Category: Blessings

Doing What’s Right

abideLet me just tell you, I have been struggling for a topic for the blog the past couple weeks. So much so, that I’ve become exasperated and prayed for the Lord to lead me and tell me what to write. Of course, I should probably doing that on a regular basis instead of sometimes, like I’ve been wont to do. Anyhoo…

With very few exceptions, I don’t like most Christian music or singing hymns and songs in church. I’m sorry, I know that’s not very Christian of me, but it’s the truth and I hope y’all understand that I’m telling you this to make a point. Okay? Okay.

So this morning, at the new church we started attending about a month ago, I was singing along with the congregation, while reading the words on the two big screens at the front – by the way, I absolutely love that this church does that! So incredibly helpful! – and as I was singing one song in particular, I was thinking how much I didn’t actually like that song. But it wasn’t written for me, it was written for God with the intent of bringing glory to His name and worshiping Him, so I was obedient and sang along. Why? Because the Lord has done SO MUCH for me and my family, that this one small thing is nothing in comparison, and yet it brings glory to God and Jesus, who, of course is God in the flesh! Hallelujah!

No sooner had that hit me, than the Lord told me, “Crystal, that is your topic! Write about doing something because it is the right thing to do even if it’s not what you want to do!” It it me so hard, I had to write myself a note to remember that, right in the middle of the song! Praise the Lord!

Now I believe that when you ask for something spiritual from the Lord, and He gives it to you, He will very often follow it up once or twice more in confirmation, so you know it was indeed Him, and not your own worldly mind. Interesting thing happened next. The very next song had the most wonderfully appropriate line for this occasion – “Jesus, I sing for all that you’ve done for me!” Hallelujah and Praise the Lord again! Two signs in a matter of minutes! God is so good, is He not?!

Did you see what happened there?

  1. I asked God for something. In this case, inspiration.
  2. I was WILLINGLY, (not begrudgingly) obedient to the Lord and what He asks of me, whether or not I actually like doing that one thing. In this case, singing Christian songs.
  3. God immediately answered my prayer by giving me inspiration during the time I was willingly showing my obedience to Him!

WOW! Is that powerful or what?!

Today’s message at church was about ABIDING in Him, and He in us. The verses Pastor Dustin at Windborn Church shared with us, are very much in line with this message, and I believe that was the third sign.

In John 15:5, Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me, you can do nothing.”

What happened? I was abiding (and we should always be abiding in the Lord, shouldn’t we?) in Him, and He in me, and the prayer I asked of the Lord, bore fruit, and now here I am, sharing that fruit with YOU! Praise the Lord and Hallelujah again!!! What a blessing!

So obedience really pays off, doesn’t it? Sure it does! When you were a kid, and you wanted ice cream or cake or cookies, but your parents told you, “You need to clean your plate or eat your veggies before you can have desert.” what did you do? You cleaned that plate and ate those veggies, I’m guessing! I know I sure did! So what happened? You were obedient to what your parents knew was for your own good, and then you were rewarded for your obedience!

That’s what happened to me today! I was obedient to my Heavenly Father, and I was rewarded/blessed with the fruit of the spirit. Why? Because even if I don’t actually like a certain song, it is always a blessing to me because it feeds my spirit and reminds me how good God is! It’s a really wonderful thing! Give it a try! Go and abide in God, be obedient to what He asks of you, and enjoy the desert He gives you, aka; your blessings!

John 15:8 – “By this, my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”

The word “abide” in the time of Jesus, mean something a little different than it does today. It meant “Live” and “Dwell”. In other words, Jesus is asking us to live with and in Him, and He will live with and in us. I personally think that’s pretty cool. Don’t you?

Many Blessings to you!

C.A. Bennett – Writer

My Son Who Has Autism

​I have an 18 year old son with autism, who was mostly non-verbal until he was six, had sensory issues out the ying-yang, and could not…. would not…. go anywhere without specific items he “needed.”

Yesterday, I went to church with this boy, who willingly left his phone and headphones in the car two blocks away, and removed his favorite SF Giants hat upon entering the church, then kept it off the entire time. That never would have been the case a few ago! All of those things would have been a battle ending in frustration for all of us.

As he stood next to me singing hymns and Christmas songs along with me and the rest of the church – keeping time, carrying a tune, and missing not a single word – the enormity of his level of progress struck me so hard, I had to stop and collect myself before I could continue singing. Thank God I’d stuffed tissues in my sweater pocket before leaving, as most mothers are in the habit of doing regardless of how old our kids are.

The kid amazes me daily. This once non-verbal young man, now talks politics daily with his family, friends and teachers. He can do most everything on his own, he just forgets to do them. Is every day perfect? No. But who’s is? My menopausal self has more meltdowns than this kid! Very often, he does things for me out of the clear blue sky, just because he wants to help me out. 

One day, I’d gone grocery shopping and was in the process of putting everything away, with only the bag of sugar to transfer to its container in the cupboard, when I needed to take a bathroom break. When I came back, the sugar was in the container, in the cupboard, and the paper bag it came in was in the trash. My first reaction was to thank my husband for doing it, but he said he hadn’t. Our son said, “Oh. I did it because I wanted to help you.” You could have knocked me over with a feather! 

There have been other similar occasions where my kid just does something nice for me or his dad because he feels like it, and it always shocks me. Just last Friday, he surprised us by he using his own allowance money to buy his dad and I a snowcone after school. Nobody asked him to. In fact, we weren’t even with him when he did it on the way from the bus stop!

If you know anything about autistic people, then you know it’s uncommon for them to take another’s desires, comfort, wishes, or well-being into consideration, much less take action to propagate it on their own! 

To what do I attribute this amazing progress? 

  1. God and the power of prayer. 
  2. Parents and four older brothers who refused to treat this boy any differently than anyone else. 
  3. A lot of love and patience . 
  4. Wonderful teachers, speech therapists, and occupational therapists provided free-of-charge by the school district.
  5. The kid himself, for always trying so hard to meet all his goals. 
  6. Lots of patience and self-education on autism.
  7. Always telling him that autism is what he has, not what he is! 

              That’s very important!

If I could give other parents advice on coping with autism, it would be to follow the seven steps above, every single day no matter how hard it is. Whether or not it’s a good day is irrelevant. You don’t always have good days either, but isn’t it nice when people still treat you with love and compassion? Don’t forget that part of love is never giving up on them. It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s definitely always been worth it! 

God bless!

C.A. Bennett – Writer

Past vs. Future

This morning, my youngest son and I went to church for the first time in a very long time. We – my husband, the kid, and I – usually read our bibles on our own at home, and share what we learn with one another, friends and family and vice versa. That’s all great, and I’m sure God doesn’t mind that, but I have really been feeling the need to actually go to church for quite some time now, but didn’t because the church I’d been going to contained an element that made me very uncomfortable. I won’t go into details, but suffice to say, It’s been awhile.

Anyway… This morning, we went to a church recommended to me by a friend, who’s opinion and council I trust, and I was not disappointed! The church building and it’s parishioners were warm and welcoming, the music was really good, and the words projected onto a big screen on the wall, and the most important part – the message – was wonderful!

We heard about Jesus and how He came from God through the common people, Mary and Joseph, instead of the family of Herod, the Pharisees, the politicians, etc. The reason is – or should be – obvious. God was directly reaching out to the common person, aka; you and me! He gave us someone we could relate to! What a blessing!

Another thing I loved hearing today was in regards to the past vs. the future. There is a quote most people have heard at one time or other by George Santayana, who wrote (in The Life of Reason, 1905): “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

While that may be true, I would like to suggest something I hadn’t thought of in a long time, and that we heard in church this morning.

Philippians 3:12-14

Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

So I leave you with this; Learn from your past mistakes so that you don’t repeat them, yes. But having done so, let them go, so you can focus on the future and what God has in store for you! Don’t hold onto that which you cannot change, because your past can also be an anchor that drags you down. God has good plans for you, so keep looking forward!

Praise The Lord!

C.A. Bennett – Writer

When Is A Bad Day, A Good Day?

You’ve heard that expression, “Some days you’re the windshield, some days you’re the bug”, right? Well today I feel like the bug. Let me explain… the idiom implies that you are either the bug that becomes the mess, or your the object that ends up with the mess splattered all over it. Either way… you’re a mess.

My reason for being the bug? Well… I was asked to go somewhere to help someone I love in a situation they couldn’t get anyone else to help them with. It was a seemingly simple thing, really… I had to drive out to give one of my grown sons a ride to a work related seminar/training. Next thing I know, we’re all in the car, Rob and I are on each others last nerve, and we aren’t even halfway there yet. Not a good start, but okay, fine. That’s just marriage sometimes.

After getting to the house, we found we had a lot more time than we originally thought, so we visited with all the grown kids. They share a house and some had the day off, while some just weren’t scheduled till later. Pretty cool. After we dropped off the kid at the place with the thing, Rob and I ended up exploring an old military town, and got to see some cool navy stuff. We even got kicked off a college campus for taking pictures of the buildings, I kid you not! Kinda funny, right? So we have a few laughs, and take a few pictures. We even have some awesome sourdough bread, creamy brie-like cheese the actual name of which I can’t recall, (but was much less expensive) and the most delectable strawberry pastry ever. Good day.

Except… on the way home, we argue, then make up, then argue some more. Why? I dunno. Stupid crap, for sure. We’ve been married 28 years and have spend almost 24/7 with each other for the past 7.5 months that I’ve been recovering from a work injury. We could probably use a little “me” time apart a few hours a week, but finances at the moment don’t exactly support that theory, but we can handle it. The point is, I felt like a mess.

We get home, and next thing I know, people are telling us how our dog just barked aaaall day, and never stopped. Well that was one person’s description, anyway… Another said it was more like 20 – 30 minutes on, a few minutes off, and so on. Either way, the dog is hoarse and coughs when she barks, so I guess they must be telling the truth, or why else would she be? It’s just odd, because she doesn’t usually bark much, except when she comes in contact with people who have been known to be somewhat aggressive with her, aka the people who told us she was barking. I dunno… I’m just fed up with the drama that goes on in this armpit of a town in which we live, and I wish to no end that I could afford to move out and away forever.

What was good: I got to visit with my oldest three boys, and one of the girlfriends, who I am very fond of. I got to talk to my other son, who lives a bit farther away, and is at college when he called one of his older brothers. First time in about three weeks I’ve actually heard his voice, because he’s been so darn busy with college, work, the army, his girlfriend, and life in general, and my youngest son got to hang out with his brothers for a good while. Rob and I did have some fun, and saw some neat things. We saw my mother, I got out of the house for a change, and a friend brought us a bag of persimmons after we got home.

So I guess the moral of the story is not actually windshield vs. bug, but rather – you can choose to see a good day as a bad day because some negative things happened, or you can chose to focus on the good, and let the bad go.

The choice was totally mine to decide how I want to look at what kind of day I had. When I first sat down to write this, I felt fairly defeated and thought I’d had a bad day. After examining it and writing it all out, I rather think I had a pretty good day. I got to spend time with the people I love and even though one son couldn’t be there, he was there in my heart and for a little while… in my ear thanks to technology.

The great part? Day after tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and we will all be together. All the people I love in one place. We will talk. We will laugh. We will eat too much food, and we will hug. We will say, “I love you.” Most of all… we will never forget the time we have together. I’m so thankful for the gifts God has given me, and no matter how bad any day may seem, there is always something to be thankful for – always.

1st Thessalonians 5: 18 says,

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Praise the Lord, and Amen.

Who Are You, Anyway?!

best

We’ve all been there. We’ve all asked ourselves that eternal set of questions:

“Who am I?”

“What am I doing with my life?”

“What is my purpose?”

“Why am I here?”

For me, these past seven months have been a journey of redefining myself as a result of strictly imposed restrictions on what I used to believe I was. I was, a Behavior Specialist who was going to college to become a teacher. I was, but I’m not anymore.

Two things have been a constant in my life no matter what I thought I wanted to be, or what I became because of doors that opened – if only temporarily – and then closed again.

My faith in God

My love of writing

From the earliest part of my life that I’m able to remember, I have prayed daily, and I have been a writer. I can recall my five year old self – white ruffled baby-doll pajamas with little pink flowers that were all the rage for every little girl in the very early 1970’s, fuzzy pink slippers, kneeling at the side of my bed, to say my nightly prayers;

Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord, my soul to keep.

If I should die, before I wake,

I pray the Lord, my soul to take.

I said that prayer every single night without fail, for I don’t know how many years. When I grew up and became an “official born-again Christian” – as some would say – I stopped one evening to question what that prayer really meant. It was a simple request of God:

Lord, if I live through the night, let me keep my soul. If I die, take it and protect it for me

Simple. Basic. Done.

Nowadays, my nightly prayers are much more complicated that that. I regularly thank the Lord for His love, blessings and mercy. I regularly pray for forgiveness; not just for me, but for my husband, and each of my now adult children, and even their significant others, because hey… when you’re in my family, you’re really in my family, whether or not we agree on politics or God. I pray for protection, guidance, healing, and then throw in whatever current issues I have for myself, and for any family members I’m concerned about. I ask the Lord to bless everyone who has blessed me and my family in any way, and I ask Him to allow us to be a blessing to Him, to each other, and others.

Very different set of prayers from childhood.

The other constant, is that no matter whatever else I thought I was or wanted to be, I have always been a writer. Always. I remember before I could actually read or write, I would take crayon to paper, make those little scribbly writing lines that every small child thinks is real writing just like mommy & daddy make on their paper, and I would “read” my scribble stories to my stuffed animals and dolls as they sat lined up against the wall on my bed, and listened astutely to my wonderful adventures.

As I grew older, and learned to read and write, I did both with a passion that even J.K. Rowling would be proud of! I couldn’t get enough of books! I read, and read. The most exciting time in my childhood was when the Bookmobile would come to my neighborhood. Lord, have mercy, but I would absolutely be beside myself with joy over the Bookmobile! My mother and I don’t have the greatest relationship on the planet, but one thing I will say is that she instilled a love of reading in me, and has always encouraged me to write. I have no idea why, because that’s really the only encouraging area she played in my life, but I’m thankful for it, and have told her as much. But I digress…

These days, I’ve been working on writing my books, and am still going to college, but have changed my major from History to Religious Studies – the two intertwine so closely that I’m actually ahead of the game for the change – because one thing that has become evident in recent months, is that the Lord wants me to go in the church direction, and has graciously allowed me the time to write as I’ve always wanted to. Win-win situation.

During the process of writing, I have been reading about other writers and the method to this madness of becoming a successful and published author. I’ve learned quite a lot from J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Earnest Hemingway, Henry David Thoreau, Elmore Leonard, Saul Bellow, and a host of other famous authors, but the single most important thing I have discovered on my own is this:

None of what they say actually has anything to do with how I write.

Hear me out –  I am completely a fan of several of the aforementioned authors and have nothing but respect for them and for their process of making great literature. They are the writers I look up to and I aspire to attain that level of success – sooner rather than later, God willing – but they are not me and I am not them. What one says to always do, another says to never do. One will tell you to always outline and have your plot and ending ready before you ever put pen to paper, while another will tell you to sit down and just start writing – plot be damned – it’ll work itself out in the rewriting and editing phase. One will say, “treat it like a regular job where you’re on the clock from 9 to 5“, while another will tell you to, “write anywhere, anytime, as long as you WRITE!”- I’m paraphrasing, of course, but you get the idea – and you know what? They’re all right! And they’re all wrong! Why? Because that’s what works for them! But it may not work for me. It may or may not work for you!

We are all writers, but we are all different.

“So what’s the point?”

The point is – you are an individual who was made to be something special, and it’s not up to any other human being to tell you who or what to be or how to be it. Sometimes in life, the road we think we were meant to travel suddenly forks, and the way you were going, now has an enormous roadblock. You will find yourself faced with having to go an entirely different direction than you the one you thought you were supposed to go, and it can be terrifying! Pray. Ask the Lord for guidance and direction. Ask Him what He created you to be, and then ask Him to help you to become the best version of that person that you can be!

“And if I don’t believe in God?” you ask?

Well then just be the best you that you can possibly be, make the best decisions you can, and don’t do harm to anyone. In the meantime, I’ll pray that you find God, because He already knows you, whether or not you know Him.

Ephesians 2:10

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

NOW GO OUT AND DO SOMETHING GOOD WITH YOURSELF!

A Prayer for Our Country and Our New President.

Dear President Elect, Donald Trump –

I would like to publicly congratulate you on a very suspense-filled victory. Your words to Secretary Clinton were, in my humble opinion , very supportive and classy. Thank you for showing grace at a time when you could have easily gloated. I admit, Mr. Trump, I was hoping for Dr. Ben Carson, but you were my second choice, and I’m glad you won. 

I would like to offer a prayer for you, your family, and America , if I may…

Dear Lord,

Thank you for a great victory for President Elect – Donald Trump. I ask you to watch over him and his family through what will no doubt, be a difficult time in their lives and ours.

Though it comes to them and many of us as a victory now,  I am certain there will be many struggles and obstacles ahead. I pray that you guide and lead Mr. Trump over the next several years, to do as you will for our country.

I pray that we see great and wonderful things happen in our United States of America, and that only good comes to this land and it’s people.

I pray, Lord,  that you watch over all of us, guide all of us, and bless all of us. Please heal our country and it’s people, but more importantly still – please help us all seek you first in all we do.

In Jesus’ name, amen!

People Get Ready

By Rod Stewart 

People get ready

There’s a train a-coming
You don’t need no baggage
You just get on board
All you need is faith
To hear the diesels humming
Don’t need no ticket
You just thank the Lord

People get ready
For the train to Jordan
Picking up passengers
From coast to coast
Faith is the key
Open the doors and board them
There’s room for all
among the loved the most

There ain’t no room
for the hopeless sinner
Who would hurt all mankind just
To save his own
Have pity on those
whose chances are thinner
Cause there’s no hiding place
From the Kingdom’s Throne

So people get ready
for the train a-comin’
You don’t need no baggage
you just get on board !
All you need is faith
to hear the diesels humming
Don’t need no ticket
you just thank, you just thank the Lord

Yeah
Ooh

Yeah
Ooh

I’m getting ready
I’m getting ready
this time I’m ready
this time I’m ready

Blessings In Disguise 

Some of you already knows I’m a writer at heart, and am working on writing a book. It’s been an ongoing process for several years. Hey, don’t laugh! It took J.K. Rowling six years to write Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, which of course became Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Personally, I like the original title better, but that’s just me. Anyway…. some time ago, I’d been praying for the time to write my book, because being a wife and mom who has a full time job and is also a full time student, was just sucking all my free time up, leaving no time or energy for writing. I also knew even then that I had a call to share the goodness of God with people, I just wasn’t sure how exactly.

Well it just occurred to me, that my prayers have been answered in the most odd way I could have imagined. Because of an ankle injury, I’ve been off work for several months now, and though I’m continuing my pursuit of a college degree, I’ve also had the time I need to work on my book.

It’s been a really tough situation without my regular pay check, and being denied for Workers Compensation. There have been interviews with investigators, depositions with lawyers, a multitude of medical examinations and procedures. And the pain involved with this type of injury is absolutely debilitating. It’s been a very rough road.

There have been days when we had no food in the house at all, but suddenly family or friends would just bring us food or send money to grocery shop, or pay rent or utility bills to restore services that had been disconnected. Amazing things keep happening and things are working out. One blessing is that this fellowship has come to life and I’m so blessed to be able to share things with you what the Lord has given me to write. I’m so grateful to the Lord for His grace and mercy, in taking care of me and my family during this difficult time.

One lesson I’ve learned here is that you need to be very specific when praying for something! Now, I’m not saying God caused the injury at all. BUT…. He can USE it as an opportunity for the fulfillment of my prayers. He’s pretty cool like that!

You may remember the story of Joseph in the bible. His brothers were terribly jealous of him because of how much his father loved and favored him, so they plotted to kill him. One brother didn’t want to go through with it, and talked his brothers into leaving Joseph in a pit instead. Still not great, but at least not dead, so there was still an opportunity for something good to happen. And it did!

After what seemed like a hopeless situation to Joseph for years, he was suddenly elevated to what would otherwise be impossible levels and actually saved the lives of many, many people by doing what God told him to do! His faith in God combined with his obedience to God, caused him to go from being abandoned in a pit to being the kinds right hand man in charge of the kingdom itself, thereby using his God given skills to save a multitude of people from the devastation of severe drought and famine that lasted seven long years!

When Joseph was finally reunited with his family, he had a rough time, but forgave them, saying, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” Genesis50:20-21.

God is good, is he not?! All the time!!!

So if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, think about the possible reasons, and allow God to use it for good. You may just be amazed at how much you will be blessed in the long run!

As always, I pray this today’s message is a blessing to you! In Jesus’ name, amen!

Rev. Crystal Bennett