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Sometimes finding God in the midst of your situations can seem like a giant game of “Where’s Waldo?”
(photo courtesy of Google Images)
If you’re like me, every now and then you experience dry seasons in your life. They are those times when nothing seems to be going on in your life and/or everything seems to be going wrong. Nothing fresh or new is happening. You may feel like you’ve been stripped of everything and reduced down to nothing. Or you may just feel lost and have no idea of which way to go. And in the midst of all of that you feel like God is nowhere to be found. I have been there before. I was dealing with being laid off from my job, not having a source of steady income, not hearing back from jobs that I applied for, all while dealing with adjusting to adulthood and a slight “quarter-life crisis.” I had become apathetic not just towards life but both spiritually and emotionally as well. I frequently found myself asking in desperation, “God where are you?”
I was journaling one day and asking God this very question and He responded to me, “Where have you left me?” That is the real question. I automatically felt convicted because I knew I had been neglecting Him at a time when I needed Him the most. Your dry season may not be exactly how mine was but the question still remains, “Where have you left God?” You complain that God does not seem to be present or that He is not hearing, speaking to and guiding you but the reason you may not be hearing Him is because you have removed Him from the situation. Oftentimes, when dry seasons or tough times come, we tend to run away from God when we should be running to Him. In my case, I did just that. I had become so overwhelmed by my situation that instead of seeking God for clarity and direction, I ran away from Him. It wasn’t that I was mad at Him or felt like He was to blame for what was happening. I had just become so discouraged and disappointed to the point that I didn’t even feel like praying to Him. That was because I had let Him graciously exit stage left right out of my situation. The crazy thing is that I knew that I needed to seek Him more diligently but I didn’t. Then I would get upset because I didn’t feel like He was around…really Crystal? Have several seats.
I believe that God is as close to you as you want Him to be. That is why it’s important to stay connected to Him at all times but especially in those dry seasons so that you can stay focused on Him and hear what it is that He is trying to reveal to you during that time. Don’t let your situation deter you from seeking God. It is in the times when we don’t know what to do or where to go that we must really cling to and draw close to God. There is always a reason and a plan behind what He does, don’t miss out on it because you’ve removed Him from it.
Scriptures to encourage:
1 Chronicles 16:11 (ESV) “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually.”
Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV) “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
James 4:8 (NIV) Come near to God and he will come near to you…”
“If you no longer feel close to God…who moved?” -Unknown
Hello?…IS THIS THING ON?
Sooo, umm, yeah…it’s been a looong time since I have been up here and I must sincerely apologize. I took a detox and never returned. There had just been a lot going on mentally that had me a bit overwhelmed if I am being completely honest. Before you get concerned, it wasn’t anything major or detrimental. I just think I had been/may still be dealing with a mini quarter-life crisis of some sorts; the constant wonderings of what is next in life and what I’m doing and or not doing. It got to be quite overwhelming. But now I am back with the goal of being more consistent and growing and expanding this platform. I have some other things I have been thinking about incorporating on here so I’ll just take it all in stride. I’ve started to get my mojo back and I’m ready to get the momentum going. I hope you’ll stick around!
Man oh man, this year has just started and already I feel as though it’s been too hectic. Not so much because I’ve been busy but just simply because I have been so overwhelmed by my thoughts and my life and where I want to be and where I feel I am not. To be completely transparent, I feel like I’m going through the dreaded “quarter-life crisis.” There has been so much that I have been thinking about: plans and projects I want to begin, things I’ve already started that I need to be more consistent with *cough cough* this blog and my vlog channel and ultimately creating the life that I am imagining for myself; and, to be honest, the process of doing all of that has left me feeling very discouraged and down in the dumps. Usually, whenever I feel this way it is because I have lost focus of God and His plan for my life. I have been getting more caught up in what other people are doing and what I am not doing, comparing what I am doing with what they are doing, and then feeling like I should be doing what they are doing when what they are doing is not even meant for me to do. Was that confusing to you? If so, imagine how I have been feeling. Lol. These thoughts, among others, are the reasons for why I am feeling the way I am.
So what’s the remedy for this situation? A DETOX…a fast, a spiritual refocusing, a societal decluttering…call it what you want but the bottom line is: I’m out of here! (figuratively, of course) What initially started out as a being a sugar detox to rid my body of all the sweets I indulged in over the holidays is turning into a complete spiritual refocusing and almost societal unplugging…a mind, body, and soul purging of sorts. I have been thinking about doing this since the new year began and after reading Baratunde Thurston’s article about how he did something similar, it was all the confirmation I needed to go forth with it.
I have toooooo many distractions and other things clouding my head at the moment so I just want to get away. With that being said, social media is the FIRST to go…specifically, Instagram. I’ve found myself scrolling and comparing, scrolling, scrolling, exiting out & putting the phone down, only to pick it up a minute later and scroll some more. Hours later I’m like: “REALLY CRYSTAL? REALLY?!” So yeah, that’s out along with other social media outlets. Then, of course, television is another distraction for me as well. Ever since I put it back in my room at the beginning of January it has been the death of any of my productive being. Finally, the initial culprit that triggered my desire to go on a detox in the first place…SWEETS. *le sigh* Since before Thanksgiving up until probably the middle of January, I had been going all the way in on desserts, candy bars, sweet tea, you name it…all in the name of “The Holidays.” Well, my body quickly reminded me that the holidays were over and that I could not be about that life any more. So yeah, no sweets for this month. In its place I plan to drink more water and continue eating healthier. As far as the aforementioned things that I am giving up, I will DEFINITELY be replacing it with time in the Word, prayer and increased devotional time. It may sound cliché but I just really need to sit with the Lord.
So I hope you guys won’t be too sad in my absence, even though I seem to have been absent for a while anyway lol…now, you know why. I have a lot of sorting out and refocusing to do. I haven’t completely decided whether or not I am going to stop making blog posts and videos during this time so be on the lookout just in case. If I do not, I will be back in a month’s time, prayerfully, more focused and with good things in store!
Take care & God bless,
*[Pee ess]: My little sister Lauren White has launched her blog, “Confessions of a Lady” It’s purpose is to dispel the myths of perfection associated with being a lady and redefining it God’s way. Check it out at confessionsofalady.org and be sure to like her page on Facebook, follow the page on Instagram @confessionsofalady, and on Twitter @COAL_gems. Please support her and this movement! You won’t regret it!
For the past two years, around November, God would share with me a word for the upcoming year. Last year, I heard the word transition and as I shared here it was very apparent throughout 2013. For this upcoming year, I have been hearing the word preparation; more specifically the phrase, “Stay ready, so you don’t have to get ready.”
Have you ever had a time when you had been lounging around in your pajamas all day and randomly a friend or family member asks you if you want to ride with them to the mall or go out to eat? They say that they are on the way but since you were not ready you ended up missing an opportunity. Or ladies, maybe the one day you decided to dress down and not wear makeup is the day you see an old special someone you haven’t seen in years in the store. During that awkward and embarrassing encounter you can’t help but think to yourself, “Great, this is how they are going to remember me.” (Don’t front, you know that’s happened to you before lol) Although these are somewhat trivial examples of being unprepared, they help to illustrate incidents that could have yielded a different result had you been properly prepared.
In Matthew 25:1-13, Jesus shares The Parable of the Ten Virgins. In this story, Jesus illustrates what it means to be ready for his return and how to live until he comes. These ten virgins (or bridesmaids) were waiting for the bridegroom. Weddings in Israel during that time included a processional that went to the bride’s home and back to the bridegroom’s house for the wedding ceremony and banquet. This happened after dark (in a time with no streetlights) so each person needed to carry his or her own lamp. There were five virgins who were foolish and did not take any extra oil for their lamps. The remaining five virgins were wise and decided to carry extra oil with them. The bridegroom was taking a long time to arrive and the virgins fell asleep. At midnight, a cry went out for the women to come out to meet the bridegroom. They woke up and trimmed their lamps but the foolish ones had ran out of oil. They asked the wise ones for some of theirs but they told them no because if they gave them some of their oil they would not have enough for themselves. Instead, they told the foolish ones to go and buy their own. As they went off to buy some more oil for their lamps, the bridegroom arrived. The wise women, who were ready, went in with him to the wedding banquet and the door was shut. When the foolish women returned and asked to be let in they were turned away.
Although this story is related spiritually to the return of Christ, it can also be applied practically to our lives. How many times have you been in situations where you wish you had been more prepared? Whether it was for a test, a presentation, on a job interview, a business opportunity or whatever it may have been you saw what lack of preparation could do. In this parable, the foolish women missed out on an opportunity and once that door was shut, there was no other way to get in.
In 2014, there will probably be so many opportunities afforded to you in all aspects of your life. In order to ensure that you make the most of these opportunities (or rather, not miss them) it is important that you be prepared. I am learning that being prepared requires you to:
1. Be Intentional. This means that what you are doing is deliberate and done on purpose . You have a specific task that you are focused on and everything that you do is centered around it. You have a plan, catered to a specific result, of which you choose not to deviate from.
2. Be Committed. This requires you to be faithful and devoted to the task at hand. You don’t waver back and forth about what you need to do. As Yoda says, “Do or do not…”. When you are committed you remain focused and when you are focused you remain committed.
3. Be Consistent. You are not half-way doing things or on one day and off the next. Whether the progress is in baby steps or big steps is not what matters. What is most important is that you are steadily moving forward.
So as we kick off a new year, just as you purpose to be spiritually prepared for Christ’s return aspire to be physically prepared for possible opportunities that arise. And remember, to stay ready so that you don’t have to get ready.
Many times when we have something that we are supposed to do or something that we have started, there comes a time when we may get discouraged and want to quit. Whether it be with working out or going after a dream that God has given you, there are times when you feel like you want to give up (trust me, I’ve been there) You try everything in your power to stop doing it or find reasons to not do it. “Maybe I’m not cut out for this. Maybe this wasn’t a good idea. It’s too hard.” There have been times when I stopped working towards my goals, only to realize how badly I wanted it and kept going. Here are a few things I have learned that keep me going:
1. Remember the why. Why did you start it in the first place? what was the reason behind the initial passion that you had?
2. Constantly motivate and encourage yourself. It must be an ongoing process. I used to think that the encouragement I gave myself was enough to last me forever…ennnt, WRONG! I would be motivated for a day or two tops and then be like forget this mess! Daily encouragement is necessary in order to remain committed. Don’t think that it’s bad if the motivation doesn’t stick around forever.
3. Remember that somebody needs what you have. You were placed on this earth to make a contribution and as cliche and corny that may sound, it is the truth. What you’re doing is not just for yourself. It’s for that girl who’s on the streets prostituting herself that you don’t even know but will bless once you start your ministry. Or it’s for the single father who feels like he’s all alone in raising his kids and needs a support system that you may create one day. But these people will never get the help they need if you don’t do your part.
4. Don’t make excuses. When you think of all the reasons why you can’t do something, replace them with the reasons why you can or why you should.
5. Get out of selfish thinking. It sounds like this: “I’M too scared to do this. What if no one listens to ME? People don’t want to hear what I have to say. I cannot do this.” The list could go on. At the end of the day (and this is something God had to continue to remind me of) what does God say? Ultimately, we must have the mindset that Jesus had before heading to his death on the cross of “not my will but your will be done.” God didn’t ask you how you feel about it, He just told you to do it.
6. Envision the end result. This can go back to the point of keeping yourself motivated. Imagine all the great things that can happen as a result of you being obedient to what God told you to do. Imagine the opportunities that could result from it, the lives that you could touch, the fulfillment you would get from making the vision come to life. Not only will you be touching other people’s lives but you will be glorifying and expanding God’s kingdom which is the overall purpose of each of our lives.
You may not always feel like continuing on but when you get discouraged and feel like giving up, remember who and what you’re doing it for…I promise it will change your perspective. Don’t give up.
I’ve often heard fear described as: False Evidence Appearing Real and that is sooo true! I was someone who allowed fear to cripple me to the point of inactivity. It led me to doubt who I was and also what God was capable of in my life. What was I afraid of? Made up scenarios in my head, people I had never met, opinions of people I didn’t know…everything. I was even afraid of how effective or successful I could be. I always found myself asking: “Why would anybody want to hear what I had to say? What if they don’t like it? What if? What if? What if? It can easily cause you to get discouraged and make you quit before you even start trying. And of course, that is what the enemy wants to happen. He wants you to believe that what God has placed in your heart to do is too scary to accomplish and that you’re incapable of doing it. As a result, you remain stagnant and inactive. In my opinion, any stagnation or inactivity towards a goal for the kingdom translates to a victory for the enemy.
Any time you allow fear to choke out the work of God or forward progress towards a vision He gave you, the devil is smiling. It’s as if you are saying that the fear that you have is more powerful than God. If God has called you to a task, whether it be to start a ministry, start an organization, write a book, or start a blog…whatever the vision is that He gave you, know that if He put it in you He can make it come to pass through you. Your fear should not be focused on what could possibly happen if you do it but rather what would happen if you do not do it. The only thing that we should be fearful of is having to provide an explanation to God as to why we didn’t do what He placed in our hearts to do. So what are you going to do tell God? I didn’t do it because I was afraid? Let me know how that works for you.
I am reminded of the call of Joshua. After Moses (the person who was originally supposed to lead the Israelites into The Promised Land) passed away, Joshua (Moses’ aide) was chosen to continue in his footsteps and lead them into the land.
1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous,because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Throughout Chapter 1 and specifically in verses 6-9, the Lord repeatedly tells Joshua to be strong and courageous and not to be terrified or discouraged. The Lord also reminded him that He would be with him wherever he went. Joshua had a big task to complete but the Lord promised to be with him. We can be encouraged by the call of Joshua. Even if what God has called you to do seems scary or too big to accomplish, the fact that God promises to be with you and lead you through it should help to cast out all fear. Be strong and courageous and tell fear to have a seat!
Okaaay, so I MUST apologize for being so MIA for the past *cough cough* almost two months. Let me take a moment to hang my head in shame. Life has been…well…life; and that explains my absence. Have you ever had those times where you just feel like blaaaaaaah? It’s like you just don’t want to do anything, or talk to anyone, or be bothered at all. I was having a personal moment. Which is pretty much explained in this post:
In life, people tend to talk about the major events that occur in it. Growing up you would hear things like, “I’m going to graduate, go to college, get my degree, get a nice job, get married, have kids, and live happily ever after.” Blah x3. However, they never include the in-between phases; the actual means of getting to the next “major life event”. TRANSITION. That is the part of life that I wish was emphasized more. Transition is good in the sense of getting to the next step in life but, a lot of times, the actual phase of it sucks. Most times, you don’t know what to expect in your next season and you’re not completely sure of what to do in your current season. All that you know is that you can’t go back to the prior season because that time is up. So you’re forced to move on and that little piece in between seasons is the weirdest and most awkward place to be in.
Toward the end of 2012, God began to tell me that this year, 2013, was going to bring about a lot of transition…boy, was He right! I had experienced transition in so many aspects of my life: I moved on from our college ministry at my church in which I was heavily involved in, I turned 25 (that could be an entire blog post in itself), I was laid off from my job, and also experienced changes in some of my relationships. Although God told me that the transition was coming, the state it left me in had me feeling confused and helpless. I was in a constant feeling of being in limbo all the way down to my emotions. Just when I started to get in my feelings about the situation I heard a message by Pastor Sheryl Brady where she was talking about transition. (It seems as though God always sends a word for you right when you need it) She had a whole bunch of quoteables throughout her sermon but something that stuck out to me was this: “Transition is a breaking point which moves you into a posture of prayer, humbles you and makes you search for the Lord.” After a mini praise break and with tears running down my face, I realized that 1) I was exactly where God wanted me to be and 2) I had been approaching the situation all wrong. Instead of sulking and worrying about what to do next, I needed to be going to God and really seeking direction and instruction for my next phase in life. And instead of viewing the transition as a negative, I needed to be thankful for this time of preparation. So, some things that I have learned and am still learning about transition is that:
1. It never leaves.
Transition is something that is recurring; you will never get away from it so make sure you get the most out of that time.
2. It is necessary.
Even though the in-between phase isn’t always the best, remember it is required so that you can get to the next phase in life. Don’t be upset because you’re experiencing it, it is a part of the process.
3. It is the time to really get in God’s face and search for guidance.
Instead of complaining about it or allowing yourself to get worked up and confused, go to God in prayer and seriously GO IN! He already knows what you’re going through and what you are feeling and He has instructions for your next step. There’s nothing wrong with venting to your friends and family members about your situation but at the end of the day, your biggest vent session should be to God.
We should learn to celebrate the transition because we know it’s helping us to get where we need to be. I’m not sure if one ever gets used to the idea of transition but you can always learn what to do and be prepared for it whenever it comes. Seek God, seek His guidance, and trust that He has everything under control.
Experiences mean nothing if you don’t value the lesson provided. What’s the point of learning the lesson if you don’t apply it to life experiences from then on? To know and still do the opposite is foolish and why would you want to be categorized amongst fools? Take heed to life’s lessons and use it as a tool for self-improvement. Don’t continue to fall victim to an event you’ve already experienced and wonder how you ended up in the same predicament again. If you’re in the same predicament it is because of your own doing. God does not teach you lessons just so you can forget what you have been taught. He wants it to stick so that you can be prepared if it happens again. Don’t be a fool.
I was cleaning out an old notebook from when I was in school and found a paper with random notes jotted on it. Dated from 9.26.08. I figured I’d share it and maybe it would help somebody.
I know that sometimes in our busy lives we may not have enough time to rest in God’s presence for hours end. However, there are some practical ways that you can get the word in your spirit in a quick and easy way. I thought I’d share a few tips to memorize and meditate on bible verses throughout your day. This is not to replace having a devotional time but rather a different method to make what you have read stick.
One way is shown in the picture above. I bought this spiral of index cards (which I’ve purchased from Target or Walmart in the past). Whenever I do my devotional, I may pick one or two verses that stand out to me and write it down on the blank side of the index card. On the lined side, I write what the verse means to me and/or what I can take away from it and apply to my life. Throughout the day, I would meditate on the verse and read and re-read it until I have it memorized. I like it because it’s portable and as time progresses you have a collection of your favorite verses all in one place.
Another way to memorize verses is to write them on the mirror of a dresser or on a bathroom mirror and just recite it as you get ready in the morning or as often as you’re in front of the mirror. (I use dry erase markers which can be easily removed with your hand or a paper towel) Since it’s in your face it becomes an easy way to remember them. You can keep it there as long as you want but just know that it is most effective when you change it at least once a week to ensure you’re retaining an optimum amount of verses. Alternatively, you could write them on a dry erase board along with some inspirational or motivational quotes that you can memorize as well.
These are just some minor ways that you can keep God’s word in your heart and on your mind. Before you know it, you will have an arsenal of scriptures of which you can pull from memory to encourage and uplift you (or someone else) when you need to. Memorizing God’s word helps it to become a part of you and ultimately shape your thoughts and behavior. Make it fun instead of viewing it as a chore!
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11
Do you have any clever tips for memorizing bible verses or studying the Bible? Feel free to share them!