Nothing Short of Amazing

Crystal Nickell:  As I sit and tear up while sitting  in a board meeting with Crystal, I know that her story will touch your heart too.  To be around her today, one would think that she has had the posh life.   But as you will hear, it’s hasn’t always been that way.  We all know what is showing on the outside is not always what is happening in reality.  I’m so thankful that I have been able to be apart of her sharing her story.  I’m so grateful that she was willing to stand up for her child when possibly no one else was.  To know her is to love her.

IMG_0834 (1)Recently a question was posed to a small group of women, in which I was a part, “Can you say you are 100% prolife with no reservations?”  My mind drifted back 12 years earlier.  I was sitting alone in a very small, cold office.  I waited for a doctor I had never met to walk in and discuss this life I was currently carrying.  I would have rather been a million different places as to where I was that day.  I was seated on a leather, green couch that made terrible noises if I moved the least bit.  There was a table in front of me and a seat to my right.  The door had only enough room to open.  I’m not sure why I remember these miniscule details.  Maybe I was trying to keep my mind off why I was even there.

My husband and I were married in October 1997.   In June 2000 we had our first bundle of joy.  Our beautiful daughter came into this world and turned ours upside down.  We never knew how much love you could possibly have for a child you just met.  We worried over every single detail like stuffy noses, whimpers in the middle of the night and falls that didn’t really amount to anything.  We were definitely the typical first time parents.  And despite our every effort to keep her little forever, she started her senior year of high school just this week as I’m writing this.

In 2004, we found out we were going to have another child.  My husband was self-employed which meant if he didn’t work, he didn’t get paid.  So because we knew the drill, or so we thought, the day of my scheduled ultrasound I decided to go alone.  I promised to call him and reveal the gender as soon as I could.  He had never said the words aloud, but I knew he was hoping for a baby boy.  And I have to say so was I.

IMG_0838I arrived at my appointment and once called back, the radiologist went to work.  I heard the heartbeat and looked at the fuzzy image on the screen.  She told me very soon the gender was male and I couldn’t wait to call my husband and give him the exciting news.  She then asked me to have a seat in the waiting room.  I can remember sitting there looking at the pictures of my precious baby boy anticipating his delivery.  It wasn’t long until my name was called again.  This time my ob-gyn was waiting for me in the room I had just been in minutes earlier.  He told me the radiologist had spotted something on my baby and he had confirmed it was a cyst on his brain.  He went on to say a lot of doctor terms hard for me to understand, but it all came down to my son had a possibility of being born with a birth defect.  The joy I had felt vanished and replaced with fear of the unknown.  I had opted against, just like I had with my daughter’s pregnancy, to have an amniocentesis testing early in the pregnancy.  I now wondered if the results from that would’ve warned me for this type of news.  Before I left, he made me an appointment with another office that could take more in-depth pictures and be able to describe fully our situation.

I remember getting in the car and just crying out to God.  This was not the news I wanted to call and discuss with my husband over the phone.  My mind just couldn’t embrace everything I had been told, but it was getting late and I knew he would just end up calling me soon.   I dialed his number and began to weep.  Heaving between fragmented sentences, I finally shared the news.

IMG_0844The appointment my ob-gyn had made for me was only a week later, but the days before dragged on what seemed like forever.  This time my husband wasn’t going to let me go without him.  For as much as I can remember about this time in our lives, there is much I forget and probably for good reasons.  We arrived at this new office and got into a huge argument as we were parking.  I have no idea today what it was over, but I assume all the fears and apprehension we both had felt over the past week had surfaced and I wouldn’t allow him to go back with me when my name was called.  Being stubborn and proud are two things the Lord continues to work on in me and I despise I would allow such qualities to show at such a vulnerable time.

Just as a week earlier, I was alone, but now with a new radiologist performing an ultrasound.  She moved the cold device all around my stomach staring at the monitor where we both viewed a little life moving.  Once she finished, I was lead to the small office I described earlier to wait for the doctor.  I was so angry at myself for arguing with my husband and not allowing him to go with me and in general ashamed for acting so foolishly.  I needed and wanted him to hear every detail alongside me.  Finally, a tall, slender man entered the room and immediately began talking.  His words were swift and very precise, “The ultrasound shows a cyst on your baby’s brain.  Under Kentucky law if you want an abortion we have to move fast because of where you are in your pregnancy.”  I sensed the room becoming even smaller than it already was.  Did I really hear him say “abortion and move fast”?  Since I was the only other person in the room I had to answer so I softly replied, “Abortion is not an option for me.”  His eyes never looked away from my chart as he explained I would come back each month to discuss the cyst’s progression.  I walked back to the waiting room to find my husband.  I was able to hold back the tears until we were in our vehicle and I began to tell him every detail.  Month after month we went back to this dreadful place together and would hear there was no change.  In a way this was encouraging because it wasn’t getting bigger, but it wasn’t getting smaller either.  We continued to pray and called on many family and friends to do the same.

The last ultrasound performed was very close to my due date.  I watched the radiologist for any type of different expression, just as I had done at previous visits.  She stepped out of the room not long into our visit and returned with the doctor who then began to stare at the screen with us.  “There’s nothing there”, he said.  I remember wondering if I had been dreaming because he couldn’t have possibly said what I thought I heard.  But the cyst was completely gone.  The feeling that came over me is hard to describe in words.  I felt lighter than a feather, even though my belly was bulging in every direction.  The burden of worrying and wondering had vanished.  God had heard our pleas and completely healed our baby boy just in time for his arrival and I imagine He chuckled at my response of unbelief since for months we had fervently prayed for this very outcome.

Kyle, my second child, was born in May 2005 healthy and weighing close to 10 lbs.  Since then, I often find myself asking the same questions.  What if I had never attended church; What if I had never gone to Sunday school as a small girl and memorized the words to Jesus Loves Me; What if my husband and I had never asked Jesus to live in our hearts years before all these events took place?  Since my life began, God was preparing me for an exact moment where I would choose life for another.

Things tend to come fairly easy for Kyle.  He can walk into a room and instantly create a friendship, good grades and athletic ability come naturally.  His zeal for life is quite evident.  Numerous people have told me, “There’s something special about that kid” and silently, I agree with them.  I know the enemy fought hard by trying to cause doubt, discouragement and bringing up the word “abort” so nonchalantly.  God’s plan for Kyle’s future must be nothing short of amazing.  Just as it is for every life He creates.  I am beyond blessed He chose me to be a mother to both my children.  They have made my life truly amazing.



For I know the plans I have  for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11



I thank You Lord for giving us Grace.  I thank You for providing us with truth that will guide us in our walk daily.  I ask You to be with those who are struggling with a pregnancy crisis, whether it is a possible illness, as Crystal’a was or a family crisis.  You love those little ones before they are even formed.  I ask You to protect them.  Amen!




Hope,Courage & Expectations

For several years now, I have had the hope that only God can give.

I didn’t always have that!  I don’t know that I even really understood there was such a thing.  I found courage in myself and held high expectations on others.  Early in my life I recognized that my expectations only lead me to discouragement and pain.  People have failed me in my life.  As I’m sure that some could say of me.

The last 10 or so years I have studied long on the subject of boundaries.  Boundaries are a necessary part of our lives.  If we don’t hold strong to our boundaries, others will surely walk all over us or we could walk all over others.  I have learned so much about myself through this journey of study. I have learned that the word boundary was not even in my vocabulary.  I learned early in my years that my God given boundaries could be violated without any consideration.  I learned that allowing those violations to direct my decisions would lead to even more fractured boundaries in my life.  But this journey into a life with boundaries has strengthened my Hope, Courage and still working on the Expectations.

Philippians 1:20-21

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.  For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Boundaries are internal and Expectations are external.  Since my boundaries were non-existent and my internal radar was turned off, I was guided only by the direction of others.  My thought process was determined by how I felt the people around me felt about me.  I was missing the internal guide (Holy Spirit  John 16:12-15).  This process set me up for living with expectations of others.  Expectations in the world of boundaries can be a slippery slop of disappointment.  Many in my life have failed in my expectations. From childhood traumas to adulthood sin, the expectations of others has dug a pit in my life.  But NO MORE!

Philippians 1:6

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

God is still working on me! It will be a never ending process until the day I die. But what I have learned through my boundary setting process is that I’m the only one in  control of how I move through life.  I am the only one in control of how I love people.  I am the only one in control of whether I allow the Spirit to guide me or others.  I have also learned that regardless of the childhood traumas or the adulthood sins, I can not let the failed expectations of others keep me in a pit of hell.  They are in control of them not me.  I became free when I removed my expectations of others.

This journey that God has had me on, has been rocky.  My hope has been hanging on by a thread at times, my courage has been weak and my expectations of what God could do through me has been shallow.  He has taught me much.  Without hope, I have no need for courage and without courage, I will never take the steps needed to fulfill my expectations of what God can do through me.  Change is a necessary evil.  It’s not easy, in fact it’s painful, but it’s needed.

There are a couple areas in my life that have been life long struggles (Romans 7:15-16 ) I share with you a testimony of great expectations in my life.  Now the Hope that I know is truth and the Courage that I know He gives me comes with the Expectation that He can also change me.  I am grateful for those God has placed in my life who hold me up, encourage me and walk my days.

I know Lord that you have great plans for me.  I know that you fully understand my weakness and you will give me the strength needed to conquer them. I pray Lord that I will allow the Holy Spirit to guide me.  Amen!




  1. a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.

Am I privileged?  That is determined by the vantage point that I’m seeing from.  Am I perched up high on a mountain high and looking down at others or am I fallen on my face and struggling to just see above the blades of the grass.  If I’m being honest I would say that I’ve been in both places over my span of life.  Thankfully, I have now come to a place of equality, I am neither high on the mountain top or just barely seeing above the grass blades.

I find my privilege in Christ. I serve out of that privilege. I breathe out of that privilege. I survive out of that privilege. I love out of that privilege.

2 Corinthians 8:2  (Full Chapter)

In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.  For I testify that they gave as much as they were able,and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own,  they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people.

John 1:12 [Full Chapter]

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God
Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.
I am privileged to be a child of God and I am privileged to wait for Him and He will give me the desires of my heart as I serve Him.
Lord thank You for Loving me, filling my heart with Joy, showing me Abundant Grace and Mercy and Calling me Your Child. Amen!

I have already Attained

Philippians 3 (Full Chapter)

v16 : Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

All my life I  have never felt like I measured up.  I’m not exactly sure why that is.  Until a few years back when I realized that I will not ever measure up and that’s okay.  At least not on my own!

I stopped looking to others for my worth. I stopped measuring myself by the yard stick I measured others by.  Truthfully, if everyone was honest, my measurement of them was most likely greater than their measurement of themselves.

I will never arrive but I continue to move forward to Christ.  He measures me great and worthy.  He measures me with overflowing love and grace.  He measures me with hope in eternity.

I will mess up again and again but He will forgive again and again.

He gives me all I need and makes me all I am.

Lord, I thank you for loving me.  I thank you for helping me see truth.  I thank you for forgiving me when I stumble.  I ask you to help me be brave.  I want to speak your truth to those who waver.  I pray that you will protect those I love and walk with them closely.  Amen!







In today’s world it seems that loving someone is directly linked to agreeing with them.  If we can’t agree then we can’t love.  But that is not how God intended.  God welcomes us, me and you, and we are to not pass judgement, for we will all individually stand before the One God on our own, as it says in Romans 14:1-23.

We must have our own faith with our own seeking learn what He is teaching us.  We are not to take the word of another human but find the truth for ourselves.

Colossians 2:8

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

John 8:32

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

With Social media and news streams coming at us from every direction, it can be difficult to decipher what is truth.  That is because with today’s social media and news streams truth is skewed by humanity.   There is only one real truth and that is from God.

I can love my neighbor, I can love my family, I can love my coworkers and I can love my church family but we may not always AGREE on every detail.  God works on us all individually and we are all in different places in our faith walk, so to expect everyone to AGREE with me is impossible and unrealistic.  But we can All Agree to Love.


Loves Truimphs over Death

Love triumphs over death!  As I sit here and tears roll down my cheeks this phrase makes me glad.

Romans 3:23

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

I found out last night that a family and a dear sister in Christ is mourning the loss of an adult child.  Even though that child had grown, left the home and had many struggles, the love that my dear friend had for him had not wavered.  Sadly some of our sins have higher consequences than others, but we all sin. And that lead me to the reminder that even as much love as that family and that mother had for her child/son/brother, God’s love for him was so much greater. Then that lead me straight to my sin and the wonderment of His love for me.

Ephesians 2:4-5

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

Thankfully and with much prayer this son knew the Lord.  And even though his sin eventually cost him his life, God is rich in mercy and His love was great.  This son now suffers no more and is alive with Christ by grace.

1 John 4:9-11

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

So we are to love.

1 John 4:19

We love because he first loved us.

Because He first loved us.

Sadly some of our sins have greater consequences than others, but we all sin and we all can rejoice because Love, God’s love, triumphs over Death.

Lord, I ask you to be with my friend and their family.  Give them a peace over this lose knowing that their child/son/brother suffers no more.  I pray Lord that this be a reminder to us, to love.  I pray Lord that this also remind us that sin has consequences.  Help us Lord overcome our sin and triumph over death in Your arms. Amen!





Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

And there are many more scriptures that talk to us about surrendering our life over to God.

Definition of surrender

to yield to the power, control, or possession of another upon compulsion or demand 
to give up completely or agree to forgo especially in favor of another
To surrender is to trust.  Not in my own power and not in the power of another human but only in the Power of God.
I didn’t have any control of my own life growing up.  Always living under the shadow and control of others.  So as I became an adult and found myself continuing to be hurt by others, I found a couple of areas in my life where I did have control.  After many years, I do mean many, I have found that the false belief that I am in control by my own power can have devastating consequences.
I am learning to yield to the power, control, or possession of another upon compulsion or demand.  Power, control and possession upon compulsion of myself has proven to be  disastrous because I did not always consult God’s teaching, Jesus’s example and the Holy Spirits guidance.
To finally find control and then have to learn how to give up completely in the favor of God has been challenging.  There are no easy to follow instructions and it leaves to much room for my “self” to choose.  But I’m learning.
But I’m learning, I desire, my pain is becoming greater than my gain!  I don’t want to hurt myself or others with my need to be in control of any area of my life.  I want God to be in control so I SURRENDER.
Lord, I so want to surrender to You. Please help me!  Amen

Will Not be Hidden

Psalm 50

The Mighty One, God, the Lord,

    speaks and summons the earth
    from the rising of the sun to where it sets.
From Zion, perfect in beauty,
    God shines forth.
Our God comes
    and will not be silent;
a fire devours before him,
    and around him a tempest rages.

His majesty will not be hidden! Don’t be fooled into believing that we are on this earth to do as we desire and that the end will not draw near or will not be judged.  It has been said, “He giveith and he can takeith away”.  Our God is a mighty and loving God, he is gentle and compassionate but also angers.  Seek Him and walk in His leading!

Lord I am in awe of Your love for me.  I am grateful for Your grace.  Help me Lord walk on Your path of the straight and narrow.  Help me fight off the temptations of Satan.  Keep me safe from my own destruction.  Be with those of my family and the world that need You in their lives but do not know.  Amen!





This word was made for me!  At least now it is.  A little over 5 years ago I moved to Kentucky from North Carolina.  This is only the 3rd place I have lived since becoming an “adult”.  I was in North Carolina, in the same town and the same church for 25 years, so  you can imagine how difficult it was for an introvert, shy women to move across states in her early 50’s.  Now I have to giggle as I type introvert and shy because I would say that most people that know me now, would not describe me as an introvert and shy.  But on the insides, that still describes me to a tea. Just in case you don’t know what an introvert looks like, click here… Introvert . This describes me, even now, with the exception of blood pressure(family inherited, thanks). Anyway, I’m coming to the word, yes, that word intentional.   Now I was just ripped away from everything that I was comfortable with and once in Kentucky, I was all but comfortable.



I settled in my home, found a job and decided on a church family.  Those were the easy parts, now I had to find relationships.  Even though I’m an introvert, I love relationships.  Always have!  I have people, that I would still call friends, since elementary school and I cherish everyone of them.  I have always been intentional about my relationships.  But starting a new set of relationships was more difficult than I imagined.

I’m going to detour a minute from me being intentional to encouraging others to be intentional. Things to pay attention to if you will.

  1. If you notice someone at church, work or in a social group that you don’t recognize, reach out.
  2. If you notice someone that is obviously sad, show compassion and concern.
  3. If you notice someone that is struggling to get their footing in the new surrounding, walk beside them.

Now for me, skipping past 5 years.  I had very few be intentional with me, I am so grateful for those that were.  So I grabbed hold of that word “INTENTIONAL” and ran with it.  I ungracefully flubbed things up sometimes but it was so full filling on the times I showed “Grace” with my intentionality.  I may not be the life of the party or get the most “likes” on my social media but you can be sure that walking intentional in my day to day life is a part of who I am.

I realized that I had that greatest example of being Intentional.  Wasn’t God intentional from the start, as he created everything so beautifully, created man and then created woman to be with man.   He watched what was created and was saddened, He knew then what you and I needed now.  He marks His every move with intentionality.

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Matthew 28:19

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Being intentional is a must.  We may muddle through this life just fine without it, but we won’t sore through as was intended.


As part of my journey with intentionality, I wrote a 5 day post on being intentional.  If you’d like to read it click here…..  Intentional

“Intentional” by Travis Greene

Thank You Lord for your plan, thank You Jesus for your love and thank You Holy Spirit for walking through it with me.  Amen!


Rahab life and I am Thankful

Jodi Willoughby: Gentle, sweet spirit.  That is Jodi.  She has come from a far away place and has ended up smack dab in the middle of the arms of Jesus.  And she is thrilled about it and not afraid to tell ya’.  The words that I have been blessed with as she has prayed over me, filled my soul with Joy and Peace.  I’m grateful to call her friend.

18238156_706205722895394_8908235468170939061_oI’ve been a wife for 27 years to my husband, Ted and a mother for 14 years to my son, Luke.

I want to tell you some of my testimony in hopes that it will bless  you and give glory to the Lord. I’m 51 years old and have served the Lord for 26 of them.

I love to read and recently read a book by my friend’s favorite author, Tessa Afshar called “Pearl in the Sand”.  It chronicles the life of Rahab, she was the prostitute who saved the pies in the Old Testament.  Rahab and the woman by the well are women I can identify with.  These women had lives full of bad choices and many sins.  They spent a lot of years living lives that seemed would never amount to much except heartache and regret.  But both of them changed and turned their lives around by accepting Jesus in their heart.

I too made a lot of bad choices when I was young.  Circumstances played a part but I still made the choices that basically shaped my life.

When we are young we don’t realize sometimes that that we can get scars only Jesus can heal.  When I was 15 I lost my father in a tragic accident.  I was on only child and it drastically changed the course of my life.  I filled my youth with bitterness and one bad decision after another.  I lived the life of Rahab and the woman at the well in many ways. I was grasping for anything or anyone who would love me.  During this time I was hurt physically very bad.  I was in the hospital for 3 months and in a coma for 13 days.  I had a great chance of dying.  But God had mercy on me.  I’d like to tell you my life changed right after that, but it didn’t.  I returned to  a life far from God for four more  years.  I sank lower and lower in a pit.  And when it seemed nothing would help me out of it, God sent me another miracle.  Now I have to tell you, I was living in a far off place I’m sure few have heard of.  And then God sent Ted.  Three months after meeting him we married.  Me, the girl no one decent would ever marry, I married one of the most decent men in the world.  I asked him one time, why me?  His exact words were “he saw good in me”. That reminds me of Jesus.  He sees good in all of us.  When I gave my heart to Jesus my eyes were truly opened.  I saw people, all people, and they had great worth.  There is no shame and no sin that God can not take away.  I stand in awe of my Savior who has blessed me beyond what I deserve.  And I am Thankful!  Life is such a gift and it should be lived to make a difference in someone’s life.

So remember, no matter what you, YOU ARE LOVED BEYOND MEASURE!

Ephesians 3:16-21

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Lord I thank you for bringing Jodi in my life.  I pray that I will be an encouragement to her just as she has reminded me that regardless of where I have come from, I know that I will end up sitting at Your right hand.  Amen!