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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 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!

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 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 Thirteen #2

Thirteen Things I Would Want with Me if I Got “Lost”
1. MY HUSBAND, OF COURSE!

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!

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.

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 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!

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)

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)

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