somedays.

Somedays are easier than others- which means some are just plain hard. Sometimes nights are the worst for me. And tonight as I miss you, my sweet first boy, I remember having to curl up differently in bed because you were growing. I remember thanking Jesus for so graciously answering our prayers for a little one. And I remember feeling full with you inside. And then one day you left us. God called you home. My heart has wept since that day.

Then your brother came and before we knew it, he left us too. God called him home. Our hearts wept for you both after that, the grief was indescribable.

Then your sister came along. She stayed. God hasn’t called her home yet, and we will celebrate her 14 months of life next week. We celebrated your little brother’s 2nd birthday in December. We will celebrate your 3rd birthday in March. And my heart still weeps.

Your sister is growing so big, so strong, so healthy. We praise God for that. We all love you so. Hug Benjamin for us, and have him hug you for us ok? We love you Ammi Noe. Enjoy your time with Jesus, we will continue pressing on here and await the day we get to see you.

” You are my sunshine, my only sunshine

You make me happy when skies are gray

You’ll never know dear how much I love you

Please don’t take my sunshine away. “

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October 14, 2020

Jesus is good and faithful.

Even when I fail, even when I come so very short, even when my faith in my circumstances is weaker than it should be.

I’m beyond grateful for his grace, his mercy, his unconditional love.

Life the past 7 months of lockdown in Guatemala has been hard. Jane was 3 months when it all began in Guatemala and she’s 10 months now as lockdown is being removed. She is a better sleeper now than she was (other than some rough teething nights). She’s jabbering away, blowing kisses, waving nonstop, dancing in her own quirky way. She is now 20 pounds, and 30 inches tall! We are now in 12 month clothes and trying to work on walking. She’s wearing her brother’s booties and hat 🧡 she has grown out of her brother’s 6-12 month pants and onesies. She loves her brother’s elephant so much- and plays with all of her toys so well. She’s so busy and active and it’s such a fun stage. Exhausting for sure but it’s been such a gift to have her during lockdown.

In two weeks we reach brother’s due date, and we will remember his life with a trip to the park and maybe a picnic too. But we will for sure thank God for his life, no matter how short.

Learning to give praise when it’s difficult or when life hurts isn’t easy. Through miscarriage I’ve learned the reality of his goodness in the midst of loss but also the reality that grief stays for a long time. Don’t give up friend. Keep showing up each day, giving praise in the toughest moments because he will bring you joy again. He will bring you hope once again. Because he who promised is faithful and good.

Jesus, you are so faithful and good. Thank you for never giving up on me.

June 2020.

Well, its been a month since I sat down to write. Once again, time has passed so quickly. Jane is 6 1/2 months old, Gerson has celebrated his first Father’s Day, and we have already made it through two tropical storms during this rainy season so far. Quarantine has been our life for over three months now, half of Jane’s life has been spent in this place we call home. And I’m grateful for these walls of protection from chilly winds, buckets of rain, and a deadly virus.

 

But if I’m honest with you, I’m really scared too. Scared for sweet baby Jane and what life looks like outside these walls once we can leave again. I can’t wrap her up in plastic and keep her safe…and while that might sound silly or ridiculous, that’s what it feels like to raise a miracle baby. I don’t want to lose her; she just got here.

Last night was one of those nights where, after getting Jane to bed, the tears just fell. I couldn’t control them. Their silent presence was enough to engulf me with even more fear than what has been re-growing inside of me. I was doing ok for awhile, my trust in Jesus seemed to be strong. But friends, when those doubts come creeping and the door is slightly cracked allowing them passage, it can get rough. Fear grew strong roots out of those small doubts, and here I am having to come to grips with those fears once again.

Sometimes speaking that fear out loud helps- last night it hurt while it helped. Like I said before, thinking of wrapping my daughter in plastic wrap or putting her in a bubble is one thing but speaking it out loud is so ridiculous it brings tears. That’s definitely not the life I want for her but its what my fear has allowed me to believe is right.

 

Until the purpose for our life has been completed, we will remain here on this earth. My husband reminded me of many things last night, many truths we hold onto and will teach Jane when she is a bit bigger. But the one that rang true last night was the reality that we still have a lot of work to do before we head home. And until God completes His purpose in our life, we are here.

 

I still woke with fear today- there is no freedom from that fear just yet as I’m still working on it. It might be a constant battle for me on this earth. But its a reality that I’m sure affects more lives that just mine. And whatever your fear is, it must be acknowledged before it’s roots could ever be dissolved, leaving you free from its grasp.

 

My name is Crystal, and I live in fear of the coronavirus. Fear that it will take what has become most precious to me on this earth. I think its time to begin to let those roots dissolve and leave that which is most precious to me back in the hands of Jesus. She is safest there.

May 2020.

It’s almost been two months since I last wrote. Jane is almost 5 1/2 months old and growing so much. She’s getting stronger day by day and is almost able to sit up straight all by herself. She is also learning to crawl with Papi, and she absolutely loves trying on her own as well. This sweet little soul amazes me each day- and its a joy to be her Mami. Praise Jesus for this opportunity.

 

Quarantine looks like its gonna be long for us here. I don’t imagine us getting outside anytime soon. We aren’t taking our daily walks either which was the best part of each day before- Jane loves being under the trees, hearing the birds, feeling the breeze. Someday soon again, we hope. Thursday, as our cases skyrocketed from 60-some a day to 176 positive cases, our president put into place some new rules, regulations, limitations, and while I know he’s trying to do his best with what he can, this whole thing is just hard.

As of 5pm Thursday evening (5/14) until 5am Monday morning (5/18), we are on almost complete lockdown. From 8-11am Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings, people are allowed to go to their little neighborhood shops (not stores like Walmart or Hyvee or Publix- but little tiendas in their communities) for what they might need food-wise. Paychecks were not written or handed out on the 15th (yesterday) like normal. So for much of Guatemala, this lockdown caught them by surprise- with little food and no paycheck (direct deposit happens only in the city in some zones here- definitely not the way we do things here yet). You aren’t allowed to use your car to get to these small tiendas but just by foot (which is ok as they aren’t too far from your home usually. You can’t use your car at all- so its probably not even necessary to say that traveling between departments is still banned. From 5am Monday (5/18) to 5 pm Thursday (5/21), we are allowed out from 5 am-5pm daily only if you need to be out (which is very few people at this point- businesses are closed and almost all shops other than grocery stores, pharmacies and banks as well). Groceries can only be bought from 9am-4pm on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, our markets are open those same days from 6am-1pm (which is where we get fresh fruits and veggies). Starting Thursday at 5pm (5/21) until Monday at 5am (5/24) we will be on complete lockdown. No one is allowed out, except those who work at pharmacies, the hospitals, and, well, that’s about it. I can’t even imagine what that will be like- although, we are currently living it in some way right now. We will see what new guidelines ares given to follow on the night of the 23rd, in 8 days.

We are pondering when to get some groceries next week- I don’t think its wise to go Monday and yet there are a few essentials we need for Jane. I think we have decided Gerson will go Wednesday and be careful…and we will be creative with what we have at home for now.

 

As I write this all, I am fully aware of the many Guatemalans who have NO food TODAY. They aren’t just waiting it out, eating some random mix of what’s left in their cupboards but simply are hungry. And I can’t explain to you how much I wish we could help. How much I wish our hands weren’t tied. How much I wish we could move and act and do something. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do other than pray- I just feel stuck. And yet I have this joy of caring for my sweet baby girl. Grief and joy co-exist in such real ways- pain and thankfulness too. I haven’t quite figured out how to put what I feel into words because it makes me feel guilty for a roof over my head and a sweet baby to love (along with a wonderful husband who is doing all he can for the both of us… and our families praying for us and helping us how they can. It’s humbling- and yet heartbreaking).

 

Praying for you and your mess of emotions in the middle of COVID-19. Praying you know Jesus is meeting you where you are (even if you can’t feel His very real presence among your circumstances). Praying for you as you may also experience joy but deep sorrow, thankfulness and pain all together- while the everyday moments may humble you and break your heart at the same time. Friends, keep your faith. Hold tight to Jesus. Get in His word each day. Help your neighbor when you are able. Be what you need to be for those around you and rely on Jesus alone to sustain you. Be patient, and when you need a break let your family know. You will never be alone.

(Photos from May 3 💗🌻)

Quarantine hope.

In Guatemala, the quarantine is real. The president just put a curfew out, too, as people aren’t listening. So now, from 4pm-4 am, the remaining places open (emergency rooms, banks, pharmacies, grocery stores, and gas stations) will be closed. Shortened hours in hopes that people will stay inside. I’m praying that this will work.

But honestly there is such hope being at home in this season of life. Baby is 3 1/2 months old and I just love spending my days with her (even though I never imagined how tired I could truly be). I have been given such hope spending these days inside with her, and being able to watch her grow. And since Gerson’s work has mostly been stopped as well, he gets to be here too. And I think that’s Gods gift of perfect timing for us both.

Giggles.

Rolling.

Glimpses of wanting to crawl.

Chatting about everything.

Snuggles.

Dirty blow outs.

More giggles.

This quarantine may be hard for you (for whatever reason). Maybe take a step back and see how his timing is perfect for you in whatever season you find yourself in. Because if we look, I’m sure we can all see what he hopes to show us or give us or teach us while slowing down and being inside with those closest to us.

God has been so good.

On December 3, 2019, Gerson and I welcomed our sweet and precious baby girl to this world…who is alive and well and thriving in our arms 💗 Jane Nicole is currently two months old and couldn’t be more loved and treasured.

We want to say thank you for your prayers and constant support in this process- and ask for prayers as we raise this precious life, knowing the journey isn’t complete.

We imagine her brothers in heaven dancing with Jesus for her life, the precious gift that it is. We too dance as her life is such a miracle for us and those around us.

May you ask boldly for the miracle you are waiting to see fulfilled. May Christ sustain you as it unfolds before your eyes- and May he continue to help us all as we continue forward seeking to cherish the miracle in our arms as we grieve what was taken before. His timing truly is perfect and his love sufficient for us each day.

this present moment.

Its been a week.

I’ve been writing, and writing. And researching, taking notes, and continuing to write.

And its been ok. But today, my brain just stopped.

Fried, completely toast. I just couldn’t continue writing anymore.

 

And that’s ok.

 

My husband took the time tonight to pause and listen and pray. And I cried.

I want control over what will happen in the future and that I will be able to use all of this that I am dedicating my life to learn right now.

I want control over where I could do my internship, where I could find a permanent place to listen and help walk people through seasons of grief because I understand.

I want control over justice being acted out, for friends who are like family to be surrounded by good advice and wise counsel. I want them to be able to heal fully, and live well again.

I want control over this thesis being approved, for it all to work out, for graduation to be possible in September.

I want control over my health because I’m tired of being sick, no matter what it is that is bothering my system.

 

I have begun to fully trust and relinquish control in regards to being a mom someday but I really can’t figure out how to give over the rest. I guess i just continue walking, learning a little more each day, doing my best and letting the rest go. Because at the end, whether I pass or fail my final course in July, whether I get to finish line or not for my thesis, whether I complete my internship in the place I hope to isn’t the goal. The goal has always been to learn and to grow, first in my own life and then help others find that growth as well. Because no matter what you are grieving, grief is a hard and ugly thing, and no one should have to walk it alone. Ever.

The conviction present in my husband’s voice was what brought me to tears, what made me fall apart after a really hard day. So, instead of giving up, I will learn to stand strong but leave the control in God’s hands. I won’t figure this out in the quiet hours of the early morning, or in the loud hours in the middle of the afternoon. I’ll figure this out through a lifetime of obedience and surrender.

One day at a time, friends. Don’t give up.

another monday morning.

Today, I sit here reminiscing. I should be working on the next part of my thesis and yet my mind is wandering back to last Monday, last Tuesday, last Wednesday…

I’m listening to a Christian rap song that a dear friend made a dance to. I’m remembering last Monday teaching the sweet souls at a protected home the dance to this rap, laughing together as we tried to remember what came next. There was no space for fear, for worry, we simply all belonged there…dancing away the morning as our legs turned to jello.

The following day, a baby was placed into my arms the moment I walked in the door. And instead of a face wet with tears I had a heart full of joy, of wonder, of awe. The girl that placed her in my arms was proud of her little baby girl, a little one that had come from such hard circumstances, and was waiting to present her to me when I walked through the doors. I held her for about an hour, arms like jello but no complaints from this mama. Jesus met me there, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday…

And He is meeting me right here today, this new Monday morning. I am grateful for his goodness, his grace, his faithfulness in the midst of my slow journey towards growth. But if there is one thing I have learned this week, its that I have grown, Gerson and I have grown, through the depths of grief and the big ways in which Jesus has met us along this journey. Last year when I went to this hard place to minister, I was in a really hard place just two months after the biggest loss of my life. And today, 11 months and a few days after that loss, I’m standing a little stronger because of His strength within me. He is growing me and I pray He continues to do so.

 

 

Monday morning.

Today as I sit here working away on my thesis, my brain just can’t stop thinking its way through so many things and my heart can’t process the weight of humanity. But I guess I shouldn’t expect it to.

This morning as I sat with Jesus, I read the beginning of the story again. The beginning of His story. And when I got to Noah, I wept. I mean my coffee cup splashed coffee into my lap, my muffin fell into my coffee. I simply sat in that moment and just wept.

For once my weeping wasn’t about my pain, my loss, my grief. It wasn’t about our little Noé (Noah) that we lost last March. It was about this Noah’s story, this Noah’s reality. The wickedness that surrounded him, the way the people around him were consumed in things other than the Lord. Because their vision had shifted from God over a period of time, they were consumed in wickedness. And as I read that portion this morning, my reaction to weep was because of the wickedness that surrounds us in this world today. People’s vision has shifted from being steady on Jesus to being steady on themselves, on money, on power, on whatever they have chosen as their god(s). And I continued weeping as God chose to annihilate everything and everyone on earth (because of their wickedness) as he wished he had never given them life…God grieved over his creation. Except when it came to Noah, as Noah found favor and grace in the eyes of the Lord (Genesis 6).

We all know the next part- God told Noah to construct the ark, who and what to take on, and Noah obeyed fully. For real, you guys! Noah just did it. And God made a covenant with Noah. And it began to rain, for 40 days and nights. “And everything on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath and spirit of life, died” (Genesis 7: 22). Noah and his family were the only ones alive. Everything and everyone else was gone.

When God spoke to Noah, telling him it was time to get off the boat, Noah obeyed. They walked out, along with all of the animals he had taken aboard with them. And Noah built an altar to the Lord. And the Lord was pleased by the aroma of the burnt offerings Noah gave. And what happened next? God promised to “never again curse the ground because of man, for the intent (strong inclination, desire) of man’s heart is wicked from his youth; and to never again destroy every living thing, as he had done.” (Genesis 8: 21). Chapter 9 speaks of blessings from the Lord to Noah and his family, and also instructions over their lives. We also read of the covenant of the rainbow given to Noah and his family, and all who would come after. The promise that He had made between himself and all living creatures. To never again curse or destroy.

I continued to read on about Noah’s life this morning, but this is the portion that I’m choosing to share. I share because I struggled to sleep last night as my reality came colliding into the fact that so many have grown cold. So many who profess to love Jesus aren’t walking with their eyes on Him. So many who say they believe in Him are acting in ways that aren’t consistent with what they believe. And my heart. My heart is weary, my heart is burdened, my heart grieves over this world and the choices we have made. I say we because all of us play a part. Whether in our silence or in our boasting, we haven’t helped the situation.

Last night, I wept. As I shared my heart with my husband, I wept. I don’t want to grow cold in my love, I don’t want to become silent in order not to argue. I want to share his gospel continually, love unconditionally, and be Jesus to this world in more ways than I can mention. I want to continue sharing in this good news that is Christ, and I choose to also participate in the burden that will always be heavy on my heart too. I choose to carry this cross, because Noah did. Because his eyes stayed focused on the one who gave him life. Because he obeyed with everything he had. And I want to do that too. I want to continue walking in what he has for me, whether its what I would choose or not. Because this whole story is about Him and all of the glory is for Him. All of it.

I will not let my heart grow cold, nor let my love run dry. I’m committed to continue walking with Jesus even when the cross gets to heavy to carry. Because I’m not alone, neither was Noah.

 

 

 

we will keep trying.

I just wrote a friend an update on a current situation regarding a lady needing medical help. And I simply ended the message with, “well, we will keep trying!”

I feel like I have said that/ admitted that/ written that so many times recently. We will keep trying to get this lady seen by a professional. We will keep trying to press forward regarding our studies, with the dreams God gave us in mind. We will keep trying to reach the girls being mentored through small acts of love and grace. We will keep trying to preach the Word with everything we do. We will keep trying to be honest with those around us about our time commitments and limits. We will keep trying to have patience and trust that God’s timing is better than ours. We will keep trying… (you fill in the blank.)

As I keep trying to do whatever it is, my human-ness reminds me of the ways I fall short each day, the ways I don’t measure up, the ways that I intensely need Jesus Christ in every single moment of my life. So I keep trying, not out of my strength but His. And when I forget, I fall and go back to the reality of my human-ness, remembering that deep need for Him all over again.

Because we have hope, we refuse to give up. We will keep trying. We will keep trying. We will keep trying. Praying you do too, friend.