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Stepping out of the safe zone

The last 12 months have been all about stepping outside of my comfort zone… writing and marketing a book, recording an audiobook, speaking in public, being interviewed for radio shows, appearing on national TV (live!). There are so many things I’ve done in the last year that five years ago I never would have thought I could possibly do.

For many people, these are small things. After all, there are hundreds of thousands of people doing stuff on a much, much larger scale all the time. But for a once-shy person like me who got nervous just to go to church or some other event with people I knew well, these are milestone things.

I read Crazy Love last year and committed to the Lord that I would step out and do whatever He called me to do–no matter what. I won’t tell you that any of this has been easy for me, because it hasn’t been. Truthfully, I’ve experienced tremendous fear and nerves time and again.

There are times when I’ve wanted to run away and hide and there are so many times when I’ve thought, “There is no way I can do X.” However, as I’ve stepped out in faith and asked God to hold me up when I felt incredibly unqualified, He has been so faithful.

And I echo what I read in yesterday’s Jesus Calling devotional:

“If you live your life too safely, you will never know the thrill of seeing [God] work through you.”

That’s definitely been the case for me. As I’ve gotten out of the safe zone, I’ve experienced God’s power and provision in my life like never before. It’s an awesome thing to be walking in His strength and might, because you know that your own strength and might would never be enough.

And this week, I’m once again stepping out of the “safe” zone. Tomorrow morning, my husband and I are boarding a plane bound for the Dominican Republic.

We’ll be traveling to visit two Child Survival Programs (one of which is the one we’ve “adopted” through your support of my book!) and we’ll also be visiting in the homes of some of the mothers who are a part of the program. In addition, we’ll be going to see some of the other projects Compassion has in the DR and attending a Leadership Development Program graduation.

We’re excited to have this opportunity, but I wouldn’t be completely honest if I pretended that I wasn’t somewhat apprehensive. You see, aside from the Love Like You Mean It Cruise, I’ve never traveled outside the U.S.

I’ve lived a safe and sheltered life. I’ve always had a roof over my head, food to eat, clothes to wear, and much more than most of the people in the DR could probably even fathom.

I know that the poverty and need I’m going to see this week will be far beyond what I’ve ever witness before. And I’m almost certain it is going to profoundly affect me in ways I can’t imagine right now.

But I know that it’s going to rock my world in a good way. And so I board the plane tomorrow, not knowing what lies ahead of us, but knowing that stepping out of the safe zone is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.

By the way, since you all were an integral part in why we’re taking this trip, I’ll be “bringing you along with me” by blogging a little about our experiences each day and sharing pictures of some of the things we see and people we meet.

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  1. Vickie says

    This is why I enjoy reading your blog, not only for saving money, but your willingness to try new things is very inspirational and I often take away lessons that I can apply to my own life after reading about your accomplishments. Thank-you for sharing.

    • says

      Stepping out of our comfort zone – that’s something that’s so difficult to do. I feel for you. Public speaking is a scary thing . . . some would say it’s their number one fear! Good for you following God’s leading in removing yourself from your comfort zone. We can all learn a lesson or two from you!

  2. Diane says

    Have a safe trip! I’m excited to see how God will use you as He already has and I’m sure He has many more great things in store for you. :)

  3. Carl Lassegue says

    I’m encouraged by your courage Crystal and I’m looking forward to reading how this trip affects your life.

  4. Jennifer says

    You will have an amazing time – experience deep lows, tremendous highs and feeling His love wrapping around you and everyone you’re with. I look forward to hearing about your experiences. If you’re anything like me, once you’ve done/seen it once, not only will you be changed but you’ll want to experience it again and again.

  5. says

    Nothing will broaden your horizons as much as traveling internationally. My first trip abroad was in high school to France with my French class. I was never the same again. To experience other cultures, other races, other religions, other viewpoints, etc. is to grow and learn. You will come to respect that not everyone sees thing the way that you do and it will teach you to be more tolerant of others. You will be forever changed, in a good way. Have a safe trip.

  6. says

    I’m so glad you’re going Crystal. It will be such a good experience. It does rather boggle ones mind to suddenly see how big the world actually is. And the people in other places are REAL, just like us.

    I’ll freely admit that I lost a lot of loyalty to the USA once I experienced some other equally beautiful places!

  7. says

    Traveling internationally will broaden your horizons beyond what you can imagine. To experience firsthand another culture, another race, another religion, and another point-of-view is to grow and learn. You will come away with a more tolerant understanding of others. Meeting others who are different than you will help you realize how small we really are in the world and that our experiences shape our views, but that there are many other views in this great, big world of ours. After living 30 years in Kansas and having never left the country, I think your eyes are going to be opened very wide indeed. Have a safe and wonderful trip.

  8. says

    My husband lived in the DR for 2 years and it affected him greatly. This will be an amazing trip for you and I hope you have an amazing experience with the people there!

  9. Marisa says

    I wish I could hug you good-bye. What an inspiration you are to this shy mom and wife. Thank you for allowing God to work through you in many ways. I enjoy your blog, and it has helped me save money, get organized, and become inspired to think outside my comfortable box. Best wishes to you as you embark on your adventure. Blessings to you and your family.


  10. Meghan says

    I agree! I love the US and I’m proud to be American, but there are SO many awesome places in this big wide world and so many different beliefs, ways of life, etc., that are RIGHT in their own ways! It truly saddens me that the majority of Americans don’t have passports and will never experience different cultures and countries. It’s so easy to think that the American way of life is the best and the only way, until you experience otherwise. I still think we do some things better than the other places I’ve visited, but I found a lot of things I like better abroad!

  11. Wendy Jahns says

    Praying for a safe trip and many blessings to you and your husband. Be safe and enjoy the authentic DR food.

  12. Deborah Freeman says

    This will be an amazing trip for you. I have gone to Haiti and will return this year. It can be a real eye opener. So proud of you for stepping out of your comfort zone. Prayer for a safe journey and for God to speak to you and through you!!

  13. Marie says

    Crystal I know that God will be with you and your husband but i will be praying. How long will you be gone? I feel like God is asking me to pray everyday for you at a specific time. I wouldn’t normally commit to everyday because of “the business of being mom to 3 and a husband gone every week” but I really am feeling led to.
    I know that you will shine the light of Jesus everywhere you step in the DR and that doors will be opened!! The HS will quicken your spirits when needed. I know that this will be an impactful experience not only for you but for those who meet you and the presence of Jesus you carry!!Blessings.

    • says

      We’ll be gone through Saturday late afternoon. Thank you so much for your kindness to pray; it means a LOT to me–especially with all you have on your plate!

      • Marie says

        I just put post it notes up in places I will see everyday to remind me! Covering you in prayer and also remembering to pray for your little ones as I know that can be hard too. I will be so excited to hear what happens. And if the Lord gives me anything really specific I will make sure to write it down and share with you.

  14. says

    Wow I am so excited for you! My first trip outside of the US was to the other half of the island you will be on: Haiti. Seeing those places first hand is one of the most important things that American Christians can do I think. My view of Jesus, material things, money, thankfulness and more were radically changed by stepping outside my comfort zone. I will be praying for your time in the DR and can’t wait to see what God does while you’re there!!

  15. Jessie says

    I am so excited for you! I was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in the US but I can tell you that Dominicans are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. We are warm and friendly and I believe your life will never be the same. This trip will show you what’s really important in life. Thank you for listening to God’s voice in trying to make a difference in someone else’s life. Have a blast and enjoy the food, culture, music and people in the Dominican Republic.
    God bless you and your family for what you’re doing,
    Jessie :)

  16. Shannon says

    This will be such an amazing experience for you. Not because of the poverty you will see, but the happiness that you will see on many faces of people who live this way!

    You will be forever changed after this experience! God will use you in ways that you never thought possible just because you are willing to step outside your comfort zone! This is what it means to truly trust Him and have faith in what you believe.

    I will be praying for you this week, as well as the people you come in contact with. Lives will be changed!

  17. Deb says

    My first missions trip was to Africa. . .be prepared to be blown away in every way. . . you’re about to see first hand how as American’s we really do live in a “bubble”. When i got off the airplane in Africa, my husband told me to “inhale my first breath of Africa air”. I’d encourage you to do the same. . . It’s an amazing feeling! God bless!

    • says

      So true. What you see in other countries stays with you forever.

      And yes to inhaling the air!! Every country has a different smell. Every now and then I’ll be walking around and some slight smell will hit me and I’m suddenly back in India for a moment.

  18. Beth says

    My husband and I just read a devotional about serving outside of our comfort zone. Your journey is so inspirational! I feel even more led to step outside my “world” to make a difference. You will be in my prayers this week.

  19. Lisa says

    We are on the same path!! I just finished Crazy Love with my small group and am re-reading Jesus Calling. Crazy Love was a “Heart” adventure and has gotten me and my husband to think about living with purpose and intention. And most of it is completely uncomfortable…at first. What a blessing! My hope is to do the same some day on a small mission when our children are old enough to join us, or even when they head off to college. Praying for safe travels for you!

  20. HJ says

    I’ve been to the 3rd world on a few occasions. You cannot even fathom some of what you will see, and it will sober the daylights out of you, even if you feel grounded… it will set you into a frame of mind. The first week I was back in the US, it was all I could do to stop shaking my head in public at how people acted/reacted to things in parking lots, grocery stores, whatever. God speed and good luck!

  21. says

    Crystal, you’re simply one of the most amazing women in the blogging world! Thank you for sharing your love and generosity with us all, and I’ll light a candle for your safety and your enlightenment tonight.

  22. Jen says

    I always thought I was the only person to get nervous to go to church. After the birth of my second child I had severe post pardum and ever since then Ive suffered from extreme anxiety. I have no friends and am too shy, scared and nervous to get involved in church or step out of my comfort zone. I pray God will take this from me, so I can step out of my comfort zone. Im sure your trip will be such a blessing to you :)

    • Kimber says

      Good luck, Jen. I too have struggled with anxiety and depression. I have found I would do best taking one tiny step at a time. I would set the timer for five minutes. A five minute walk with my kids … five minutes of cleaning … whatever. That was all I expected of myself. And pretty soon I found I could do more. Maybe you can start with making a goal to say hi to one person in the grocery store. Or just smile. Start small. You’ll get there :o) I don’t know you, but you will be in my prayers tonight.

    • Heather says

      Consider getting medical help. There are great resources out there for anxiety problems – some of which I am sure God has inspired people to develop.

  23. Stephanie M says

    I am from Haiti and Dominican republic is our neighbor. I am glad you are taking this trip and will be able to see another side of the world. I can guarantee you will be fine and it will open your mind like you would not have imagined ( not saying that you are closed minded at all). You will have a great experience. The people are so nice and welcoming. They are just truly happy with what they have. It is a blessing in itself. This summer, I am going back to Haiti. I love my country so much and am always glad to revisit my roots so I don’t forget where I come from. Enjoy your trip !!

  24. Pam says

    Just seeing the photo at the beginning of your blog brings back fond memories for me. I travelled to the Dominican Republic with a group of 13 other ladies in December 2010. Like you I was apprehensive, the only travel I had done outside of North America was to visit a resort in Cuba. My stay in DR was definitely not in a five-star resort, but it was an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world! The people of the Dominican will forever hold a special place in my heart. As hard as it was for me to give us the things that we take so forgranted like a hot shower and running hot water in the kitchen I would go back to the Dominican in a heartbeat! This trip will definitely change you, you will view the excess in the US in a whole different light when you return home.
    We visited two Compassion Schools and saw what an amazing difference these schools make. We also visited two other independent Christian schools and they too were doing an amazing job, but it was very evident that the Compassion Schools with their regular monthly support were so much better equipped to provide a good education for the children who attend their schools. We visited a large slum on the outside of Hato Mayor, called Chino. This was the poorest area I’ve ever seen and I will never forget it!
    I can’t wait to read your blog in the coming days to hear about your experiences.

  25. says

    Crystal, You and your husband will be in my prayers. Even when we are at our lowest here in the states what we have compared to others in the world is so far and above what they can imagine. I was onced told by one of my spiritual brothers from Chile, that even though we pray for them because they have nothing, they pray for us that have so much that we will not be swayed by material things. It was such an eye opening thought!

    To see that firsthand and be able to cherish the experience of meeting those whose lives you will be touching will be such an amazing experience. I can’t wait to be inspired by what you see and how it affects you (and us) :) Be safe!

  26. says

    This will certainly be a life-changing trip for you and Jesse! I’m so glad you’re taking us along, and I’ll be keeping you in my prayers. May God’s peace go with you and flow through you!

  27. Lynn says

    Bless you Crystal! May you and Jesse have a wonderful, safe and blessed trip. Thank you for doing what you do!

  28. Kimber says

    I feel like I’m watching something magical unfold. I am so thrilled to share this journey with you. You are an inspiration, Crystal.

  29. Debbie says

    Have a wonderful trip! It will be life-changing but you will be so blessed. The poverty will break your heart but you will also experience deep joy and love from the people, and especially the precious children. God’s blessings to you and your husband!

  30. Chelsea says

    I yearn to go to such places and watch God move. I’ve never been outside of the country either, but would love to go to such a place. Praying for your journey! You’ll do great :-)

  31. says

    As a current missionary, I am excited for you. We take people often to our ministry in India and it is amazing to see the change that comes over people when they step out of their comfort zone.
    BTW I love that quote. I am going to steal it as my quote of the day.
    Blessings on your trip. Praying for divine appointments for you!!!!

  32. Toni says

    I’m going to say a prayer for travel mercies right now (my dh works for an airline so I like to think God listens a little more closely, lol.) I’m excited for you, for how God will change your life in new and amazing ways. And I look forward to the updates (thank you for that).

  33. Laurie G says

    How totally awesome! You are so amazingly blessed to have this opportunity. I was teary-eyed reading about it as I cannot imagine what you will see and experience. I know seeing the children, the people and the poverty would affect me profoundly and my heart did a leap for you. I think you will feel overwhelming love and compassion as you experience this week.

    I am a little envious, but thrilled to get to see it vicariously through you! I also pray for a safe (and uneventful) physical trip for you there and back. It seems though that God is already working on your heart and touching you for these people, so I believe He will finish that work and break your heart for them. I don’t mean that in a cruel way, just the way that God brings us to that deep love we should have for others. I pray you will see them anew through the eyes of Christ.

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