Crystal Writes A Blog

A place to read what Crystal writes

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.

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

I Don’t Have The Time


So, I’ll start tonight with a confession. I am so not good at controlling my use of time. I tend to do better when I’m right at the edge of a deadline, but even then, I’m often late. I have to schedule myself to be places far earlier than I think I should be there, so when I run late for my schedule, I’ll be on time for the real schedule. I know some of my issues are with being easily distracted. Mostly, however, I know I’m not good at pacing, so I’m either not paying attention to time or rushing and making mistakes that cause me to be even later.

I wonder, if I had the control of time in my hands, would I control it any differently? Hmm, sounds like a possible novel. The main character can discover that she has the ability to control how fast time moves forward around her. so she can move herself faster when necessary. Of course, if she’s stuck in a traffic jam, moving herself faster won’t help her get to work on time. Ugh. I guess that won’t work either.

But really, what if we did have more control of time? Would we make the hours last on the things that mattered and speed them up during the painful times? I know if I knew exactly how much time I had on this earth, I would definitely want to linger in the good times as long as possible. I would hope, though, that I would also learn to get control of focus and pacing, so I could do all that God has called me to do while I’m here on earth.

Today’s Infinite Supply newsletter talks about the disciples’ relationship with times and seasons.

Infinite Supply Image for November Twentieth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Twentieth 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 20

Times and Seasons

“It is not for you to know times or seasons that
the Father has fixed by His own authority.
Acts 1:7 ESV

They had asked, “Lord, will You at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?” The response from Jesus is anticlimactic to the impatient. The King will not be forced, or rushed, or pushed into action. Jesus said, “It is not for you to know the times and the seasons.”

The Kingdom of God is progressive – growing up from a single seed into an abundant tree with many branches and much fruit. Those seedlings were just freshly planted in eleven men and they would not come to maturity all at once but over the course of many seasons of increase and decrease. We cannot speculate as to when He will return in the power and glory of His Kingdom. We must “watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

Source: The Irresistible Kingdom by Chip Brogden

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I think the disciples might have wanted a bit more control of the time in their lives too. They had watched their world go from almost hopeless with no prophets or prophecies for years to the old books coming to life before their eyes. Why should they have even considered that it was just the beginning of a history more than two-thousand years in the future? After all the waiting, they were excited to have everything fulfilled; not just a few things.

In some ways, the urgency might have been good to get the disciples working on their appointed tasks. So, for us as well, a feeling of urgency to spread the gospel can be good inspiration. We can see that the darkness wastes no time spreading through every venue available, so maybe it’s time we get in the race too. As we get a grasp on the idea of not having the time in our hands, we can also grasp the idea of trusting The One who does. When we do that, it’ll mean something totally different when we say, “I don’t have the time,” and we can add, “but I know Who does.”

Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.

(Above chorus from: I Know Who Holds Tomorrow by Ira Stanphill)

November 21, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Nonfiction, School of Christ | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

There’s No Present Like the Thyme


Keeping Thyme by Flickr User Alan aka Kaptain Kobold, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Keeping Thyme by Flickr User Alan aka Kaptain Kobold, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Do you know why the little boy through his alarm clock out the window? He wanted to see how time flies. Do you ever want to see how time flies, or has age and the sad progression of the world convinced you that it always moves too fast–unless you’re waiting on something? There are few times, anymore, where I wish the clock would hurry up and move. Mostly, I just wish it would slow down and wait for me.

While thyme may not make a very good gift, especially if you get too much of it on your hands ;-), time does make a great gift. Ask those who know their days or hours are numbered, or ask a person who longs for more moments with someone they’ve lost. God knows how much we need time, and He also knows exactly how much time we need. Because we don’t see the future like God does, we don’t know how much future a person needs, but it never seems like enough. Of course, God’s idea from the beginning was for us to be like Him and live eternally. That’s why we long so much for those who have already gone on, and that’s why we fight so hard to keep our lives on this earth. Well, most of us anyway.

Of course, God’s idea from the beginning was for us to be like Him and live eternally. That’s why we long so much for those who have already gone on, and that’s why we fight so hard to keep our lives on this earth. Well, most of us anyway. It always amazes me when I find out about people who don’t cherish their moments here. I mean, yes, I long for eternity with my Savior because I know nothing on this earth will ever compare, but I also enjoy seeing His Light shine in a dark world.

The changes I see when God’s light shines are worth more than the moments or minutes in which they happen. I love to see the conversion and transformation of one who was lost and dying without God. I love to see real miracles that make one or more souls truly aware of God’s presence in our lives. And, I love to be used by God to carry His message and His presence into any situation where He can change a life. At the same time, it’s quite painful to watch a person reject that message, presence, miracle, or love of God and move forward in the darkness without conversion.

A choir I once sang in performed a song with beautiful lyrics that speak my heart about our moments on this earth. I couldn’t find a video with lyrics, so I’ll type the lyrics and then I’ll attach a video in case you want to hear the tune. I didn’t know who the writer was to give credit when I first posted this, but you’ll see in the comments that I have heard from him. Thank you, Jim E Davis, for being okay with me sharing your beautiful song, While There’s Still Time. It picks up on the verse from Romans 13:11 that urges us to pay attention to the time…

(Verse I)
Tomorrow is just on credit,
There’s no guarantee on life.
You could be gone in a moment;
Your time comes tonight.
You also know that Christ is coming,
And if you’re left behind,
How you’d wished for a little bit more time.
(Chorus)
While there’s still time,
Make up your mind.
You can’t be happy living on
The border line.
If you only knew
His plans for you;
You wouldn’t wait,
Or hesitate,
While there’s still time.
(Verse II)
If you’re saved then you’re invited
To spread the news around
To your friends and those you love so much
That time is running out.
Oh just listen to His tender voice,
He’s calling to your heart,
“Draw closer to me child,
While there’s still time.”

And here’s the video…

Time may not matter to God, but it definitely matters to us, and it matters for those we love. It can be easy to be fooled into thinking there is more available than what God has planned. Here’s a little scenario of one reason we might fall for that lie…

The demons were having a big meeting to see if they could stop the great influx of souls that were turning to The Creator. One popped up with the idea to just tell everyone that there is no God. The meeting leader assured everyone that it had been tried, and it worked on a few but was ultimately a failure. Another popped up with the idea to spread the message that there is no devil. Again, the leader commented that it had been tried and failed. The leader asked if anyone had a new idea that had not been tried yet. From far back in the room, a tiny voice whispered, “Just tell them there’s no hurry.”

God’s greatest gift to us is His salvation because it comes through His blood and His love for us. But, in order for us to find that salvation and carry it to others, He has also given each of us a certain gift of time. There is a hurry to value that gift and use it as God intended, for there is no present like the time we have right now.

October 10, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

To Dream the Possible Dream


Neon Starburst Dream Mandala by Crystal A Murray

Neon Starburst Dream Mandala by Crystal A Murray
This image is manipulated from an image from inside an actual oil-based kaleidoscope. After running the image through a variety of photo editors and adding the text in the middle, it represents something similar to a woven dream catcher.

As we begin a new week, we also begin a new portion. Believe it or not, we’re already up to Parashah 10, Mikketz which means “at the end.” Being at Portion 10 also means I’ve been at this for 9 weeks now. For me, that’s a record as far as dedication to a writing task goes, so I’m happy with my efforts even though some days I felt like I wrote a bit shallow due to difficulty in either the subject matter or my available time. At the same time, this is the first time I have attempted to do NaNoWriMo and participated without winning. That makes me feel kinda down, but I am happy that given the choice between sharing fiction and sharing my heart, I stayed faithful to sharing my heart by keeping up this blog even when I couldn’t work on my novel. Thank you to those who come to visit me faithfully and who understand the struggles of writing in spite of all else that life requires.

So, that brings us to today’s part of the portion. We’re reading Genesis 41:1 through Genesis 41:14 where the dreamer this time is Pharaoh. It’s about two years after the last part of Joseph’s story where he correctly interpreted the dreams of the Pharaoh’s baker and cupbearer. Pharoah falls asleep and sees the Nile River and cows are coming up out of it. A total of seven cows come out of the river, and they are all fat and healthy. They walk out and begin to eat the grass on the shore. But then, another seven cows come up out of the river, and they are sickly and thin. They devour the seven healthy cows, and then Pharaoh wakes up. When Pharaoh falls back to sleep, he dreams again. This time, he sees seven full and ripe ears of corn grow from one stalk. After they grow, seven thin ears that look like they’ve been devastated by a storm grow from the same stalk and devour the seven good ears.

When Pharaoh wakes up fully from his sleep, his dreams have him feeling totally out of sorts. I’ve had those kinds of dreams and restless nights, and it makes you sort of feel like you go through your day with your head disconnected from your body. It’s an awful feeling for me, and I’m sure it was an awful feeling for Pharoah. Even with all that power, he couldn’t control that. What he could control was that he had dream-interpreters to consult, so he called every magician in the kingdom trying to get an understanding of his crazy dreams. But no one could help him.

Now the cupbearer realizes what he has forgotten and feels bad about it. He goes to Pharaoh and tells him about this young man in the prison who was able to correctly interpret the dreams of him and his bunk mate. Pharoah requests the man be brought to him to see if he can interpret his dreams. Scripture says that they brought Joseph quickly from the dungeon, and Joseph changes his clothes and shaved to prepare himself. This portion ends with them bringing Joseph before Pharaoh.

What amazes me in this story is God’s timing and Joseph’s faith. God knew exactly when to give the dreams to Pharaoh, and Joseph trusted this was something from God because he prepared himself to life outside the dungeon by changing into clean clothes and shaving. Joseph was still blessed in the midst of a dungeon, and he never gave up on God’s deliverance. So many of us would feel rejected and forgotten by God if we were in the same situation, and many of our Christian friends might even accuse us of sin or of lacking in faith because of what they see us going through. But all of that would be basing things on our timing and our own human understanding. But God’s thoughts and ways are above our own, and we are told that with Him, ALL things are possible. It doesn’t say that all things will LOOK possible, but that they ARE possible. That means they are possible when they look impossible. If only we could all look at the future instead of whatever dungeon life has us going through now. That should give us strength to make it through until God’s will leads us in a new direction in God’s time.

November 30, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From a Promise to a Messiah


With all the shorter readings earlier in the week, today’s reading from Genesis 19:21 through Genesis 21:4 was a bit longer. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to focus on in the story until I got to verse 37 of the first chapter in the reading. But let me start with the background.

The angels have granted that Lot would not have to run to the hills where he was afraid to go and have allowed him to go to a small city called Zoar. But, after Lot got there with his daughters (minus his wife because she turned back toward the destruction and became a pillar of salt), he became afraid that somehow people might know that he had favor to escape God’s judgment and would try to kill him. He ran for the hills he tried to avoid.

While he was hiding there, his daughters decided that, since all their brothers were now incinerated, it was their job to carry on the family name. They got their father completely drunk, and both of them went to him to become pregnant without him knowing about it. This has never been my favorite story. I don’t like that kind of drunkenness, and I think it’s pretty gross for the daughters to even make that kind of decision. But then I learned something particularly interesting in verse 37. It says, “The older bore a son, and named him Moab [of a father]; he is the father of the Moabites to this day.”

So, why does it matter that the oldest daughter is the mother of the Moabites? Well, do you remember the sweet story of Ruth and Naomi? Ruth was a Moabitess. She had married one of Naomi’s sons and after becoming widowed, she chose to stay with her mother-in-law. This is where we get that oft-repeated “where you go, I will go” statement made between friends. But Ruth also told Naomi, “Your God will be my God.” And this is where it gets good.

In Matthew 1:5, in the New Testament account of the genealogy of Jesus, you’ll find Ruth in the lineage of our Messiah, Jesus. So, we start with Abraham whose belief is counted to him for such righteousness that God even has mercy on a nephew who lived in the midst of a vile city. Then, after Lot runs and his daughters engage in incest with him, a child from that unholy union produces a lineage that includes a daughter who goes from curse to blessing and finds herself carrying the grandfather of King David. It is a beautiful and amazing story of mercy and redemption, and it encourages me that even from destruction, fear, and debased situations, God can bring His Perfect Light out from the midst of darkness. Wow!

October 22, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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