My response to Christians who are boycotting ‘The Shack’ film. 

Crystal Olmos

I was recently contacted by a precious woman from a marketing firm that works for Lionsgate films. She liked my mommy/lifestyle blog and also saw I was a Christ follower. She gave me VIP seats to attend the advance screening of The Shack and also allowed any of my followers to come for free as well!

I was really excited about this opportunity as I read the book years ago and really loved it. Unfortunately, my excitement was put at bay a little once I started seeing articles circulating around about how “anti-Christian” and “blasphemous” the book, and now film, was, in some Christian’s opinions.
Friends, can I just tell you… can I please just tell you… how wrong these people are.

I am a person who takes blaspheme against God and reverence towards Him VERY seriously. I will walk out of a theater with actors who are cursing His…

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What I Learned From the Girl Who Wanted to Stab Me

an-angry-woman“Gloria put the knife down,” I said to my petite roommate shakingly holding a butcher knife in her hand. The knife was aimed at me. “You don’t tell me what to do you bitch,” she screamed at me. “I hate you! Who do you think you are?”

I stood back and realized if I stayed, I would have to beat her up to defend myself. I whispered a prayer under my breath, “God if I stay I’m going to kick her ass. What do I do?”

A voice whispered loudly to my heart. “Leave now.” I walked out and went to my neighbor’s house. I called my pastor’s wife and told her what happened. She laughed when I got to the part about beating Gloria up.

“Do you think you could have taken her out?” She laughed. “Yes, I would have thrown her off the lanai (patio). That’s how mad I am.”

She advised me to go hang out with some friends for a few hours until she could figure out what to do. Later that night, Gloria was gone.

Gloria had schizophrenia and the church I was involved in was very naive about mental illness. We had prayed for her to be delivered from tormentors, but we didn’t have a healthy view of treatment and medication. Getting medical treatment or taking medication was interpreted as an admission of not believing God for healing.

Gloria should have gotten help
I wonder what happened to Gloria who probably stopped taking her medication because of our faulty view of God’s process of healing. Since I’ve had my own mental illness issues where I received therapy and have a daughter who has challenges that require counseling, my view of God’s healing process has broadened. My daughter kicked my narrow walls down when she was born.

My daughter, D’Andra, has Down syndrome, a chromosonal disorder which means she has an extra chromosone. That extra chromosone opened a storm for me as I learned how to navigate believing for her healing while securing treatment despite my horrible theology of faith and healing. Here’s what I learned from Gloria to help my daughter.

Getting help isn’t a sign of lack of faith in God
A very wise woman broke my chain of faulty theology when I asked her, “My daughter has a lot of services available for her for free. Would I be showing that I have a lack of faith if I take advantage of those services?”

She shook her head and said, “You take advantage of every available treatment and service to help your daughter. That’s not lack of faith. That’s called being a good mother.”

God can use doctors, therapists, counselors etc. to heal you
She then shared with me how people who take medication the doctor prescribes for their illness or pain could help them serve the Lord better. God could use doctors, medication, treatment and counseling to bring healing as well as prayer. If you combine all these available options, you have more open doors for God to release healing.

I wish I would have know the power of God healing a sick mind through medication when Gloria was threatening to stab me. Maybe I would have asked Gloria if she took her medication. I know I would have been more compassionate although I needed to flee an unsafe situation.

If you need medical help, a counselor or psychologist or psychiatrist, go get treatment. It is not a sin to receive medical treatment or counseling. Receive prayer but go get help.

Don’t look down on people who need help
If you know someone who needs medical help or counseling, please don’t look down on them. Don’t put the ‘something must be wrong with you because you don’t have enough faith for healing’ judgment on them. Christians have told me this when I confided in them about a struggle. Telling me that I don’t enough faith did nothing to help me. Telling me that I don’t have enough faith made me feel condemned and hopeless.

If someone has told you that you don’t have enough faith for healing if you seek out medical treatment or counseling, they’re wrong. God gave doctors, naturopaths, chiropractors, nurses, surgeons as well as medical practitioners as a gift to bring healing.

God gave them the wisdom to help diagnose your problem so you can serve Him better. So be free to get help. Do everything you can to get the help you need.

An Open Letter to the Women Who Marched

open-letter-protestor-michael-kowalczyk

I applaud your exercise of your first amendment right to free speech. I thought of joining your cause and several of my friends marched with you. I had some friends who marched in Washington, D.C., another friend who marched in New York City and my cousin who marched in Kansas City.

I wanted to march with you on January 21, 2017 but I couldn’t fully buy into the pro-abortion platform. The reason I wanted to march with you was because of my pro-life values that drove me to not terminate the pregnancy of my daughter with a disability. I understand that many protesters were taking a stand for the disabled, immigrants, refugees, the poor and marginalized.

I feel very torn between my friends who are pro-life and pro-Trump and could not support your march. I wanted to march for my daughter because frankly I’m concerned about her future under Trump’s administration. I watched the news coverage all day and prayed.

I prayed that you would be heard. I prayed that God would heal the division in our nation. I prayed for peace.

One of my friends texted me and said she would have loved to march but couldn’t because of the pro-abortion stance. There are millions of women like my friend and I who are just as passionate as you are about the defending the plight of the immigrant, the poor, the refugee, the disabled and the marginalized.

But we will not shed our stand for life. While I’m pro-life, I’m pro all of life. I believe that the pro-life movement has been weak to advocate for ALL life, for the single teenage mom who decides to keep her baby, for the baby who ends up in foster care or an orphanage, for the homeless, for the immigrant and marginalized. I believe God is pro ALL of life. He is pro-people, pro-freedom and pro-truth.

I’ve never voted on one issue like most of my pro-life friends. I’ve tried to keep an open mind because I have people who I love that had several abortions. I refuse to condemn or judge them. My heart is to reach across political issues that divide us and bring us together.

I pray that we can truly hear each other instead of shutting each other down because of our own perceived stereotypes. I refuse to stereotype you as a rude, profanity-speaking f-bomb dropping woman. By the same token, don’t stereotype me as a militant right-wing, pro-Trump, Republican pro-lifer that doesn’t care about social justice issues.

We share a common history of struggle for our rights and dignity. Can we stop screaming at each other, caricaturizing each other and listen to each other? Please drop the labels and let’s talk. My friend, Lee Grady, wrote a column about the Christian foundation of the suffragette movement.

Lee wrote: “It was Christian suffragette leader Lucretia Mott (1793-1880) who said: “The world has never yet seen a truly great and virtuous nation because in the degradation of woman the very fountains of life are poisoned at their source.” Mott did not live to see American women win the vote in 1920, but she laid the foundation for that victory.

If we truly want to stop the poison of injustice and elevate the dignity of women in the Trump era, we will need more than sassy outrage from Hollywood stars. We need a gutsy, courageous, grassroots Christian women’s movement that is not afraid to stand for both gender equality and sexual purity; we need compassion for pregnant women as well as a mother’s heart to protect unborn and unwanted children.”

Let’s come together and pray for our nation. More than ever, we need peace and wisdom. May God bring healing to our nation and wisdom for all us to become the solution instead of looking to the government for the answer.

Bridging the Racial Divide in the Church

racism-church

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said,

“It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.”

Progress is slow on racial reconciliation in this country, particularly given recent events. But why do lingering divisions exist in the Church, the very communities built on the promise of forgiveness and reconciliation? Finding racial unity in a congregation is a complex task that requires a deep recognition of racial differences in how Christians understand and practice their faith. In a recent study that builds upon our research on racial tension and the Black Lives Matter movement, Barna examined the divergent ways in which black and white Christians approach discipleship, individually and collectively, revealing insights that may contribute to the realization of King’s dream of an unsegregated hour of worship.

What Is Spiritual Progress?
The term “spiritual progress” is open to interpretation, and when asked to define it, differences in perspectives begin to emerge between black and white Christian leaders Black Christian leaders are more likely to describe the process of spiritual progress as “spiritual maturation” (31%), while white Christian leaders prefer the phrase “spiritual growth” (21%). The language of “maturation” implies more of an internal transformation and the development of wisdom through life experience, whereas the word “growth” tends to suggest an approach that entails reaching key milestones.

When both groups define “discipleship,” white believers are more likely to refer to it as a “process of learning to follow Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, seeking to observe all that Jesus commanded, by the power of the Holy Spirit and to his glory.” Black Christians instead commonly refer to it as “The process of transformation that changes us to be increasingly more like Christ through the Word, the Spirit, and circumstance.” For black Christians, spiritual progress tends to focus more on life experience rather than achieving goals, about maturing into a Christ-like character as they weather life’s storms. Read more.

Walking in the Tension of a Quiet End and Exhilarating Beginning

crossroadsA few days before Christmas, my friend, Lucy Haley-Hurn ended her fight with Cancer. Lucy was surrounded by loving friends and family when she met the One she served her whole life on December 21. I’ll never forget the prayers I cried out to God for Lucy and her fiancee Ashley to find suitable property. Or prayers for the details to come together when they found property. And prayers for Lucy when she was in the hospital. I thank God that He answered our prayers by bringing healing from the disease that her spirit refused to succumb to.

The day after Christmas, three young men sang ‘My Girl’ in front of the Melting Pot on the Plaza in Kansas City for a couple, Paul Winters and Briann McDowell. While the melody rose through the cold night air, Paul grabbed the Zales bag with the ring and got on his knees. “Will you marry me?” She nodded yes and I wept through this happy moment.

In one week,  a friend’s life ended and another friend’s life was beginning a new chapter. Celebrating a friend’s engagement and a funeral the same week starkly reminds me of what’s truly important while walking through the tension of a new beginning and an ending. New beginnings and endings strip us of our pretense to reveal priorities driving us and force us to answer questions we don’t want to ask.

Endings are always bittersweet and beginnings exhilarating especially when relationships are redefined. We answer questions that we don’t want to answer such as:

Why am I really doing this activity? Am I involved in this task or activity to please someone, to make myself look good or because I’m too afraid to say no?

Is this person a friend or are they using me to further their own agenda? If I fail or make a mistake, will this person stay in my life or kick me to the curb? I know Paul found a friend for life in his future wife,  Briann. They have an incredible passion for helping children and they are a perfect match. My friend Lucy was one of the few people who would not kick me to the curb.

What’s important in my life? My daughter, D’Andra and her growth in her faith became my number one priority in 2016. Her stormy adjustment to high school forced me to search high and low for a place where she could thrive spiritually. She turns 15 in April and Holy Spirit spoke to me that I would lose her if she didn’t find her ‘tribe’ or youth group now.

As the year comes to a close, the multiple funerals and memorial services I’ve attended in 2016 put a fire in my heart to get on with what God has called me to do. I pray that you will get on with what He has called you to do. Spend some time the first month of a new year answering these questions.

Soak in this Psalm as you answer questions you’ve haven’t been asked in a long time and may Holy Spirit’s wisdom speak to you for 2017.

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
    He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will not be afraid,
    for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
    protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
    forever.

 

The 21 Questions to Ask Yourself

21-questions-to-ask-yourself

 

I ripped this list off Ed Gandia’s podcast directed towards high income business writers. This was such a good podcast that I listened to it 3 times when I worked out. Answering these questions will help you frame your direction and attitude for 2017. I’m going to work through this list. I encourage you to work through it with me by answering these questions for yourself.

The first question is: What am I most proud of this year? I would have to say that what I’m most proud of is the effort I took to connect with a whole world that I didn’t know existed a year ago. I’m a mother of a daughter with special needs and fought feelings of being isolated and alone in my fight for her dignity and spiritual growth. I took a step out of my isolation to meet a group of moms of special needs children at Grace Church.

This group of moms play bunco once a month through out the year. The ‘bunco’ moms group have been a lifeline of encouragement, exhortation and advice for me. They have connected me with a ton of resources for helping my daughter with special needs.

I’m also most proud that I made her faith and well being a greater priority in 2016. D’Andra is 14-years-old and has had a rough first semester at her new high school. There were times I wanted to tune everything out and ignore her struggle. But my new friend, Georgia who I met through the Bunco game night, and many other moms of special needs children, pointed me to other resources or people to talk to about my issues.

I had no idea that assistance was available for me to help with my daughter’s issues from the Down syndrome Guild and other organizations. The more I learn about her challenges, the better equipped my husband, Jerome and I become to help her. I’ve learned to look at challenges unflinchingly and unashamed with bold, tenacious faith.

I made some dramatic changes to help her such as joining a local community center with a heated pool. She loves to swim and this has helped her deal with her stress. I’m also looking for a Special Olympics team for D’Andra to join since I just discovered that she likes to kick a soccer ball. D’Andra may be the one who inherited her dad’s athletic genes. Jerome was a track star on his way to the Olympics in college.

So what I’m proud of is admitting my weakness and pushing myself out of isolation to find other moms in the same battle for their child’s dignity and well being.

What are you most proud of from 2016?

These 3 Dangerous Fears Rob Your Future

overcoming-career-fear

“Fear not,” is the first thing that God speaks in the Bible when He is about to do something new. The phrase is used 80 times and the first time ‘fear not’ appeared is in this scripture: “After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying , Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” (Gen. 15:1 KJV)

I believe that ‘fear not’ is God’s word for you in 2015. He wants to do something new for you in 2015. But these fears need to be broken over your life. On Dec. 30, 2013, I had no idea what would unfold in 2014. Here are the fears that God had to break in me.

Fear of the unknown. In February I stepped out to manage a band. I never managed or marketed a band and knew nothing about recording in a studio or producing a music video. I only knew how to pick up the phone and talk to someone about an idea. On Wednesday, I sent an email with an idea. The next day, Samuel Noel had written an original song.

On Saturday, I called recording studios in Kansas City. At 11:30am I talked to a studio that said if the band was in his studio by 1:30 that day that he could lay down the trax. The new group of 5 teenage boys had never recorded in a studio. The next day at 7am, they were in a music video shoot in the snow because they didn’t want to miss church that started at 10am. That night the music video went live and generated over 3,000 views in the next few days.

Frankly the whole process intimidated me yet I had a sense of adventure as I read the reactions to the song, “Circumstances.” That song moved many people to tears and gave them hope. The songwriter, Samuel Noel was 16 at the time. He is one of the most gifted young men that I know at my church. I had no idea that my son, Alex and the lead singer, would have 14 performances in 2014. Those performances and ministry opportunities were not on my calendar on Dec. 30, 2013. Yet when God broke that ‘fear of the unknown’ in me, opportunities that I only dreamed about opened up.

When God set me free from the free of the unknown, He set my sons free to pursue their dream in music. My 19 year old son, Chris, is growing as a musician and a songwriter. Alex has stepped up into another realm as a servant-leader in music. Let God set you free from the unknown so you can step into opportunities that aren’t even on your radar right now.

Fear of failure. “And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is.” (Gen. 21:17 KJV) The birth of Ishmael could be considered the ‘epic fail’ for Abraham. Yet God redeemed Abraham’s failure and heard Ishmael’s cry. God had a destiny for Ishmael.

The fear of failure has plagued me for most of my life. The way that I fight this fear is by obeying God. I’ve written a book that has yet to be published and put it on the back burner. I was afraid of failure, that no one would want to read the book and since the book is about parenting, that my children would suddenly go haywire.

I shared these fears with my children and they exhorted me to move forward and get this book published because someone needs to read it. “If one person’s life is changed by this book, it’s worth the effort,” said my husband, Jerome.

God breaking this fear of failure over my life will set my children free to step out in their destiny. These two fears hold you back from fulfilling God’s calling on your life. Let go of the fear and speak faith over your life. Last night I heard Reinhard Bonnke, an evangelist who has led 70 million people to the Lord over the course of his ministry say, “God told me that when I speak His word, it’s as if He is speaking His word. The Holy Spirit hovers over a city or over a church but can’t do anything until His word is spoken.” Bonnke expounded on Genesis 1:2-3:

“The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.”

Nothing was done until the word of God was spoken. The Holy Spirit is hovering over your life and waiting for you to speak the word of God. Speak the word of God over your family, your finances and your church. Speak the word of God over your fears. As a help you to, here’s a link to scriptures that you can speak over your life.

The fear of what will people think. This is another fear that ruled my life. I can tell when people are ruled by this fear because they are so afraid to step out on a dream or idea because of what people will think. They want everyone’s approval before they will act on an idea. I believe in counsel and wisdom and doing your homework before stepping out. But there comes a time when you’ve done all of your homework, you’ve talked to all the important people in your life who either agree, disagree or don’t care, and then you have to act.

Ultimately you’re the one who is going to stand before God on whether you obeyed or not. Your husband or your best friend isn’t going to be the one held accountable. Your pastor isn’t accountable. You are the one who is responsible for your calling.

I’ve seen people leave my church because they were overlooked or didn’t get the support they thought they deserved for their calling or ministry. One woman who wanted to leave my church was upset that she wasn’t on the praise and worship team. I asked her, “Do you want to be on the praise and worship team or do you want to carry revival to your nation?” She stayed and moved back to her nation where God has placed her to influence people.

I view the church as an equipping station and the world is my mission field. I receive my training, priorities and marching orders from my church and the Bible and I’m responsible for taking action. Don’t let the fear of “what will someone think” stop you from fulfilling God’s will.

Jesus’ mother, Mary, could have said no to God because of the fear of “what will people think.” Unwed mothers in Mary’s culture were pariahs. To this day I’m still amazed that Mary said ‘yes’ to God at the cost of her own relationship to her future husband and family. When she said ‘yes,’ God stepped in.

Say yes to God. Don’t let the fear of man stop you.

This time next year, you’ll be surprised with what God did in 2015.