Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year/ New You

It's that time again. Time to get paper and a pen or pull out the iPad to jot down those resolutions for 2014. Each year many people make resolutions to change one or many things about themselves or their lives for a better coming year, but only 8% of people are successful in their resolutions! 

I know for me, my most successful efforts for better health or weight loss, for stepping out of my comfort zone in some way and being brave, or for learning to better manage money have been because I knew that I would have no chance of succeeding without needing God first. Needing contentment first. Needing His guidance first. 

Very soon, in 12 days to be exact, I invite you to attend New Year/New Year, a wellness fair at which you can find, first and foremost, many awesome groups within Crosspoint's Women's Ministry to help with your spiritual journey. 

There will also be many vendors to help with physical, mental, and emotional health. Whatever that resolution may be, we pray you find help at New Year/New Year to be successful! 

Join us from 9am to 12pm on January 11 and enjoy information from all the awesome vendors and a word from Melissa Hawthorne on what it takes to be healthy with a busy lifestyle! Bring any women in your life who may be looking to make changes in 2014, however big or small. 

God wants us to have the best year yet! Whatever this year throws at us, I know New You/New Year will be the perfect start of 2014! Full of anticipation, and strong though Christ! 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Amy Pyle

Those first few days at home with your new baby are supposed to be some of the most enjoyable and joyous times or your life, filled with lots of cuddles and lots of visitors who you just can’t wait to show your baby off to. Unfortunately for me, that wasn't the case. The first few weeks home with Amelia, my first child, were miserable. 

We were released from the hospital on a Wednesday, and Amelia had already lost a considerable amount of weight during her first few days of life. We were asked to return to the pediatrician the following day to see if she was beginning to put weight back on, as some weight loss after birth is expected.

And so it began….Amelia had weight checks on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday with no improvements. The doctor assumed she wasn't getting enough breast milk, so we set out to find out how much she was getting. We weighed her, followed by a nursing session, and weighed again to measure the amount of milk she may have received. There was absolutely no change on the scale. I'd been starving my child for the first week of her life. That would explain the previous nights of Amelia "nursing" literally all night long, constantly with no satisfaction. It would explain why when I looked at my poor baby, her lips were stained with blood rather than wet from a recent feeding. I'll never forget the first time we gave her formula. She sucked that thing down so quickly....I think I may have cried. That was the first night I was able to get sleep since being home. It's amazing what a little food will do. My baby was finally fed and happy, but I felt like a failure.

The next several weeks were followed by pumping sessions every two hours. I'd then feed Amelia the tiny amount I pumped followed by formula. This was definitely a chore. It's not enjoyable being hooked to machine sucking at your breast every two hours. I pretty much felt like a dairy cow. By the time I’d pump for 30 minutes, wash the supplies and feed her, it was time to start all over again.  I was not able to bond with Amelia, and the joy that I was supposed to have with my newborn daughter was not there. Thanks to our wonderful lifegroup, we had people lined up to bring meals over for several days. But I was a basket case both because my pumping wasn’t working and I was exhausted from the constant chore required of me. We starting asking people to leave food at the door because I simply wasn’t in the mood for visiting.

It seemed around this time, the whole "breast is best" marketing kicked into high gear. Yes, I knew that, which is why I felt like a failure as a mom. I got dirty looks from people when they saw me giving my baby formula, and I'm pretty sure I was even asked "Why are you giving your baby formula?" from a complete stranger. No one told me nursing might not work out. All you hear from society is "don't give up," and "have you tried x, y, and z?" Yes, I did. At the suggestion of several, I even drank a beer, and I hate the taste of beer! Who knew something in beer is supposed to help milk production? I even wore a device that allowed baby to latch on and stimulate the breast, but formula was being delivered to her through a tiny tube. 

After about a month of  pumping on such a strict schedule, I decided I couldn't do it anymore. My child would sit and cry while I pumped, and I couldn't do much to help her. I decided the quarter of an ounce I got each time wasn't worth it, especially since production wasn't picking up as it should. But let me tell you this, once I decided my child would be 100% formula fed and I didn't have the chore of pumping anymore, my life changed. I was actually able to enjoy my child. 

When Anna (our second daughter) was born in September, I thought I'd give it another shot. Every pregnancy is different, right? So it might just work this time. I quickly realized it wasn't going much different, and after talking to a lactation consultant (who actually gave a name to my condition) I told myself I couldn't do that to myself again. I looked at this baby so tiny. I barely remembered Amelia being that small. Because I had a child already, I realized how precious this time was and how fast it would go by. I didn't enjoy this time with Amelia, but I was going to enjoy the newborn stage this time. I knew to treasure this time and nothing was going to rob me of my joy. Time is precious and you can't get it back.  This week I heard "Don't let the noise from society get in the way with your relationship with your child." I thought that was a great way of putting it. What was best for me and my children, may not be best by society's standards, but once I realized what was best for us, my life was filled with so much more joy. 

What's standing in the way of your joy? It may not be anything related to what I've said, but are there any expectations society has set that you are trying to achieve? A certain job, a certain car, certain friends, a certain way you should act that you know isn't you.  Is the fact that you are not achieving these robbing you of your joy? Christ has so much more for you. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

It’s beginning to look at lot like Christmas and I love to decorate! So much so, that I have so many

decorations in my attic that I can decorate…. A lot of trees!

After my three boys got married and started their own homes, I decided that I really didn’t need to

put up a tree in EVERY room, and I was left with many decorations. So, what to do with them, right?

Two years ago, I found the perfect place to share my decorations so that other people could really

enjoy them. Little did I know how sharing such a small thing would mean so much to others.

David, my husband’s parents moved into Trinity Oaks Assisted Living Facility in July of 2011. The

following Christmas, the activities director at the facility was able to purchase full size trees for all

the hallways; however, she didn’t have the funds to purchase more than a box or two of ornaments

for each tree.

I knew just where to find the extra stuff to make the tree outside my in-laws apartment look really

special… my attic!! What a great place to use the decorations that I wasn’t using!

As I began to decorate the tree, all the residents came out of their apartments. I think at first

they just were nosey and wanted to see what was going on! HA! But the coolest thing started to

happen, they started telling me stories about when they were young and how they decorated for

the holidays. They kept coming out checking on my progress. It was the sweetest experience and a

true blessing!

Last year, I was even more prepared! I got my friend Libby to help me and we did two trees! It was

so much fun. I picked up pine cones out of the yard and spray painted them and put glitter on them,

we added a little ribbon, and some little birds all over the tree. Who knew something so simple and

inexpensive would bring so much joy!

This week I received a call from the activities director at Trinity Oaks asking if I could help decorate

trees again this year. I need some help! A local church youth group has already assembled the trees

and they are in place ready to be decorated. There are 17 trees. Would you like to adopt a tree to

decorate? Do you have a couple of friends who could join in with you to adopt a tree?

They would like the trees decorated by December 1st

Year and then you can take your decorations down. Trinity Oaks will take care of taking the trees

down. You would only need to take your decorations.

I hope you will consider helping this year. It truly is a blessing to see how happy the residents are

to have you in their home making their holidays so special.

If you would like to adopt a tree or if you have any questions, please email

Thanks so much!

Janet Pelc

Monday, November 11, 2013

Tawnya Crawford

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. It’s the story of Leah. I really didn’t want to tell it…again….(to those who have heard it before), but every time I sit down to write about some other pressing message on my heart, like the perils of divorce, or surviving abuse, or how you can, I repeat CAN get pregnant while breast-feeding (despite some awful lie started somewhere deep in East Texas!), my heart always comes back to Leah.

I remember quite vividly sitting on my couch in the TV room. I think I had been there for months. I sat in front of the laptop for hours, days, weeks on end. All through the nights while everyone slept, I poured through countless web pages and medical journals and medical records. Our baby was sick. She had been sick for a while, long enough for my husband to reach out to God. We started going to church. He found comfort in God’s presence. He was a new Christian. I wasn’t. For me, the shine of a life in Christ had worn off a bit.
I grew up in church. I consider myself to be pretty well versed in the wrath of God. As a matter of fact, I’m certain the term “Bible-Beater” originated to describe my childhood pastor at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Grice, TX (God rest his soul). I lived my life with the knowledge of God’s love and wrath. I knew the turmoil in my life, at times, was because I wasn’t walking in God’s will. I gave Him glory for all the good things in my life and tried to learn from the hard lessons He put in my path. However, I shockingly am not a good student. It has taken more than a few tough lessons from God to learn to see the blessings and rewards from a close, obedient relationship with Him.

So there I was, on the couch, glancing at my dear husband watching football, and secretly praying… “So, here we are again God. This might be working on him, but this time, it’s not gonna work on me!” I prayed fervently to God. I use the word “pray” here loosely. I called Him out, not my husband, Colin but GOD. I told Him I was onto Him. I knew what He was up to and vowed it wouldn’t work. Leah... was NOT going to draw me closer to Him.! This would NOT be my testimony. He may as well go ahead and pick someone else! I already knew the drill. A sick child…..losing a child……that was going too far!

Leah was only 2 years old when we first learned she had a heart problem. Her first year was great. She was a happy, healthy, although a somewhat weak, little girl. She was our dainty princess. We also had Landry just 11 months after Leah (breast-feeding!), and it wasn’t until Landry started getting really mobile that I noticed Leah just wasn’t keeping up. Then, around her second birthday, she just stopped eating. I spent every waking hour trying to feed her until ultimately she ended up in the hospital with a “Failure to Thrive” diagnosis. No one knew what was wrong. After many tests, specialists, and hospitalizations we came to find out Leah has an “Unidentified Connective Tissue Disorder” and possible “Cardiomyopathy”. Which basically means the “glue” that holds her together is flawed and may or may not have caused or will cause her irrevocable heart muscle damage. Could they be any more vague!? Basically, what we were told and what we’ve learned since is that “There is something wrong, we don’t know exactly what or why. There is no specific treatment. And we don’t know what to expect. Oh, and by the way, she needs open heart surgery to repair a valve, but we’re not sure when, so can y'all just bring her in every few months and we’ll see.”

Begin, tailspin.

That was about the time I went to the couch. I ate there. I slept there. Mostly, I researched there. I was the man on the roof in the flood and I wasn’t going to miss my boat! I knew God had His reasons…blah, blah, blah….but I was going to save her. I was trying very hard to maintain this very dysfunctional relationship with God. By that, I mean that I was so bitter and resentful that every time I felt the love and goodness of God I would take the portion of it that I wanted and rejected the rest. I would sit in Sunday service thinking “Yes, Lord!” Then suddenly snap back into reality and want to walk out. Sometimes I would. I controlled the relationship. I felt like if He couldn’t give me my full happiness and contentment, He couldn’t have all my heart. I held firm to my prayer.

I was in a sort of limbo with God. I wanted his help. I prayed to Him. I prayed at Him. I tried to be faithful and put my trust in Him, but I was angry. Angry and desperate for years, two years to be exact; well, maybe a little more.

I can’t even describe the anguish and desperation. What is the word to use to describe the lump in your throat and heat welling up behind your eyes morning after morning as its time to wake her up, and you’re petrified to turn the corner because she had a rough day or was a little blue at bedtime the night before? How do you describe that little bit of mourning you do every day, even on good days, just because of the fear of the real thing.

I don’t know the words to say to my little girl to explain what she is going through. I don’t know the words.

But about two years into the black hole of my heart, a ray of light appeared. Ok, more like a bolt of lightning! I went to the first Women’s retreat. There was quite a comedy of miracles to get me there, but I made it. God literally cleared the way. Before the large group session, I felt certain where this was headed, a good message, but I’ve heard this lesson before. But then, God had one of His ‘gotcha’ moments. He had physically placed me in a room and then mentally turned off my rebellious brain (and my cell phone) and reached into my hardened soul and told me how much He loved me and cared about me. More importantly, He told me how much He loves and cares about Leah. It was NOT the lesson the way I knew it! The next morning, because he knew I probably didn’t really get it yet, He told me again….and again…and again. I finally understood and accepted what I knew all along….This WILL bring me closer to Him! I WILL GLORIFY AND EXHALT HIS NAME! I WILL PRAISE HIM FOR MY BURDEN!

I was quite overcome with emotion and mucus all at the same time! And although God was so patiently waiting for me to humbly fall on my face before Him, I am not so sure 75 ladies from Crosspoint Church were ready for that, so off to the ladies room I went. No sooner than the door snapped shut, there I was, face to the cold linoleum making a puddle on the floor as big as my head! But there on that floor, I came as close to God as I feel I’ll ever be on this earth. He met me there. He listened to my feeble, needless apologies. He let me go through the motions of spilling out my heart and offering up to Him what we both knew wasn’t mine to give. Leah. I finally surrendered her to Him. I accepted that she was His child and not mine. I accepted that He loves her even more than I do. I realized fully for the first time that this is not her, nor my home, and that He has a plan for us. For a brief moment, I understood the depth of the love and anguish that God has for us. And in that moment, I shuttered. A peace and warmth came over me that surely passes understanding. I felt God’s promise. He gave her back to me. He didn’t tell me He would take it all away or that she would be healed. He said that she was my gift. That our journey was a gift….no matter how long our journey is. And whatever path He sets us on is for our good and for His glory.

Needless to say, it was pretty awesome. I carry the peace that God gave me that day always. It never leaves me. Even during the 157 minutes that her heart was stopped for open heart surgery last year. Believe me, it isn’t always easy. I want her in my arms, holding my hand, but if she was to hold His, I will praise Him. I will love Him. I will thank Him. He has given me a precious gift and an awesome responsibility. I have to pray and listen. I have to seek and obey. His promises are always there. He will always love her. His plan will never fail. Below are two verses that I have held on to during this time.:

Leah's verse:
 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

My verse:
 Then you will call on 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

Tawnya Crawford

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I will be a mom someday by: April Elder

I will be a mom someday” is the note I posted on my bathroom mirror the day I decided to finally let God have control of my pain, despair and emptiness. See, I’m a control freak; typical, type A, sometimes bossy personality (just ask my 2 younger sisters and my hubby). But this particular day, I had to let go.
When my husband and I got married in 2000, we never imagined we would struggle with infertility. After three failed attempts at insemination and watching my sister and many of my cousins get pregnant with ease, I found myself at the bottom of the barrel; resenting every woman in the world who carried a baby. Heck, I’d even stopped going to family functions because the anguish of seeing all the new babies and growing bellies each holiday ripped more of my heart into pieces. Resentment and self-pity weren’t very conducive to family functions. The pain had become a physical one, deep inside me, that heavily weighed me down.
Why was God doing this to me? Why was He doing this to someone who wanted a baby SO badly that it consumed every moment of my life; every breath. It robbed me of sleep.
Some people spend thousands of dollars and years of their lives dealing with infertility (and believe me, I get it) but that just wasn’t for me. I was emotionally, physically, and spiritually drained after only a few months. I couldn’t endure more hormone shots, ultrasounds, blood work, night sweats, uncontrollable outbursts or disappointment when I got another negative pregnancy test. I was toast. I knew adoption was what I wanted.
My husband was not so sure, unfortunately. It is a huge leap of faith to take in another person’s baby as your own. Will it feel like a real family? Will I love it as much as a biological child? Is adoption just a back-up plan and therefore giving up too soon? I’m sure all these thoughts were running through his mind but not mine! I never hesitated for a second after we got the last negative pregnancy test. I often joked that I would’ve accepted a cyclops. It didn’t matter. I just wanted a baby, any baby, in my arms. For me, it was God’s will for building our family, no doubt. And it didn’t take long for me to change my husband’s mind. Remember, I’m controlling…I mean convincing.
So fast-forward eighteen months or so. I’m in the baby’s nursery, as I was every day. We were told that preparing the nursery could be therapy for waiting parents. Not so much for me, though. The waiting was killing me. Our adoption paperwork had been completed and approved months ago! I was still so empty, just like this nursery. I would hold all the gifts we’d received, stare at the empty crib and flip through all the books I intended to read to my little one. But this one day, something different happened. All of a sudden, tears flooded my face and I buried it into the nursery carpet. I submitted myself and my pain to God. I told him, yelled at him actually, that I was so tired – tired of being angry and empty. I couldn’t control this situation any longer. Then I heard His voice in my head. “You WILL be a mom someday.” The word, will, was the key. It was going to happen, He’d just promised me. But only He knew when. I had to trust Him! I had turned my angry back on Him. I had blamed Him.
So at that moment, I handed Him the steering wheel that I had a death grip on. I marched down to my bathroom where I displayed His personal message on my mirror to read each morning. A huge peace filled me and His comfort took the place where despair once resided.
Only a few, short weeks later, we got the call from our case-worker that our baby girl was ready. She had been chosen as ours long before the creation of the world. But I had been too blinded by anger and blame to realize that I couldn’t welcome a baby that hadn’t been born!
And then twenty months later, we were suddenly gifted our second daughter. We weren’t at all planning on another baby but once again, the Lord already had it all planned. He knew my two beautiful girls, now nine and ten, were the perfect fit for our family. He created them and knit them together so perfectly inside another woman’s womb. How could I have ever doubted Him? But that too, was part of His perfect plan. What He wanted me to learn that unforgettable day, is that everything is in His immaculate timing. All He wants is for us to rely on our faith and trust Him no matter what our circumstances are.

April Elder

Monday, October 14, 2013

Woman2Woman by: Jan Rohr

When I was much younger I noticed the many women that were older and more mature. They seemed to have life all together, confident in who they were and what they were doing. I often wondered if I would ever feel that calm confident self they seemed to display. Many decades later I am the “much older woman”. I am a mom with four married children. Counting the spouses we now have eight adults and two grandbabies. Time has passed by with such speed I am amazed. I do not relate to this 60+ year old generation that I am in. I do not relate to a soon approaching retirement. I am still the same “me”. I do not always have life all together nor am I always confident in who I am and what I am doing. I do not always understand what is happening, but I always know who does.
I have been in church since I came into this world. I value the church body, feeling strongly that we must function as a healthy family. It is in the culture of the church that generations should be able to come together, enjoying each other with loving relationships. We can help each other in a powerful way. We can experience our relationship with Jesus together.

I have had many opportunities with mentoring type relationships. At times it is a formal assignment at school with a new teacher or student from the University. The purpose and direction is very controlled and planned. The most fun happens when such a relationship turns into a time of sharing God’s goodness. So many many people are hungry to understand the stability of the Christian life. We have many opportunities if we look around to those we rub shoulders with everyday.
My husband and I have also had opportunities to mentor younger adults. The dearest to us has happened in the past 7 years. I must change names but want to tell you the blessing we have had by reaching out and getting involved in people’s lives and one in particular.

Ashley was a girl the same age as our twins. Gretchen and Katie had met her at a church here in our LaPorte neighborhood. The girls had her over to stay for a couple of nights when we realized this teenager was going from house to house with a basket of clothes. No one was watching her, no one was making sure she was safe or keeping her accountable. Gary and I took Ashley into our room to have a heart to heart talk. We wanted to know what was going on….where were her parents?…what was she was going to do?, etc. Within a few minutes we realized this girl needed to live with us. We committed to taking care of her for her senior year in high school. She was going to become a part of our family, living by our rules, living our life style. I spent many hours talking to Ashley. I talked to her about the Lord and the stability she can have by living for him. I reminded her that she had no choice over the dysfunction of her childhood family, but that she had total control over her adult family. I reminded her of how special she was and how much Jesus loved her. Ashley continues to be a big part of our lives. She is marrying into a wonderful Christian family, a family that is pastoring a church in Florida. Her life has been changed because of God’s love. What a blessing it has been for all of us. This may be a different experience in mentoring. It is however an opportunity to share life and help when possible. As Christians we are so blessed to become a vessel that Jesus uses to help others.

As I think back to my experiences I am reminded that we all have something to offer other women in our lives. My adjustments are many…..divorce, mother of multiples, obesity, depression, living a long distance from my childhood family, marital situations and counseling, teaching young children to read, role as a mother in law, empty nest, financial situations, grandparenting, etc. My list goes on, so what do you have to bring to our table of “women helping women”?
W2W is a program created by women for women. Its desire is to provide opportunities to “do life together”. Our desire is to provide women with similar life experiences to encourage and support women who just need someone to share life with. It does not always mean a long “mentoring” type relationship. It may be someone to pray with during a challenging experience or it may turn into a longer relationship. It is a decision that the women involved will make.

At this time we have several women willing to help others with specific issues. If you would like to get involved in such a ministry please email us to begin the process.  Blessings to all of you, ”my sisters in Christ”. We are here to “walk beside” our friends as they experience life’s challenge.

-Jan Rohr

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Going it Alone by Lisa Byrd


The idea of creating a support group for women who have spouses, yet sit alone in church, Sunday after Sunday, was birthed due to many of my own lonely and unsettled years.

When my husband and I married, neither of us walked with the Lord. I always considered myself a believer and like so many believers, I thought that was all it took to be “right with the Lord”.

Long, convoluted story short, the Lord got my attention and called me to a truer walk with Him, my husband, not so much. He will tell you there is something other than this faith, but he doesn’t like discussing it.

I spent many days sitting in church by myself, jealous of the couples who looked so contented and sweet together. I let my imagination tell me their lives were perfect because he was a believer. His wife must be so proud.

Well, the truth is they have baggage, too. Their baggage just looks a little different from some of my own.

I wish I could tell you that coming to “Going it Alone” would assure that your husband will become a believer. Unfortunately, only God knows that.

I can tell you that it feels good to have other people to talk with who are having some of the same experiences you are. I can tell you that if you come to “Going it Alone” you can count on others praying for you and your family. I can tell you if you come to “Going it Alone”, you won’t feel so much like you’re going through this faith walk all by yourself.

One of the core ideas of “Going it Alone” is to have a Godly marriage; sometimes, that can feel impossible if you’re the only one trying. Our Heavenly Father walks with us daily, so even when it feels like you’re out there alone, you’re not. Those of us who get together at “Going it Alone” also have a few others walking with us. I’ve always believed, the more the merrier!

Come join us and see what we’re about, every third Tuesday of each month, 7pm, at the Crosspoint campus, 1134 Old Alvin Rd, Pearland, TX.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Deana Waddell

My name is Deana Waddell.  I'm married to a wonderful man named Clynt Waddell, and I have 2 wild boys, Corbin (4) and Garrett (2).  I'm a stay at home mom to my fun loving boys.  I don't have any big life changing moments or any huge struggles to share with you, like so many other amazing women who have posted.  In fact, when asked to write a blog, I semi ignored it for a couple months... I had no idea what I would share, or if anyone would care!  But I decided to trust in God and so that's what I'm going to write about :)

When I was in high school I started going to church on a regular basis.  I was baptized and have been a follower of Christ ever since.  I can't say I have lived perfect since then.  I went off to college and did many things that were far from being Christ-like. However, I never stopped believing.  I came back home after a year in College Station and began attending the University of Houston.  I began attending church again, and leading a small group of high schoolers at a previous church.
I met the man of my dreams and got married in 2007.   I graduated college, we bought our first home, got my first real job, and got pregnant all in 2008.  It was kind of a crazy year. I was also working part time at our previous church. We were attending church every Sunday, co-leading a small group and living life as we thought we needed.  However,  we weren't necessarily putting all of our trust in God.  We weren't financially giving what we should have been giving. I was being called to stay home with my son, but we weren't listening,  and we were simply focusing on things that we wanted and not necessarily what God wanted.

We decided one Sunday to commit to financially give what we needed to be giving.  While it meant that most of our "free" income would be gone, we really needed to trust in God and just do it.  We realized that all we were doing was keeping God's money from Him and what sense was that making?  He gave us everything we had and we were being greedy.  So we "took the plunge" and started actually GIVING and it felt so good to be trusting in God with the money that He had provided to us, even though money was tight.  Within a month of us committing to trust more, my husband (Clynt) received a large increase in pay.  It gave us almost as much "free money" as we had before.

Several months later, we both were feeling led for me to be a stay at home mom of our, then, 6 month old son.  Since we had allowed money to take over a few things, it took a whole lot of selling stuff, saving money, paying off debt and so on in order for me to be able to quit my job. But, we managed to be debt free (other than our home) in about 6 months.  Again it was a huge stretch for us to lose my entire income, but we were trying to put our trust in what we were being led to do.   We were dipping into our savings every month to make it happen; but yet again, trusting that God was in control. After about a year of praying and trusting, my husband was offered a job that nearly doubled his salary.   It was such a blessing to us!  We have continued to increase our giving to God as He has continued to increase His giving to us, and He has never failed us.   We are not to "put [our] hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but put [our] hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 17).

Not only am I getting better (but still far from perfect!) at putting my  trust in God financially, it's also about how I live my life.  I have had to put a lot of trust in God's will for where we should be attending church,  where I serve in the church,  where my son will go to school, how to raise my kids, how to treat my husband, and basically every, single, daily, thing in my life. It's really hard sometimes to live according to His will instead of living according to my own will, but it never fails to be the most fruitful way to do things!  Being more submissive to my husband has led to a better marriage, being more patient with my children has led to many more smiles, being a willing servant at our church has lead to more love and relationships, being obedient with our finances and giving has lead us to more financial freedom, and the list could continue on forever.

Trusting God, to me, is so much more than listening when it is going to be beneficial to me, but listening always,  no matter how hard it will be or how others will view me.

Psalm 28:7
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Create In Me A Pure Heart

Create in me a pure heart, O God; and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 NIV

God most recently taught me an intellectual truth that explains His repeated deliverance of my heart. “Create in me a pure heart, O God” Psalm 51:10. The Hebrew word for create in Psalm 51:10 is “bara”. It is the same Hebrew word used in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” It means to create out of nothing, to shape, to form, of something new. The same word our poetic brothers and sisters used to describe the miracle of creation, David used to describe how God makes a pure heart. Supernaturally! From nothing! From darkness!

Any of my sisters who share in my journey through infertility and pregnancy loss may know a thing or two about David’s words in Psalm 51:10. We continually need to make the conscious choice to allow God to pick up our pieces and miraculously place our hearts back together and renew our spirits. It’s the only way I’ve found for me to be whole again, month after month, failed fertility cycle after failed fertility cycle, and especially after the loss of our unborn children.

There have been times where I wasn’t really sure God existed. Where deep in my heartache and grief my faith was so small that all I had was enough to hope that He would bring me through. And ladies I promise, no God promises, no matter how small your hope, no matter how tiny your faith may feel…it is enough for God to create beauty from it. I’m a living testimony of this, and sometimes it feels as if I’ve traveled in circles over and over again. That God heals my heart and intangible spirit over and over is a much bigger miracle to me than His creation of the earth. I am not downplaying the creation story. I am stating that He is grander with His creation than I ever knew. I see His glory in my repeated wholeness and healing and that is testimony to His power!

God uses our suffering for good. Therefore, despite our circumstances we should, like Him, use it for good as well. It is a conscious choice to allow our suffering to soften and not harden our hearts. Exodus 34:6 states that our King is longsuffering. His patience for us endures. “And call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me” Psalm 50:15. Our only responsibility is to ask, to open our hearts so He may heal them. He is ready and waiting for us to ask for deliverance. I do not know your personal situation, if it is grief, sin, a hardened heart, boredom, anger, bitterness, addiction, and the list goes on. You are not beyond God’s reach or His want to restore your wholeness. Our God creates (bara) from nothing. From darkness he made the seas and all that is in them. His book is full of this testimony and also of His deliverance of His people from oppression.

Pursuing the growth of our family is a high risk high reward business and throughout it all His molding and forming of my heart has me astonished. The risk of loss is very real for us because our losses have been large. Yet, God’s work on my spirit gives me the courage to endure it all again, to take the risk that I may suffer loss again. I know He will be there. He is long suffered with us. He will deliver us when we call on Him. He will create in us a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit within us. From nothing, He can and He WILL supernaturally mold a broken heart into one that is whole. Call on Him. O Lord! Again I ask, “create in me a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” I thank Him for moving in ways I never asked for and in ways I could never imagine. I praise Him for the lessons and wisdom He has imparted in me, and I thank Him for the privilege of sharing them with you. May He continue to create and renew in you without limitation.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Kandice Harris

Hey gals….This is Kandice. Kandice? Yep, a lot of you may not know me. My husband Brent and I made a move to Crosspoint in July of 2012. We are the parents of three crazies. Seth is 10, Kacy (KacKac) is 7…going on 16, and Samantha is a 160lb English Mastiff who is sweet, quiet, loving, and very hairy. I’m a personal trainer, and have had my small, sweet little, business running for over 3 years. I also teach classes for a local gym, and run a boot camp, for mostly Crosspoint ladies and gents, in a local park. 

 I’m blessed that I have been asked to write this blog post. Is writing a blog post a “usual” for me? Heck no! In fact, when they asked me to do it, my first thought was “no way”. I can’t even speak in proper sentences most of the time, let alone, write in them. God’s plan, often times, does not coincide with MY plan. Does this play out much the same for you?

I have been so challenged, by God, since joining the Crosspoint family. Was it the change in church? A new Pastor? New friends? After many months of thinking about this, I think I have the answer. The change has been ME! Ding, ding, ding…..Kandice is finally getting it! I’m not saying that all the above mentioned didn’t play a HUGE role, I’m saying that no matter what the Band-Aid covered, God still had to fix the underlying problem…..ME. 

I can be the first to tell you that when God moves you, it isn’t really all that comfortable. I can almost picture him pushing me forward, raising my hand for me, and nodding my head in a “yes” answer. It is un-nerving to this Type-A kinda girl. Wait, wait, wait… mean I’m not running this show????

Does God call the qualified to do HIS work? Does he call the “all-together” girls? No, he calls you and me sister, just like we are. Remember, he knows what we are made of. And just an FYI to those of you not on board…..none of us are “all together”, and HE loves us just the way HE created us!
God has recently called me (and no it wasn’t that easy to discern) to speak out loud. Whaaatttt? Yep, me-the girl who has been deeply, and quietly in fear of group settings, and public speaking. I’ve been obedient, even while kicking and screaming, and looking for an exit door. I have said “sure I’ll do it” when every ounce of me wanted to break the phone, move away, or get a sudden case of….well anything really bad and bed worthy. But I didn’t, girls. I obeyed. I obeyed for once in my life. I turned my cheek when God had tried to pull me out of dark night clubs, I’ve turned my cheek when God was pulling my hand away from the bad men, I’ve plugged my ears and stomped the ground when he asked me to stop shoving bad food down my throat….but this time ladies….this time…… I looked straight up, into our Father’s eyes, arms wide-open and said, “Yes, Father, I will follow your lead. Yes, Father, I know that you are totally aware of my gifts and you want to use them. Yes, Father I am yours…use me for your Kingdom!” Easy? Nope! Comfortable? Not in the least!

OBEDIENCE! Yikes…..nail biting, foot tapping, tantrum throwing…yikes! In Luke 6:46 it says (and this is so tough for me to even type)….”Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” Read it again girls….and again….and again. What are you being called to do? Take your fingers out of your ears, peel apart your glued-shut eyes, and just listen, and whatever you do, don’t EVER think it will be comfortable!   

Monday, August 5, 2013

Katie Crockett

My name is Katie Crockett. I have been married to Dan Crockett for 13 years and we have 3 crazy kids, Kaitlyn – 11, Chloe – 8 and Kyle – 4. I am a registered nurse and have worked in the Cancer and Hematology Center at Texas Children’s Hospital for 13 years, and I love what I do. I have not gone through major struggles as some who have written on this blog and don’t have a lot of major life “things” to tell about, but what I can say is that throughout my life God has always been there and has guided me whether I knew it or not. So here is my life story…

It all started with my Mom having me at the age of 17. She sacrificed so much in order to provide for me (and I will forever be thankful because I am the person I am today because of her love and sacrifice). She did not tell her mom (my Nana) until she was 14 weeks pregnant and she never considered abortion even though it was an option she was given. That was the beginning of God protecting my life. Once she began to show she had to do homebound schooling (it wasn’t cool or accepted to be pregnant in high school back then). My Nana and Papa supported her, but my biological father’s family was not supportive at all and actually bribed him with a new truck to cut things off with my mom. Again, God was protecting me because my life would have been VERY different if my Mom and he had stayed together. Mom returned to high school for her senior year and graduated with me by her side. When I was two, Mom married Kenny Farmer and when I was almost 4 he adopted me. This was and is a huge blessing and more evidence that God was part of the plan all along. I may have a biological father out there (and I have had some contact with him), but Kenny is my daddy and that will never change.

I really never dated in high school other than a few “boyfriends” that were never very serious and didn’t last long. I think this was another way God was protecting my heart. In December 1997, I was set up on a blind date by a friend of a friend. Dan and I talked on the phone for the first time on a Monday and by Friday (on our third date) we were talking about marriage. He was living in Austin at the time and we thought he would stay there until I finished nursing school and then we would get married and I would move to Austin. After our phone bill was close to $500, Dan quickly moved to Houston (Ha!). We were engaged in April 1998, but did not marry until June 2000. I do not really encourage this if you are saving yourself for marriage (Just sayin’ ). But those were the rules if I wanted school and a wedding paid for.

Dan is a survivor of childhood leukemia and we were told that he would likely not be able to have children of his own. We knew that we wanted kids, but were not sure if it would be possible to conceive. Here goes God again, my aunt is a foster parent and I was always going to love on the babies in her home and after trying for a little while to conceive I started to see what Dan thought about adopting. Well in September 2001, Aunt Donna brought a new baby home straight from the hospital and I just had to go see her. It was love at first site, but I needed to convince Dan. So I asked if I could take her home and “babysit”. Well, needless to say it was love at first site for Dan as well and he asked “how can we adopt HER?”. So we started the process of becoming foster parents. This is not really how it works, you don’t become foster parents and request a certain child, but once again God was working out things before we could even begin to work them out on our own. Kaitlyn was born with drugs in her system and her mom was HIV positive because of prostitution. So, there were medications and doctor’s appointments and waiting on lab results to see if she was going to also be HIV positive, but once again God was there because Kaitlyn’s biological mom was on her medication while she was pregnant and when Kaitlyn was 13 months old her blood test came back negative. In October 2002, Kaitlyn was placed in our foster home and we finalized her adoption on September 12, 2003 (just 8 days before her 2nd birthday). This whole process was extremely stressful, but we could feel God’s presence throughout.

Low and behold, just one year after we finalized Kaitlyn’s adoption I found out I was pregnant with Chloe (shocker!) and we had done no fertility treatments (we were actually about to start that process). The thing that is so awesome about this is that if I had become pregnant before Kaitlyn’s adoption was finalized everything would have been put on hold and she may have been taken out of our foster home. Once again God was there guiding our lives. After having Chloe, we were kind of the thinking that if we had another great, but we were happy with two girls. I told myself that if I was not pregnant by 30 that that would be it and Dan would get the “snip” and we would be done. Well God is kind of funny and two months after I turned 30 I was shocked to find I was pregnant with Kyle. This was completely unexpected (evidenced by the fact that I had just gotten rid of ALL things baby and maternity because we were done), but so exciting!

So there we were with our family of 5 and living life. Dan had been working for Southwest Airlines for almost 20 years. He made a good salary, had great benefits and a nice schedule and then he hurt his back in August of 2010 and had to have surgery. He was out of work for 9 months, but we were taken care of because like I said SWA had great benefits and nice worker’s comp. He returned to work in May 2011, but re-injured his back in July 2011 and ended up having to have surgery again. He had also had shoulder surgery related to a work injury, several concussions, and had been struck by lightning while at work. You would think that would be enough to make you quit, right?? Not Dan, he absolutely did not want to do something else because working on the ramp is what he had always known and he did not think he could possibly go to school for anything else. I had tried to convince him for years to do something else, but he was not going to do it. Well, once again God was working and did a much better job of convincing Dan than I ever could. Dan officially resigned from SWA in March of 2012 and went to pharmacy technician school. He made the Dean’s List both semesters and graduated in August 2013. He is now working at Texas Children’s and loves what he does (and it is so much easier on his body ).

So, here we are living the life and loving every minute (well almost every minute…)! That’s my life, nothing too extraordinary, but God has always been there and I know that He always will be. My life verse is Jeremiah 29:11-13 and I truly believe it has been played out in my life!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Cowgirl Up!

Howdy! My name is Halllie and I have never blogged. I am excited but scared for you to expect something life-changing out of this post, but that is where God does His "thang", He takes ordinary people to do His exceptional work, right?! So, I hope you can take a break from whatever you are doing right now, read this, and know that though we may have different lives, but we are created from the same Maker and struggle with the same sins.

A mom of a hilarious (I don't use that lightly) and clever 2.75 year old boy, 8 months pregnant with baby number 2, and wife to John for 7.5 years, that's me on paper! I tend to ramble so going much deeper than that would result in your lunch break being over before we get to the good stuff. I love to work in the yard, stroll through nurseries and new/under-construction homes, do projects with my man, workout, be on the water, mow grass, eat Cheetos, bake but not cook, make sure people have a good time, and having people in my home are a few of my favorite things. I was born and raised in church, strayed a hair in college but never left my roots, then met my lobster in a singles group at a church much like Crosspoint after moving home, jobless, with a degree, into my old bedroom, and being 100% certain my life had ended right when it was supposed to begin. :)

I've totally put off writing this in hopes that through prayer and maybe hearing God's loud audible voice for the first time ever, the topic would be sent down to me on a jagged stone or maybe 6 different women would ask me about the same thing over a 2 day period and it would be CLEAR. Crickets....nothing. So, I dug deep and tried to sort out this last year, the last few, then ultimately my marriage for some tough lessons or anything that I could share that may illuminate a mind bulb or pluck a heart string for a sister in Christ. Rather than any one situation or event, a concept comes to mind....We've done some great studies as dating, engaged, then as a married couple. We've been to A Weekend To Remember (awesome!), some counseling during a particularly tough time, and both read many books. I walk away feeling extra "ready" each time and hopeful that we won't sink into the same rut or argument. Most recently, a study called Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs taught a concept that I knew...but didn't really embrace as often as I should. RESPONSIBILITY.
Responsible...that is something I've been called most of my life. I did my chores, gleefully, completed my homework early and over the top (yes, nerd here) , baby sat kids until I could drive then got a real job, was involved in many things in school, went to college where I worked the whole time, graduated early and at the top of my class, and have worked pretty much ever since then. That is responsibility to the world...but what does responsibility look like with emotions? What does it look like in marriage? Socially?

The very root of the word is RESPONSE...meaning how we act because of something. All it takes is one call to a good girlfriend to explain our side of something and be reassured that we were "totally right" for how we felt or how we acted and how terrible the other person must be, yes? That's all fine and dandy until we realize we don't win by being right, we don't win by being wrong, we win by being Christ like. In friendships and in marriage, I've never consciously thought "I MUST WIN HERE!" and fought to the bitter end, but I sure have dissected who said what and why and how I only reacted to them and them to me and before you know it’s too late to un-speak. The common thread is reacting on the reaction of others. What a terribly confusing and dizzying way to live! Dr. Emerson taught us to believe, practice, and accept that "My response is my responsibility". Sounds simple enough....but boy, it’s tough. The good news is it's very liberating! Stop and REALLY consider you react is YOUR responsibility. Let me put it simply, you will not stand on the rolling clouds in front of our Savior and say "He made me do it!" You cannot explain away why we did anything on earth by telling Christ "what had happened". This may sound silly and obvious, but really let that sink in. Whether your husband, boss, friend, mom, or kids really push your buttons or say the one most hurtful thing possible...all that matters is how you react. Will you let their reaction dictate yours? Don't REact, just Christ. God did not make us to be tossed about by this cruel and fallen world, but to be a LIGHT to it. You may not win every battle with your adversaries, but together we can win the war for Christ and grow closer to Him. Sure, when things are spinning and our tears are real and the pain is fresh, growing closer to God seems far away...but these are the moments I've learned the most. If you've ever met John, you know he is a mess :), a fun, crazy, passionate goofball mess. Makes for a fun and lively marriage but can make for rambunctious and lively arguments, I'm no wallflower myself. I have finally learned that maybe our reactions feed each other, and I can literally stop the madness myself, by not reacting, just Christ. There are layers to people and marriage (buy the book) but really stopping to think "God won't care that I was provoked, He will only care how I treat my mate" was eye opening to me.

My mother in law has recently been through something I would never wish on my worst enemy. All you need to know is that she has been questioned, talked about, turned on, judged, isolated, and had to be a rock in some very sloppy and murky waters she was dumped into at the hand of her husband. I found myself doubting her mental stability or wondering if she literally hears from God and He is holding her hand because she was either crazy or cosmic. Then this study struck a chord. No matter what her spouse did, she made a promise to honor God in her marriage and love him like Christ would...NO...MATTER.....WHAT. We'd all like to say we'd do the same, but some very "Christian" women and family members have suggested otherwise. In my immature brain, I have played out scenarios for her (and myself during some tough times) of what she deserved, how Christ would WANT her to be fulfilled and happy...that is a slippery slope. God does not promise us happiness, He promises eternity with Him after doing His work here on earth. I cannot think of anyone else at this point in time doing more of His work than she is...and to many church going people have abandoned her for doing just that. How trivial and small are my hang ups? How crazy must I drive John at times and thankfully he doesn't treat me how I deserve?

God is kind enough to let us enjoy this beautiful place, have meaningful relationships with friends, our spouse, and our kids. He blesses us with jobs to have and do things many in the world can't afford; however, that is not our ultimate purpose. Our purpose is to be like Christ to everyone we meet. I have been convicted and challenged to take full responsibility for how I act and react, regardless of the way I am treated. Turning the other cheek was not Jesus being a door mat, he was letting them physically abuse Him but by turning to offer the other, He was making the choice, not being the victim. No one can cause us to act a certain way, they are merely revealing the way we are....we have to choose to be better and learn how to submit, and serve others to honor Christ.

 In my first job at the Houston Astros, I had a very career driven single "cat lady" of a boss who told me one time to "put on my big girl panties and deal with it". I'm thankful to not work for her anymore but in that moment, she was right. We need to "cowgirl up" (a little shorter and sweeter way to say the same thing) and stop letting others steal our joy, steal our grace, and steal our mercy that Christ gave to us to be EXTENDED to those who need it most. We don't get to choose the mission field, we are in it! Do not be of the world.....Love you gals!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Lynn Palmer

People have asked me what kind of childhood I had and I tell them we were just like a Norman Rockwell picture.  Godly parents, fun little sister, and a cute  dog named Muffin.  I belonged to a church that I loved.  Happy, happy, happy! Then I turned 18.  Lost my mind then I think because I did a 180 and went the opposite direction.  A rebellion of sorts. 
I dated a biker with 10 tattoos, partied, and kind of "forgot" about God.   Don't you  know that you are invincible at that age?  I was invincible until I was 28!   Oh, I went to church on and off during that time, but didn't focus on God. I just went and did my one hour a week.  I was a good girl.  Yeah right...

I met my husband Dave in 1988.   He was my boss; he managed a restaurant that I worked at on the weekends.  I know what you're thinking. Her boss???  Yep.  We started out as friends and talked all the time.  Then I saw him out and about.  Wow, he sure looked different outside of work!  We started dating, then got married in 1991 (in the church I loved growing up).  He was raised in a Christian home also.  Okay, I still wasn't a "regular" church goer, but life was good.  He agreed to go to church at Christmas and Easter.  I was good with that.  Jordan was born in 1992, and baptized in the same church (the sprinkling of water on her head) where we promised to raise her in a Godly home.  Oh.  Yeah.  Right.  Jordan was sick from the time she was 4 months old until the day she turned 5 years old (asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia constantly).  She was cured then.  Wow, that was a God thing!  I started thinking that I needed to find a church home and get involved, for me and for Jordan.  I was reborn at a Christmas pageant in 1997.  I gave my life to Christ right there at the end of the pageant.  Third best day in my life.  First one was marrying Dave, second one was having Jordan.  I starting going to church on a regular basis and loving life!

In January 2000 I found out that I was pregnant with Alex (deer caught in the headlights!).  Dave had just lost his job so we decided, or let's say I decided to move to Georgia (right above Jacksonville, FL) to be near my family.  Good thing too because Alex was born 2 months early at 3 lbs. 8 oz (I had pre-eclampsia).  He was screaming so I knew that he was going to be okay.  Thank you, God.  I loved being near family, but did NOT like where we lived.  We stayed for 3 years and then came back to Texas.  We were so glad to be back, we cried when we crossed the Sabine River!

We went back to the church we attended when we lived here before, but it didn't feel the same after a while.  I wasn't getting "fed" like I wanted.  We went to another church, and same thing.  Crud!  We did not go to church for 2 years!  By this time Jordan was 18 and Alex was 10.  I knew a lot of people who went to Crosspoint.  I decided one Sunday to go with my neighbor.  Loved it! I went back again, this time by my self.  Loved it again.  The next time I brought my kids.  They loved it, and as they say the rest is history.  Crosspoint put us back on track!  They have kids/singles that  Jordan and Alex love.  We belong  to a church family now.  Someday Dave will catch up.    Life is good.  Yeah…it really is.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Marcy Pittman

Hello, my name is Marcy Pittman. My husband, Randy, and I have been members of Crosspoint for about 2 ½ years. We are a blended family and together we have 3 daughters. One of my passions is music and I have been a music teacher for about 20 years. I will be teaching music full-time again starting next school year. This is my first blog and I feel honored to share part of my story with you.

While watching the news stories about the recent tornados in Oklahoma, I started thinking about foundations and how people rebuild their lives after a tragedy. Many times when people face a devastating loss or tragedy they ask, “Why would God allow this to happen?”

Almost eleven years ago, I asked this same question to the God I had served since I was 12 years old. In 2002 I became a mom for the first time and a few months later I became a widow. At this time in my life, I was a single parent without a job. I had chosen to step away from teaching full time to stay at home with my daughter. I had many hard decisions to make. I was also grieving and learning how to take care of a baby. I asked the question “Why?” almost every day. “Why me?” I would ask God. “I have been serving you faithfully for many years?” My husband and I had been serving together for many years. Then God reminded me of a prayer/thought that I had had a few years before this tragedy. I remember thinking about what it would be like to live as if you couldn’t breath without Christ, to live as if He was my oxygen. It was more thought than prayer but I spent a few weeks thinking about what that would look like and feel like to have such a mindset. Being a widow and single parent was the journey God took me on to show me this very mindset. Throughout this journey, I could see how God was all over it. The financial decisions that were made that allowed me to purchase a house and car in cash. The part-time job that just fell in my lap. The wonderful support of my family, friends and church family. The wonderful woman of God who would step in and be my “mom” after my mom passed away suddenly. God had orchestrated all of this before I even knew that I needed it.

During this journey, I often asked God why and why he chose me. But one thing that I never questioned was that God was real and that He loved me with an everlasting love. This is the foundation that was built by my parents when I was young. I was raised in a family that didn’t just do church. Jesus permeated our lives. Every struggle, we prayed for guidance. Every blessing, we prayed thanksgiving, every decision we prayed for wisdom. My parents served in their church, they took us to church, and they had church in their home. Every morning I saw my dad with his Bible and bowl of cereal. My parents reached out and cared for neighbors and their church family.

This is the foundation that my parents help instill in me: God is the center of my life and loves me with an everlasting love. Without this foundation, I would have fallen to pieces. I would not be healthy mentally or spiritually. God has been challenging me lately with this: What kind of foundation am I building in my daughter and stepdaughters lives? Do they see that Christ is the center of my life? Do they see that I rely on Him daily? Do they see that He is my oxygen?

Four years ago, I married a wonderful man and added two other girls to my life. Now as a blended family, we face new challenges and a new journey of leaning on Him through good and bad.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lisa Byrd

My name is Lisa Byrd. I’m a 50+ woman who has a husband, a child, a step child, in-laws, outlaws, and grandchildren. Basically, I’m just like you. I have lived the majority of my life believing I was a Christian without ever really knowing what that meant. I wasn’t raised in the church. I was raised in a family who believed in God, thought we knew who Jesus was, and assumed we’d all go to heaven because we believed he died for us on the cross. I was somewhere around 40 before I realized God was trying to get my attention. Probably to show me how far off I was from the truth or a relationship with Him.

I have a long, convoluted story, as most of us do. What it comes down to is this, once I hit the bottom of my pit, there was only one way to look; that was up, to my salvation and my rock. I went through years of self condemnation for the life I had led; for the wrongs I had done to my family, my only child, my husband.

Fortunately, for me, I followed my daughter to Crosspoint Church. I started to meet some women who were genuinely caring and way less judgmental of me than I was. They showed me that even though I’m not perfect, I can still love the Lord and he can still love me.

So, I began a journey to know him on an intimate level. It has been a real rollercoaster of a ride. Typically, because he leads and I argue, justify, and whine. I’m not the fastest learner in the world, so some lessons take a while to sink in. Other lessons get repeated because I, apparently, slept through class that day. But God gave me His word to stand on. Romans 8:1 tells us “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus..” Believe me when I tell you, I stand on this particular word everyday, all day long.

Beating myself up was a way of life for me. That’s no longer true. I now recognize that I’m redeemed. And NO ONE can take that from me.

So, now my journey has become about other areas of my walk that need attention. One of them being that I’m unequally yoked. I just celebrated my 30th anniversary with my husband. It’s hard to walk your faith without your spouse being a part of it. God calls women like me to be 1 Peter 3:1 wives. “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,…” I can honestly tell you, this may be harder than any area I’ve looked at so far. I am soooooo not good at being a 1 Peter 3:1 wife. I’m praying that God will give me the desire to become a silent witness who truly lives her faith on a daily basis. I’m also praying for his help to create a support group for those of us in this situation. So, stay tuned for more details on that.

I would like to take this opportunity to say “Thank you!” to the women of Crosspoint. I’ve never had women pour into my life like these I’ve met here. You are all awesome and such good examples of how to be Christ to those around you. I hope I can be just like you when I grow up...

Monday, May 13, 2013

Divine Appointments

Howdy! My name is Crystal Bryant. I'm fairly new to the women's ministry at Crosspoint. You know me as the person who makes the CPW facebook posts, tweets, and updates the website. I loooove to talk so I'll tell you a bit about myself. I've been married to my high school sweetheart for almost eight years. We have a very rambunctious, almost three-year-old daughter named Brynn. My apologies to the toddler CPK volunteers! I'm a two-time graduate of the University of Houston (Go Coogs!). I've been teaching 3rd grade in Manvel for six years. I love the beach, scrapbooking, Mexican food, all things Vera Bradley, and watching football. I hate ants of any kind and I strongly dislike vegetables.

It's taken me nearly 3 months to finally sit down and write this post, because I just couldn't hear (or more likely wasn't listening) to God about what to share. You will have to bear with me because I have not written anything at length since my graduate school days, and I'm a little rusty.

Can you think back to a moment, or series of moments that you believe changed the course of your spiritual walk? I firmly believe that God stands in front of us all the time, flailing his arms and hoping we will notice the divine appointments he has meticulously scheduled for us. One such divine appointment for me was when I met my husband in high school. We were juniors when I first noticed him, and he was really cute, and a basketball star, and totally awesome. We became friends when we were seniors, and I was immediately drawn to him. He was a good kid, super popular, and had strong Christian convictions. What? Christian? He was the kind of Christian that went to Panama with Teen Mania and lived in the jungle with Kuna Indians to tell them about Jesus. I'd never met a Christian like that. Sunday morning is one thing, but half your summer in a jungle for Jesus? But he was genuine. He didn't care who knew, and people loved him anyway. I remember asking God way back then to let me marry someone like him. I was unchurched, far from the salvation I'd accepted at twelve, and on a sure path of destruction and heart ache when my divine appointment arrived, exactly on time. One thing that gives me hope about this experience (even more than our happy ending) is that a girl like me at seventeen could notice and desire a Godly man like Jason. The world can be so scary, especially when it comes to adolescents, but the light of Jesus shines and people desire that. I won't sell anything less to my daughter. Because my path crossed Jason's (conveniently before I went off on my Senior trip to Cancun and to college) I am the person I am today, without a police record (HA! But seriously), and more importantly with a spiritual craving for more Jesus. I like to think that Jesus high-fived someone in Heaven the day I finally "got it!”

Here are a couple other divine appointments worth mentioning: a fabulous Zumba instructor came to my school to teach a class. Subsequently she invited me to Crosspoint. After a while, Jason and I decided to join a life group to stay plugged in. Initially we were unsure about the small group thing, and we simply chose a group that was close in proximity. God plopped us down into a group of people that acted like we'd been friends for 10 years. We've become close and even look for excuses to hang out. I could literally write a book about the turning points in my life. But I digress.

God is slowly revealing to me the importance of being a divine appointment. It's wonderful to look back on how God has intervened on my behalf. Sometimes I get a little caught up in what God is doing or can do for me. But then conviction stirs. Isn't this walk about winning people for the kingdom? That would mean that my journey is less about me, and more about others.

Consequently, I just finished reading a novel called Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker. It's about Jen and her husband, Brandon, in their faith journey to uproot from their comfortable pastoral roles at a large church in Austin to plant a missional church on the other side of the tracks. Without a means or a plan, Brandon resigns, leaving his security (and salary) behind. But the coolest part of this whole story is that it all started with his wife, Jen. God ignited the fire in her, and because of her obedience, her husband was moved, and they now pastor a church in South Austin that serves the broken and the needy. They don't wait for people to come to them, they go to the people.

Our current series at Crosspoint, Genuine Christian Brand, is tackling some of the same issues. What is the point of Christianity? How should it look? Does it exist for Christians, or for those who do not know Christ? (That last one is a rhetorical question). I've always appreciated the times when I can recognize God bringing things full circle. It's not often that you get blinking lightbulbs pointing in the right direction. Personally, I feel that God is all but yelling at me to go a little farther. He got me on the plane, now it's time to take that parachute and JUMP into some uncharted territory! One way I have done that lately is to accept the leadership role of the “social media” person for CP Women. I wrestled with God a little on that decision, mostly because I feared it would interfere with my “time.” I bargained with God and told him I needed him to help me improve my time management. So far, so good.

I didn't realize it at first, but I think Crosspoint does a great job of encouraging it's members to serve. Serving others is such an incremental part of our spiritual journey. But I think we have to be careful and even purposeful about serving more than what walks in on Sunday. Don't misunderstand. It takes a small army of mostly volunteers to run the tight ship that is Crosspoint. But outside of that, I ask myself “Am I doing all I can do exude the love of Jesus to everyone I encounter?” The answer is usually “NO.”

I'm not exactly sure how far God is intending to take me right now. But I do know that I can try to glorify Him in all that I do on a daily basis, just incase I am a divine appointment in someone else's life. I don't know about you, but that takes some serious work at times. It means that not only do I have to make every effort to be friendly, compassionate, polite, and attentive to others, but I also have to do things like curb my road rage and NOT go a little ape on the apathetic Macy's salesperson who is NOT motivated to help me find the one and only missing shoe in the size that I need. Grace is the word!

I feel as though I could go on for another page or two, but I know I'm starting to lose some of you. So to “launch” (as we say in the classroom), I encourage you to think about the impact you are having on others, and how that relates to Christ. Do you attract or repel? There's more than one way to minister to others, and it doesn't always involve showing up on someone's door step with a bible in your hand. Maybe it's just showing up, loving people, taking an interest, building a relationship, and/or extending both grace and truth (as Pastor Tom has mentioned in this series).

Here are various scriptures that have really taken hold of me and prompted this post:

Deuteronomy 2:3 (oldie, but goodie): “You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north (which I translated as, “hey dummy, you've been beating this dead horse long enough, move on!).

All of Isaiah 58, but this especially 58:9: “...If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”

Romans 14:13: “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”

Romans 15:5-6: “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”