Crystal Writes A Blog

A place to read what Crystal writes

All Aboard the New Year Train


All Aboard--Amtrak Pic from 2018--No Frame

What a ride this life can be sometimes, huh? Four years ago today, I was riding a train headed west to Arizona where I would spend my mother’s last 10 days on this earth. Until this time, I never knew how much the death of a parent could change a life. I don’t think I would’ve understood even if someone tried to explain. It’s one of those “you had to be there” experiences.

Still, I promised after I posted her picture and funeral flier back in 2015 that I would share the miraculous events of those last days. So, I am using this New Year’s Day to keep my old promise.

Mom called me with the news of her pancreatic cancer diagnosis on December 27th, 2014. She said the doctors told her it was an aggressive mass that gave her less than three months to live. I was ready to go into prayer battle, but she told me she was ready to meet Jesus and that she was okay. I accepted her answer and talked with my husband about going out there after my writer‘s meeting on the second Saturday of January. Something inside told me I needed to go sooner, though, and on December 31st, I signed on to Amtrak.com to see what was available. I found a ticket I could purchase with points I’d saved, and it was available the next day at 6:00 AM.

It’s almost a two-day ride from Chicago to Arizona, and in that time, I received phone calls from my mother’s doctors who complained that she was being aggressive since they removed her IV and asking me how I wanted to handle hospice plans. I got the doctor to agree to put her back on fluids so she could be lucid when I arrived. But the stress of broken connections and tasks I’d never performed gave me an upset stomach, A caring attendant did what she could to comfort me in my distress. Finally, I arrived to my old home town of Kingman where I would spend one night with my sister before we headed to Tucson to see our mom.

Fast forward a few days to Mom’s apartment, a hospice team, and helpful members of her church. Mom was still asking for a little food and some crushed ice, so I tried to give her all she desired. On Thursday January 8th, I set up a laptop to allow her to say goodbye to her family members in Kingman and my husband back in Indiana via a Google Hangouts video. By Saturday, she was eating less and sleeping more, and I was sleeping far less but using my time to sing to my mom with all the love I could find inside my heart. It was a battle because of an abusive childhood and trouble in our lives up to that point, but that’s another story for a different post. It’s important for my readers to know there was a PTSD-worthy history involved, though.

On Sunday the 11th, I got a sitter and decided I needed a little break to attend my mom’s church. It’s always awkward for me to figure out where to sit when I visit new churches, but this time, I would soon see how much God was in control. A woman who sat in front of me stood to tell the church of her pain about her husband’s recent death. That was an open door for me to invite her when I invited the rest of the church to walk over to my mother’s house and bid her farewell. Janet, accepted the invitation.

Now, most of the church members had been in to see her, so I brought Janet in to introduce her. While we waited for a few others to pray, Janet grabbed me and said she needed me outside right away. Remember, I had never met this woman before that morning in church. And, it turns out, it was only her second visit to the church, so she had never met my mother. She got me outside and asked if there were spiritual and mental battles between me and my mom. Once I explained, she said she knew why we had the rocky relationship we did. In a nutshell, she informed me she didn’t want to scare me but wanted me to know she saw something demonic hovering around my mother and oppressing her. She immediately gave me a prayer to pray over my mom. We prayed it together and with a neighbor friend, and when we went back inside, there was a noticeable change in the atmosphere.

In the next two days, Janet interceded for my mother and counseled both her and me to take our authority as children of The Almighty God. We stood in prayer against the evil that had likely oppressed her for most of her life, and we received both deliverance and peace. My mother was still dying, but everything was different. She was so comfortable that it amazed even her hospice attendants. They said she should have been more miserable and in far more pain even with the high doses of painkillers they had given her to prepare her for death.

In my times alone with my mom, my singing to her seemed clearer and more melodic than I had ever heard my voice. In addition, some pleasant memories from childhood days returned to my thoughts when before I had only remembered the troublesome times. To me, it was evident God put this woman into that church, and at that specific time, especially for my mother and me. God used her as a blessing in both spiritual and emotional ways. Next, I would see He put her there to be a physical blessing, too.

Soon after meeting her, I found out Janet was a retired RN. She volunteered to drop most everything at her own home to stay and help me care for my mother. That was an answer to my mother’s prayer that her children would never need to bathe her or change her diapers. Janet took care of the “gross” things, like suppositories, and she stayed as my helper right up to my mother’s last breath. And that leads me to my conclusion for this part of the story.

Members of my mom’s church stopped by to visit my mom and let me rest for a few hours here and there. Janet took the last shift on Monday night. She told me she would wake me if my mother needed me. I dreaded the thought of seeing her struggle for her last breath, but Janet did not know that. Still, she woke me right after her final moment on this earth, and I did not have to witness that battle. Her death rattle was silenced, but my mother was still warm, so I knew Janet woke me just in time. And because of all the changes in my spirit, I received the blessing of grieving my mother and our good times instead of beating myself up over so many past days taunting me with the fact I could never change them. When put into the hands of The Almighty, even the old can change and be made new.

January 1, 2019 Posted by | Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Old Man Winter Meets Baby New Year


It is now officially winter, so whether we call him Old Man Winter or Jack Frost, he’s here to stay with us for the next three months. Because he always comes to visit less than two weeks before the end of the year, we can be sure the old and new will cross paths with one another.

Our lives are filled with times of crossing old and new, and like the crossing of winter and the new year, the meeting does not always mean the old disappears right away. It is said that it takes 30 days to develop a new habit, so in that 30 days, the old habits slowly die away. Winter takes a little longer. For the old to go away any faster, it takes a miraculous change, and there are many stories of such miraculous changes because of one newborn baby some 2000 years ago. That miracle-bringing newborn is our Savior, Christ the King.

One of my all-time favorite Christmas songs is the one written in 1865 to the English tune of Greensleeves; the carol What Child is This?

The video above uses the entire set of lyrics, some of which are often left out in popular recordings but have so much power that I searched through a number of videos to find one that had them. Here are verse and chorus one…

What Child is this who, laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

This next verse is sometimes left out, but even when it is included, people often sing the above chorus instead of chorus number two. When you read the words for the second chorus, you’ll understand the beauty and power in words that speak of the price our Savior paid for our eternal souls. I have trouble not crying when I sing this entire verse and chorus.

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

See what I mean? I’m the “me” in that 2nd line, and you’re the “you.” He was born, and His cross was borne, for me and you to receive forgiveness of all our sins, so we can live with Him for eternity. Once we receive that blessed salvation, we can lift praise for His mercy and grace. Here’s verse and chorus three…

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

I love the second-to-last line–Joy, joy, for Christ is born! Because He was born, we have a promise that our old lives and sins can be washed away, and we can be cleansed and made whiter than snow. Because of the blood of Yeshua, we are made both whole and new. As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

When Old Man Winter meets Baby New Year, may their introduction be an invitation to you to surrender your old life and let Christ make you new. You don’t even have to wait until then because we have the call in Scripture that Now is the day of salvation. Merry Christmas, and may this season bring you the newness and joy of life with our Savior, Christ the King! Amen.

December 21, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Christmas Season, Current Events, Lyrics and Song, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Just So You Know


So Pharaoh has told Moses that he better never see his face again, and that the next time he sees his face will be the day Moses dies. And we think that’s the end of the conversation. But not so. Moses has much more to pass on in warnings from Yahveh. I could just hear Moses saying, “Okay, I’m leaving for good, but before I do, just so you know…” And I say this because of the context of their conversation in today’s reading from Exodus 11:4 through Exodus 12:20. But before we jump into that, here’s a fun video from Everybody Loves Raymond when Ray tells Deborah that she gets her way by saying, “Just so you know.” That part is near the end of the video.

So Moses’ last words to Pharaoh were his strongest yet. He speaks as God spoke to him saying (my paraphrase), “At about midnight, I’m coming down there to exact justice. Every first-born will die, including yours, Pharaoh. Even the firstborn children of the servants and animals will die. And the cry of Egypt will be strong, but not a peep will be heard from the children of Israel, so you, Pharaoh, will realize that I distinguish between my people and Egypt.”

And then Moses went on to talk for himself. He told Pharaoh that the servants would come before him and bow themselves while telling him to please leave their land. And he said he would leave after that happened. It appears that God was speaking to him at the same time and reminding him that Pharaoh would not listen, but that it would enable God to perform even more miraculous works to show His power.

And then the reading switches gears to Yahveh talking to Moses and Aaron and giving them instructions on what was about to happen. God explained to them that the month they were in would begin their new year. He then told Moses to gather the community and teach them what to do to avoid the death angel when it came to Egypt.

Now, the timing is a little off here as I read it because it started with midnight but the instructions now include choosing a lamb on the 10th of the month and keeping it until the 14th. Of course, it did not say “midnight tonight,” so that could add confusion. Maybe God had even told Moses to tell Pharaoh that “some midnight” He would show up, and not to tell him exactly when. I guess that would make more sense because it would prevent Pharaoh from attempting to stop the Israelites from doing their part.

Anyway, if you read the Scriptures for yourself, you will find all the instructions from choosing a lamb from the sheep or goats, killing it, eating it, what to eat it with, etc. There are a lot of details in the Passover celebration that point to Christ, and if you haven’t done it, I highly recommend attending a Messianic Passover Seder for an enriching and enlightening experience.

The teaching then goes into the instructions for the feast of unleavened bread. The call to eat matzah (unleavened bread) instead of hametz (leavened bread) is so strong that God says whoever eats the hametz, even if they are foreigners or visitors, would be cut off from Israel. All leaven is to be cleaned from the homes and tables as the festival if celebrated. Of course, since leaven is compared with sin, it would make sense that God would want His people to begin a new year cleansed from all unrighteousness–even to the point of not having those engaging in it living on your property. His gift to us is that we can start over, we can start clean, and we CAN be free to go and sin no more … just so you know. 🙂

January 7, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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