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ClearlyKristal: Life Interrupted

Editor’s Note:

My Dear Friends and Followers,

Finally. I’m here. I’m back. I know many of you have asked what’s going on with your blog? Why aren’t you posting?

I apologize for not posting in such a long time. Yes, I can give all the excuses of being too busy. It is true … I’ve been working a few paying part-time jobs. (Fact: Most blogs don’t pay zilch, unless you are one of the biggie bloggers, and charge for ads and lots of sponsored posts). ClearlyKristal has never been about making a ton of money. I can see my husband rolling his eyes, but this blog is truly an artistic outlet for sharing, healing and growth.

I’m also doing something super crazy in our world of cyber and social media: I’m focusing on being in the moment. Crazy, uh? This is especially important as our two little girls are growing at warp speed, my crows feet grow a little deeper, and those undeniable gray hairs appear.

We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Over the past few months, though, God has been at work with some exciting things. I attended the 2015 Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference. I met some amazing folks, and witnessed the breath-taking beauty of the California redwoods. Here are some snapshots:

All smiles for an early morning walk.

All smiles for an early morning walk.

Besides the stunning beauty of the redwoods, and the blessed folks I had the honor to meet, including my mentor and instructor Judy Gordon Morrow (author of “The Listening Heart”), I am working on a Christian Devotional that I hope to publish in the near future. Stay tuned…

Grateful to connect with Author and Mentor Judy Gordon Morrow.

Grateful to connect with Author and Mentor Judy Gordon Morrow.

Speaking of other cool stuff happening, I was approached by Mutual of Omaha to participate in their sponsored campaign of life’s aha moments. For those of you who are not familiar with it, Mutual of Omaha travels the country in search of those people who have a valuable life-changing moment to share with others. It is meant to inspire, motivate and give hope to the hopeless.

The Aha Moment Recording Trailer.

The Aha Moment Recording Trailer.

I decided to share my challenges with a learning disability based on this post from last year: Hiding Behind X: My Story of Dyscalculia.

Without further ado, here’s my Mutual of Omaha Aha Moment (click on link):

http://www.ahamoment.com/search?utf8=✓&search%5Bq%5D=Kristal

Feel free to share with others who may need a boost to their day or life.

I plan to post more this summer–probably some excerpts from my memoir and devotional. From the bottom of my heart, I thank each of you for continuing to support my artistic endeavors.

I would encourage you to allow God to interrupt your life a little more, you’ll be amazed at what transpires, I promise. I’m living proof.

In Peace and Love,

Kristal

What’s your aha moment? Have one you’d like to share below? I’d love to hear!

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Fighting Collateral Divorce Damage

I remember the ugliness of it. The loneliness. The desperation. The loss. The pain.

She acted out to fill the hole now permanently left in her heart. She began to smoke and drink alcohol. Took pills. She snuck out her bedroom window at night to find anyone or anything to fill that void.images-1

Kim and I were neighborhood “friends,” but I tried to keep my distance. Even though her pain was spilling over, and I wanted to be there. I feared that she’d bring me down with her.

I had enough of my own problems.

As teen girls, we were neighbors for a short time. She was new to our junior high school. Her parents were “newly divorced.”

And there was the catch: Divorce.

Praying for Divorce

Even as a child, I prayed my parents would divorce. The fights at night could be unbearable at times. I would hide under my covers in the top bunk bed and pray they would just end it. “Why God? Please!” I would plead.

Divorce at the time seemed to be the better of two evils for my parents. And yet, my parents stuck it out for 44 years.

They didn’t give up on their marriage in the darkest of times.

And here was my lost, pained neighbor friend who was a casualty of divorce. The worst part of divorce is how it effects the children.

And why is divorce on my mind?

Divorce Rears Its Ugly Head, Again

“He told me it’s over. He doesn’t love me any more. I’m crushed…please pray.”

This is the message I received a few months ago from a good friend.

What’s the collateral divorce damage for her family? One little girl, one little boy, one dog, a parakeet, and a man and a woman who once loved each other…devastated.

Nearly 30 years later, I felt yet again the pain of another friend in the battle of this ugly thing called divorce. Rather than pulling away this time, I’m emotionally strong enough to support her in prayer and lending a listening ear.

My own husband and I are shocked by how many of our friends and neighbors are divorcing. They reach the 10, maybe 12-year mark, and then call it quits.

What happened?

Phil Donahue Sheds Some Light
There is no single answer. So long as people get married, there will be divorce.

Sadly, the previous 50 percent divorce rate is a distant, lingering memory. In California, divorce rates hover around 75 percent, and even higher in Orange County according to 2012 statistics.

In other words, a mere 25 percent have a chance at marriage in California.

I recall watching a “Phil Donahue Show” television segment that focused on divorce during the 1980s. In his trademarked closing message  the camera zoomed toward Donahue’s face. His blue eyes now serious behind the oversized spectacles, he reached into the rooms of viewers to share his painstaking insights about marriage and divorce. One line resonated with me as a teenager: “Marriage takes hard work by both partners.”

Regardless of whether I agree with Mr. Donahue’s political point of view was irrelevant. He knew these words all too well as a liberal divorced Catholic talk show host who was making a go in his second marriage. He had his own five “divorce-damaged kids” to prove it.

What’s Love Got to Do?
Now as a woman married for 13 years, I understand it takes a commitment to another person even when they are driving you crazy. It’s about patience and acceptance of each other’s flaws. Yes, it’s about love. But at the core, we wake up each day, hit the alarm and go about our day. Sometimes our marriages fall by the wayside because life gets in the way. We disconnect from one another. And before we know it, there is a stranger lying next to you. You are next to a person you once loved.

You wonder what happened. Life happened. You both let it get away. You let that love fly right out of your heart. I think Mr. Donahue had it right: It takes hard work to keep the sparks of marriage alive. To my knowledge, he has remained committed in his second marriage for the past 30 years.

After reading this post, I’d like to be all a rah-rah cheerleader and let’s stop this divorce rate in it tracks. I think the first step is admitting that we are broken, and we can’t do this thing called life alone and be happy. I would give anything to avoid the millions of troubled teenage Kim repeats, but I think the first step is admitting we are flawed, and we need to open up the conversation about divorce – it’s just not worth the collateral damage.

I leave you with video from Casting Crowns that speaks perfectly to the topic…”Broken Together.”

God bless.

 

 

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A Love Letter to My Niece

My Dearest 18-year-old Niece,

I have been meaning to write you this letter. Here it goes…

I love you. Truly. Since the day you came into this world, I knew that I would love you forever. You were my first daughter – even though I was technically your aunt. I was there for so many firsts. Your first breath. Your first movie. Your first time in the pool. Your first steps. Your first words. Your first temper tantrum.

The day I moved away for one of my first jobs out of college was the hardest of all in our relationship at age 24. At only two-years-old, you sensed I was leaving. With my bags packed, I walked toward my car. I closed my eyes and clenched my teeth through your painstaking cries. I finally turned to see you pressing your chunky cheeks against the patio window. You cried and pleaded: “Don’t go! Don’t go! Noooo!” Your mom eventually pulled you away from the glass. I ran to my car.

My heart broke at that moment. I sat and cried.

Now, more than 16 years later, you are beautiful – both inside and out. You have grown from a teetering and tottering child to a mature, capable young woman. You are smart and caring. Your love for people and animals continues to inspire me. And, your strength in battling a chronic, life-threatening disease amazes me.

And you are experiencing another ‘first.’ You are in love with a young man. That sounded very aunt-ish, I know. I know how you feel because I, too, was in love at the same point in my life.

I was 19 and attending junior college and living in a small town like you. I already knew that I had met the man I wanted to marry. I had dreams of our life together. I could see him as my great partner in life.

Though I was in the euphoria of love, I knew not to put my hopes and dreams on hold for someone else. I had to remind myself to keep my own dreams alive…to not lose myself. Heck, I didn’t even know who ‘I’ was yet. I was still defining what type of person I wanted to be in this life.

I considered those girls who lived in small towns across America who were “babies having babies.” They had married young, but had little to no education and skill set. I thought of Grammy, who married in high school only to find herself divorced and alone with two kids – and no real skill set or education. I did not want to be one of those girls. I wanted to be smart and strong. I wanted to know that I could make it on my own with the support of God and family.

The day I received my letter of acceptance into a four-year-university was bittersweet. I knew it was the start of my future. I had finally made it into a state university. The girl from a blue collar, working class family who shed blood, sweat and tears into putting herself though junior college had made it to the big time. I was college bound. Unfortunately, I would leave heartbroken. I was starting a new life without the love of my life.

I packed my tiny, brown 1981 hatchback with all my belongings.  Naturally, it was a dark, gloomy day when I kissed my true, first love goodbye.

I bid farewell to the nestled mountains of my small hometown. With tears falling, I slipped in the cassette of a favorite reggae artist Gregory Isaacs. The slow melodic song “Weeping Willow” filled my car. Through my tears, I sang these lyrics…

“No more now, no more, no more now They say that once the tear has fallen, the willow cries eternally cries out for we, my willow tree don’t shed your tears eternally cause I have found the love I’ve searched for I need your tears no more (no more), no more So tell be where, my weeping willow and we’ll could never be the saying cry not for we, my willow tree don’t shed your tears eternally cause I have found a love I’ve searched for I need your tears no more (no more), no more No more, no more now…”

In between sobs, I prayed to God for eight hours in the now pouring rain. I held on tightly to those prayers over the next nine years until our wedding day.

Yes, nine years. It took more than nine years for me to marry the same man I left on that fateful day.

So, as the child who is much like my firstborn daughter, I ask you to hold true to yourself. Love yourself by allowing time to find out ‘who’ you are and experience life before taking on the huge responsibility of marriage and children.

Please know that I am excited for all your ‘firsts’ to come. Remember, God had a plan for me –  just like He has a plan for you.

Love,

Aunt Kristal

You and I cheek-to-cheek.

You and I cheek-to-cheek.

 

 

 

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Live Another Day

It sits idly. The letter. My heart beats another day. I feel the sunshine on my face. I listen to the doves nestled on my backyard fence. I envelop the smells of my daughters. I think about the letter, and what I need to do.

What I have to do.

Photo courtesy of Jenny Mason Photography.

Living another precious day with my family. Photo courtesy of Jenny Mason Photography.

Hundreds of miles away a woman lies on a cold exam room table. She holds her breath while the black marker tip lines her breasts and under her armpits. She tries to think of her daughter who is starting college, and her son’s football game.

But she can’t force out the thoughts that she could die of breast cancer. She could lose it all.

I pulled out the buried letter, and I was reminded of that brave friend. I was also reminded of my Aunt Diane, who underwent a double mastectomy.

I can’t wait any longer. It wouldn’t be right. Staring at the letter, I pinpoint why I am delaying the inevitable mammogram appointment.

The answer is pure and simple – fear.

So, I do this for my brave friend on the exam table. I also do it for my Aunt Diane – and for the countless number of families who lost the battle. I also make the appointment for those who are fighting breast cancer at this very moment.

Most importantly, I am doing it for the two little girls who call me “mom,” and my husband and best friend of the last 20-plus years.

As my husband encouraged me the past months: “Do it to live another day.”

I plan to do just that.

At this time last year, I wrote about my first mammogram, and my family’s history of breast cancer in a post “A Letter Like No Other.” If you haven’t made your mammogram appointment, call today. If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for someone else.

God Bless.

imagesOCTOBER IS NATIONAL BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is celebrated in October of each year to raise awareness for the disease that will affect approximately one in every eight U.S.-born women in their lifetimes.
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Nowhere to Be But Here

I sprinted through the sand barefoot in my two-piece green and blue bathing suit. “Beat you!” I called to the other girl, as I threw myself into the black swing. Gaining momentum, I could almost feel my head reach the sky. I began to swing back and forth to the rhythm of the waves. With each crash of the wave, my swing would go high, and then retreat. I felt a quiet peacefulness.

Photo attribution: http://www.weheartit.com.

Photo attribution: http://www.weheartit.com.

“Jump! Do it!” she dared. Hesitating, I jumped from the swing to the sand, and fell to my knees. I could feel the shock in my ankles from the daring leap.

At the age of six, my eyes slowly panned the long strip of beach towards the endless horizon. The world was my oyster. I had no limitations, no obligations, no restraints.

Nowhere to be – but here. NowIn the moment.

“Hey, want to build a sandcastle?” the girl asked. “Sure,” I said. We spent hours building, creating and carving our masterpiece sandcastle. After a few hours, it began to grow dark. “Are you hungry?” the girl asked. “Starving,” I said. We walked up to the restaurant where her dad was ponied up at the bar. He ordered us the most delicious, juiciest cheeseburgers and fries. Sitting at the bar, I could still hear the soothing rhythms of the crashing waves.

Life was good.

A few minutes later, my mom strolled through the doors of the restaurant to pick me up from my play date. It was time to go, but I pleaded for one last swing with my playmate. My mother relented for a final swing. With the brisk chill of the salty ocean breeze and the darkness settled in, I was happy and carefree in that brief moment.

The Joy of Play – Both as Parent and Child
Flashes of my day of freedom at the beach as a child flooded back when my husband and I recently took our own children to the beach for the first time this summer.

For many parents, the beach is a time for relaxation, and the children entertain themselves. With the exhaustion and hustle and bustle of the week, the beach can be the perfect reprieve for some much-needed relaxation for families. And, we are no exception.

However, this time at the beach was different. Something new had entered my heart. With the familiar crashing of the waves and salty sea air, this was a time for savoring the precious moments of childhood – of my own babies savoring in the joy of play. Watching them, I felt the same carefree sensations of my time as a child at the beach. I thought of those moments while they frolicked and giggled.

Glancing over at my husband, who was leaning back in his beach chair, I knew he was exhausted from a long week. I decided to share my story of the priceless time of playing at the beach as a child. He, too, shared some of his fond childhood memories of playing for endless hours at the beach.

I then explained that our children won’t always be here, and some day, we’ll sit on the beach, just him and I with no kids. They’ll be off at college, or with friends. We’ll wish they were here – like they are right nowin this moment.

Our girls with dad sandcastle building. Serious business.

Our girls with dad sandcastle building. Serious business.

Selfishly, the mere thought of being without my children made me sad. I know time is fleeting and short.

A few minutes later, my five-year-old daughter walked up with her bucket in hand and asked, “Mom, do you want to build a sandcastle with me?” Smiling, I jumped up from my chair, “I was waiting for you to ask me!” I said. Later, my husband and other daughter joined in the fun as well.

We were all there – in the moment. And life is good.

 “Your treasure – your perfection – is within you already. But to claim it, you must leave the busy commotion of the mind and abandon the desires of the ego and enter into the silence of the heart.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, American Author & Speaker 

What are some of your favorite summer memories as a kid? Do you ever take the time to listen to your heart and be in the moment? As a parent, is there a special time of ‘play’ that you savor? I’d love to hear!

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