Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Month in Review-November

I looked down at my calendar today and said "Wow! Tomorrow is the first day of December!"  Time has really whizzed by these last few weeks. 

This month was full of good things, such as taking another part of the CPA exam (still don't know my score yet!), surprising my family with a house full of holiday decorations, my brother's graduation from another school in the Army, running my first 5K race, a heartwarming Thanksgiving Day surprise of my brother coming in from his Post for the holiday weekend, a stunning Thanksgiving Day feast prepared almost ENTIRELY by my father, and a surprise visit from my Boston family. 

November has been delightful and difficult at the same time.  As a matter of fact, most of my year has been like that.  I'm so thankful for the delightful times.  I don't care for the difficult times, but if I look at them from a different perspective, I can always see how God makes the difficult into beautiful and useful.  Like polishing rubbish to find a treasure. 

I know I have treasure deep inside me.  Some parts of it are surfacing and shining, other parts are still buried under "difficult" that I need to get through in order for the treasure to shine. 

But all in good time, I will surely be shining forever... 

Can't wait for that day!


Happy November, everyone! 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Outside the Frame

I'm new to glasses.  I was just prescribed them for certain conditions, and they aren't the same as wearing sunglasses.  There are two little shapes for my eyes to look through, surrounded by a frame.  I can see the frame with my peripheral. What I noticed the other day was that my eyes don't want to stretch to look outside of those frames.  While without glasses, I look to my right and left to see things out of the corner of my eye, wearing the glasses deceives my eyes into thinking it is only supposed to see what is within the frames. 

I know.  I can pull a lesson from anything it seems.  But I did learn something about myself here.  I learned that too often I find myself focused within my own frame of mind, not allowing myself to look in the peripheral - or to even consider there is a peripheral. 

And how often do things turn out differently than I could foresee?  Often. 

Just another reminder to me to try to consider that I do not have all the options in front of me.  And that God does.  He can work a miracle out of something, even when I see there is no room for one to be worked. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I've discovered I have a knack for making assumptions.  In some circumstances, I'm taught, I must make assumptions in order to come to a reasonable conclusion.  In most life situations, however, I've found assumptions are borderline, if not completely, destructive. 

Recently I read a devotional that talked about how often we put words into other people's mouths while they've not said a thing. It hit me today that I tend to put words into God's mouth too.  Not for other people, but for myself.

I was told this morning that an event was cancelled due to extremely unfortunate circumstances.  The writer told me, however, that he was "thankful for our Lord's constant reminder of His involvement in each of our lives."


What a  good reminder to me to stop putting God in a box of my own understanding.  He is God.  Let Him be so, Crystal; let Him be God.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Redemption (II)

Redemption is such a powerful and soothing word.  Redemption implies that someone has done something wrong, and that they do not have what it takes to make things right.

Psalm 49:15 NLT
But as for me, God will redeem my life. He will snatch me from the power of the grave.

Redemption in this life means I have done something worthy of death itself, yet I don't have to die.  Not because I am so powerful to avoid death, but because someone has paid the price I owed.  This someone is God through Jesus Christ. 

Oh, how desperately I need this redemption all too often.  I need to be redeemed from myself!  Plus, I don't want to live a life of doing things wrong. 

I've grown up in church and done my best to follow God my entire life.  I've realized how bad of a person I am on my own, and how much I need Jesus as my eternal savior.  And I have accepted Him as such.  Yet I still do wrong.  The decision to accept salvation has not made me exempt from being human.  I need redemption just as much as the next person.  I need help to make good decisions and to quickly forgive those around me. 

We're all headed for the same place - a courtroom.  And nothing will be hidden here.  HOWEVER, if I chose Jesus as my attorney, my records are sealed, and the accusations against me are blotted out.  Any objections to my innocence are overruled when I've repented and been redeemed.  Redeemed.  This is my judgment.  I have been found in the wrong, but I have been redeemed.  And this is why, as a Christian, I can say, "I am set free".

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fall Is Here!

I just love fall.  I love most things about nature, but it is quite lovely in the fall.  Leaves change, the weather gets cooler -but not unbearably so, my area starts to get busier as we have more tourists arrive, stores start hiring, menus change, clothing styles change, people become more generous (in general), and for some reason hope becomes brighter.

Some people do not have these things happen, I realize that the above is a blanket statement.  But many people I know do experience these things in the fall.

In the fall, many people participate in long-standing family or community traditions.  I don't know that my family has kept any particular fall traditions, but we did have a fun time doing something others have often enjoyed: pumpkin carving!

When my brother graduated from basic training, the joke was that the day before graduation was called "Hot Mama, Hot Sister Day".  We had mused about making t-shirts and wearing them that day, but decided against it overall.  We did, however, decide to represent this little piece of Army tradition in our fall decor.

And since we have a new female in the mix, we added a line to those titles:  Hot Mama, Hot Sister, and Hot Girlfriend!!!  Look at how our "decorations" came out!!!

When she got to her third word, Jeanna decided that the "friend" part of her new title would probably not fit on the pumpkin's face, so we just left it at "girl".

What a fun night!  After we cleaned up our mess, we roasted the pumpkin seeds and have enjoyed them for over a week!

Did you carve a pumpkin for part of your fall decor this year??

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pumpkinstein to the rescue!

It is a well known fact that flowers mean a lot to most females.  This is one reason why I was so delighted when I had this cute arrangement waiting for me when I got home the other day!  I like to call it my Pumpkinstein bouquet, because the pumpkin face has a scar on the top left side of it.

This sweet gesture meant so much to me when I was having a rough day.  What kind of things make you feel cared for?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Good People

Nobody can take the place of my brother.

Still, there are people in my life that fill the role of a brother.

I have two friends that I meet and have lunch with periodically.  They're two awesome guys married to two awesome women and they all love God and love people with everything inside of them.  They're professionals.  They're courteous, yet true.  They're the kind of guys that have your back.  To me, they're brothers. 

There's never awkwardness between us, because they guard their conversation as if they were my brothers.  They give me advice and encouragement like a brother does.  They laugh with me and I harass them back.  They're not fake, they're discretely honest.  They treat me with respect as the lady I am, just like a brother. 

Every time I leave their company, I feel like I was just given a gift.  If nothing else, that there are still good people in the world.  Good, honest, real-life, no-joke, strong, kind people. There are still people that look out for good in the world, don't dread the next day, and thank God for what they have and not what they don't have. 

I leave knowing, assuredly, that I am important, that I am cared for, that I am someone others can enjoy, and that I am an integral part of this huge tapestry God is weaving in creation.  And no matter how good my day is going, it never hurts to be reminded of that.

You know what I think is the most incredible part of it all?  They don't say it.  I just leave knowing those things. 

That's how it is with good people.

That's how it is with a brother.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Redemption (I)

Matthew 12:34
You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.

Have you ever done something that you have regretted with everything inside of you?  Oh, have I.

It's at times like these that I am so angry at the person inside of me.  I think of this verse and ask myself "what the heck is in your heart, Crystal??"

I can't figure out where these epic failures originate inside of me. All I know is that, try as I might, I still have them. 

And all I know to do is to admit them, ask for forgiveness, do what I can to correct them (if possible),  get back up again, and try to weed out the ickyness inside of me.  I know that with this comes the risk of failing again.  But when I stay down after I've fallen.... that's when I truly accept defeat.

It doesn't make the thing I did right, but it certainly redeems the act. 

Redemption is one of the most beautiful words.