When God Speaks

It’s not like I hear a booming voice in the sky saying, “Crystal? Hello!” But God has a way of showing up. Like, over and over.

Once when I was fifteen or sixteen, I happened to have a severe earache while at church, my little non-denominational church in my little Oklahoma hometown. Pastor Charlie stopped mid-sermon and said, “God has laid it on my heart that there is someone here in pain. Someone with an earache. I’m going to stop and pray.” And so he prayed from the pulpit and returned to his message while I sat in the congregation awestruck. Believe me or not, my pain subsided 100%.

Then when I was twenty-one, I packed my bags with my mother’s help and loaded Drew into his car seat. I drove out of Colorado and left my young husband and the Rocky Mountains in my rearview mirror. I prayed along the way. “God, I don’t know what to do. Please. Send me a sign,” I said. It wasn’t long before Kody drove to Oklahoma to see me and Drew. Time apart had served us well. We had a happy family reunion for three. A month later when I missed my period, I took the positive pregnancy test as my sign. Thirty-one years later on a Friday night, we sit on adjacent couches. Our toes connect on the ottoman, and we smile at each other while the Astros play on TV.

God and I have been tight through the years—and sometimes not. Sort of like me and Kody. My mother once told me, “There’s a fine line between love and hate.” I’m stubborn when it comes to conforming. I tend to hold grudges when life doesn’t go my way. At times, I stick to the mantra—I can choose hope (through God) or despair, and who would choose despair? Then suddenly, I find myself despairing.

This past week, one of my students asked if she could use my room on Thursday at lunch for a meeting. Their regular meeting spot, or maybe their sponsor, wasn’t available this week. “No problem,” I said. I’m not sure I even asked what kind of meeting.

When Thursday lunch arrived, I grabbed my sad little sandwich from the refrigerator in the teacher’s lounge and returned to my classroom where a small group of some of my favorite students sat in a circle of desks. One of them read Philippians 4:6-7. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I sat at my desk on the opposite side of the room. I might have had some tears in my eyes. This scripture was one of my mother’s favorites. I wonder how many letters she wrote me that included this verse. Was my mother speaking? Or God? I believe they’re in cahoots.

The students took turns discussing the meaning of the words.

One said, “Whatever you’re going through, His peace is greater than your anxiety.”

Another one said, “I just know that we’re all struggling with grades and college applications, and God’s going to get us through it.” There was a pause. “We’re not going to do this on our own. God’s going to get us through it.”

And with these words, I felt convicted. How often do I try to rely on my own devices? That’s a rhetorical question.

Confession time. I struggle with alcohol. I like wine. I like bourbon, vodka, and tequila. I like the relaxation that comes from a drink or two and the comedy that ensues after three or four. According to my oncologist, daily drinking is alcohol abuse. She had the nerve to write that in my charts. Alcohol abuse. The American Cancer Society says, “It’s best not to drink alcohol” and recommends that women “who choose to drink should limit their intake to 1 drink a day.” One?! I swear, I’ve Googled this more than once hoping I’ll find a different answer. Anyway, I’m trying to make healthier choices. From the end of August to the end of September, I did great. I was practically alcohol free, but I was pretty bitter about it, and I mean, downright angry. Notice all the I’s. I. I. I. I. I. I…twelve. Then came October, and I fell off the proverbial wagon. I can’t do this on my own. The mouths of babes confirm it.

So—Thursday after school, I drove home and slipped into some leggings and a long t-shirt and my tennis shoes and went for a walk instead of pouring myself a drink. It was a gorgeous fall evening, and my steps fell to the beat of my music. YouTube picked a song for me. I swear, I think it was God again.

81 thoughts on “When God Speaks

  1. Wow! You’re just in time this morning, Crystal. (Yes, it’s Saturday morning as I read your latest post.) You just reminded me of Philippians 4:6-7 in a very timely manner. I’ve been praying for a reliable means of transportation since both our vehicles have died an untimely death, one irreparably. Yesterday the answer was to leave this situation in my husband’s hands to deal with, and to pray for wisdom and discernment for him. Then came the peace.

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  2. We all have our crutches when the going gets tough. Wishing you all the best in going without the alcoholic crutch. It’s not reliable. It’s amazing how attuned you are to the divine working through others around you ❤

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  3. Crystal, you seldom sugarcoat it when sharing about your struggles. And, as Wise Hearted said, this makes it most relatable for your readers.

    My students are quite a bit younger than yours, but God often uses them to speak to me, as well.

    I am both cheering and praying for you as you overcome obstacles to healthy living. Each of us has something in our lives we wish wasn’t there. And hopefully a whole lot of somethings we are grateful for. Blessings!

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    1. Hi David and thank you for the vote of confidence! I’ve had a draft of a gratitude post going for a while, but it seemed a little fake without this layer of truth. Maybe next week. I have much to be grateful for!

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  4. I have a problem here Crystal. I want to write a long letter because I was so touched. I appreciate your honesty and openness. I struggle to be open because I deal with so many health issues that I don’t want to seem whiny. I believe you will see the change you want but you might slip again and that’s human, natural and not the end.
    Here is a quote from Mary Pickford: And supposing you’ve tried and failed again and again, you may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we called failure is not falling down, but the staying down. The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power. ♥ David

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    1. Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself that overall, I haven’t stayed down. I’m making progress. My phone even tells me how my average steps are trending higher over the past 17 weeks than the 9 weeks before that. I know my alcohol consumption is trending lower over the last two months than the decades before. So now to work on not being too hard on myself for being human. Thanks for that reminder, David. Take care of yourself, and whine a little when it suits you. I’m praying your needs will be met.

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  5. Crystal, Philippians 4:6-7 is one of my favorite scriptures too. 🙏🏼 Your post is so relatable and girlfriend, that song complements your message splendidly. Thanks for blessing us with your message this morning! 🥰💖🤗

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      1. Oh Crystal, it’s my pleasure my friend. You know, as I get older, I realize that certain things aren’t a coincidence. God speaks to us in some mysterious ways, just when we need it and just when we least expect it. You listened! 😘💋🥰 Enjoy the rest of your weekend my dear! Cheers!

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  6. Love this. Drinking less is quite challenging, especially in a culture where drinking excessively is normalized. Best of luck. I’m sure you can do this. I mean, you’ve already taken a walk instead of drinking wine.

    On a separate note, sometimes, I just give my permission to drink all the drinks, knowing it won’t happen the next day. Probably not the best advice, but it works for me.

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    1. My problem is that permission on one day for me leads to “F* it. I don’t even care….” and many more days of permission. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are optimal permission days, but after my recent surrender, so far so good. ❤️

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      1. Yeah, the first week of the hormone-shutdown was hard. I definitely needed a way to cope. When you put it that way, I’m feeling better about my October over-drinking, which was still way less than my August over-drinking.

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  7. Crystal, you never cease to amaze me! Your insight and ability to express yourself so openly and honestly brings so many of my own feelings rushing through my mind. When my then husband asked me for a divorce, I became a bitter person! Yet once I realized that everything needs to be put in Gods hand, things have fallen into place! I am living my best life, enjoying all the blessings that have been placed in my life! You my friend have been in my life since the 70’s and you truly are a blessing to me!

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    1. Hello, dear friend! I understand. I’ve gone through circumstances that have done the same to me. I’ve even been mad at God which I’m working through at this very moment. As for the honesty, I don’t run into many people in person who are reading the blog. There’s freedom in saying whatever I want and comfort when it resonates with others. Love you! Thanks for sharing and the kindness. ❤️

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  8. Crystal, thank you for sharing this. I appreciate how genuine you are. It is so beautiful and inspiring. I loved the stories you shared about the ways God has spoken to you over the years. It reminded me that we need to be better about tuning into Him. As the old saying goes, God is speaking, but are we listening? I understand where you are coming from. And with your health concerns right now, it can be that much harder to add one more change. We all have struggles that we try to fight in our own strength, and forget that we can seek God for help. So thank you for this reminder. I am praying your path gets smoother. 🙏♥️

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  9. I appreciate your honesty Crystal and I hope others feel encouraged by this. We all tend to find some sort of solace in things but God wants us to lean on Him. It does look like God and your mom were working together. What a beautiful thing to always remember when feeling down, the Lord is on your side.
    Praying for strength and perseverance in your journey to healthier living.

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  10. Thank you for sharing!!.. I am not into religion myself but I believe there is a saying; “God promised you a safe landing, he did not say the journey would be a smooth one”… 🙂

    Until we meet again..
    May the love that you give
    Always return to you,
    That family and friends are many
    And always remain true,
    May your mind only know peace
    No suffering or strife,
    May your heart only know love and happiness
    On your journey through life.
    (Larry “Dutch” Woller)

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  11. Mulled wine was not the right suggestion from me, Crystal! We have had to cut out alcohol (for the most part) because of my husband’s cardiac problems. During the Pandemic, we were drinking every day – at least one drink a day and many more. The plusses include much better sleeping patterns and losing weight. My husband’s blood sugar has normalized. We feel much better with a new eating and drinking regime.
    I wish you all the very best for your challenging journey but it is worth it. K x

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    1. Thanks, Kerry. This a good reminder that progress often takes longer than two months. I’ve been sleeping great, and I’ve lost a few pounds. I’ll be interested to see what my blood work shows next time.

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  12. Wonderful encouragements, Crystal — always reserved until they’ll be the most helpful.

    Question is, do you imagine Mom approached God, “Hey, what do you say we…,” or vice-versa? Either way, and as you know from your own experience, a mother’s love is a full-time passion, now and always.

    Best wishes for triumph in your latest improvement. Not quite the same thing, sure, but my own struggle to throw caffeine’s hook recalls the strengths you’ll summon. Better than mere words, God sends help.

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  13. I can write dozens of these coincidences where a positive little something came into my life when I least expected it. Thank you for being brave to share these raw confessions. You’re right, you are not alone with God. And it’s also good to have the support of others. My husband used to drink several beers a day. How many, I don’t know. He pretty much hid it from me. Eventually, he decided to stop, and he reached out for support of others who’d done the same thing. He became much healthier and is still on the wagon 18 years later. Praying for the strength God put inside of you to take charge, each day at a time. Blessings to you.
    P.S. You might like this “coincidence” story.

    Just a Coincidence . . .

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    1. Hi Lori! I appreciate you for reading and sharing your story and most of all for your prayers. And you’re right—there have been many more times. I picked a couple of big ones to introduce the latest. Sending ❤️

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  14. God holds you (and all of us) in HIs hands. I remember singing about this in Sunday school, and you know what? He’s proven it to be true all my life (even when I turned into an atheist for awhile). I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers, Crystal. God Bless!

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  15. I wish you well in goal of being free from alcohol, for as long as that works for you. I know I like a drink every so often, but I don’t think I could handle drinking a lot every night. Maybe by the grace of a nervous stomach I manage my alcohol consumption? There can be blessings in anything.

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  16. We all have hard times, but you are encountering two at the same time. I pray God will give you the strength and patience that only He can provide. Praying for you, Crystal!🙏💜

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      1. When you first wrote about cancer, I assumed you would be asked to give up sugar. I looked it up and at that time the boat had reversed directions and sugar was OK again (depending of course on the the source of the information). So, I guess that’s something in the gratitude column. I’m sure there’s lots more you can find to be grateful for every day, and I pray that those insights would happen for you, flooding you with good thoughts of what God has done for you.

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  17. The way I cried reading this is freaking ridiculous! God is most definitely in your ear and your heart. He is your voice oof reason and guiding you to make decisions that will make you an even more amazing person. It’s so funny that you were on my spirit so heavy today. I thought I need to go over to her blog and read something real and fantastic, you never disappoint.
    But it was God that drove me here. I’m writing a post for tomorrow that deals with my odd but awesome experiences with God and how he sends strangers to deliver a message to you.
    A friend of mine and I will do 30 day cleanses and that mainly means no alcohol and things that will harm your focus and mental health. But wine is my go to on a aFriday and Saturday night too oI thought how in the world will I manage that. We started to drink everything out of our fancy wine glasses and believe it or not it totally felt like we were having wine.

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    1. Belladonna, I’m so touched that you felt my writing in that way. I love your idea of using wine glasses for whatever. I’ll try that. I make an occasional mock tail using Celsius which is loaded with B vitamins. And I’ve discovered a caffeine-free butterfly pea flower tea, which is fun because it’s blue, supposedly hydrating and relaxing. Feeling your love and sending it back! ❤️

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  18. My husband is a recovering alcoholic. You’d be surprised to know that there’s a number a people who don’t realize they’re an alcoholic until they try to stop… And find they can’t. It almost wrecked our lives. There are functional ones and there are non functional ones. My husband was a non-functional alcoholic. He’s sober now but it took a lot of work. I’m so glad God has blessed you with amazing students and strong will power. I hope that you will be successful in overcoming your struggles. ❤️

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  19. My mum was a chronic alcoholic (bottle of whiskey a day at worst) for about 15 years. Then she stopped and got her life together. She had plenty of slips along the way and finally could enjoy an occasional drink with family. It has taken my husband and I about 6 months to get used to almost no alcohol. Step by step. Wishing you all the very best!

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  20. Crystal, your testament shows others that God’s grace continues to open doors. With a nudge from the Spirit, we surrender our lives to Jesus. The amazing thing for me is that God waits at that door for the right moment to open it.

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  21. Relate completely and wonderfully, word by word. Reading about the miracles of grace we often miss in Peck’s “The Road Less Traveled”. Also keep googling hoping to find a different answer — LOL – not! Okay, I will keep trying if you do, deal? Shalom and may your grateful heart be blessed this Thanksgiving and each day — Jane

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    1. The Road Less Traveled—I just looked that one up and added it to my list. The good news is—I’ve stopped Googling. I’ve also decided I’ll enjoy the holidays as I please. In moderation. Happy Thanksgiving, Jane!

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  22. Improvement is improvement. Am I doing better than last year or a decade ago? And like LA says, one day at a time. Moderation is my goal with all things. I fail but I get back up and try again. Sending up some prayers for you and me both. Hugs, C

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    1. Cheryl, you reminded me that I had forgotten my word of the year. Wait for it—GRACE. (“Grace for when I want to beat myself up and grace for when I want to beat somebody else up.” I’m quoting myself.) Thanks for the reminders—I’m making progress, one day at a time. No doubt you are, too. 🤍

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