Why I Said Yes

When I met Shawn (my hubby), I wasn’t actually looking for a relationship. I was on vacation, taking a break from the whole relationship thing. I flew into California on a Wednesday, met Shawn on a Thursday and the rest is history. :)

People always ask how I knew that he was “the one”. First of all, I don’t believe in “the one”. I believe that there’s good, better and then there’s God’s best for you, but that’s another blog post. Maybe next week…lol.

Seriously though, during that week of meeting and getting to know Shawn, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was an actual divine encounter (the ones we pray about) and that my life was about to change drastically. I felt like my destiny met her partner in Shawn.

Here are five reasons I said “Yes”:

1. The pursuit
From the moment Shawn met me, he pursued me. There was no doubt in my mind and to those around me that he was interested.
I said yes because I felt cherished and valued.

2. My family
He honoured my family. I am very close to my family and the fact that he took the time to fly up to Canada and meet them made all the difference to me.
I said yes because he made the people closest to me comfortable with his pursuit of me.

3. Accountability
There are people in my life who have full access to ask about and challenge my decisions. These people kept me grounded in the middle of the emotional hype that happens when you first meet somebody. They asked the tough questions about purity in the relationship, guarding my heart, asking about his intentions, etc.
I said yes because I could answer all of their questions with clarity and confidence.

4. Prayer & Fasting
I sought the Lord in a big way. Shawn and I took some time to pray and fast. I needed God’s thoughts on this relationship as well. I had some questions and He answered each and every one of them with scripture confirmation.
I said yes because the Lord answered the concerns of my heart.

5. Love
I put love at the end because as important as it is, it’s not the primary reason I said yes. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband like crazy, it’s just that when we got married, we had only known each other for a year and a half and it was a long distance relationship. I saw his love for Jesus and that, coupled with his love for me, was the real deal.
I said yes because for Shawn, love is a verb, not just words.


Creating Christmas Traditons

I’ve decided that each week we’re going to watch a traditional Christmas movie. I only decided to do this when I realized that my husband had been deprived of all the Christmas movie classics. Movies like “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “White Christmas”, Miracle on 34th Street, and yes, “Home Alone” (to name a few) were not in his movie history. All I could do was sadly shake my head in disbelief. So began our Christmas movie marathon and hopefully, some new Mandoli Christmas traditions! Yay! If you think of any Christmas movies we should add to this movie marathon, let me know, so we can squeeze it in!

As the Christmas season continues, I get more and more excited about the fun of creating new Christmas traditions as a family. There’s something about my kids and my family Christmas that creates the warm fuzzies. :) At their respective ages of two and almost five weeks, they don’t know anything about Christmas (which is completely understandable). Lol However, I am literally jumping up and down on the inside about what I get to teach them as they grow up.

As I think about all the things could possibly teach them, I’m a bit overcome with a spirit of thankfulness. I start to think about the reason for the season (a bit cliche, I know), the Gift giver and the true act of love that is at the core of why we, as Christians celebrate Christmas. That is what I want to teach my kids. I want them to know that…
I wouldn’t be where I am if not for His goodness.
I wouldn’t have what I have if not for His grace.
I wouldn’t be sitting here, thinking about how thankful I am if not for His loving sacrifice.

So to the ultimate Gift giver and loving Father, who has given me a reason to be thankful, thank You for everything that has made me who I am today and thank you for everything that will encompass my tomorrows. I pray that my husband and I impart the real truths of this season to our children, so they grow with an understanding of the Father’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice.

Merry Christmas!
~ from the Mandoli family!


My Marriage in Progress

My husband and I have been married for just over five years. We’ve moved two times (not including the big move from Canada). We have two kids, a girl and a boy. And we’re both in full time ministry. It’s crazy! Well, it’s our kind of crazy. Lol

I always get asked how we keep a healthy marriage in the middle of all of it. The fast answer? We talk. About everything. Money, groceries, work, the kids (and all that goes with them), personal goals, an just all things life. Nothing is not important enough to talk about.

The answer that involves more than two words? I’ll do my best to break down in three (3) points:

1. We’re real with each other.
We don’t pretend. We don’t play games. If I’m angry, I tell him I’m angry. If he hurts my feelings, I tell him that he hurt my feelings. If he gets it right in a big way, I tell him thank you; I tell him that I appreciate him and that I love him. If I disrespect him, he tells me and we deal with it. If I get it right in a big way, he expresses appreciation.
Yes, we disagree (sometimes in a big way), but disagreements are part of marriage. Disagreements are part of any healthy relationship. We’re not perfect and we don’t expect perfection out of each other.

2. We don’t mess with Jesus time.
There is one expectation I have of my husband. One thing that’s non negotiable. It’s that He loves Jesus more than He loves me (not in a weird, neglectful way), but in the “if he genuinely loves Jesus, then he will, by default, love me” kind of way.
If He loves and spends time with Jesus, hopefully he becomes more like Jesus. If he becomes more like Jesus, then he will love me “as Christ loves the church and gave Himself for her” (2 Corinthians 5:25). So I don’t mess with his time with Jesus and he doesn’t mess with mine.

3. We laugh together.
Basically, we enjoy each other’s company. Our schedules are too busy to get hung up on the little things. Do we talk about the little things? Yes, but we also keep everything in perspective. In the moments that are exclusively ours, we make the most of it. There are times that we have lots of “us” time and there are times when we have to carve out that time or it gets lost. He makes me laugh, even when he’s not trying to be funny. Lol Marriage is for a lifetime, so our goal is to enjoy the ride!

Keep in mind that these are just three of the things that contribute to our healthy marriage. This isn’t the whole book on a healthy marriage. You could ask that same question to someone else and get completely different answers. This stuff works for us. We’ve been married for just over five years and have a lot of years to go, so I don’t speak as an expert. I speak as a woman whose marriage is in progress. In progress to becoming better and better everyday. :)


Getting It Right

So Mondays are what my family likes to call Mandoli Family Fun Days; we even have a hashtag. Lol Basically, it’s a day that consists of family quality time stuff. This Monday though, our day started off with doctors appointments for both kids, with different doctors. We had to stay out of the house because we’re having some painting done, so for any families out there, you know that makes for a long day for a baby and toddler. :) Thankfully, this is my husband’s day off and my wonderful sister is with us, so the transport of all that goes with staying out all day with kids wasn’t too bad.

It’s on days like these that I’m able to sit back and take inventory of God’s blessings. I get a moment to breathe and set aside some of the burden (not a bad burden) I carry as a wife and stay at home mom. These are my memory making moments. My snapshots to help me keep the right perspective when life gets a bit crazy. Like the Psalmist, I sometimes ask, “What is man that You are mindful of him? And the son of man that You visit him?” Psalm 8:4. Jesus is there in the middle of all of it. And He’s the reason I am so thankful.

Get it right this Christmas season. Perspective is everything. Take a look at your life from eternity’s perspective (which is God’s perspective) and see how amazing things look.

Last thoughts…
Although life is made up of many small moments, life’s scope is bigger and wider than any one moment.

Oh, and yes, I’m still wearing dresses. #Dressember is alive and well in our house. It’s a movement worth checking out. These organizations are doing something to make change:


To Venture Outside

I went out today. I would like to say that I went out by myself with the two babies, double stroller and all, but I can’t. My sister was on hand to provide some help and support (insert: I love my sister). :)

It started out great! Then both of them decided to have major bowel movements. For those of you who don’t know what that means, it basically means that they each had a major poo. Combined it took about and hour to get them changed and ready to go (I won’t go into the details of why it took so long). :)

To keep the story short and sweet, see the bullet points:
– it was raining and we were at an outdoor mall
– in the next store, I accidentally broke one of the items I intended to buy. It fell to the ground and shattered.
– still raining as we tried to load a sleeping, 30lb toddler into the car without waking her up and of course a 3 week old who has now decided he wants to be held, which he expresses in a very loud and very verbal way.

A few things I learned today, actually I should say, a few things I was reminded of today:

1. Don’t apologize for the size of the double stroller. It is what it is and people will be ok if they have to wait a minute while I maneuver.

2. Expect that with two (2) children, the simple things will take and extra 30 minutes to an hour and be ok with it.

3. The jewelry, the dresses and my choice to take a stand for justice all make a difference. I had a girl ask about one of my bracelets and I was able to tell her about one of the organizations I promote.

Needless to say, to venture outside has taken on a whole new meaning for me. Gone are the days of popping into and out of a store in five minutes. I have to say, that when it is time for me to venture outside all by myself, I hope the trepidation I feel is dissolved by then. If it isn’t, it doesn’t change the fact, that I still have to step out.

I think this says it all…

Wake up.
Get up.
Step out.
Live Fully. ~Christine Caine

Fear paralyzes you. Courage mobilizes you. How do you get from fear to courage? You take a step. Even just one step away from fear is one step closer to freedom.

“The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his tongue talks of Justice.” Psalms 37:30

#dressember #thriverescuehome #A21campaign #itsbiggerthanadress #standforjustice #stophumantrafficking #endslavery

Advent, Chocolate & Dresses

As I started to take my Dec.2nd sweetie from my advent calendar, I realized that I couldn’t even really remember what Advent really means. My only point of reference is what I may have been taught as a child, that it was the countdown to the celebration of the birth of Jesus. In some ways, it is about that, but I’ve discovered that it’s so much more.

Interestingly enough, Advent began as a season of preparation for the baptism of new Christians at the January feast of Epiphany. There was really no connection to Christmas. Over time, the meaning/purpose of Advent has evolved. Nowadays, Advent season consists of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. It’s the season that look at Christ’s birth in celebration, but also look to His 2nd coming.

So as I get ready to partake of my Advent calendar sweetie, I think about Jesus and how He’s totally transforming me. Only made possible because He did come to earth to live as a man, die on the cross and rise again on the 3rd day.

He made me righteous because of His sacrifice. In turn, I have a voice. I get to stand for justice, just as He did. It’s day 2 of Dressember. I’m wearing a dress. 29 more days to go.

He does not preserve the lie of the wicked, but gives justice to the oppressed.” Job 36:6

#standforjustice #dressember #thriverescuehome #A21Campaign #endslavery #itsbiggerthanadress

And So It Begins…Again

Today marks the start of #Dressember (an awesome campaign for justice)! Let the dress revolution begin!

Another new beginning; its also been two weeks and three days since the birth of my son: Dominico Samuel Mandoli. Yay!

I figured that the start of December (my favourite time of the year) is not only a great time to start writing again, but also a great time to champion a cause that lights the fire of action inside of me. #Dressember enables me to make a change that alters my daily life. It’s just enough change to keep an awareness of human trafficking at the forefront of my mind. It becomes more than something I support once a year. Because of social media, I get to share it with you! Whether you support this movement or not, at least you know that I do and that’s good enough for me.

I’m so excited about this new season of my life! I’m a mother twice over! I feel such great anticipation about what this next season of my life holds. I’m going deeper. With every change in my life, a new facet of Crystal-Gayle emerges. The woman I was in my yesterdays is not the same woman I am today, and definitely not the woman I will be in my tomorrows.

So to all of the multi-faceted women out there, which is pretty much every woman, I write a mini tribute:

I am a woman.
Growing in life.
Growing in God.
I am a woman.
A woman who leads.
A woman who loves.
A woman who serves.
I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a world changer.

Do your thing ladies!
~2 Corinthians 10:3-6

#Dressember #thriverescuehome #A21Campaign #stophumantrafficking
#s(he)matters #standforjustice