Where do I begin with 2016......On the outside, I would be justified in saying this was the worst year of my life and in a way, that's very true. However, serving the kind of loving God that I do, He has made it all beautiful and for His glory! I love Him so much! There are so many things about 2016 that were terrible, heart breaking, suffocating.....but I wouldn't change one thing. It was the year of MAJOR growth, spiritual redirection and divine appointments with God. His thumbprint is on every moment of this year! I leave 2016 with complete thanksgiving and gratitude! Thank You Daddy for your amazing love for me! Thank You for your gifts of growth, change, mercy and grace! My love for you grew deeper this year and I pray that it only continues!!!
January 4th, the day that is embedded in my heart. I remember every moment, every word and every emotion of that morning at the doctor's office. The words "you're pregnant but Crystal, it appears that you are miscarrying," ring in my ears to this day, almost a year later. The drive home was so surreal. Darin and I had been on fertility medicine for two months. How could the joy of hearing "you are pregnant" be followed with such tragic and heart wrenching news? I was devastated. I was heart broken. I was confused. I was hurting. "You Are Not Alone" by Kari Jobe came on the radio.....it was like God was reminding me that through the pain, through the confusion....He was with me. I suddenly felt peace in my heartbreak. I knew the days ahead would be hard but I had assurance from the beginning, He was with me every step of the way.
The days following were a blur. I slept a lot. I cried a lot. I was mourning.
I was soon able to write a letter to my baby. This was the first time I started to feel a small step towards healing.
I learned a lot in this grieving season. I learned how to "Just Be".....how to just be in the moment of brokenness without trying to fix it myself. I learned how to just be silent and allow Him to embrace me in my pain. I learned that not having all the answers is "ok" because I serve the one who does! I learned that I don't have to be everything to everybody because I am just me.....and sometimes, I am broken and can't.....and that doesn't make me a bad person. I learned that sometimes saying "no" is loving myself, my marriage and my growth with God. I learned that I just need to be me and who I am in the season I am in and that the people who really belong in my life will be right there with me when all is said and done.....even if it means that I need distance and space for a moment. I learned SO much about the true meaning of relationships; with others, with myself and with God.
March brought some amazing joy!! My mother and step-father FINALLY got married! After years of praying for them to seal their relationship with marriage, they DID IT!!!! It was such a joyful moment in our family!!! A moment that made 2016 beautiful and reminded me that God is faithful!
Through the loss of our first child, Project Purpose was birthed. One of the things I was so saddened by with our loss is that we would never be able to see our child live out his God given purpose. I made a promise to myself that I would give his short life purpose! Project Purpose started out as my cause for the Mrs. Texas pageant but has formed into something amazing! Project Purpose is about helping others walk in purpose by encouraging, inspiring and giving back to the community. On June 9th, I realized that this was more than a cause but it was a mission!
July 5th, I had an ovarian cyst rupture. That cyst rupture would be the cause to a domino effect of health problems that lasted until mid November. Talk about frustration! The rupture caused my hiatal hernia to inflame, which would then cause my esophagus to inflame, which would then cause a TON of physical pain for months to come. I was in and out of doctor's appointments, tests, ER visits....it was a nightmare. In the midst of trying to find out what was going on with my body, the doctor's found a lump in my breast which turned out to be a cyst, which caused another set of doctor's visits and honestly.....another set of big fears! Thankfully, everything turned out fine. I'm on some meds and getting back on track with life and GREAT health!!!! God is good and even though I was frustrated and in physical pain, I felt God close to me. He was near me, leaning into me more than ever and I Him. Our relationship grew deeper in these moments of sickness.
It was in these months that I dove into scripture like never before and it was in these months that my spiritual life would be redirected. I started to view things so differently. I realized that things I thought were important really were not! I loved working in the church but it wasn't what my heart desired any more, the mission I was working for wasn't what God wanted for me in this season. I realized that spiritually, I was heading in the wrong direction. A direction that God doesn't want for me as a Christian. I idolized too much. I idolized worldly ways to reach out to the lost and expected worldly ideas and creativity to be what captured their hearts. I put God in a box and didn't use scripture and His love be what captured the hearts of those who didn't know Him. I followed the masses of using pop culture, worldly creativity and idols to guide me. I was so wrong. It was in my sickness that I truly found what God wanted for me. As Christians, we should be helping the elderly, loving on the sick, visiting the incarcerated, giving to the orphaned and feeding the homeless. I realized, I had been doing it wrong. My Christianity had been about what something looked like from the outside and not about what God saw in the inside. God changed me even more during these months and it hurt like crazy. It hurt bad because I felt like I had let Him down my years of being a Christian.
It has taken some time to forgive myself but I'm thankful for a God who forgives me because He has taught me in these past few months that He loves me and I am worthy of forgiveness. He has reminded me that it isn't the journey that matters but that I get there. I still have SO much to learn and I realize that in a few more years maybe even weeks or months, there will be another growth spurt and I will realize I had gotten something wrong again but I will embrace that! God WANTS us to seek Him consistently....and even if it takes days, weeks or even years.....He wants us to GET it! So, I will keep seeking Him and leaning into Him!
My last day at the church was December 14th. It was a bitter sweet day but obedience isn't always easy. I was saying goodbye to an amazing church family and a job I loved dearly! My love for God will always be stronger though and I had to be courageous in walking into the next season! God will never ever ask us to let go of something without a reason or without giving us something back! He is a loving God like that! I grew so much and learned so much in the past two years of working at the church. I was surrounded by people who led and taught me. It is the only church I have ever been a member at and I will forever be thankful for the people, learning and growth that took place there.
My husband and I are walking into not just a new year but a new season! We are leaving behind so much heartache and valleys in 2016 but walking into 2017 with so much growth, wisdom and new beginnings! I pray for all of you to look back at this past year and see how God used the good and bad moments for your good. I pray your 2017 is a year that brings joy and happiness and growth! God never promised us this life would be easy but He promised us that He would never leave us! He really does make beauty out of ashes!!! I believe that....I'm living that.