Inspirational Blogger Story Of The Month: Crystal Reynolds

Inspirational Blogger Story Of The Month: Crystal Reynolds

A Message From The Creator

A Message From The Creator

Inspiration Of Motherhood: 14 moms sue LA schools in child abuse case

Inspiration Of Motherhood: 14 moms sue LA schools in child abuse case

Women’s Health: Women who drink alcohol in moderation may protect against rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis

Women’s Health: Women who drink alcohol in moderation may protect against rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis

Inspirational Woman Of The Day: Zaha Hadid

Inspirational Woman Of The Day: Zaha Hadid

Inspirational Blogger Story Of The Month: Crystal Reynolds

In the 21st century, thousands of married couples (including 25% of those age 35 and older) are classified as “infertile.”  When breast cancer interrupts fertility treatments, the words “Congratulations – you’re pregnant!” should be the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in a couple’s life.

 Unfortunately, many (first-time) pregnancies end in miscarriage. After becoming pregnant at age 45 yet miscarrying quadruplets, I wrote a 2,078 word article entitled, “The Other Side of Hope.” This article outlines my journey and struggle through in-vitro fertilization, subsequent pregnancy, and (unfortunate) miscarriage. Moreover, it illustrates how I utilized the same spiritual beliefs (developed during breast cancer treatment) to “survive” this experience, ultimately giving birth to a “miracle baby” at age 47.
I have been previously published in SEEK, Living, as well as
Here is Crystal’s Story:

The Other Side of Hope”

 “Did she forget me? I’ve been on ‘hold’ for so long.”

 It had been over five minutes since I’d telephoned the Fertility Center for my pregnancy test results. After turning 45 and waiting almost ten years (including recovering from Stage II breast cancer), my husband Vic and I were ready for some good news.

 Waiting over ten years can seem like forever when you want something bad enough. All we wanted was a healthy, happy baby.

 Finally, Lynn (the nurse) said, “I have your test results and congratulations. You’re pregnant!”

 I couldn’t believe it. “Are you sure?” I asked. “Your pregnancy (hormone) level is 107.8 – that’s pretty pregnant,” Lynn responded.

 I didn’t know whether to cry or breathe, but I thanked The Lord. At first, I said, “thank you” very softly. Then I started to cry, and I cried so much that I forgot to thank Lynn (and say goodbye).

 I knew they’d implanted four embryos so I shouldn’t have been surprised. But when you’ve waited so long to hear those words….

In my family, we usually don’t reveal “pregnancy news” until after the first trimester. But Vic and I were so excited we began telling everyone, even long-distance relatives in Oregon. Christmas was nine days away and I felt a double dose of joy for I could celebrate the birth of Christ as well as my children’s upcoming births next August. We mailed my in-laws’ Christmas gifts with a pair of baby socks, including a note that read, “Here are four special gifts for 2006.” My mother-in-law called asking, “Do I have to move back from Florida to help you care for these quadruplets?” I told her it was voluntary. But being that my mother was deceased, I looked forward to her presence. Vic brought up the Christmas tree and I started putting it up without him. For two years, we’d placed two “faith gifts” (baby outfits) under it. Now, our faith had been rewarded and I thought, “This time next year, I’ll have 4 special ‘gifts’ of my own.”

 On Christmas Eve, I sang a solo during Candlelight service. I was tired, but ecstatic. Although I was considered a “high risk” due to my age, I was too happy to worry incessantly. After all, I’d survived Stage II breast cancer four years before getting pregnant. I decided that if I could survive chemotherapy, then I could endure pregnancy’s side effects. God delivered me from cancer; surely He’d see me through this pregnancy.

 Before getting pregnant, I worried that I wouldn’t have much maternal instinct. That was unfounded, for every activity became a major decision based on what was best for my babies. It took an hour to decide what to eat for breakfast. I took a daily nap around 3:00 p.m. and guarded my pre-natal vitamins like the Secret Service guards the President. Although a singer, I generally don’t sing around the house. However, that changed during pregnancy, too. I sang hymns, anthems, ballads, and everything else I thought appropriate for their developing ears. Something told me they liked my voice! The first time I coughed, I panicked. My sister Carla (a registered nurse) reminded me, “They’re firmly embedded. Don’t worry, they aren’t going anywhere.”

 We’d read that as of 2005, it costs over $200,000 to raise and educate a child (including college). Multiply that times four, and we were looking at a huge, expensive investment. However, what could be better than investing in one’s children? Vic and I (as college graduates) decided to watch our children carefully, and trust God to show us which one(s) should attend college immediately after high school, or (perhaps) pursue other productive vocations.

 The laboratory drew my blood every two days. At first, the pregnancy hormone (HCG) increased. Multiple pregnancies are risky and I’d already reconciled that if we ended up with only twins or triplets, it would be okay.

 But by New Year’s Day 2006, the pregnancy level began dropping, and kept decreasing with each subsequent blood drawing. We had a house full of family and friends. No one knew I was pregnant – we’d planned it as a big surprise. But the surprise was on us. Our guests were in the living room talking and laughing. We were on the phone with Lynn in the TV room, feeling devastated. Our dream was coming to a screeching halt. Lynn said that the pregnancy was “not viable” and to discontinue the support medications. “You don’t understand,” I cried, “I’ve come too far to lose these babies!” We came out of the family room, told our family and friends the news, and had prayer. Carla and Lydia (Vic’s sister) took over as hostesses, and I lied down.

 We called our Godmother (in Kansas). “Maybe one embryo will hold on,” she said. “Don’t give up. As long as you don’t begin to miscarry, you mustn’t give up.” Everyone who loved us began praying (and/or fasting) for a miracle. Our Pastor prayed that we would accept God’s will for our lives with courage and faith, trusting Him to provide our needs during our experience. I rested more. Vic said, “I won’t give up. Miracles do happen.” I tried to believe it, too. So long as I saw no signs of a miscarriage, I held on to hope. We even continued the support medications “just in case.”

 But by Tuesday evening, January 10th, 2006, I began cramping and spotting. Vic came in from work and found me in the bedroom, singing. My babies were returning to The Lord. Spiritually, I was not afraid. My human side, however, feared that they wouldn’t understand what was happening and I was their mother. I had to help them. Yet, all I could offer was a song. So I sang, hoping they’d hear my voice and return to The Lord without fear. I held my abdomen, and sang as sweetly as I could. In between, I told my babies how much I loved them, and prayed that God would take them back where I knew they’d be safe. Vic held me, and we began praying together.

 Physically, my babies were dying. In the 21st century, few women in the US die from a miscarriage but that night, I felt like dying too.

Six long, arduous, heart-breaking days passed. The following week, we anxiously met with the fertility specialist. I was in pain, but emotionally numb and spiritually disconnected. We asked sixteen questions and to my utter dismay, the specialist couldn’t explain what happened. “No one has the answers you want to hear or would make sense you to right now” he said. “The good news is: we don’t see any reason why you cannot attempt another invitro-fertilization, and carry a baby to term.”

 To me, there was no “good news.” I’d miscarried, and felt like my life was over. Every day, Vic and Carla held me as I cried. When Vic wasn’t home, Carla held me and whenever possible, she held us both. I couldn’t eat and for days, all I did was pray, sleep, cry, sleep, pray, etc. I never contemplated suicide, but I didn’t want to live, either. Regardless of anyone’s intervention, encouragement, prayers, etc., nothing helped. I knew people loved me, but….

 How could God do this to us? Why would He answer our prayer, hear our praises, only to snatch the blessing away from us after only a few weeks? How could He distance Himself from us now that we needed Him the most?

 The next ten days seemed like ten months. Vic grieved as much as I did, yet I felt isolated and I even offered him a divorce, thinking he’d be better off with someone else. He vehemently refused. I took a leave of absence from two choirs, explaining that I couldn’t sing God’s praises without feeling like a hypocrite; there was no joy in my heart, so how could I sing?

We saw our Pastor the following week and I stood there, anxiously awaited any encouraging words he could render. Pastor Buffalo said that he had no “pat answer(s)” for our situation. However, he reminded us that happiness is often a fleeting, human emotion whereas God’s joy is spiritual, substantive, and long lasting. I admitted that I couldn’t feel God’s presence (even during worship) let alone anything close to joy. Pastor encouraged me to participate in the worship service anyway, even if I only read the Scripture. “Remember” he said, “Sometimes God has to take us throughsomething in order to get us to something better.”If God has something better, I can’t see it, or anything else. What’s better than carrying four babies at once?” I wondered. “Likewise, what’s worse than losing all four at once?”

 My post-miscarriage depression continued for weeks, to the point where Carla suggested that I see a therapist. Ron (an old family friend) tried to comfort me, saying that we never fully understand or accept misfortune. But he didn’t stop there; he added that God’s presence sustains as well as comforts a believer through a difficult experience.

 But it seemed like I’d never fully get out of this “rut” I was in. Then about six weeks later, I was listening to the radio and before I knew it, singing along to a coffee commercial. Later that evening, I laughed at an e-mail joke from a good friend. Two days later, I stopped by a local florist and found myself holding and playing with the florist’s three-month old daughter. I can’t tell you exactly how long I “talked” to the baby, but the quality of time meant more than the hours and minutes.

I vividly remember hearing the news of my impending miscarriage (January 1, 2006 at 4:00 p.m.), when it actually began (January 10th, 2006 at 9:30 p.m.), how long it lasted (6 days), and how depressed and downtrodden I felt. But I cannot tell you exactly when I began getting over it.

 In Psalm 71:1-4, we find the Psalmist praying for refuge and safekeeping. But he immediately adds (in verses 5-7):

”For You have been my hope, oh Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth. From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you. I have become like a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge.”

He goes on to say (in verses 19-21):

“Who, O God is like you? Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again, from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again.”

 God took my miscarriage (a negative experience) and made me a more positive person. He increased my faith, too. Perhaps each tear and heartfelt pain helped me realize that God could not only sustain but also bless me through this tragic event. I became stronger, and faced my future with even more courage and determination than before.

 To date, I have a personal testimony drawn from Psalm 40:1-5:

“I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in The Lord. Blessed is the man who makes The Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Many, Oh Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them they would be too many to declare.”

 My friend Doug (who’s youngest son battles a chronic illness) told me to “Let the tears fall, empty the heart, and God will replace the pain with a greater blessing.” I tried it, and discovered that he was right (in more ways than one!)

 In April 2008 I gave birth (at age 47) to a handsome, healthy baby boy which we named Carrington. Carrington’s name means “village,” and as we had a “village” of friends and family praying for his safe arrival, it fits him perfectly. I spent his first Christmas gently distracting him from crawling towards the Christmas tree. Now a toddler, he’s intelligent, inquisitive, happy, and has the sweetest pair of brown eyes imaginable. Time flies as we enjoy our “song time,” reading sessions, or playing in the TV room.

Maybe one day I’ll fully understand why I lost Carrington’s four siblings, maybe not. Deep down, I’ll always love all my children, who taught me something about this concept called “hope.” It’s actually two-sided. One side may be weak and heartbroken from an unexpected event resulting in despair and misfortune. But the other side holds increased faith, determination, and a promising future. In our case, it held our beautiful baby boy. I didn’t know, but God knew what He had in store for me so He stood there, and waited patiently for me to find the other side, step out, and cross over. It seemed impossible at first but with His help, I made it. One day (when Carrington’s older), I’ll pass this lesson on to him, a lesson I learned from his older siblings. Something tells me they would like that.

Author: Crystal D. Reynolds

Inspirational Woman Of The Day: Zaha Hadid

Zaha Hadid was born in 1950 in Baghdad, Iraq. She received a degree in mathematics from the American University of Beirut before moving to study at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London.

After graduating she worked with her former teachers, Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, becoming a partner in 1977. During the 1980s she also taught at the Architectural Association. A winner of many international competitions, theoretically influential and groundbreaking, a number of Hadid‘s winning designs were initially never built: notably, The Peak Club in Hong Kong (1983) and the Cardiff Bay Opera House in Wales (1994). In 2002 Hadid won the international design competition to design Singapore’s one-north masterplan. In 2005, her design won the competition for the new city casino of Basel, Switzerland. In 2004 Hadid became the first female recipient of the Pritzker ArchitecturePrize, architecture‘s equivalent of the Nobel Prize. Previously, she had been awarded a CBE for services to architecture. She is a member of the editorial board of the Encyclopædia Britannica. In 2006, Hadid was honored with a retrospective spanning her entire work at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. In that year she also received an Honorary Degree from the American University of Beirut.
Zaha Hadid’s architectural design firm – Zaha Hadid Architects – is over 350 people strong, headquartered in a Victorian former school building in Clerkenwell, London.
In 2008, she ranked 69th on the Forbes list of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women”. On 2 January 2009, she was the guest editor of the BBC’s flagship morning radio news programme, Today.
 In 2010 she was named by Time magazine as influential thinker in the 2010 TIME 100 issue.  In September 2010, The British magazine New Statesman listed Zaha Hadid at number 42 in their annual survey of “The World’s 50 Most Influential Figures 2010”.
She won the 2010 Stirling Prize for one of her most celebrated work, the Maxxi in Rome.
Hadid is the designer of the Dongdaemun Design Plaza & Park in Seoul, South Korea, which is expected to be the centerpiece of the festivities for the city’s designation as World Design Capital 2010. In 2009, she worked with the clothing brand Lacoste, to create a new, high fashion, and advanced boot. In the same year, she also collaborated with the brassware manufacturer Triflow Concepts to produce two new designs in her signature parametric architectural style. Her unique contributions to brassware design and other fields continue to push the boundaries of innovation.
 In 2007,  Zaha Hadid designed the Moon System Sofa for leading Italian furniture manufacturer B&B Italia.
Completed projects of Zaha Hadid
  • Vitra Fire Station (1994), Weil am Rhein, Germany
  • Hoenheim-North Terminus & Car Park (2001), Hoenheim, France. Project architect: Stephane Hof
  • Bergisel Ski Jump (2002), Innsbruck, Austria
  • Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art (2003), Cincinnati, Ohio
  • BMW Central Building (2005), Leipzig, Germany
  • Ordrupgaard annexe (2005), Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Phaeno Science Center (2005), Wolfsburg, Germany
  • Maggie’s Centres at the Victoria Hospital (2006), Kirkcaldy, Scotland
  • Tondonia Winery Pavilion (2001–2006), Haro, Spain
  • Eleftheria square redesign (2007), Nicosia, Cyprus
  • Hungerburgbahn new stations (2007), Innsbruck, Austria
  • Chanel Mobile Art Pavilion (Worldwide) Tokyo, Hong Kong, New York, London, Paris, Moscow, (2006–2008)
  • Bridge Pavilion (2008), Zaragoza, Spain
  • J. S. Bach Pavilion, Manchester International Festival (2009), Manchester, UK
  • CMA CGM Tower (2007–2010), Marseille, France
  • Pierres vives (2002–2012), Montpellier, France. Project architect: Stephane Hof
  • MAXXI – National Museum of the 21st Century Arts (1998–2010), Rome, Italy. Stirling Prize 2010 winner.
  • Guangzhou Opera House (2010), Guangzhou, People’s Republic of China

Women’s Health: Women who drink alcohol in moderation may protect against rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis

By Ryan Jaslow

(CBS News) Two new studies show a bit of alcohol each week might just stave off two painful conditions some women face: rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis.

Study: Men who drink two beers a day less likely to die after a heart attack
14 “facts” about drinking: Are you misinformed?

The first of the studies, from the July 10 issue of the British Medical Journal, looked at more than 34,000 older Swedish women who were born between 1914 and 1948. Researchers collected data on the women’s drinking habits twice during the study, once in 1987 and 1997, and then followed up with them through 2009 when their ages ranged from 54 to 89 years old.

Throughout the study, about 200 of the women developed rheumatoid arthritis. Further analysis revealed that women who drank more than three glasses of alcohol per week were 52 percent less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, compared with women who said they drank no alcohol.

The risk reduction was the same whether women were drinking beer, wine or liquor.

“This study adds more fuel to the fire regarding the beneficial effects of alcohol,” Dr. Martin Jan Bergman, a clinical associate professor of medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, told HealthDay.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue, causing inflammation around the joints and surrounding tissues, according to the National Institutes of Health. That can result in pain, stiffness, fatigue or eventually affect other organs and cause symptoms such as chest pain, eye burning or itching, sleep difficulties or numbness and tingling.

The researchers think the protective effect is explained by alcohol’s ability to lower the body’s immune system response.

The other study, published in the July 11 issue of the journal Menopause found women who drank one or two drinks each day, several times a week, were less likely to experience bone loss.

Bones are constantly remodeled as old bone is removed and replaced, and in the case of people with oseteoporosis, more bone is lost than reformed, resulting in weaker porous bones. According to the Oregon State University researchers behind the study, 80 percent of people with osteoporosis are women. They’re especially at risk after menopause because of a decrease in the hormone estrogen which helps balance bone remodeling.

The researchers looked at 40 early postmenopausal women who regularly had one or two drinks each day but weren’t on hormone replacement therapies and had no history or osteoporosis bone fractures.

Participants were asked to stop drinking for two weeks, and the researchers saw evidence of more bone turnover, which is a risk factor for osteoporosis. But the researchers were surprised to see that when the subjects resumed their normal drinking habits, the bone turnover rates returned to previous levels – within less than a day.

“Drinking moderately as part of a healthy lifestyle that includes a good diet and exercise may be beneficial for bone health, especially in postmenopausal women,” study author Dr. Urszula Iwaniec, associate professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at OSU, said in a press release. “After less than 24 hours to see such a measurable effect was really unexpected.”

However, Iwaniec warned to WebMD that the key here is the women drank moderately.

“Excessive drinking is bad for your bones,” she said.

Other studies have tied moderate drinking to health benefits in women, including a reduced risk for stroke and a better likelihood for “successful aging” with fewer chronic diseases or mental and physical problems.

Binge drinking – having four or five drinks in a about two hours – raises the risk for health problems such as high blood pressure, liver disease, alcohol poisonings, STDs or violent or unintentional injuries.

A Message From The Creator

Self-worth comes from one thing – thinking that you are worthy.

Inspiration Of Motherhood: 14 moms sue LA schools in child abuse case

By Jonathan Lloyd,

Attorneys representing 14 mothers of students at Miramonte Elementary School announced Tuesday the filing of a lawsuit that alleges the school district did not protect their children from a teacher accused of lewd acts involving children.

The lawsuit claims the Los Angeles Unified School District was negligent in the case of former teacher Mark Berndt, charged with lewd acts involving at least 20 children at the school.

Berndt was arrested in January.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday morning, claims the children were sexually abused by Berndt between 2002 and 2011, and that the LAUSD “was negligent and did not protect their children from sexual abuses; and that the Los Angeles Unified School District completely ignored previous complaints,” according to a statement from attorney Luis A. Carrillo.

“Fourteen moms have suffered anguish and emotional distress as a result of what their children went through,” Carrillo said Tuesday.

None of the plaintiffs were aware of Berndt’s alleged activities, Carrillo added.

David Holmquist, LAUSD General Counsel, issued a statement Tuesday morning regarding the lawsuit: “The safety and well-being of our students, staff and the entire Los Angeles Unified School District community is our paramount priority. The District is committed to working with the Miramonte community and everyone impacted by these incidents to improve trust and promote healing. While the District has yet to receive the latest complaint, we are continuing our efforts to ensure that we are doing everything possible to provide a safe learning and working environment for our students and staff.

“As we gear up for the new school year, we look forward to continuing the healing process as we welcome back the teachers and staff, who were displaced during last year’s investigation into these incidents, to Miramonte and other campuses. We recognize how difficult the past year was on the entire Miramonte community, and are moving forward together.”

In May, parents of about a dozen ex-Miramonte Elementary students filed another lawsuit against the school district. That complaint alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress. timeline: Miramonte school sex abuse scandal

A similar complaint was filed earlier that month on behalf of 20 former students at the school.

The charges against Berndt involve 23 children who were 7 to 10 years old. His arrest stemmed from an investigation that began after a film processor — mandated by state law to report child abuse — provided photos to sheriff’s deputies.

Some of the photos depicted children with blindfolds over their eyes, cockroaches on their faces and a blue plastic spoon held to their mouths. Some pictures showed Berndt with his arm around the children or his hand over their  mouths, according to investigators.

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Detectives found a blue plastic spoon and an empty container in a trash bin in Berndt’s classroom, according to the sheriff’s department. Both items tested positive for semen, and DNA testing matched it to Berndt, according to authorities.

Deputies recovered more than 100 similar photos at Berndt’s home, according to investigators. The film processor later discovered more photos.

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Berndt was suspended without pay in February 2011 and allowed to resign in June 2011 after a $40,000 settlement with the LAUSD.

Berndt pleaded not guilty.

His arrest was followed by another Miramonte Elementary teacher and the dismissal of the entire school staff. Martin Bernard Springer is charged with three felony counts of lewd acts upon a child under the age of 14.

The cases led to legislation designed to expedite the disciplinary review process for teachers accused of sexual abuse. That bill failed to clear the Assembly Education Committee last month.

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