to embark on the exciting yet nerve wracking voyage of becoming first time home owners. This is something we had been praying about, saving for, and planning on for years. When the time finally arrived, except for a few minor bumps on the road, we were incredibly blessed from start to finish. We had wonderful Realtors who quickly became our friends (and neighbors too, interestingly enough) and we found a great house in a wonderful neighborhood for a spectacular price. We left the world of renting in March and haven’t looked back since. We actually have a little bit of space for visitors, so y’all come down now, ya hear?

Shortly after moving into our house I, like all good puppy moms having quickly forgotten how much work, blood, sweat and tears it takes to raise a puppy to proper house broken status, started deliriously thinking about how we could add just a little bit more insanity to our lives. Ignoring the warnings by the crazy dog-hating naysayers among us, we decided to make good use of our nice back yard and get a sister for our 2-yr old fun and energetic Shih-tzu mix, Trixie. Enter Molly, the fraidy cat miniature Schnauzer mix who is just so gosh darn cute you can’t stay mad at her for more than, oh, a week at a time. Even if I hadn’t forgotten the difficulties Trixie gave us the first year of her life, I would not have been prepared for the new challenge that is Molly. Let’s just say that I’m through raising dogs for a very long time... quite possibly the rest of my life (or at least until someone comes along and zaps me with that Men In Black flashy dealie and I forget, once again, what kind of crazy person you have to be to raise a puppy.)

Dustin has been staying extremely busy with his job. Since re-joining this company a few years ago, he has quickly accelerated from a simple data entry position to an IT Manager of sorts. Last month, he hired himself a very much needed assistant. They seem to be getting along well, and hopefully eventually this will lessen the demand on his time so he can work more normal hours again. Prayers for this area would be appreciated.

I have been keeping somewhat busy with my never ending supply of hobbies. My mom and I are in the process of developing our jewelry designing business. Two Belles & a Bead should be officially launching (along with a full fledged professionally designed retail website) soon after the New Year, and we are quite excited. Our customer base has been slowly but surely growing, and we are having a blast with it.

Both Dustin and I have recently taken a liking to photography. He’s always had a good eye for it, especially when it comes to nature. I didn’t pick up on it until, out of necessity, I started to photograph our jewelry items to showcase on the web. From there the monster grew, and I find myself wishing I had taken some photography courses when I was in college (along with writing, and music, and a host of other things I have fallen madly in love with as of late.) Our cheap little 5 MP camera has faithfully provided us with a lot of great use, but we can’t wait to replace it with something halfway between the consumer and professional realms. I’ve also become a certifiable Photoshop addict. I’m having a grand old time learning photo editing, so if you ever find yourself in need of, say, your head on a cow’s body, I’m the gal to call!

This fall, Dustin had a hearing before the Board of VA Appeals in hopes of getting the board to raise his disability percentage to the next level. This has been an uphill battle, but we believe he has a good case and have high hopes that it will go through so we can afford to seek better treatment on our own for his injury and hopefully find something that actually provides some relief for his pain. We should be receiving notice of their decision anytime now. Prayers for this would be greatly appreciated as well.

Something that most of you do not yet know, but we feel comfortable in sharing now, is that we have wanted to add to our family for quite some time (with a less furry two-legged member, that is.) A little over a year ago, we decided we were ready to fulfill a lifelong goal and become parents; however, God has not seen fit to bless us with children yet. It has been a long and hard road… especially for me. It truly feels like a test of my faith that I am failing miserably. We’re not sure when the journey will come to an end, or even if it ever will, but we do know that somehow God will get us through. We know He hasn’t failed us yet, and we know He won’t start now. We’ve depended on the prayers and support of a few of our loved ones to help us through this. If you would like to, we would love for you to join us in praying that the Lord’s will be done in this area of our lives; and for the strength to endure whatever lies ahead.

We pray that this letter finds each of you happy, healthy, and hopeful for a joyous holiday season. We wish you and yours a very merry Christmas and a happy and blessed New Year.

Lots of Love,
Dustin & Crystal

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #3

Thirteen Texas Christmas Carols

1. We Snuck Up On and Shot a Deer

2. Oh Mesquite Tree

3. Keep Your Snow! Keep Your Snow! Keep Your Snow!

4. Maybe It's Cold Outside?

5. Away in a Ranger

6. Oh Come, All Ye Immigrants

7. Lovely Weather for a Hay Ride Together With You

8. It's the Least Sweltering Time of the Year

9. Up at the Truck Stop

10. Carol Ain't No Belle

11. Joy to the World, the Cowboys Won! (Yeah... right...)

12. Santa Got Run Over By My Chevy

13. I Heard Daddy's Suing Santa Clause

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #2

Thirteen Things I Would Want with Me if I Got "Lost"


2. At least a 3-yr supply of chocolate.

3. Lots and lots of toothpaste and floss since I've become a flossing maniac.

4. John Locke... so we're only on season 2, but it seems like he's the guy to know on the island.

5. Sunscreen... my fair skin burns so fast.

6. Lots and lots of batteries and a cellphone that works everywhere in the world (yeah, in my fantasy land they'd exist!)

7. Can we say hand sanitizer???

8. Toilet paper, please.

9. A few books that could be read over and over again (the Bible would be a good pick for sure.)

10. An umbrella.

11. Duct tape... my husband is a veteran, I think he could do anything with duct tape.

12. My puppies. No worries of urine smelling carpet on the island!

13. Jack Bauer. Ok, wrong show... wrong location... wrong tv channel... but come on! The Others wouldn't stand a chance against Jack Bauer. You know you'd want him there too. ;o)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Monday, November 06, 2006

No "La la la la la la la" here!

Music is a powerful force. Such a simple thing, yet so complex. Nothing can move one's spirit and touch one's heart in the same ways that music can. The steadiness of the beat... rise and fall of the melody... the gripping harmony, whether heard out loud or in your head...

Each one of these parts alone may not be much, but they can be combined in such a way that they create a piece of art that can pierce through even the hardest of hearts. Maybe that's why I enjoy making it so much. Having the power to write something that can move a person's spirit and bring them closer to our Creator is a precious gift... and though it may be hard to believe, it's also so very humbling.

I enjoy many genres of music. Country is one of my favorites. (Don't throw tomatoes at me, please! ;o) I find much of it soulful, and a lot of it seems to deal with real emotions. So, yeah, some of it is just silly and can be questionable material... like tractors being sexy and giving beer to your horses... but I still enjoy it for the most part. I was always a daddy's girl growing up, so the songs about father/daughter relationships really get me. There's a song out right now titled, "I Loved Her First" that makes me cry at least every other time I hear it. :o) See? Music is powerful. If I were to just read the words I would probably think, "aww, gee, that's really sweet!" But combined with the rhythm, instruments, and soulful singing, it digs deeper and really grabs me.

Who can hear a real love song... I'm talking a real love song, not the pokey ones you hear in pop music now a days... and not feel something, whether it be longing for someone you miss or passion for someone you're with? Who can hear a song like The Star Spangled Banner and not feel at least a bit of pride in our country and the things people have been through and given up to make it what it is today? Who among the true church of the Lord can hear a song of worship... (and I mean real worship, not that "La la la la la la la" stuff that belongs more in children's church than it does in the sanctuary) and walk away with no more of the Creator than before you heard it?

Music is such a wonderful doorway into true worship. I think that's one of the reasons I love it so much. It is certainly my goal in writing music. I really don't write anything but worship music. I think I could if I really wanted to, but I feel that God gave me this gift to proclaim His glory... why would I even want to use it for anything but? Though sometimes I do forget all of this. I have a little fun learning to sing and play a new country song by Faith Hill or someone else I'd trade voices with anyday... and I play it until my fingers hurt. But I can't stop yet. Everytime I pick up the guitar, I end up playing my worship til my fingers scream. It's just so much a part of me, I come back to it every time. Even when I'm in the most stagnant of places, running from the Lord and His plans for me, filled with fear and doubt and anger... I'm drawn to the music with which He fills my soul. I have a few favorites I play a lot, but there are a couple that are more difficult for me to sing, so I don't go to them as often. Oh but when I do, I remember why they are worth the extra effort. Both of them are about being in the presence of the Lord (which is the main theme of a lot of my latest songs!) and I have a hard time singing the second verse of one of them. It's not musically difficult or anything like that (though the chorus is a little hard for my voice if it's not a vocally strong day for me) but to me the words are so powerful I really have a hard time catching my breath.

I'm not quite sure I understand what it feels like to truly be in the presence of God. I know people talk about it often, but I'm not sure I've experienced it in the ways that people usually talk about. But when I sing this song, I can almost feel His breath upon my skin, His power is so real to me at that moment. That's what I desire from my music. I want the power of God to be expressed through it in such a way that if the listener has their heart open to the Lord, they can't help but feel Him in it. I've always written my pieces, both poetry and music, with the heart of blessing others and worshiping the Lord. I can't tell you how precious it is to me when I learn that God has indeed accomplished that through me. It's truly surreal and a bit mind boggling. I definitely don't deserve to be used in such a way, and I must admit that I'm scared to learn of what all He plans for me regarding my music... but I guess for now it's just one step at a time. One song, verse, and note after another. Hopefully each one will bring me just a little closer to Him and maybe even someday bring Him just a little closer to you.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Marvelous Monday

I think I shocked a few people with my last posting... my "Thursday Thirteen" list of things that ticked me off last week. *blush* I had a particularly draining week, and I had been wanting to jump on the "Thursday Thirteen" bandwagon, and the two of those collided into that blog post. I'd like to put my readers' minds at ease... I'm not dwelling on or wallowing in any of those things (except, perhaps my silly tooth which won't stop acting up.) There are things I am wallowing in, *lol*, but that's another blog for another day.

So to offset that post, I decided to declare today "Marvelous Monday" and mention a few things in my life that make me happy and I find absolutely stupendously marvelous. (Listed in no particular order.)

1. My dahling husband
2. My GOOD dog ;o)
3. My faithful jewelry customers
4. My giving heart which seems to grow each day
5. My loving friends, both in person and online
6. My ever faithful supply of chocolate! :o)
7. My family, particularly my (((mom & dad)))
8. My God, who remains faithful and steadfast even when I'm not faithful to Him
9. My God-given talents
10. My house that WILL be fixed up eventually
11. My collection of yummy smelling candles
12. My ability to make my husband smile and giggle even when he's in the foulest of moods
13. My husband's ability to make me smile and giggle even when I'm in the foulest of moods
+1. My life in general that may not be tidy but is interesting... right? RIGHT??? ;o)

There... thirteen + one things I find marvelous on this Monday afternoon. I'm sure I just made one particular Crosswalk friend very happy. ;o)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #1

Thirteen Things That Ticked Me Off This Week

1. My stupid tooth that won't stop bothering me, even after paying over $700 to get it fixed.

2. The grocery checker and bagger who would not listen to me when I told them something funky was leaking out of a package I bought.

3. My silly dog who refuses to learn to stop pooping on my floor, yet is too darn cute for me to stay mad.

4. The people who take advantage of my husband.

5. Finding out that carrying a carton of icecream by it's lid is NOT a wise idea.

6. Someone stating that I am mad at mothers who chose to not wait to have their children.

7. People who act like they understand things when they really don't have a clue.

8. People whining about trivial matters when other people have serious problems yet handle them with grace (LOL No, not me... I'm not graceful!)

9. The person that almost ran me over as he zoomed down the street going way too fast today.

10. Dropping little bitty tiny beads (that cost a few cents each!) all over the floor and having to grab them all up before the dogs get them.

11. Finding out that cloned meat and dairy could be on our shelves soon, possibly unmarked as such.

12. Getting too full to move after eating only 1/2 bowl of soup.

13. Living in an unfair world where people get what they don't deserve while the people who do deserve it are left high and dry.

Yeah, you can see it hasn't been a fun week. ;o) Maybe next week will be better and I'll post thirteen things that made me happy! :o)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Beautiful You

This has been on my heart for quite some time, and I've started to write it several times in fact but I was never able to finish it until tonight.

A few years ago when Dustin and I were volunteers with our church's youth group, I was asked to speak at an all-girls sleepover. I was a bit taken aback... I'm not much of a public speaker, but I figured that if God wanted me to speak, He'd figure it out and make it work. I knew the theme of the night was supposed to be beauty and for a few days I spent a portion of my morning devotional time praying about this task and asking the Lord to impress upon me what He would have me say.

I loved the kids in our youth group... so many of them are wonderful young people with true hearts for the Lord. I really wanted to give these young women that night something they could walk away with and treasure forever, but I had no idea how to speak on beauty yet keep it completely Biblically centered. But God knew. He began to point out things in His Word that I had known and read previously, yet had never seen knit together in such a way, shining under this particular light.

I have always been fascinated with Old Testament history and how so much in those times was a foreshadow of things to come. This includes the Tabernacle. There is so much symbolism in the Tabernacle... every piece of it and every sacrifice performed in it perfectly represented the future of atonement for the Lord's people... Jesus. In preparing for this speaking engagement, God took me to Exodus and reminded me of His instructions for building His Tabernacle. A few things really stood out to me. For one, God was very specific in His blueprints. This was HIS tabernacle... the place where He was to dwell among His people. He didn't leave the designing to human hands... it was planned out down to each intricate detail in His very own infinitely perfect mind. Second, He commissioned skilled craftsmen to fashion His dwelling place. Shoddy work not allowed! Third, He required materials of high quality. Fine linens, solid gold (not plated!) and acacia wood... all things that point to quality and only the best artistry for our Father's Tabernacle. These things also represent beauty, which is the last point. The Tabernacle that our Lord designed as His very own dwelling place was made from beautiful materials! The place he planned in the depths of His mind and realized through the work of His people was a place of beauty. Our Lord is beauty. He designs beauty. He lives among beauty.

Because of the atonement of His precious Son, through that Son the Father now resides in His people instead of hovering over the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies in His tabernacle. Not unlike the Tabernacle in the Old Testament, this new dwelling place required specific instructions. He doesn't leave the design of His people to human hands... He fashions us Himself, and continues to mold us and refine us until we are vessels that hold all He has for us, reflecting His perfect glory.

He commissioned skilled craftsmen for His new dwelling place too... Himself! He's not only the designer but also the creator. Only God could have laid out the complexities of the blueprint of the human body, mind, and soul and then put those plans to fruition by His spoken Word as He created man in His very own image. The Master Craftsman of all craftsmen built and continues to build the place He chooses to dwell.

We, like the tabernacle of old, are also fashioned with only the best materials. Our bodies are so miraculously and wonderfully made. Who else but the Lord could have designed a body that is able to withstand what ours go through daily? Lungs that take in oxygen involuntarily, a heart that pumps blood second after second, even when we don't think about it. Skin that heals, livers & kidneys that purify, eyes that can see near and far, and even organs that are made to play a part in His awesome job of creating yet more life... more potential dwelling places. Only our Master Craftsman could build these tabernacles.

The last thing the Lord showed me in this analogy is that just like His Old Testament tabernacle, we are beautiful. He doesn't make ugly dwelling places! Big, small, short, tall, light, dark, polka dotted (that's me!)... we're all beautiful and even more so in the eyes of our Creator. We're made in His image, after all, as His children where He longs to abide. When He looks at us, he doesn't see our blemishes, inward or outward... He sees His beautiful, treasured creation and His beloved Son.

Lately I have seen so many women down on themselves physically (myself included.) Society has defined what is "beautiful" in such a way that no normal woman could ever be considered to be a beauty. People starve themselves, go under the knife, take an endless supply of pills, deprive themselves, pile on makeup, spend thousands on designer labels, try this cream and that, change the color of their hair, eyes and who knows what else... all for what? A type of beauty that even if attained is fleeting, when really all they need to do is reach out to their Creator and see the true beauty that they are as His creation and how much more they can be as they abide in Him and He abides in them.

The one other thing I remember from this study of mine is a scripture in Psalm 45. This particular passage is a wedding song. Because we are the bride of Christ, I can see a parallel. Whether or not it is an accurate assumption of the verse, I tend to believe we can see it as such. It says, "The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord." (NIV) I do think our King of kings is captivated by our beauty because our Beauty is Himself, His handiwork, and His image. What a comforting thing to know that He looks so far past what we see in the mirror and sees the Christ in us.

I was never able to present this message because the sleep over was cancelled. Even still, I know it was all destined to be. I gained a lot from the study and it has been in the back of my mind this entire time. I knew I would be able to share it with someone someday. I suppose that day has finally arrived. Now go ye therefore and be beautiful. :o)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I Would Rather Be Interesting...

... Than Tidy!

I read that statement the other day and have deemed it my new motto. :o) Oh how true it is! I don't particularly find myself and my life all that interesting, but I guess someone out there might, right? One thing is for sure though... I.Am.Not.Tidy!

There are very few times when my entire home is clean. I do try to keep the essentials clean.. kitchen and bathrooms of course. But as far as tidy? Organized? Nope! It doesn't matter what it is... whatever I want is never where I want it to be. A personal life organizer would make a killing off of me (if only I could get organized long enough to find their phone number...)

I try and try to organize (especially my home office!) and it just doesn't work. I even buy these cute little organizing boxes for all my jewelry supplies, and somehow it just doesn't happen. *sigh*

Someone please tell me I'm interesting!!! ;o)

Saturday, April 01, 2006


Being settled. It's such a... settling feeling, is it not? I noticed tonight that for the first time in quite a while, I feel settled. My parents are at home, healthy and hopefully happy as well. I helped my dad come home from the hospital today. He seems to be doing remarkably well considering he had major surgery just a few days ago. It's very settling to know that it went as well as one could hope. My dog is lying next to me, happy and content. She seems to have settled here quite nicely. She absolutely loves "her" new yard!

We are now mostly moved into our new house. We have more space to settle in than we ever hoped for. My belly is full. All is well with the world! But all of this "settling" causes me to wonder. Is feeling settled just a good thing, or does it bring with it the potential to cause harm? Can it cause us to drop our guard? Can it lead us to a place of complacency? Or the worst of all... will it drown out all urges to move forward?

In an age and society full of "gimme gimme gimme... more more more!" you'd think that would be the last thing to worry about... right? There's always another and better gadget to acquire... a higher pay bracket to obtain... a bigger house... a shinier ring... that new fangled whatsit that promises to deliver the perfect body in 15 mins for only 6... no... make that 5 payments of $29.99!

Yet while our physical persons are ever reaching for bigger and better (or smaller and better) things, our spiritual sides often become too settled. Complacent. Lazy. Boring, even. How many Christians are so dedicated to Christ that they are truly always pressing forward, never satisfied with what little they understand of our Lord and what small portions of the hem of His garment they have fully apprehended? His mind is so vast, His power so mind blowing and his glory so brilliant... I believe it's impossible for our human minds to fully comprehend. But are we happy in that? Do we stop there? Do we just accept what little knowledge we do have... what little bits we've gleaned from Sunday school and watered down Bible studies? Should we feel settled when it comes to matters of God? I think not.

I know that personally, when I really dig down deep and seek His face... it's like the more I get, the more I want. I'm all "gimme gimme gimme... more more more!" Yet when I allow myself to be comfortable in what I have, satisfied in what I know... settled in the place I am in... the yearning for more of Him dwindles down. I become lazy and complacent. The desire to dig deep completely vanishes. It's a vicious cycle, and it's not one that is easily broken.

How does one move from a place of complacency and spiritual laziness to a place of constantly craving more of the only One who can satisfy a soul? And more importantly... how do you even balance between settling and satisfaction? Surely we are supposed to be satisfied with the Lord... so how do you differentiate between being satisfied with Him and being satisfied with where you are with Him? I know that I don't ever want to be satisfied with where I am spiritually until I'm dancing in His presence and bowing at His feet.

So where is the balance? Can one be settled... but not settled?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Grace, Grace... God's Grace

Have you ever just looked back thinking about your life and what God has done... and catch your breath in total wonder of His goodness? Have you ever been so awe struck at His grace that you can hardly breathe? Have you ever been so full with the treasure of His mercy that you can't even utter a sound and all that's left to do is worship Him with tears of joy?

Aren't those the most precious moments? I don't believe that anything else could ever evoke such a response. "Nothing compares to the greatness of knowing You, Lord..." is what a song says by Third Day. But I think that it's not just the knowing Him that is incomparable. It's the experiencing Him and having His unsurpassable and matchless mercy, grace, love, and glory poured out upon you so freely and so completely, all being so undeserved and uncontainable, magnificent and terrifying, perfect and unspeakable, all sufficient yet ever causing you to yearn for more that is the thing to which nothing can compare. I sing of it so very often in my songs. It's mentioned in almost every one. Why? Because it is so great and so powerful that it can never be spoken about enough... and I am so overcome by it that I just collapse in the beauty of it all.

Though I speak and sing of it so often, grace is not so easily understood by me. It's so uncommon to our human flesh that even one drop of it can make me fall down to my knees crying out "why?" while my spirit softly utters a song of thankfulness. I recently finished a song titled "You Consume Me" about being in the presence of God, dancing before Him and being so taken by Him and His glory and His grace and majesty that all I can do is humbly bow before Him and allow Him to consume me completely. One line says, "I don't deserve Your love, yet you say I'm Your own." I feel those words just about every day of my life. I don't deserve Him or His love one bit. I have never done anything to even deserve a second glance from Him. I've never said anything that merited His pouring out of grace upon my life. And yet He pours... oh, how He pours! He also never stops. This, I think, is the hardest part for me to comprehend. When I am faithful to Him (as much as one can be here in the flesh on this earth) He pours. When I am not faithful to Him, He pours. When I bawl like a baby because I want Him to stop so I can cease this writhing in the guilt of my forsaking Him... He pours. It's unfathomable. Unstopable. Uncomprehensible. It's grace.

Hallelujah! Grace like rain falls down on me
Hallelujah! All my stains are washed away, washed away.

Todd Agnew

Grace, grace... God's grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace... God's grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin!

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?

Julia H. Johnston,
Daniel B. Towner

I'm trying my best to receive with nothing but sheer thankfulness... but it is so hard to see past my undeserving self. How about you? How do you react at the wondrous grace of our Lord?

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

T Minus 22 Days!

We only have twenty two days until we close on our house. Oh yes... I guess I forgot to mention that we found one! And oh what a beauty she is. I would always roll my eyes or laugh everytime someone told me that when we walked in "our house" for the first time we would just know it. I guess I rolled too soon though, because I fell in love with this one from the moment I laid eyes on her. I caught it just as it went on the market, and we drove by it wondering to ourselves, "what is wrong with this house, that they have priced it so low?"

The neighborhood is so wonderful. The home is only a few years old, and it is surrounded by homes that are easily worth twice as much as it is. The yard is great, and the interior is a great size for us. It needs some cosmetic work (and a lot of elbow grease... apparently everyone's definition of "clean" is different!) but it can all be done in time.

We had our realtor write up the contract the night we viewed it. We offered, they countered, we accepted. We're getting it for a honey of a deal! My husband seems to think that the stressful part of our house hunting adventure is over with. But to me, this is the worst part!

Hi... my name is Crystal... and I'm a hoarder of all things chocolate. Oh, and money too. ;o) I know that I do not "love" money... but I sure do hate to spend what I have... and I certainly hate to not have any at all! So this has been very difficult for me. It seems like everytime I turn around, there's someone else wanting some of our hard earned green stuff! An inspector there... an appraiser here... a lender there... another inspector right over here. Each check is painful to write! I've rather enjoyed watching our money grow in our bank account... behaving all nicely and earning all that interest. But it's slowly trickling down and by the end of it, it will be over half way gone! Oh oh oh! I don't like this one bit. *lol* Perhaps God is trying to teach me to just be able to let it go. I think I'm afraid of having nothing. That is not a place I ever want to find myself again. A part of me thinks if I can just hold on to some of this cash, we would always be comfortable... but I know that's not a rational thought.

My husband has always been the confident one when it comes to trusting the Lord. It almost seems to come easy to him. Perhaps God has blessed him with that because if he were like me, we'd be in serious trouble! God has certainly placed us in certain situations and has gotten us through different circumstances and trials that have caused me to put more trust in Him... and also in my husband. There have been a few decisions we (or he) have made that I just could not see how they would work out... but God has been so merciful. He has created paths for us that no one else could... and He has walked us through places that don't make sense to the naked worldly eye but in hind's sight have been the best and most beautiful places through which we have been yet. He's allowed me to hit rock bottom spiritually so I could finally start to truly understand what His love and grace is all about and see but a glimpse of His glorious character. By taking us through doors that seemed to be leading down paths that were dead ends, He has proven that even though His ways don't always make sense to us or anyone around us, we absolutely cannot fail by submitting to His will.

So why does this trusting thing come so hard for me? You'd think that by now I would have learned my lesson. How much longer will I reply to God's words, "just trust me... I will never fail you" with a smug, "Oh yeah? Prove it!" instead of a humble "yes, Lord."

I'd love to tell myself that if He gets me through these next 22 days, that will be enough... it will be the final line in my pattern of trust for Him... but I know better! I'm not sure my flesh is capable of that amount of trust. I fear that I will fear until the day that I die. Surely not though... surely at some point I will be able to submit it completely to God and allow His peace to fill those places of my soul and transform those doubts in my mind to knowledge of His faithfulness. But until then, I just hope these next 22 days don't drive me insane. ;o)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

"Finding myself at a loss for words..."

I can hardly believe it has been a week since I've "blogged." For a girl who usually has no trouble at all talking someone's ear off, I have had such a hard time trying to think of anything to talk about in the past several days. So I think perhaps I will just start "talking" and see where I end up.

First of all, I read back over my first few entries and I must say that sometimes I surprise myself. How in the world did I come up with some of this stuff? *laughs* Not that it isn't all true... it is... but I just don't know where it came from. Sometimes I sit back and go over music I wrote and have the same thoughts. It's almost like I'm reading or listening to words and music from someone else's tongue. If you know me in person, you know I'm not an eloquent speaker at all... quite the opposite, really. Often times, I fumble over my words and say the wrong words more than I say the correct ones.

When I take a deep breath and think of the calling I believe the Lord has on my life, I believe that I must feel much like Moses when he said to His God, "... I speak with faltering lips!" But not only do I speak with faltering lips, I sing with quivering voice! *wink*

How I would love to get away with just being a "behind the scenes" type person. I'll pen the words, you speak them! I'll write the music, you sing it! But will the Author of this music and these words grant me this simple request? Will He delight Himself in me as I sit back lounging in the hammock of my comfort zone? Or will he be like the mother eagle who pushes her young out of the safety, security, and coziness of the nest... knowing that her babies must endure that hardship so that their wings might strengthen, enabling them to fly? Something tells me that this baby birdie won't be allowed to stay in the warm, cozy nest forever. Well, in reality, it's more than just something... it's more like somethings. Not only do I believe it to be true of my own accord (which I admit to rather reluctantly) I am told this by others. It could be one of the reasons I have checked out of church for so long... people tried to push me too far too fast into doing things I'm too afraid and not ready or able to do at this time. Can't you just see me desperately hanging onto the edge by my little pinky toenail here?

Not only do I think the Lord is trying to push me out of my comfortable nest... He must also be trying to teach me patience! We put in an offer on a house almost a week ago, and we are still waiting to hear about it. It's more than a little frustrating. Honestly, I'm okay with either way it could go... but what I'm not okay with is the not knowing. *laughs* I want to know if I can start picking out colors and furniture and decorative items. What size and color fridge will I need to buy to match the existing appliances... when can I start packing up our stuff and moving it from this dreadful apartment!? Or if not that, can I at least know it's time to move on down to the next house? We are at a stand still, and I've never really been a "stand still" type of girl! I'm not sure if I need a Sharpie answer for this one... but the 2-Day Air Mail option sounds great right about now!

I think I will leave you with some words to a favorite song by MercyMe, "Word of God Speak" For some reason I find the words quite fitting for me tonight...

I'm finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it's okay
The last thing I need is to be heard
But to hear what You would say

Word of God speak
Would You pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see
Your majesty
To be still and know
That You're in this place
Please let me stay and rest
In Your holiness
Word of God speak

I'm finding myself in the midst of You
Beyond the music, beyond the noise
All that I need is to be with You
And in the quiet hear Your voice


I'm finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it's okay

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

One Day

My husband is a wonderful man. In fact, I really could never say enough good about him. He is so intelligent, witty... so very handsome and strong. He makes me laugh like no one else, comforts me like no one else, and brings a smile to my face just by the mere thought of him... like no one else. He is the only man besides my father to ever love me. Why he loves me is something I'm not sure I will ever understand... but I will accept it and cherish it. Yes it is no secret that I am truly and abundantly blessed to be called his wife.

But alas, like all other things in this world that are too good to be true... there is a problem. He is hurt. He hurts. Constantly and badly. Because of the indiscresion of one person and the ignorance of a handful of others... he is permanently and severely injured. This of course does not affect our love for each other, but it does affect our lives... his mostly.

It's with him constantly, and many times he hides it well so no one else is touched by it. But I know... I know it's always there. I know there's not a darn thing I can do about it... and it drives me mad. Why does such a bad thing have to happen to such a good individual? Why can't all the prayers offered on his behalf by not only me but countless others move the heart of God enough to bring him some relief? Why does he have to go through this... so young with so much life ahead of him... and why, oh why can't I take it from him?

Tonight someone asked me about it... she doesn't really know me, so she didn't know the story. As I sat and typed it all out, reliving the parts I could rememer, I just started to break down. It's just not fair that someone so caring and so undeserving of such pain has to endure it. It's not fair that he has to go work enough to fill several person's shoes in pain the whole time, while I get to work at home comfortable and for the most part, pain free. It was then, as I finished telling this person of this situation, that I decided I would trade all the happiness I could ever experience for the rest of my life... if only I could just take his pain upon myself and give him relief for just one week... even one day. I would do it and then some. Why doesn't the Lord allow us to make deals like that? It's not like I want to give him the world (although I would love to if I could...) I just want to give him a chance to remember what it feels like to not be hurting. A day to just enjoy life and do whatever he wanted to do without fear of the pain that it would inevitably bring.

I would take it forever... though I'm not sure I'm strong enough. But one day... I could give him at least one day... if only I could...

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A Note to My Readers

The comments, compliments, and encouragements you all have offered to me both online and off since I started this blog have truly warmed my heart. I never imagined any writing, or certainly any blog I would start could evoke such a reaction! I feel truly blessed to have each and every one of you in my life.

It was brought to my attention that there was not a function where anyone could subscribe to my blog and be notified of any changes or recent posts. Some readers have expressed interest in knowing when a new post has been made, so I believe I figured out a way to do it.

I started a google mail group that will send an email everytime a post is made to this blog. If you would like to sign up to receive the email notifications, just visit the following page:

I would also like to request that if you leave an anonymous comment, if you could be so kind as to make mention of who you are, or at least drop a hint so I can guess. ;o) One of you I still haven't figured out!

Thanks again to all my readers. Hugs and blessings to each of you.

The Great Loss

I experienced a little bit of a broken heart today. Just when my husband and I were about to notify our realtor that we wanted to make an offer on the small pretty house I fell in love with (and then doubted myself over) he sadly informed us that the house went under contract. It went just "a few hours ago..." he said. Oh, we can make a back up offer in case theirs falls through... but what, really, are the chances? I'm ashamed to admit that at first I got very angry and said a few choice words. I just couldn't believe that once I finally decided it was indeed the house I wanted... the very place I saw myself living, decorating, raising a child or two, planting a garden... it was gone. It reminds me of the words from a popular song during my high school years. "Isn't it ironic... don't you think?"

So I sit here and wonder, could it be God (as everyone is telling me) or could it just be that I am too slow to get over my fears? I remembered just now as I pen these words that "a few hours ago..." before making the decision, a good friend prayed with me over the phone concerning this very thing. After she prayed, I knew things would be okay and work out according to His will. How quickly I forgot that prayer, and how swiftly I abandoned the peace it had settled in my soul, when this difficulty began to invade my space. How shamefully I admit that forgetfulness now, having cried my eyes out and stayed angry at myself, the world, the dog who kept getting under my feet as I attempted to finish preparing dinner through tear-stained glasses, and even my husband who just so lovingly wanted to comfort me.

I feel rather silly getting so emotional over a house. Don't get me wrong. I am still quite attached to it. I still very much want to call it my own and dream of filling it with the happy sounds of a growing family. I am also still quite doubtful that such a beautiful home in such a wonderful location will fall in our laps yet again... but to consider it such a great loss now just seems so... frivolous.

I didn't arrive at this conclusion easily, or even through any effort of my own. It hit me like a lead balloon, pounding on the doors of my mind, relenting not until my own thoughts were drowned out by the sounds of it piercing through my heart until that heart, completely broken, spewed forth the revelation that my "great loss" was really not that great at all.

It was born of the remembrance of an online acquaintance who shared with us the tragic and sudden loss of her dear husband, thought to be taken from this earth just a short week ago by a massive heart attack. It was ripened by the news article read concerning a six year old boy, struck by a vehicle this morning and pronounced dead at the scene.

Three losses. One woman mourning the death of the love of her life, another grieving the loss of a living and breathing piece of her very heart... and a third. This lady staring back at me in the mirror having lost... what? Brick? Tile? Mud-stained grout? Poorly chosen paint? Dirt? A chain link fence and a citrus tree or two?

How can I continue to bemoane the loss of something thought to be so wonderful, yet is so petty? How can I continue in this selfish way, completely forgetting to fall on my knees praising my Lord for the wonderful blessings I do have? How can I consider this a "great loss" when it really is no loss of mine at all? Brick can be rebuilt, tile can be re-layed, grout can be muddied up again, paint will always be available to buy in unbecoming colors, fences can be set yet again, and trees will always be planted and nurtured. Another house can be found... but we only have one chance at life. We only have one short life to share with the ones we love so dearly, and but a brief time on this earth to bring glory to the only One who is worthy of it. Do we have another decade? Another year? Another hour, minute, or just one more breath? Of this we can never be sure... but what I am sure of is that it is time to move on, count my blessings, and be truly thankful for the mercy of our great Redeemer. Move me, Lord... for my flesh saps my strength.

I may have lost the house I compare all others to, but perhaps this "great loss" has... in the grand scheme of things... given me more than could ever be taken away.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Handwriting on the Wall

Do you ever find yourself wishing that you could hand the Lord a Sharpie? Just toss one of the big permanent black ones up to the heavens and shout, "Okay, God. You, me, after work in the back room. Times New Romans size 5,403 please?" It seems to me that this method would be the easiest. I mean, who could miss His voice that way? Who would be bold enough to ignore His will presented in that manner... or worse yet... be unrighteous enough to paint over it?

There have been so many times in my life where I have hoped and prayed for a message of direction from the Lord to be as clear as the ink from a big black Sharpie against a stark white wall. He has spoken to me in many ways, mostly the usual ones... but so far, He hasn't humored me in this request. This is a week that I could really use it!

My husband and I are on that joyous and exciting yet terribly frustrating road to becoming first time home owners. At the time of this posting, we have viewed eight homes both inside and out and so many on the outside alone that I lost count weeks ago. The prospect of becoming tens of thousands of dollars in debt overnight is enough to make this Irish gal's blood run cold. I have never been good at making decisions and this is certainly no exception!

This journey has been covered in prayer every step of the way, but yet I am confused as to what the next and perhaps final step should be. It was only yesterday that I thought I knew for sure. We viewed our favorite prospect for the second time, and took a friend who builds homes along to give us his expert opinon on the matter. It was still love at second sight. This house has so much curb appeal to me, I smile when I think about it. It is so much better than I ever thought our first home could be. I love everything about it... almost. I didn't even realize there was an "almost" until today's wee hours of its morning.

Dustin's friend discovered the home still has some aluminum wiring and the price he estimated for getting it replaced with copper greatly discouraged me. We have since found out that it is not as huge a job or as big a bill as we originally thought... but it put a bug in my ear and caused me to look at things a bit deeper. I woke up this morning knowing that the wiring would be alright, but thinking to myself that I really was not sure that we could live with the size of the home happily for very long. I went from being so certain that it was "home" to thinking that the dining room and kitchen are much too small to be practical for a family that could be potentially growing very soon. Whether I am being irrational or not, I am not sure. I am sure, however, that I wish the Lord would whip out the Sharpie now!

Two days ago, we started praying that He would make it crystal clear if we were to make an offer on this house or not. I have prayed that He would show us if it were the wrong home. I now find myself wondering if this is indeed Him pointing this out to me... or if it is just my old voice of doubt rearing its ugly head once again. It is quite possible that He allowed us to learn about the wiring just so I would take a step back from my "inloveness" (to borrow from a word I recently read in an autobiography) with this home and see past the outward beauty of it to the inward problems it may pose for us. It is also very possible that this is just my fear being called into play... or even perhaps my sporadic inability to be satisfied.

Is this the "be still..." command? Or is it time to exercise my free will and just make a decision?

Lord... I have in my possession both black and blue Sharpies. Take your pick, and I'll send it on up! (Oh, and can I borrow a few bucks for overnight postage? I need this answer soon!)

What am I singing?

This is my first attempt at a blog. Long, long ago and far, far away I used to have a website with an online journal where I would record my life and various ramblings. It was a place where I could unload and unwind... laugh and cry... and in the process allow family and friends a glimpse into the soul of me.

I've been pondering this whole blogging matter for a while, but I kept putting it off for lack of direction as to what I would want to say. Could I possibly have anything important enough to talk about that others would actually be interested in reading on? I still don't know the answer to that question, but that's okay for now. All I know is I love to write... music, poetry, letters... anything, really... and I've realized that when I put my words to paper, they aren't merely words, they are indeed my heart, and it always helps me to see just where I am and where I'm headed and whether or not I'm liking it all.

For those of you that know even a smidgen about me, you know that a large part of my life is music. It always has been, but it hasn't always been of the magnitude it is now. I have been singing since I was old enough to know how to make any type of noise, whether it be joyful or not... but only in the recent few years has God expanded my horizon and put new songs in my mouth... and they truly are songs of praise to my God. I have become addicted to worship. Nothing allows me to feel the peace and joy of the Lord more so than a well written, God centered worship song, so I cannot express how awesome it is for me to be allowed to write those very songs.

I've been stagnant lately though. Stagnant in my life in general and stagnant in my walk with the Lord. This lack of motion has produced a lapse in creativity in my writing. It is painful for me to realize this, since the closest I ever feel to the Lord is when I'm writing just for Him. Just one on one... me and my Abba... He taking my hand in His, using me as a pen and instrument to bring Himself glory. This is what I was created for afterall... bringing Him glory... and in it is to be found the greatest joy I have ever known. Nothing pains me more than to realize my life at this very moment is not a clear reflection of that glory... my life's song, the song of my soul, is not being filled with the music of His heart... but rather, it's being muddled by the imperfections of my doubts, fears, insecurities, and lack of faith. The symphony of my life is no longer in harmony because I have failed to watch the every move and every breath of my Conductor. I must choose to focus on Him and His leading, instead of myself and what I may perceive to be the right notes... for then and only then will my life again be an expression of His heart, filled with His perfect melody.

So I write this blog in hopes that tracking my journey will enable me to reach my destination all the more soon. But then again, is bringing the Lord glory a destination that can ever be fully reached? Or is it a never ending journey deep into the heart and mind of God... a heart and mind that I believe is ever growing and ever deepening with love, passion, power, and grace... constantly filling His voice, which is able to be heard down through the depths of the earth, with the very song He sweetly whispers in my ear... ever calling... ever leading me gently back into His merciful arms, allowing my soul to sing His music of glory once again no matter how out of tune I have allowed my spirit to become?

Either way, I choose to sing... and blog on.

photo hunter test