About the Author

Crystal is passionate about cultivating a community where faith, fitness, and friendship come together. Author of “Creative Basics: 30 Days to Awesome Social Media Art,” Crystal is a writer, speaker, host of the Write 31 Days challenge, and coach who shares encouragement at her blog, crystalstine.me. Connect with her on...

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  1. I love reading your word here, your story you are sharing so honest and true. There are so many lines I want to copy and quote for you, and say this, I love this. But it’s all there already. So I’ll say, you, I love you. I love your heart and your passion for God, for His people, for community.

    You are a light that shines so bright in my life, even in the dark times.

    We, as (in)couragers, are so blessed to you have you. I am so blessed. You’re beautiful, friend. He’s beautiful in you.

    • When I think about community and how God has redeemed my experience with it, He always brings you to mind. I am blessed to call you friend 🙂

  2. I love reading your word here, your story you are sharing so honest and true. There are so many lines I want to copy and quote for you, and say this, I love this. But it’s all there already. So I’ll say, you, I love you. I love your heart and your passion for God, for His people, for community.

    You are a light that shines so bright in my life, even in the dark times.

    We, as (in)couragers, are so blessed to you have you. I am so blessed. You’re beautiful, friend. He’s beautiful in you.

  3. Beautiful Crystal…may we continue to risk so we can know the joy that is only found in a community where we are loved. Thank you for your leadership and devotion. What a gift!

    • Oh if I had known that so many years ago. It does take risk, and a bucket of bravery, to stay in community, doesn’t it? I can’t do it without beautiful encouragers like you!

  4. Love seeing you here, Crystal! You have been community for me in the (in)courage groups, and I so appreciate everything you do to make me feel a part of something bigger. Maybe someday we will meet in(RL)?!

    • I would love that so much, Kimberly! And sweet friend, you ARE part of something bigger – (in)couargers are, to me, the hands/feet/online voices of Jesus to your groups..it’s some special kingdom work!

  5. A friend and I began praying 2 weeks ago how to minister to our neighbors. She is in Texas and I’m in Arkansas. We shouldn’t have been surprised what God did, but almost immediately we were given opportunities to be involved in their lives. Even the smallest things you do to build relationships matter!

  6. Crystal, It is just amazing how God uses our struggles to bring hope to others. I love how you note how, in our places of vulnerability, we have the choice to be softened, by His love–equipped to pour His love onto others—or to stay “safe”, with a wounded heart, afraid to be stretched by Him and used. You are stunning in the way you pour Him out, sister. Oh, how you encourage us! You are just beautiful. Thank you.

  7. I’m so sorry you were hurt by community, Crystal. The hardest thing about community seems to be that need for reciprocation, which is sometimes so hard for hurting, broken people to do. I was jaded by Christian community during Bible college, and over the past several years God has done so much to restore my love for His Bride. Through church, friends, blogs, and the (in)couragers, He’s shown me the beauty and value of belonging together. Thank you so much for being vulnerable, for all you do to encourage the (in)couragers. It’s such a gift to serve by your side!

    • I couldn’t be more blessed than to walk alongside you as God works through us to build community. I wouldn’t trade any of the past hurts, knowing what I know now 🙂

    • I couldn’t be more blessed than to walk alongside you as God works through us to build community. I wouldn’t trade any of the past hurts, knowing what I know now 🙂

  8. Well now I just want to hug you proper, Crystal! And bring over some Nutella and talk about how God uses our scars to create a smoothe masterpiece of glory and grace.

    Thank you for being brave. For ignoring the lie belting in your ear…oh what God can do through you. And I’m honored to catch a glimpse of it here… {HUGS}

  9. Well now I just want to hug you proper, Crystal! And bring over some Nutella and talk about how God uses our scars to create a smoothe masterpiece of glory and grace.

    Thank you for being brave. For ignoring the lie belting in your ear…oh what God can do through you. And I’m honored to catch a glimpse of it here… {HUGS}

  10. To be honest it’s hard for me to join in with people I don’t actually see or know as I’m a people’s person. Like, right up close and personal. More, there, or, here and it’s all happening. Guess I was raised this way. The freedom of space and lots of people around. I think I could get lost in it. There are so many people around me and friends that I know personally that I can talk to and hang out with and those who have left, we Skype. It’s fun to live for right here. I like to connect with a real person. Type of thing. Wishing y’all were here or me there. So far away.
    My dad told me when I was so little never to worry about never having anyone to talk to or to be friends or to know as ….. there are so many people and to take my time and … be a part of the real world and all its people around. Make friends. He told me. Make friends as you go along. There are lots to come by and lots to make ….
    Just sharing.

    • I love that! In real life community is so important, and what a blessing I bet you’ve been to so many who needed a friend – and you were brave enough to make the first move 🙂

  11. To be honest it’s hard for me to join in with people I don’t actually see or know as I’m a people’s person. Like, right up close and personal. More, there, or, here and it’s all happening. Guess I was raised this way. The freedom of space and lots of people around. I think I could get lost in it. There are so many people around me and friends that I know personally that I can talk to and hang out with and those who have left, we Skype. It’s fun to live for right here. I like to connect with a real person. Type of thing. Wishing y’all were here or me there. So far away.
    My dad told me when I was so little never to worry about never having anyone to talk to or to be friends or to know as ….. there are so many people and to take my time and … be a part of the real world and all its people around. Make friends. He told me. Make friends as you go along. There are lots to come by and lots to make ….
    Just sharing.

    • I love that! In real life community is so important, and what a blessing I bet you’ve been to so many who needed a friend – and you were brave enough to make the first move 🙂

  12. Praise God for you! I really appreciate your statement: “I see Him drawing me closer to Himself, loving me through the pain, and bending my heart to prepare me for where I am now.” I also like “God uses our pain for His platform.” Such potential when we give our pain to God and allow Him to heal us and use our hurts for His glory. Thank you for all the thoughts you have shared with us.

  13. Loved this, my friend! So honest and real… and isn’t it just like God to turn around and use all things together for good? Love the community He has built up – in real life – and that is just as real – here, online! Both are needed and oh so invaluable!

    • He does…He really does make all things work together for His good, and His glory. Sometimes it just takes awhile to see the puzzle come together – which is, itself, a good reason to choose to stay in community!

    • He does…He really does make all things work together for His good, and His glory. Sometimes it just takes awhile to see the puzzle come together – which is, itself, a good reason to choose to stay in community!

  14. Community can be helpful and hurtful and everything in between. I’m so glad you shared a glimpse into your pain with us, here. It helps us all to remember that God is always waiting to gently trade our mint oreos for something even better. 🙂

  15. God sent me here. I have lost friends family and community over and over again. Nothing sticks like me. I am the runaway bride and runaway friend,daughter, everything i run away ppl make me mad i run. I want to learn how to fight and stick. So used to rejection but it teaches me to lean on God and Him alone. But sometimes community is very necessary.

    • Sweet Alli, praying that God would call you to the community He has planned for you, that He would be your strength and give you the courage to stay. I SO hope you join us for (in)RL in two weeks, I think you will love it, and I’m so glad He brought you to (in)courage – sending you big hugs.

  16. I love the community that God is building for me here…and thankful you are a part of it! And WOOHOO for the front page…happy for you, friend. 🙂

  17. My, my, my Crystal Stine!! Love, love these words borne out of such deep hurt. Your eyes are seeing the hands at work behind the scenes and giving glory for it all. Here is where we can hold each other up and share these stories. We ARE gonna make our CB date happen soon! <3

  18. It is always amazing to see God at work. Thank you for your open, honesty about community.

    Right now I feel a bit, well=hurt, by my current boss. I feel she doesn’t like me and wants me out of the office. Truly hard to go to work daily. The good thing is that God has placed a number of Godly people in the office and they all encourage me daily–whether they know it or not.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Oh Beth…goodness friend, I wish I could have coffee with you and promise that I’ve been there. I’m there, even now. But thank God for people who encourage, and who remind me that my success and satisfaction in life come from God and nothing else!

  19. It is always amazing to see God at work. Thank you for your open, honesty about community.

    Right now I feel a bit, well=hurt, by my current boss. I feel she doesn’t like me and wants me out of the office. Truly hard to go to work daily. The good thing is that God has placed a number of Godly people in the office and they all encourage me daily–whether they know it or not.

    Thanks for sharing!

  20. I have been hurt too. Sometimes I catch myself being timid or jealous or worried about a friendship because of a broken relationship with a childhood best friend who chose to take a path in life that didn’t include me. I’m always thankful God reassures me that not everyone and every relationship will end like that did, but it’s bad there in my heart. I’m encouraged by your words and how you’ve used the brokenness to help others.