Goodbye 39….Hello 40

  

I must say, I’ve been dreading this day for a long time.  

In less than 30 minutes I will officially be 40!   

I wanted to write a big blog about my regrets, future plans, and most importantly being “single” at 40!!

It was going to be full of sadness and depression about how I never thought my life would be like this at 40……blah blah blah!!!

Then, I was reminded tonight what my life is all about.  What my purpose is…..when a 10 year old boy in my Awana class came up to me and told me he wanted to be saved.     I grabbed my Bible and showed him how to accept Christ as his Savior.  

After that, everything else just disappeared.   

Best early Birthday present ever!!!

Good bye 39….Bring it on 40!

  
This is what’s it’s all about!    

Thank You God.  

Sorry Mam, This seat is taken. 

Let me set the scene:

Liberty University. Over 5,000 students from all over the world come to a “college for a weekend” visit.  It’s the last night of College for a Weekend and I drive to Lynchburg to pick up my niece to attend a Newsboys Concert.

We had awesome seats.   The row we were in was quite full except three empty seats beside me.  A lady comes over and asks if the seats were taken. Before I knew it, I looked at her and said “yes, they are!”

My niece looked at me quite confused as she loudly stated that no one was using the seats.  “Oh my gosh, you are right!!!  Mam, I’m so sorry, these seats are available!”  I told her as she was getting comfortable in the seats behind me.

She laughed and said “It’s ok!  Obviously God wants Those seats for someone else.”  We exchanged laughs, some small talk and wished each other well.

As I was getting comfortable, a young lady and her two friends asked if the seats next to me were taken.  I kindly offered them the seats, but not after me and the lady, who was now sitting behind me,  gave each other a quick smile.

Little did we know, I think God was actually saving the seat for this beautiful young lady.

Scene set.

I thought I could talk, but this beautiful bundle of sunshine didn’t hold a candle to my conversation skills.   She immediately asked me where we were from. She then told me she was from Charlotte, NC.   Our conversation began with how much I loved Charlotte. I told her I was traveling there within the month to go to a Ben Rector/NeedToBreathe concert soon.

It was then I asked her what she thought about CFAW. She beamed with excitement as she told me everything she did that weekend up until finding the seat next to me.    She seemed to really feel at home at LU.

I asked her what her major was going to be.

That’s when the conversation turned very serious as she told me a story.  (Story I will do my best to tell as she told me).

I had just gotten over a very bad break up from someone who I knew was not “the one” that God wanted me to be with.  He wanted to do things that I was not comfortable with and I struggled with what to do. I finally ended it with him because I wanted to keep myself pure.    

My friend asked me to help deliver flowers to our local hospital, and I reluctantly agreed. Little did I know it would change my path and direct me into my future career.   As we walked through the halls of the hospital delivering flowers, I began to notice the people. The thought crossed my mind as to if they were saved.  I delivered flowers to a room. We were supposed to drop the flowers off and leave. But I couldn’t leave. Not until I knew if this lady was ready to die and go to Heaven. It was right there in that hospital room, that I led her to the Lord.  Same thing happened in the next room.  And before I knew it, I spent the day at the hospital delivering flowers and telling people about Jesus. 

(Let me clarify that this beautiful young lady is only 16 years old!!   So wise for her young age!)

My dad and I don’t get along.  When I went home that evening and I told him that I wanted to go into “ladies ministry” he got very angry and told me that he will refuse to pay for something that i will never be able to do anything with.   When I told him I was going to go to CFAW he told me that he will not pay for my college if I decide to go to LU.    

I told him he didn’t have to pay because “Jesus paid it all”

By that time, I had tears welling up in my eyes.   Before I knew it, I leaned over and started hugging her and telling her I was so proud of her.

We took a break from her story when she asked me mine……

My response:  I’m just a divorced mom with two kids. Nothing special.

She looked at me in shock!

That’s all?    You are so much more than that!  You are so beautiful and kind and I can’t imagine why your husband left you.   But I can tell you this. You are worth so much more. God has a plan for you!   Maybe his plan is for you to be a blessing to me!

More tears.

After talking  for what seemed like hours, I looked at her and told her that I was so proud of her.  I told her that I know (I know. I know) God has some amazing plans for her life.  Don’t give up.  Obey her father, but don’t forget about her Heavenly Father and the plans He has for her life.    Pray fervently and ask God to open the right doors and close the wrong ones.

And no matter what happens, don’t forget to thank Him for what he has done and for what He is going to do in your life!

I know this young lady will go far in whatever she decides to do with her life. She is on fire for God!

The concert started.  She would jab me every now and then when the singers would talk about pretty much what we had spent the previous hours discussing, we both agreed it was God basically agreeing that she’s going to be ok!

Before we parted ways that night, we exchanged another hug and I whispered in her ear, “God has big plans for you young lady, I can’t wait to see what happens!

Last night while scrolling through Facebook, I saw a post on her wall stating she had applied for LU earlier than what she had planned.  I gave the big “thumbs up” sign.  This morning I woke to this message.  

I’m a divorced mom of two kids, nothing special. “

That seat next to me, the one that I told the First Lady who tried to sit there that it was occupied…… God was sitting in that seat.

He knew a little girl needed encouragment. And he knew this “divorced mom of two kids” need to be the one to encourage her.

He also knew that I needed some encouragement myself.

Isn’t it funny how things just work out?

I’m so glad God saved that seat!

Thankful.

THANKFUL. GRATEFUL. BLESSED.

Whatever you want to call it, ’tis the season to let someone know you are thinking about them.  sometimes a simple Thank You or a phone call just to let them know that they are on your mind can make someone’s entire week!!!

It is also a time to reflect on what is important in your life, or maybe things you are grateful for.

How do I even begin?

Here is my thankful list in no particular order:

  1. My strong faith in God
  2. My two beautiful children
  3. The Past, Present and Future
  4. My furry kids.
  5. My Daddy
  6. My Momma
  7. Sisters
  8. Extended Family
  9. Photography
  10. Pottery
  11. Cheesecake
  12. My church family
  13. Health
  14. Teenagers
  15. Books
  16. Awanas…Kids, volunteers and the ability to make a difference in these kids lives!
  17. Chocolate
  18. Red Bull
  19. Haiti
  20. Pandora
  21. Homeschooling
  22. Passport stamps
  23. Blogging
  24. All Four Seasons
  25. My Ex Husband
  26. My squeaky ceiling fan
  27. Snooze button
  28. Cell Phone
  29. Pictures
  30. Ability to forgive
  31. …..and forget
  32. Lifetime movies
  33. Unsweetened tea
  34. Roller Coasters
  35. Sports Bras
  36. Yoga pants
  37. Naturally curly hair……and my Flat iron
  38. my couch
  39. Lawn Mower
  40. Crushed ice
  41. Matching Socks
  42. Good Night Prayers
  43. Good Morning Kisses
  44. Grass Stained Football pants
  45. Mismatched socks
  46. Frozen Blueberries
  47. Disabilities
  48. Breakfast Food
  49. Naps
  50. Netflix
  51. SnapChat
  52. Sad songs
  53. Flowers
  54. Random dancing in the kitchen
  55. Ice Cream and Milk
  56. unconditional love
  57. Missing Shoes
  58. Long Drives
  59. sleepovers
  60. Best Friends
  61. Old Friends
  62. New Friends
  63. New Relationships
  64. Cartwheels
  65. Trampolines
  66. MEMORIES!!!!

This is my short list!!!

Many blessing to each one of you who follow my Blog.    Have a happy and safe Holiday!!!

Until next time….Make your own thankful list!!!!

LITTLE IS MUCH…

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help.

My help comes from the Lord, which made Heaven and earth.

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

Behold, He keepeth Israel shall neither slumber or sleep.

The LORD is thy keeper:  the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.

The sun shall not smite me by day, nor the moon at night.

The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

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Can I just go ahead and get this out of the way…..GOD IS SO GOOD TO ME.

This is the last view I had, the last memory of Haiti.   Hand in hand with new friends listening to the beautiful chapter of Psalms 121 as I struggled to choke back tears.   Maybe tears of sadness, some tears of joy, but mostly tears of incredible gratitude.

Gratitude.  I am grateful.  Always have been.  I can give you a list of hundreds of things I am grateful for.  Yet, this trip…this wonderful, life changing trip gave me a new list of things I am grateful for.

I am so grateful that God allowed me to get my first passport stamp to a place I have prayed about going to ever since I can remember.    My heart was already in Haiti when I landed in that beautiful, poverty stricken country.

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Grateful….When you pass through these streets you look around and don’t see many things these somewhat forgotten people would have to be grateful for.    Trash consumed the streets, people were standing in the road pushing their way to your vehicle as you came to a stop, begging for you to buy something from them; whether it be a cold drink, some bread, live chickens and goats, I even saw a women selling wash rags.   No Merci (no thank you) is what we would tell them as we made our 3 hour voyage in the mountains of Haiti.   Yet, I found beauty everywhere I looked.  The colors in the trash infested streets consisted of mangos, bananas, mandarins, plantains, bread….then there were the most insanely colored vehicles I have ever seen, Tap Taps lined the streets as they carried the weary hot travelers whether it be back home or wherever they needed to go.   These vehicles almost always had Merci Jesus or some sort of Scripture painted on their Tap Taps as they barreled past you honking their horns loudly as if you are sitting still with about 50 passengers stuffed in the back and some even sat on the hot roof, I am sure saying Merci Jesus the whole way home.

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It is good that man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.  Lamentations 3:26

(verse written on the Tap Tap pictured above)

Grateful.

I was reminded one night while we were doing our devotions together how grateful I am.   Our main focus all week was The Lords Prayer.    We got to “Give us this day our daily bread” and I was ashamed, grateful and incredibly overwhelmed with emotions.  I sniffed back a few tears as I heard one of our translators from this forsaken country give us his take on that particular line from The Lords Prayer as he explained that in our country (the US), we didn’t have to worry about food,  But every day as they wake up, they don’t know where their next meal may come from, and some days, they just don’t eat.   He said that they fully rely on God to supply their needs.  Grateful?  Yes, these beautiful people praise God for their rice and beans and maybe a fish or two…and they are grateful.

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Grateful.

Before I left the States, I wanted to purchase some treats and gifts for the children in Mizak, Haiti.  I took the kids to the Dollar Tree where we stocked up on candy, stickers and glow sticks.    I spent less than $25.   Let me tell you something, That $25 I spent was worth $1million to those kids in this tiny little town.      I wish you all could have been there to see these kids when I cracked open the first Glow Stick!!   My intention was to sit 20 plus kids around me as I told them about how Jesus is the light of the world (I practiced the  Bible lesson in my head for days).    All it took was one glow stick…one green illuminating Glow Stick to cause the biggest riot I have ever seen in my life!!!  There were tiny little dirty hands all over me!!   As I struggled to open the bags fast enough, my friend Laurie (who was supposed to be responsible for crowd control) started stomping her feet and clapping her hands as she started singing the most soulful rendition of “This Little Light of Mine” I have ever heard.   Each kid held their most prized possession in the air and we all sang as loud as we could.  I couldn’t help but smile as I watched their eyes beaming over something my kids take for granted everyday, a simple little package of 5 glow sticks that cost $1.    And once again, I found myself grateful.

Grateful.

The pastor who we were staying with asked us if we would go with him after church that Sunday to pray with a lady in their community who was ill.  After church, we filled up our water bottles and made the VERY LONG walk (in the scorching afternoon heat) to the young lady’s house.    We heard singing and praying as we made our way to the front porch of the house.  The tiny house was consumed with neighbors, friends and churches from the community.   Rhonda looked over at me and said “Crystal, you are getting the real Haitian experience.”   I humbly agreed as I tucked my camera away and started singing and praying with them.    After the first crowd of what seemed like 50 people slowly creeped out of the house that is only big enough to hold 5 people comfortably, we were asked to come in.   The pastor started out saying his own prayers as the word was getting to us that this young lady hadn’t spoken a word since her mother passed away the week before…she was consumed with a broken heart, and as I looked in her eyes I could somehow understand the grief she was feeling and I literally felt my stomach hurt as my own heart ached for her.   We sang “Kumbaya” as people laid hands on her.   The pastor asked Steve (one of our team members) to pray.  We all stretched our hands out as Steve prayed one of the most touching prayers I have ever heard.  I didn’t try to sniff back the tears this time. I was reminded of a verse in the Bible.   God is near to the broken hearted.

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It was that night as we were all sitting in the dimly lit room reciting the Lord’s Prayer as we held hands in a circle that I realized something.   I am going to see all of these beautiful people in Heaven some day!!   And once again, I cried as I found myself unbelievably grateful!

“Can you come and see my Baby?”   This young man who hung out a lot at the clinic cornered Laurie and I after work one evening.   BABY? DID SOMEONE SAY BABY???  I couldn’t get there fast enough…I love babies!!     As we walked into the tiny shack that they called home, it was love at first sight as I slathered antibacterial lotion all over my hands and arms and anxiously reached for the tiny little un-diapered 22 day old miracle.   As I carefully held her in my arms, my hand rested on her bare butt that was covered in scabies, she opened her tiny eyes and looked at me and I found myself grateful.    Grateful for healthy babies of my own.  Grateful for the Birthing kits I carried in my suitcase from the States.   Grateful that I know God holds that tiny little baby’s future in the palm of his hand.

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Grateful.  My heart feels like it is about to explode as I write this.   Guys, the things we take for granted in this Country……No one knows unless they see it first hand.

On the way back home, I was thinking about everything I saw while my week stay in Haiti.  I thought about what Heaven is going to be like.  Then I asked God to please let me walk in Heaven hand in hand with one of my new friends from Haiti.   I want to see their reaction when they see the streets of gold, as they walk to their mansion and we all enjoy our first feast in Heaven.    I guarantee you this, they will be first in line to bow in front of Jesus and say Merci Jesus.

I am going to stop here for today, but stay tuned for some pretty amazing little stories I cant wait to share.  I haven’t even started talking about the people that came from miles around to come to us for glasses and the rusty deserted ship wreck we saw in the Caribbean.   I want to tell you about Steve some more and what a blessing he was to me.

I will leave you with this….the entire week I spent in Haiti, this song kept resonating in my head. I sang it all the time!!!   I want to share it with you.

“Little Is Much When God Is In It”

Until next time….find something you are grateful for.