Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Scripture For The Day

For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart. - Hebrews 4:12

Monday, February 23, 2015

He Will Quiet You With His Love

"In You, O Lord, do I put my trust and confidently take refuge: let me never be put to shame or confusion." Psalm 71:1

Sometimes it is so hard for us to trust in God.  We face day to day problems and issues and find ourselves needing clarity.  We need that reassurance that we are on the right path, His path.  We get so caught up in our day to day tasks that we tend to lose that peace we so desperately need.  We finally slow down and realize, "I'm lost."  We cry out in prayer asking for guidance and then slowly but surely, His Grace and Mercy blankets us.  However, in order for us to be blanketed, we must surrender.  We must be willing to totally let go and totally let God.  We must be willing to totally surrender all to Him.

That's where most of us struggle the most.  The thought of letting go of the control that we THINK we need to get through our daily life is sometimes more than we can fathom.  I know for me, the thought of letting go of the control is at times overwhelming but then I realize, His plan and His way is so much more better than mine.  His plan for me and His way of life brings so much more peace than my ways could ever bring.  

"Evil people are trapped by their own sin, but good people can sing and be happy."  Proverbs 29:6

Evil people, huh?  Am I evil?  What defines evil?  What defines sin?  For a long time I went through life blindly thinking that the BIG sins were the only things that made people evil.  The closer I have become to God, the more I realize how much sin and filth I carry on a day to day basis.  We all do with our sins that we think are small but trust me, sometimes the "smallest sin" can carry the biggest and most dangerous repercussions. 

I have finally come to terms with anger and an unforgiving heart being a HUGE sin.  I say finally, because I knew I carried anger, bitterness, and an unforgiving heart like an overfilled backpack hitting people as I walked around but I didn't want to admit how WRONG this was.  I carried this load of filth in my heart and it even though I tried to tuck it away and hide it, it was BOLDLY seen.  It was seen in the way I carried myself, my heavy eyes, my lifestyle, but most of all and worst of all, my spirit.  My spirit was so heavy and so filled with turmoil from this sin that I held on to for dear life.  I thought holding on to this was protection.  Holding on to these things protected my heart from pain or from being hurt again.  Not true.  It only made things worse.  It only made the pain more piercing to my spirit.

"The Lord your God is with you,  He is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love."  Zephaniah 3:17

"He will quiet you with His love....." I love that part of that verse.  He will quiet us with His love, all we have to do is ask.  Sit still in His presence for just a moment and ask for that blanket of peace, for that quietness and He will come through with this promise.  

He will quiet you with His love.  Indeed, He will. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Thought Of The Day

When we can accept that everything we see, listen to, and do reaps a harvest we will be able to make wiser desicions. Are you sowing to your flesh or the Spirit?

Set My Heart On Fire As We Set The World On Fire

I spent the majority of this morning talking back and forth with my sissy about the greatness of our God and it got me to start looking through old blog posts.  I wanted to go back and just really review what all God has brought me through.  As I was looking through old blogs, I ran across this one from October 2011 and my heart completely filled with so much thanksgiving. many people said I was TOO PICKY in my dating life.  Thank You Jesus for making sure I was!  I.AM.LOVED.

October 11, 2011 - Old Blog Entry

I went on a jog with my good friend Anant today and we were discussing relationships. He asked me the big question....the question I have been asked so much since being single. Anant's exact words were, "Crystal, you seem to find something wrong with every guy you haven't been dating for a while so what DO you want in a man?" This has been a very popular question for me over the past few months. Friends are shocked when I say "no thank you" to very eligible and handsome bachelors who seem to have it all. I have yet to answer this question fully. I simply just shrug my shoulders and say "he isn't the one", "just not interested", "he goes out too much", "he doesn't love Jesus", "his breath stinks and God does not want me with a stinky guy", "he doesn't like dogs", "he has yet to call me and ask me out on a proper date", "he believes a relationship is based on text messaging", "his idea of a first date is a movie at his place and I know that that means," and my list goes on and on and on!

So, here it is, all wrapped up in one. :)

Most importantly, I want a man who loves Jesus and prays every day! Somebody who's whole faith is in Him. I want somebody who seeks God in all. Somebody who will travel the world with me and make it a goal in life to set the world on fire for Him! Somebody who actually prays for me and for the relationship. Somebody whom I can trust to lead my home and the relationship because I KNOW that he is led by the spirit and who yes I know will make mistakes from time to time but who will always lead with the right intentions. The trust I will have for him to spiritually lead and lead in every way will be because I KNOW that he is selfless and decisions are based on God's guidance and not what is just best for himself. 

I want somebody who takes the time out to get to know something about me every single day for the rest of our lives. Somebody who seeks my heart and wants to know every detail of my life. Somebody who is truly curious how my day went or how my tennis lesson went or how much I adore spending time with my big sister. Somebody who spends time nourishing the relationship and spends quality time with me and who makes this a priority.  Somebody who adores the fact that I love the color pink and that I have a button nose and that I don't wear make up and I like having my hair up in a ponytail more than anything. Somebody who allows me to love them with all that I have with no fears and not just because they want to be loved but because they want to be loved by ME. Somebody who enjoys life and has fun and can laugh at the little things. Somebody who can be goofy and who can just get up and go and enjoy life. Somebody who will adore Daisy like I do and even will comment on her outfits. HA! I just want somebody who doesn't take life seriously BUT who does take the love of the Lord seriously. Somebody who can communicate and love and can be romantic when it's least expected. Somebody who will send me flowers just because and ok, I do like flowers on special occasions too. Somebody who will text me when they think of me just to let me know. Somebody who calls me beautiful even when I'm not looking good at all, which rarely happens.....ok, fine, it happens a lot! Somebody who encourages me in my walk, with my career, with my friendships, just with life in general. Somebody who will make the effort to get to know my family and friends and not just get to know them but who will love them! 

Do I think this is too much to ask for? Nope, not one bit. I know that I am capable of all this and more; therefore I know it is possible and I know that with God and with love, anything is possible! I also know that ultimately God will choose the one for me. God is and will be the author of my love story. I believe that! 

Ladies, place your heart in the hands of God and He will place it in the hands of a man who He believes deserves it. :)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Is This What Marriage Will Be?

I told my husband-to-be that I needed to get some new contacts. 30 min later he called me with an appointment time with an optometrist. If this is what husbands do, why didn't I get married sooner!!!?? #swoon #spoiled #hetakescareofme

Sunday, February 15, 2015

You Have To Release To Be Set Free

"You will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:12-13 

Over the last week, I have really felt the Power of His Holy Spirit work in my heart and in my life. I knew there was something strong brewing in my heart that wasn't allowing me to feel the peace I craved so much and no matter how much I prayed for this to be revealed to me, I felt His silence. I was growing more and more impatient but I kept on praying. I knew that if I kept praying and seeking, He would honor my prayers. 

As I diligently prayed for a God encounter, I continued to engulf myself in His word and in worship music. Even though I was feeling His absence, I was going to continue to seek Him, I wouldn't give up.

"I trust in Your unfailing love. I will rejoice because You have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because He has been so good to me." Psalm 13:5-6 

Finally, this past weekend, God graced me so boldly with His peace and restoration!  I felt His presence stronger than I ever have in my life and I knew He was revealing to me all that I had been praying for. He was bringing to light all of the things that were causing my heart to not feel peace. I realized that the hindrance to my peaceful soul was unforgiveness.

I won't sit here and go through all that I have been through in life because we all have our story. We all have a testimony and we all have our journey that got us to where we are. However, I will tell you that a lot of my past and a lot of family issues had been causing me to allow unforgiving feelings to take reign in my heart. This unforgiving attitude I had deep down drove a fear and a darkness that wouldn't leave my side. It was always there taunting me and making me feel so weighed down in life. For months I didn't know what had such a strong hold of me but there it was, all laid out piece by piece, each moment in my life that I had not let go of; each devastating moment of pain . I held on to it with an unforgiving heart that refused to be set free. I made up my mind right then and there that I was done. I had had it! I wanted it no more!  I wanted to finally hand it over to Him and the moment that I finally handed it all over.....He spoke.  His love pierced my heart and I realized He had been waiting on me to release it all to Him.

For the first time in a long time, I feel totally free. I feel God's presence so strongly and I know that I have just experienced the God encounter that I have been praying for. He has finally pieced together for me all the brokenness that was causing me so much pain. He is putting me together and I am finally allowing Him to do this for me.  Over the past few years; I have had broken friendships and broken relationships that have broken my spirit but I have finally released all that brokenness to Him.  Restoration has been key over the past few months and I have seen God work amazing things in friendships I thought were broken forever.  I have experienced recently what happens when we truly hand relationships over to Him.  He is a God of love and grace and He wants to share that with us so much!

God is SO amazing with how He works.  I have been in complete awe of Him and how He always shows up at the perfect timing. I realize now that when we feel His absence, He isn't really absent. He's still there, setting up the scene for his divine encounter with us. He is preparing our hearts to accept what He needs us to accept.....and sometimes, that takes time and silence.  

Thank you Jesus so much for all that you do for us.  We go day by day sometimes ignoring the simple fact that you are FOR us; no matter what.  We can make mistake after mistake but YOU know our hearts and YOU know what is broken and how to repair it.  Sometimes we rely on family or friends or our jobs to fix what's broken but that's just unrealistic.  Those things can patch it up momentarily but only YOU, Jesus, can be our ultimate healer!  

If you are feeling uneasiness in your life, I encourage you to seek Him and not just seek Him by going to Church on Sunday but by really really seeking Him.  Seek all of His goodness and ask Him to come into your life and cleanse your whole soul.  Ask Him to show you the ways in which He wants you to live!   Jesus loves us and does forgive us but there is also a responsibility we must take up when we make the choice to be Christ followers and it is so important that we take heed and remember that He took us seriously when He died on the cross for us; therefore, we should take Him and our walk seriously!  Release it all to Him and allow Him to come in and fill your whole spirit with Him!  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

My Journey With Heart Disease

"I can do everything through Him who gives me strength."  Phillippians 4:13

We all struggle with battles and sometimes life brings them to us all at once but I am a believer in the knowledge that He will not give us more than what we can handle.  With February being heart month, I thought I would share my journey with heart disease. My journey started for me when I was a baby.  I was born with a heart murmur, which isn't very uncommon for premature babies.  It was managed growing up and the symptoms began to be far and few until three years ago.  I was living in Arkansas  when my doctor wanted me to get an Echo done for the murmur he could hear in my routine check up and for the problems I had been having with feeling tired, dizzy, having chest pains, and having a hard time catching my breath at any extreme movement.  This was scary for me but I knew that no matter the outcome, I would be in His hands.  My sweet friend Tyler went with me to the Echo and it was so good just knowing she was out there in the waiting room waiting on me.  Tyler is another amazing way that God works.  She has become a very important person in my life and our friendship is one that is kinda unbelievable when you really think about it but I'll save that story for another blog entry..... 

My Echo results wouldn't be back for another week, so in the mean time, Doc advised me to get as much rest as possible and to try and not get stressed out.  Not get stressed out? hhmm..... again, I knew God would be with me no matter what, even if stress were to enter my life, which it did.....

For the first few months I was vague about my heart problems and that was more because I wasn't fully understanding what was going on with my own heart to really answer questions.  Once I got my results in and had a chance to study up on my diagnosis, I was able to face this battle head on!  I had a full understanding of what was going and since then I have had to work hard on maintaining some awesome heart health!  

So, what I have is Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP) and regurgitation.  MVP is a heart disease that when the valve is closed, the leaflets bulge abnormally up, into the atrium. Sometimes mitral valve prolapse causes mitral valve regurgitation. If the prolapse is severe, the valve leaflets can become disconnected from tendons that stretch between the leaflets and the heart muscle. This can cause the valve to malfunction.  The regurgitation is when the valve doesn't close completely and allows blood to leak back.  

The MVP was the reason for my dizziness, fainting, lack of energy, heart palpitations, and anxiety.

This is a condition I will have for the rest of my life and I don't mind putting this information about myself out there because I want to be an ambassador for this type of heart disease.  I want to get better and do all that I can to stay heart healthy.  I know with God on my side that I can and WILL live a "normal" life.  It was a slight change in lifestyle but nothing that I couldn't handle and nothing that isn't good for me to do any way!  I can't play singles tennis, no biggie, I sucked at tennis any way.  I have to give up caffeine, oh well, needed to do that any way.  I MIGHT not be able to run that marathon that I wanted to run but that's ok.  I can't drink alcohol, oh well, I'm not a big drinker any way.  I'll have to see my heart specialist every three months for the rest of my life, that's ok, he's a nice guy. I try to stay as positive as possible when it comes to my heart but the reality is, one day, I will have to make a decision to have open heart surgery and that's ok, I know God will always be near me. 

Have I been nervous throughout this journey?  Absolutely....... but God always finds a way to ease my worries.  Anything that has to do with the heart can be a scary feeling but I have my faith and I hope that I can be an example to others who go through ANY kind of heart condition.  It's not the end of the world and in time I will feel better and live better.  Sure, I might always experience symptoms but at least I know how to live with it better.  I was excited to start this new chapter in life and to learn how to live with this condition. Knowledge is POWER and I encourage anybody who has even the slightest bit of heart issues, get checked out!  No problem is too small when it comes to the heart!!!!  

Thought Of The Day

Don’t love your money. You’ve got to decide if God is going to be number one in your life or if making a lot of money will be your number one goal in life. You cannot serve both. “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Luke 16:13).

Monday, February 9, 2015

Thought Of The Day

"People who draw attention will also draw criticism." T.D. Jakes

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Why I Turned Down A Free Enrique and Pitbull Concert Ticket

I was recently asked to join a friend of mine to a concert Friday night, ticket was on her.  I politely declined.  I could tell I hurt her feelings and she asked me, "Why?  Do you not like Pitbull?  How in the world could you not like him, he's hot!!  I thought you used to like him?"  I explained to her that I have been a fan of his before and of Enrique's but over the years I have just slowly been uninterested in music that glorified sex, partying, and basically mocked teachings of the Bible.  I also started to explain to her that my spirit has been needing protection lately. My friend is not a Christian and she did not quite understand what I meant but she kept asking questions, so I kept answering as lovingly and as honestly as I could without saying something that might make her think I was judging her for going to the concert.

In my quest to explain to her what I meant by everything, I made a comment about me getting married soon.  I said, "you know, I am so excited to get married but I also have been facing fears of marriage and right now I need to protect my spirit and my heart from any thoughts that are not of Him."  Her response was, "you are taking this married thing a little too far now Cryssie."  I thanked her and smoothly changed the subject as I could tell the conversation was going in circles.

I thanked her for her comment because where she meant it as an insult, I took it as a compliment.  Yes, I am taking the "marriage thing" far.....because it is far.  It's a far off season of life that will drastically be different from my single life.  My marriage will be (next to God) the most important thing in my world and if listening to music that glorifies sex and pride could possibly open any negative feelings or thoughts; I will gladly turn away from it and protect my heart.

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." Proverbs 4:23

 I spent the rest of my day in deep thought over our conversation, I started to realize that I really wasn't sure what my stance was on secular music.  As a Christian, I kind of just listen to majority Christian and maybe once in a blue moon, I listen to something that isn't Christian.  I started to listen to sermons on this topic and realized that I needed to be more mindful of what I let come into my ears and into my mind, spirit, and heart.  I have thought this for a while but it wasn't until today that I really studied this topic.

Why did my spirit automatically get so uncomfortable with the thought of going to this concert?  Why were my convictions screaming out to me?  These questions were ringing over and over in my mind, so I listened to a couple of these artists songs and when I had finally had enough...... my spirit was so sad.  I felt icky inside and so sad that so many women and young girls listen to these songs and open up their hearts to this music.  I'm not gonna lie, when I was totally in the world, Enrique Iglesias was one of my favorites. Sadly, it wasn't his music I enjoyed but I mainly lusted over him. I have seen him in concert twice and embarrassingly I have to admit, I do not remember much of the music aspect of the concerts because I was so focused on my lustful thoughts of him.

I haven't listened to much of him in the past few years but I pulled up one of his newer songs and my heart just broke.  His "I'm A Freak" video and song is about nothing but freaky casual sex and a total disregard to what God created it to be.  "Time Of Our Lives" by Pitbull was the most disturbing to me.  The song starts off with being late on bills but using that money to go out and party.  Luke 16:1 teaches us that we are to be good stewards of our money so how can I jam out to somebody going totally against what my God tries to teach us day in and day out?  At one point, Pitbull totally mocks the Church and then turns around and says he is blessed; totally mocking what I hold near and dear to my heart.  The Church is my life.  She is my God's wife and His love.  In so many of his lyrics he blatantly tells the listener that he only wants lust; totally glorifying the total opposite thing that God created sex for.  As a Christian, that totally hurt my heart.  I literally felt sick to my stomach when I was done listening.

So much of these lyrics completely crushed my spirit as I listened.  Maybe it's that my life IS going into a whole new season and so my heart is so sensitive lately.  I am about to be a wife and soon after we'll start talking about having children. So, maybe it's the idea of being a mother to a daughter one day and hating the thought that she would listen to these lyrics and feel like it is ok to be degraded and used by men.  Or maybe it has nothing to do with the new season I am going into but it is my heart growing so much more and more in love with Jesus that a song that disregards everything He is about totally breaks my heart.

I'm not sure exactly what the reasoning is but I do know whatever it is, it all boils down to Jesus.  I am not perfect nor will I ever be.  I will continue to sin and continue to do things that totally break His heart.  I will continue to be corrected and redirected just like I have been in the past and that's ok.  However, I know who my heart belongs to and I know what direction my walk is going.  Just because I know I am a sinner and will never be perfect does not give me a free pass to participate in something that 100% dishonors the Man I totally revolve my whole life around, God.  God has an enormous amount of love for me and I know He would never support ANYBODY singing songs to put me down, so why would I do that to Him?

I'm not here to judge anybody; like I said, I'm not perfect and I never will be.  I am not here to say anybody is a bad person or that somebody is a better person if they do not listen to secular music.  However, I am here to plant a seed and to remind you of who you serve and what He stands for.  Nothing is more sensitive than our spirits and souls, please be careful ears what you hear and be careful eyes what you see.  I'm not sure how I will carry out the rest of this conviction.  I don't know if I will totally put away all of my secular music and all of my secular movies.  I'm not sure if I will ever listen to another Coldplay song or watch another horror movie again but I do know that God has placed a new conviction in my spirit.  I am one to obey Him with all that I can and protecting my heart is one of the most important things to me.  I do know this breakthrough will bring about a change in my life and I couldn't be happier with it.  I will take any step closer to His image that I can!!!

God Bless you all!

It's About Asking God

Many times we find ourselves having a hard time determining God's will for us. What does He want us to do? What path does He need us on to get to His destination for us? We ask ourselves these questions yet we continue to refuse to totally empty our own thoughts and desires in order for Him to fill us and lead us. We ask ourselves over and over again but refuse to ask God.

In order to know God's will we must be willing to surrender ourselves to Him. Surrender all. Surrender our own desires, passions, thoughts, and plans.  I believe in being bold in our prayers and trusting God with boldness; however, we must first totally empty ourselves and surrender our own will in order to be filled with what He wants for our lives.  Trust me, His path for us exceeds far beyond our own paths for our lives.  

Self-control is fought primarily in our minds and thoughts.  There is a battle going on between our passions and desires that enter into our thoughts.  This is when we begin to pray for that inner strength.  We surrender and allow that curve to happen in order to align our heart with His desires for us.  God wants the best for us and the only way He can give that to us is if we stand strong in His will and stand strong in fighting off the temptations that are thrown our way in the process of walking the right path.  

We must allow the Holy Spirit to work in us, for us, and for His will.  We must allow His will for us to be the driving source to our thoughts and to our behavior and once that inner strength has set in and become our heart, that is when we begin to practice obedience.  Obedience comes with standing strong in what we know God's will is for our lives.  We become obedient and learn to trust in His guidance.  We learn to discern situations and we learn to take captive those lies the enemy tells us.  

"I love all who love me.  Those who search for me shall surely find me." Proverbs 8:17

Feeling lost?  Put your hands together, empty your own desires, close your eyes, and ask Him to fill your heart with the desires He has for you.  Search for those desires.  Search for Him.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Scripture For The Day

Ephesians 2:13 NIV

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.