Some things.

1. Financially, my family is pretty much on the brink of things, but I’ve a gained a strong trust in God for taking care of us all, after going to hell and back with the big guy upstairs and having him save me every time so I’m not freaking out too much.

2. For the record, I am the best Scrabble player in my family. I need everyone to know that because I’m not the best at any other game among them.

3. I’m currently hosting my mom and my three siblings in my apartment for Christmas. My mom and I shared my bed, while one brother got the couch and then my sister and my other brother each got their own queen-size air mattresses, which are lined up end to end between the couch and the TV in my living room. We made it work.

4. I got a free kitchen table from my best friend’s boyfriend, and it came just in time to host all those people. Praise the Lord, Hallelujah! Amen! And, AND!, it even has a leaf in the middle, so it’s totally big enough for all of them to sit around and lose at Scrabble to me.

5. My amazing friend Sarah helped me pick it said table because she’s the only person I know within a 100-mile radius that has a mini-van AND enough love in her heart to drive to Timbucktoo with me and get it. She never once complained — even when the two of us were trying to carry the thing down a flight of stairs that randomly featured a left-turn right in the middle. I love you Sarah.

6. The Bears season is over then, I guess. I knew as soon as I got the text message from the Chicago Tribune that fateful night saying Jay Cutler had broke his thumb that it was all over. It still sucks though. On a brighter note, Tim Tebow seems like a genuinely nice guy. I mean, ya, I was mad when he beat the Bears, but then I remembered that everyone was beating the Bears these days, so I got over it.

7. I hid all of my sister’s gifts in a really good hiding spot and she has no clue where they are. This is especially hard because the two of us share a psychic connection and she can usually tell what I’m thinking just by looking at me.

8. I joined my church last Sunday. I know, I know, you’re all like, “Dude, Crystal, you started going/working there like 18 months ago? And you JUST now joined? What the what?!” But I take that decision very seriously and  I really wanted to make sure everything was a good fit before I said my vows in front of the congregation. A wise man once told me that it takes about 18 months to feel fully accepted as a new leader in a church. Over the past year and a half, there have been extreme highs, but there have also been days when I left there feeling like I’d been hit by a truck because I was so stressed about it all. And I just kept telling myself, 18 months, 18 months, 18 months. And you know what? It’s been 18 months and I really do feel like a genuine part of the family there now.  That doesn’t mean I don’t still stress and worry and whatnot, because you know, I’m Crystal and stuff, but it makes me feel like they’re kind of stuck of with me the way a sister is stuck with her brother. There’s a strange comfort in that.

9. I’ve been off work since Thursday for the holidays, and my company closes its office the week between Christmas and New Year’s because they rock, so I don’t go back until Jan. 3. This means I have a legit Christmas break. At 28. And did I mention the free candy? Best. Job. Ever.

10. I’m saying a formal pastoral prayer for the Christmas Eve services at my church tonight. It’s mostly a mash-up of Christmas and Advent prayers from the Methodist Book of Worship, but it’s my first time doing something like this, so I’m kind of excited about it. Usually when I pray in church, I just wing it, so this is really different. I wanted it to be formal, but also accessible, which is really hard to do. An excerpt:

“When our need for a Savior was great, you sent your Son to be born of the virgin Mary. To our lives, he brings joy and peace, justice, mercy and love. Grant that his Spirit may be born anew in our hearts tonight and that we may joyfully welcome him to reign over us.”

I love that line, “When our need for a Savior is great, you sent your Son.” It makes me think that humanity was just barely hanging off the cliff, with their fingers slipping off the edge, and God came through. Like He always does.

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Sexual harassment is real and does suck.

In college, the married man who sat across from me at the student newspaper would make unwelcome comments about how I should be a model, and how pretty my eyes were and just how dang good I looked in blue. And then he would constantly stare at me, for inappropriately long amounts of times.

Then, in grad school, a security guard at the state capitol building decided he liked me. He would come up to me every day and ask me for my phone number, or ask me on a date. Every day. And going to my internship at the best building in Illinois suddenly made me want to throw up as I tried to avoid him while going through security. Every. Day.

Then, at a newspaper job I had after college, I was just one of the 20-something women who had to endure being hit on by a married editor at the newspaper. And one night, the two of us ended up in a car alone together, because he was drunk and convinced me he needed a ride, and then he tried to kiss me and then the next day, I had to work with him like nothing had ever happened.  Which I did, because saying something would have been worse. I knew that much.

All of those incidents left marks on my weak heart. They made me feel like an object in the purest sense of the word. And they led me to believe that women were not equals. Not even close.

I understand that men don’t always know they’re being inappropriate.

I understand that women like to be hit on.

I understand that people think being hit on too much is a “good problem” and that women should just brush it off.

But I also understand how sick to your stomach it makes you feel when you realize that politely saying no to someone’s advances is being ignored — or worse, that a polite advance has suddenly become less-than-polite without warning.

I understand that sexual harassment is not about a women’s ability to properly take a dirty joke or their ability to just be flattered for goodness sake.

I understand that as long as people believe its a fake problem, or a good problem, or a crazy problem, nothing will change.

I understand it because I’ve lived it.

I also understand that reporting it is awful and full of aftermath that leaves everyone, especially myself, wishing I had just kept my mouth shut. And that any women who decides to do so is brave and amazing and should be respected.

So while all the controversy around Herman Cain is in the air, and people are saying things like, “Well, that there is a troubled woman,” I implore you to take this opportunity to remember the women you love, and how you want them to be treated in such cases.

Because, your mom or your sister or your daughter probably feels like throwing up or crying or screaming every time they have to pass by that one guy’s desk or go down that one hallway where he works.

They are probably praying every night that he’ll quit or get fired, and they’re probably starting to find a way to quit themselves.

They’re probably wishing they could fix things without first making a huge mess.

They’re probably looking for someone to save them.

And — most likely — nobody is doing anything about it.

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Dear 14-year-old Crystal

Dear 14-year-old Crystal,

You’re going to turn out pretty cool. Seriously. At 28, your footing is steady and you’ve got a lot of things figured out.

You’ve got TWO great jobs, even though the economy totally tanked. (Oh. Ya. The economy falls off a cliff, but no worries. You’ve got enough brains and passion to pull through). You’re a writer for a candy magazine and you also lead a church youth group. Pretty fun stuff.

You’ve got a walk-in closet.  What the what?! Ya. It’s pretty awesome.

I mean, you know, your twenties aren’t all cake and pie, but you do figure a lot of things out.

Like which their/there/they’re to use when. And how to buy the perfect pair of skinny jeans (Ya, those come back in style). And that you really just look best with blond hair and bangs. (Seriously. Just stick with it).

Of course, you’ve also learned some more umm, important foundational things. Like about God and stuff. (I.E. He’s real).

I know that one of the things they always focus on in church is that THOU SHALL NOT HAVE SEX BEFORE MARRIAGE!! OR THOU WILL DIE AND GET PREGNANT AND BE WHORE!! And, ya, it’s good advice not to have sex, but not for those reasons. You should wait because you don’t need to do any of that stuff to feel love. I promise. You are already loved.

Think about that for a second. It’s true. Promise.

Also, with the God stuff.  It’s not all about the rules and the regulations and the thou shall not’s. Because, while that’s all important, I promise it will all fall into place if you just focus on loving Christ. Because, when you love Him, you’ll be filled with the fruits of the spirit and suddenly you’ll just naturally choose to listen to Christian music and read the Bible all the time and pray and live a holy life. You’ll do it because God’s your friend and it’s fun to connect with a friend.

Of, course, you won’t always succeed with that. And I want you to know something really important — it’s all right to fail. And I don’t mean in the “you learned something from this so everything is cool” sort of way. But in the “you just totally made the worst string of decisions ever in your life and everything feels like it’s going to crash down on you as punishment” sort of way. Because it happens to all of us, and because I know that sometimes, when that happens, you start to feel like life is hopeless. It’s not. There is always hope — for you and the world. And if you pray and ask for forgiveness, all will be well and peace will find you again.

Also, (and this is important), don’t fight with Bob when he calls you randomly in your dorm room that one time in the beginning of your junior year in college. Just talk with him, tell him how much you care about him, and soak up every ounce of conversation possible. Please.

I know you’re worried about the future, because you just worry about things. But I want you to know that all is well here in 2011 and you really do turn out pretty cool.



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