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“You are God, You’re the Great I Am
Breath of life I breathe You in
Even in the fire, I’m alive in You!
You are strong in my brokenness
Sovereign over every step
Even in the fire, I’m alive
I’m alive in You!”
~ Jesus Culture, “Alive in You”

I had coffee on our patio this week. Apparently that groundhog that my state so proudly claims may have been right about an “early” spring, because I slid on some flip flops, left my jacket inside, and enjoyed the sunshine. Two summers ago my husband painstakingly put a beautiful stone patio in our backyard. Circles of stones leading from our deck into the yard, perfect for watching our daughter play or roasting s’mores over the fire pit.

And now we’re getting ready to repair it. You wouldn’t know it to look at the surface, but over time the sand below the stones has shifted. Rain and snow and heat and use have caused some of the stones to sink and move. But to look at it, it looks fine.

I look fine.

But don’t we all have some shifting that happens below the surface? It’s easier to put on a smile and share the surface story with those who ask than it is to admit that maybe we need to have a little work done to fix what’s been broken.


A friend commented the other day that I seem so calm and relaxed when I do live videos on Periscope or Facebook or Blab. And I had to admit to her that on this side of the screen it’s more like what happens when you see a duck floating peacefully on the water. On the surface, everything looks great. But under the water there is a frantic paddling to keep everything afloat. I’m nervous and second guess every moment. I can’t bring myself to watch the replays because I’m afraid to watch myself fail or stumble or be less than perfect. I check it off the list and move on and pretend that I’m brave enough to keep doing them because I love connecting with women online to encourage them.

What we see on the surface is only a small part of the picture. But whatever the brokenness is underneath isn’t the whole story either. We are neither wholly perfect or completely broken.


In order to fix our patio we’re going to have to do some hard work. We’re going to have to remove what we’ve so carefully built and lay it aside so we can get to the real issue. We’ll have to dig a little bit, pour new sand for strength, and put the pieces back where they belong, adding an extra row of stones around the edge buried halfway into the dirt so the edges of the patio don’t move again.

When we stop to ask God to show us where He can make us strong in our brokenness, He might ask us to do some of the same things. What is it that we need to lay aside, the beautiful surface we’ve covered ourselves with to hide the real problems? Where is it in our hearts that we’ll need to allow God to dig into, to chip away the hard and broken pieces? Are we willing to be moved so that God can move in us, to strengthen our weak places?

I am.

Be sure to check out the new Illustrated Faith line at DaySpring. I’m not very good at it, but I love trying!

  • Stefanie

    Such a beautiful post. Thank you! I know God is always working on me and I must be willing to allow God to dig into my broken places.

    • http://crystalstine.me/ Crystal

      Thank you, Stephanie!

      • Webbgurl2000


  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    So true…we become great actors…putting on a façade for the world to see. Meanwhile, what’s going on inside is anything but what we present on the inside. Yet, the thing we crave the most is to be truly known and still truly loved. Only God can give us that kind of unconditional love, but as we follow (as we are called) to love others just the way they are (cracks and all) we begin to see that others love us too (faults and all). It’s all in daring to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable is being brave and is one of the best ways to share Christ’s love. You do this beautifully. We love your smiling face and your wildly flapping feet below the surface :) Great post!

    • http://crystalstine.me/ Crystal

      You’re so sweet Bev :) Thank you for cheering for me, flappiness & all!

  • Beth Williams

    In Emily P. Freeman’s book “Grace for the Good Girl” she talks about the many masks women wear. We pretend that everything is ok on the outside while our world is crumbling on the inside. Women need to become more vulnerable and open with each other. It allows others to pray for you and encourage you through your journey! When I meet people I want to “know” them deeply and personally! I want to be able to pray for you always!

    Blessings :)

    • Webbgurl2000

      Beth, this is so true. I have been trying this genuineness with others lately, and seriously, many in the Body cannot handle it!!!
      I realize that they are still used to the Hallelujah I’m saved so I can’t admit I have ANY problems club.
      That almost killed me! Many times over. And the people I was trying to please—Didn’t care and kept loading my back with burdens!!!
      Frankly, I’m done.
      Jesus didn’t suffer, die, and come back for me to lie a FACADE.
      If it takes the rest of my life, and it probably will, I want Him to make me REAL

      • Beth Williams

        Sorry you have had this trouble with being genuine. May God change their hearts. I pray He will soften their hearts and make them more open!
        Blessings :)

  • Stephanie Ravencraft

    Crystal, once again your words and many others who have posted here have encouraged me and gave me courage because I realize what we all should that God is there for us all in every weakness and wants us all to be unified in worshipping him. When we are weak and turn to him we are stronger. God puts these special gifts in all of us and some have that gift of encouraging words that I believe you have. Keep writing and talking!

    • Webbgurl2000


  • Jodi Rosser

    I love your post! It is so true! I love your saying: We are neither wholly perfect or completely broken. We tend to live in the all good or all bad state but really there is a little of both and it is learning to live in between wholly perfect and completely broken. I love how you are encouraging women to dig deeper and be more authentic with their brokenness! Truly beautifully written.

  • http://www.eclecticaffinity.com Jacquelyn

    Beautiful analogy! It makes me think back to grade school and how one way would be taught in one year—and then another year those same concepts would have to be unlearned and taught a slightly different way. It always bothered me and made me think it would have been faster or more efficient learning it one way and being done…except the lessons were designed for my learning at the time. Process takes time that I (still) wish it wouldn’t. Thanks for sharing! :)

  • Lynn D. Morrissey

    This is truly a powerful post, Crystal, and one in series of messages that the Lord keeps speaking to me lately–that something inside may be broken in my heart of which I am either unaware or perhaps have refused to deal with. I’m unsure. But the message is that something is broken and He wants me to explore that and to come to Him for fixing and healing. I have done that for years on the pages of my (many!) journals; but I sense that this time, He wants to me to explore further–to see what stones may be shifting beneath the serene surface. I love your patio analogy. It’s excellent in all its applications. Wow! I just realized as I was reflecting on your piece and writing my response, that it reminds me of a huge renovation job we did in our bathroom recently. It has cost us a fortune, because the former house owners did not have the proper foundation work done. Unbeknownst to us, when we moved in, and while the bathroom looked fabulous, the construction workers did *everything* wrong! Once we had our workers pry the tiles loose to fix what we thought was a simple leak, they unearthed a world of wrongs. Walls, floor, supporting beams even to the roof (for goodness sake!) were rotting away. My husband said that the original workers’ shortcuts in how they installed pipes, which would likely have cost them about $35, have now cost us *thousands and thousands* of dollars in repair. No one looked beneath the surface. Your post (and the others God has placed in my path) is His prodding for me to look below my heart’s surface to what may be shifting or broken (of which I am currently unaware). I would gently add that I really have to reflect upon your comment here: “We are neither wholly perfect nor completely broken.” Upon cursory reflection, I’m thinking that indeed I am completely broken, which is why I need a Savior. I’m thinking that there is no good that dwells in me without Christ. And because of Him–because of His death and atonement for my sin—which is my sin nature, my brokenness through and through–I can become whole and am seen as whole by God (as He sees me through Christ alone). As I said, I’d have to really think and pray about your view on that one point, and I am responding quickly. But I surely want to thank you for a deep and moving post and one which really *does* speak to me, way beneath the surface!

  • Mary Ellen Wright

    Thank you for this post. I’ve been considering doing online video teachings but have held back because of the reasons you just stated. Your post have stirred courage to reconsider. It isn’t easy to put yourself out there…but He is in us and He is worthy of exposure. :)

  • Kim Duvall

    How beautifully said – thank you – so often I put in a everything’s good face and below in my heart I am broken about many issues – it is time for me to ask God for help as I have been doing that these past several months – I need HIM – thank you

    • joel

      hi kim its joel novachich call me 3032193259

  • Margaret Sullivan

    Hi…I know for myself…it started with a false concept…never validated…years of trying to make up what I lack…since others weren’t pleased with me…Well…it certainly must be me…right…ridicule, abuse neglect, internalized, then allowing others to get inside your head…and tell you what to say, think,do, wear, act, be, so you can finally fit in…only to discover you have nicely hidden and covered up all the scars, and wounds in a nice pretty package…like a cup…with holes in it…the good won’t stay in…your ribs hurt from trying to hold it as all in…all the pain…ever present…trying to hide…and desperately needing God to come in and heal…and of course not truly having the real inner needs met, because of a faulty foundation…through the hurtful words and actions of others…how does one find their true self amidst the deception? Margaret

  • Nancy Ruegg

    You are so right, Crystal. The stones on the surface can be shifted at any time as circumstances change (and reveal wobbly faith), or lessons are learned (and suddenly we see crookedness that we didn’t notice before). I so appreciate your encouragement: “we are neither wholly perfect or completely broken.” Yes, we are in need of improvement and want to continue growing and maturing. But we ARE making progress, as we rely upon and surrender to our God. Praise him for his patience!

  • http://faithspillingover.com Betsy Cruz

    Thanks for sharing your heart, Crystal. I like the analogy of making life videos, how you look calm and collected on the surface, but then you hate to watch them! (I can so relate.) It’s so good to know that God sees beyond the appearances, loves us anyway, and is in the business of restoring our full beauty. All we have to do is cooperate! (I say “all we have to do,” but it’s easier said than done!)

  • Lea Turner

    Thanks for sharing your heart! Blessing to you!

  • http://kidscrunchandchrist.com Sabrina Scheerer

    Yes, so much truth in this! We are a mess even when we look OK on the surface and we have to break through that surface to be repaired! Just awesome and a great reminder to examine ourselves below the surface on a regular basis!

  • Webbgurl2000

    Check out the Song Broken Beautiful by Ellie Holicomb.
    We expect way more than God does, and are so much better in His eyes than we can imagine.

  • http://restoredtostand.com/ Nicole Calhoun

    Thanks Crystal for this post. Sometimes I don’t want the digging to occur because it’s painful but it is always best in the end.

  • Susan

    And, repairing before the stones crack or disintegrate…I prefer a little shifting, digging, edging, than a total replacement. Some place in there is a sermon!!!

  • Janelle Keith

    I love this post! Speaks to the depth of me. Thank you for helping us see, it’s simple really.

  • Sarabeth Walker

    I go around paddling like a duck, smiling and telling all of my friends, I am doing great and feel so blest, which I am, but underneath so much is not all right, my marriage, my family who doesn’t attend church, so I do need to get closer to God to feel better and right in my soul. Thank you for this wonderful insightful post!