Crystal Writes A Blog

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In Memory of My Mother


Mom image in stardust frame.

Mom in a stardust frame. May she be even more beautiful now in the presence of her Lord and Savior.

It’s hard to believe it’s already January 25th, and this is my first post for 2015. When I said I’d be traveling to care for my mom, I don’t think I realized how much her diagnosis would change my world. Her loss on January 13th turned it upside-down.

I have some news to share related to her last days, but I will share that at a later date, probably when I’m back home and ready to start updating again more frequently. For today, I want to share the information I put together for her memorial service. I found the above picture in her belongings, and I believe it’s from her late teens.

From the memorial brochure…

Page 1, with the picture: “Tell the people, I am happy. Be happy for me too.”

Page 2:

2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NLT)
(Paraphrased)
7. As for Catherine, she has fought
the good fight, she has finished the
race, and she has remained faithful.
8. And now the prize awaits her—the
crown of righteousness, which the
Lord, the righteous Judge, will give
her on the day of His return. And the
prize is not just for her but for all
who eagerly look forward to His
appearing.

Page 3:

In Loving Memory of
Catherine Anne Jensen

Born on September 8th, 1944
in Concord, California

Went peacefully to her eternity with
her Savior, Jesus, on
January 13th, 2015

Memorial at her home church,
First Assembly of God, Benson, AZ
Sunday, January 18th, 2015 @ 1pm

Potluck reception to follow service.

Page 4:

Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT)
8. And now, dear brothers and sisters,
one final thing. Fix your thoughts on
what is true, and honorable, and right,
and pure, and lovely, and admirable.
Think about things that are excellent
and worthy of praise.
9. Keep putting into practice all you
learned and received from me—
everything you heard from me and saw
me doing. Then the God of peace will
be with you.

Click Mom Memorial Flyer for a PDF copy of the brochure if you’d like to print it out.

Many blessings to all my readers for your caring and concern as I walk through this unexpected valley of change in my family. Before she left us. the advent of technology allowed some wonderful last moments for Mom with her older sister, Shirley, and her younger brother, Dale, as we gathered on a Google hangout from three different homes. She was able to say good-bye to siblings, daughters, sons-in-law, a nephew, and friends on the Thursday evening before she began sleeping through her last days. On Saturday and Sunday, she awoke for brief moments for good-byes with her church friends in Benson. A little after 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning, January 13th, Mom took her last breaths while looking up and appearing to say “yes” to someone above her. We believe it was an answer to the question, “Are you ready to go?.” She left peacefully and without enduring the extreme pain normally associated with pancreatic and liver cancer. The grace of God has sustained us and will continue to sustain us in the coming days.

May God sustain all of you today and always,

~Crystal

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January 25, 2015 Posted by | Current Events, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Effective Efforts


Christmas Crochet Clock Face by Crystal A Murray, All Rights Reserved

Christmas Crochet Clock Face by Crystal A Murray, All Rights Reserved Click the image to open a new tab/window to visit my CafePress Christmas store.

I’ve made a strong effort with this blog since August of 2013. I think I’ve been trying to make up for the years I had it and barely wrote. But I need to make a change. There have been times where I have spent so long trying to come up with just the right topic, that I couldn’t post in a timely manner. If I want a good picture to go with it, that takes even more time.

Am I quitting? No way. I will still make an effort to get something posted every day, but it’s going to become more “slice of life” stuff with some good lessons mixed in as I learn them from a variety of sources. Maybe I’ll throw in a haiku or other type of poem now and then. Sometimes, I’ll post my photography or creative images. I just don’t want people surprised if all of a sudden there’s not deep Bible study on every single post.

Tonight and last night, I’ve been thinking about time and my use of it, hence the clock face above which is a blend of my creativity and a representation of time itself. I’m thinking about the efforts I put into the minutes and hours of my day. For example, I actually started this post early enough tonight to get done before midnight, but some unexpected issues came up that made it impossible to post as planned. I guess God is reminding me that time is in HIS hands and not my own. (By the way, if you click the image, it will take you to my Christmas shop at CafePress. It’s mostly coffee cups, but I do have this clock face on an actual clock there.)

Anyway, as my title says, I want the efforts I make in this life to be effective. What does it mean to be effective? To me it will mean that the things I do have some type of lasting value. I am bombarded by things I want to do, things I need to do, and things I should do. I have to prioritize them based on those that have the greatest value now and later. I want to watch the nice G-Rated Christmas movies by Hallmark while they’re in season. Some of them have life lessons that inspire me long after their viewing. Also, I need to send Hanukkah and Christmas cards. I take longer because I like to write personal notes in them to let people know they are more than just names on a list. And, I should get out and do some shopping before it’s too late.

Here’s some more. Want: I want to either call or Facebook message all the family and friends that have current events going on in their lives. Maybe they’re having birthdays, maybe anniversaries, maybe fighting illnesses, maybe suffering loss, or maybe they’ve just released new writing I want to read. Need: I need to plan for our upcoming Christmas dinner for our writer’s group. That includes making updates on our website and contacting everyone on the e-mail list. Should: These are the things on my want list, like reading the works of writer friends, but with a bit more oomph and importance.

What about you? Do you struggle with all the stuff you want to do with your gift of creativity and all the stuff you need to do to keep life up and running? I want to make more products for my Zazzle store, not because I make much there, but because I’m energized by being creative. I need to watch the lessons I’ve purchased on using my Scrivener software, so my purchase is valuable and so I can share information with others in my writer’s group. Helping others energizes me too.

Under both creativity and helpfulness, it has been requested that I compile my posts on Torah reading for those who want to read it in print all in one place. I want to do it, but it will be some work because of things like Bible version permissions. I’ll have to change some of what I wrote to go with the King James’ Version of the Bible or get permission to use the full text from the Complete Jewish Bible. If you’ve been reading my blog long enough, do you think I should do a book on those posts? If so, would you read it? Should I seek permissions to keep the text from the CJB? Please comment below just to help me hone my “to do” list and get the important and effective efforts pushed closer to the top. Thanks.

December 10, 2014 Posted by | Creativity, Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Going Against God’s Will


I recently watched an interview with an author whose new book sounds quite interesting to me. The author is Johnnie Moore, and his book is What Am I Supposed to Do With My Life: God’s Will Demystified. Haven’t we all asked questions about God’s will in our lives? And haven’t we all been absolutely certain we’ve missed the mark and let God down? I know that many, if not all, of us have paid a price for a bad decision (or two) in our lives, and then we beat ourselves up with debilitating guilt for our failures.

The author of this book points out that God’s will is more about who you are than it is about where you are or what you are doing. In other words, if you make a decision to go to tech school instead of gaining a full college doctorate, you don’t have to wonder if tech school was against God’s will. Instead, you should simply make sure that you keep loving God with all your heart, soul and strength whether you are in school for one or eight years.

Today’s Infinite Supply newsletter talks about the real problem when people step out of God’s will; spiritual decline…

Infinite Supply Image for November Twelfth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Twelfth by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 12

God’s Response to Spiritual Decline

“Who is he who overcomes the world,
but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
1 JOHN 5:5

The Lord’s answer to a state of decline is to reveal Himself and His eternal purpose. Once the Lord has established for Himself a people that will represent His interests, then He will move immediately to secure, protect, establish, and strengthen the Remnant. Here is what I want us to see. When we align ourselves with God’s Thought, with God’s Kingdom, and with God’s Will in Christ, we are invincible.

Source: The Irresistible Kingdom by Chip Brogden

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So, the answer to falling away from God’s will is to watch for God to reveal Himself. When we seek Him and find Him, we will also find His will. When we line ourselves up with God’s will, we have promises that have little to do with what we do in life and everything to do with who we are through the days of our lives.

I’ve always thought the Scripture promise of I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13) was more about doing everything we do in Christ than using Christ to do more. If God’s will is to line up with who He created us to be, then for it to apply to all people, it would have to do with what we become in our spiritual selves. Otherwise, those with lesser abilities could be considered to be less in God’s will, and that makes no sense because God is no respecter of people.

I put the book on my “wish list” because I find the concept refreshing and freeing. The concept tells me that, even seeking God’s will, I may not make perfect decisions, and I may pay prices for some bad decisions. I will also make some good decisions and receive good rewards for those. But my prices and rewards have nothing to do with God’s will. They are simply the law of the harvest that all earth is created under; we will reap what we sow.

If I want to please God, my job is simply to keep seeking Him and yielding my heart to His Holy Spirit in the midst of whatever decision and whatever price or reward is in my life. It means I won’t blame Him for the outcomes in my life, and that frees me to love Him even more–no strings attached. It means I use guilt for nothing more than a reminder to repent, and then I let it go. I don’t have to let it torment me for years over “letting God down” or going against His will.

God’s most simple will is that no man should perish, so going against God’s will is just detaching ourselves from Him and moving away from His leading. If we love Him, we won’t want to do that no matter what other decisions we make in our lives.

November 13, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grandma Tickles and Grandfather Clauses


Welcome Baby Leona by Crystal A Murray, All Rights Reserved

Welcome Baby Leona (with Daddy James, Mommy Autumn, and Little Elie)…by Crystal A Murray, All Rights Reserved
Click on the image to open a new tab/window to the see full size original , and all other images, in my Flickr photo stream.

It was just over four years ago when I took a trip out to Arizona to attend the birth of my first great-niece. The oldest of our nephews, James, was excited to welcome his first daughter into the world. Sadly, his mother said she didn’t want to have anything to do with the new little one and that no one better call her “Grandma.” I countered with the offer to be the grandmother if they wanted since I had raised James for 5 years of his childhood and felt like a mother to him anyway. And then I hopped aboard an Amtrak train and headed west.

The baby’s mother, Autumn, already had one beautiful daughter, Elie Mable. And yes, Mable is spelled right since Autumn wanted it to be an acronym for…Mothers Always Bring Love Everywhere. How precious is that? I got to spend a lot of time with Elie and mommy and James (now called Daddy and taking the role of a most-wonderful daddy at that) got ready for the hospital.

Everyone had agreed on calling me “Grandma Crystal,” and Elie tried her best, but her three-year-old vocabulary just wouldn’t form my name, so she affectionately named me “Grandma Tickles.” The name stuck, and the meaning behind it stuck, so now all three little ones (we’ve now added little miss Wiley Love) have to run and dodge the tickle monster. Plus, I get the privilege of also being a tickle monster to Josh’s beautiful daughter Sinniah. Here’s a panorama of two pictures of my hubby (Uncle Santa) first with Elie, Leona, and Sinniah, and then with Wiley Love…

Uncle Santa David with Elie, Leona, Sinniah, and then with Wiley Love, Images by Candiece Nelson, All Rights Reserved

Uncle Santa David with Elie, Leona, Sinniah, and then with Wiley Love, Images by Candiece Nelson, All Rights Reserved
Click the image to open a new tab/window to see Candie’s full photo stream at Flickr.

So, with this above image, I’m guessing you think my reference to Grandfather Clauses has something to do with hubby, but it doesn’t. That would be “Grandfather Claus.” My reference is about leaning on promises from the past to get us through our present and our future. Right now, I’m not playing Grandma Tickles but rather LCW President. In my writer’s group, the location where we meet has changed policies and challenged an event we have for this coming Saturday, October 11th. We’ve advertised abundantly, so all of us on the planning committee have been a bit stressed since last Friday.

Our friend, Mark, made a statement as we left the home he shares with my spiritual sister, Debbie, after sunset on Yom Kippur, Saturday night. He said something to the effect of, “Maybe they’ll be willing to grandfather you in for just this event if you promise not to do it again.” I think the words were straight from God. When I called administration today, I used that request, and it seemed to make a difference. The woman I talked to wasn’t the decision-maker, but she did say she would take the request to “grandfather us in” to the president of the administration. Now we just wait for favor. Please join us in our prayer.

If there was ever anyone who knew about grandfather clauses, I’d say it’s our Lord God. The setup for blood sacrifice for the salvation of mankind goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. The perfect blood that makes it possible for men–even today–to receive deliverance from the wages of our sin was shed over 2000 years ago.

Yeshua told the Jewish disciples to spread the gospel (good news) beginning at Jerusalem. Paul says in Romans 1:16 that the message is “to the Jew first.” However, because it is not God’s will for any to be lost, the original gospel message opened the door, so the rest of us could be also be saved. It’s still just as effective today, so if you have not yet repented and submitted to the saving power of the blood of Christ, do it now while there’s still time. I guarantee you can still be “grandfathered-in.”

October 6, 2014 Posted by | Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

This Little Light of Mine


This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, and I won’t hide it under a bushel. My life on earth was created for a purpose, and since I now walk with God, I believe that purpose is to declare the Light of Christ to those who wander in darkness.

Light is an important aspect of life. They say that just a short time in total darkness can drive a person insane. What does that say for people who walk without God? In John 8:12 we read…Yeshua spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world; whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light which gives life.” So, without His light, we have no life. In the beginning, God spoke light. Throughout biblical history, light plays a huge role in showing God’s being, and darkness is a curse. In eternity, we’re even told we will have no need for light because The Lamb will be the light.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 24:1 through Leviticus 24:23 (the end of the chapter), we read about the importance of the light in the temple. The people were to bring the oil that kept the light burning, and the pure oil was to come from crushed olives. The priest would actually light the candlestick which sat just outside the curtain of the testimony.

Yeshua told His disciples in Matthew 5:14-15 that they were light for the world, and that a city set on a hill could not be hidden. He also told them that men do not kindle light and then put a bowl over it. If we have been saved by the Blood of The Lamb, we are that light of testimony now. Our testimony comes when we crush the ways of the flesh, and let our High Priest light Himself within us. To keep that testimony shining for the world, we do not hide it by going back to the works of the flesh.

As the reading continues. we learn of the 12 loaves of bread that are to be baked with fine flour and set on the holy table in the temple. The bread is to be set in two rows of six, and each row is marked with incense. I know that God never does anything without a purpose, so I’m certain there’s some meaning here, but I have not learned it yet. I can only think of the 12 loaves representing the 12 Tribes of Israel, the 12 disciples, and the 12 gates of Heaven.

The next thing we read is actually pretty disturbing. A young man who is half Jewish and half Egyptian. (His mother is the Jew and this makes me think that this Scripture may be why you prove your Jewish heritage through your mother to this day.) The man gets in a fight with a neighbor, and during the fight, he curses the name of Yahveh. All who hear it take the young man to Moses for judgment. The judgment God sends down is that all who heard the curse are to lay hands on the man and stone him to death.

I know I get very uncomfortable when I hear people curse God, even when they don’t mean to be doing it. Even before I was saved, when I didn’t watch my mouth very well, I was never okay with using the words “God” or “Jesus” in foul language. And that’s just a casual language type of curse where people are not intentionally cursing God Himself, but are just slinging words around without thinking. It’s worse when I hear people say things about Him that I know are not true, or in any way disrespect Him. I would rather a person just say they don’t believe in Him, or not want to mention Him at all, than to put Him in a place of dishonor.

God is all about life and respect. The remainder of the portion talks of the value of life for both man and animal. It tells men what they should do if a man kills another man, or if a man kills an animal. But that was before the blood of Christ. Even though we do not take a life for a life, a tooth for a tooth, or an eye for an eye anymore, God has no less respect for the value of life. I believe He still requires some type of restitution from those who would take a life and treat it as if it has no value, and I believe that applies to both the life of the flesh and the life of the soul. If there is no other reason to let God’s light shine before men, there is reason when we think of the value of a living soul made in God’s image. Even if your whole life is on this earth just to shine a light for one soul, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

April 25, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No Trespassing


Stop Sign No Trespassing by Flickr User Lee Cannon, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Stop Sign No Trespassing by Flickr User Lee Cannon, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

How many different ways can you forbid someone from stepping over the line? No trespassing. Beware of Dog. Speed Limit 55. Go to Jail: Do not pass go. Our world is made up of laws, both written and implied, that are meant to keep us living within some kind of safe borders. Laws are supposed to be fences that keep us safe, but not in bondage.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 17:8 through Leviticus 18:5, we also learn that God’s laws add life. The laws covered today include both community members and foreigners living with them. They are told, as yesterday, that no one is to offer a burnt offering without bringing it to The Tent of Meeting. And then we are told that no one is to eat blood of any kind because life is in the blood. The law of the hunt is that if a person kills game, whether animal or bird, he is to drain the blood and bury the blood under dirt. And all these laws come with consequences for not keeping them.

In the last paragraph, God reminds the people to not live as the Egyptians from the land out of which they were delivered, and He tells them not to live as the Canaanites in the land which He is giving them. He reminds Israel that it was the disrespect of the law by the Canaanites that caused them to lose their lands and homes to begin with. He tells them that if they will see Him as God and live according to His laws and rulings, they will have life through the very laws they keep.

We have the same promise now. Even though we are forgiven for the sin that brings death, seeing Yahveh as The Lord of our lives, and living accordingly, will bring life. The natural laws show us this in how much better a baby will thrive it is adheres to the law of staying in the womb to a full term. Some manmade laws, like traffic lights at busy intersections, show us how much better we adults thrive if we show respect for the laws that are meant to protect us.

So many want to see God as just slinging laws around for the purpose of wielding His power, but I can see love–toward us and toward all life that He has created–in most every law I read. I say most because I don’t always have clear understanding of the laws, but even when I don’t see the love, I can trust that it’s there. I trust that a God who would create beings with free will instead of forcing us to obey and worship Him, truly has our best interest at heart. And, if we seek after His heart, we will want to show Him that we trust Him by not trespassing against His will. And like a child finds joy in pleasing a parent, I believe we will find joy and life in pleasing God by doing our best to walk within His safe boundaries and laws.

April 9, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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