Tuesday, January 13, 2015

It's the Little Things

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
~ Joshua 1:9 (ESV)
I've known for a long time that my number one love language is words of encouragement.  It goes beyond the "good job," or "you're awesome" or beautiful or whatever [insert uplifting word here].  No, for me it's the questions about everyday life.  It's more than the "how are you?" and more like, "how are the wedding plans going?" (at least in this season).  Or even the "how'd your test go?"  It's remembering the specifics of what I shared with an individual and then the follow up that comes after.  It's knowing that someone is not just hearing what you say, but that they are listening to what you say. 
From my fiancé it's the little notes that he leaves hidden in my apartment when he comes over to hang out.  My most recent treasure I found in my coffee maker :)  He knows me because he's taken the time.  Words of encouragement are not his love language, but he goes out of his way to feed mine because he knows the joy it brings to my heart.
In my job it's hearing back from a patient the feedback or encouragement I may have given them in a session and getting to hear how it may have helped.  I don't say that to brag about my ability as a counselor, in fact it's not by any ability of my own whatsoever.  In those moments there's an immediate "praise God!"  For it is by Christ who strengthens me that I'm able to do anything at all (Philippians 4:13).
In the last 24 hours my words of encouragement have come thru my boss who relayed positive feedback I had shared with a patient.  Feedback that as she let it sink in she found that her nightmares subsided.  Again, nothing I did, but rather a peace I've found in Jesus Christ who strengthens me daily in my ability to serve as a counselor.  It came from a co-worker asking me how my medical test that I was extremely anxious about went last week, and from another co-worker who asked about the details of my upcoming wedding.
For me, words of encouragement comes by showing interest and remembering what was shared.  I try to use that in my profession, to remember that each person who comes into my office seeking help is a person who just wants to be known.  There's something sweet about being known... and others wanting to ask so that they may know you.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Currently Loving... The Engaged Version

It's been a cloudy, rainy morning in my neck of the woods today.  Most of the time I love weather like this, but I recognized today my heart was not in it.  And so rather than getting sucked into the abyss that is sometimes dark and depressing, I opted to write about ALL the things I'm LOVING in this season of life...
  • My fiancé and the 18+ months of love, laughter, blessings, and adventure he's brought into my life!
  • Albert George, the ever mischievous and curious kitty
  • An office with windows where I can see the outside world
  • Working alongside an incredible group of providers and clinicians who bring me joy and encouragement on a daily basis
  • An incredibly wonderful and beautiful friend who despite living 5000 miles away still helped me find my wedding shoes :)
  • Becoming an aunt again in Spring 2015
  • Daily conversations where I'm convinced I learn more from my patients than they do from me
  • Outspoken hearts that open the door for me to share my faith in the midst of what I do
  • The peace of God which surpasses any and all of my human understanding
  • A church family that provides a ministry for my fiancé and I to become equipped in preparing for marriage
  • Knowing that my fiancé is going to make an INCREDIBLE uncle to my nieces and nephews who've captured my heart all these years
  • God working out the junk in me so that I can be the wife He's designed me to be
  • How well my fiancé knows me and loves me
  • Prayer... anytime, any place
  • That even when I'm anxious or freaking out about something, God's got it all under control

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Happy Birthday Billy!

My Sweet Nephew,

Today would've been your 7th birthday here with us.  When my busy brain slows down and I think about all the things you'd be doing right now I miss you that much more.  But then...God reminds me that another birthday passing means another year closer to seeing you and holding you again.  When I miss you, I pray that my vision of Heaven would increase, and my grief, my confusion about what happened would greatly decrease.

Billy you'd be in 1st grade, most likely in the same school as your big sister and little brother.  When I look at your sister and brothers I am filled with such joy and peace that God has graced upon your family in the midst of such great loss.  You are the piece that is missing, but God fills that void with such peace and patience as we await our call home to Heaven.  Yesterday was Halloween, your big sister went as Olaf, a funny snowman from a Disney movie (you would've loved him, just like she does).  Nathan went as a cowboy, the most handsome cowboy I've ever seen.  And Jared was a football player, a Denver Bronco to be exact.  Your brothers LOVE football, and are constantly playing.  There are a lot of Denver Broncos vs. Dallas Cowboys games in your home.  And one of the coolest things to watch is how your baby brother, Jared is learning his phonics and finds similar sounding football teams to Denver Broncos...he's teaching me a lot ;-)

Guess what else has happened recently... I'm getting married!  You would've loved Quentin, and he would've loved you.  It's hard knowing that you won't be there celebrating with us when our special day arrives.  But yet, we know you'll have a front row seat with many of our other loved ones who won't be there either.  Sometimes I wish I could understand God's purpose in taking you home so early, but then I wonder what I'd miss out on or lessons lost if I did understand.  God's pretty good about teaching us patience and trust, isn't he?

I love you bug, and I LOVE being your aunt.  You are missed, but I continue to trust God for all that He has planned in the midst of having lost you.  Happiest of Birthdays B!

Aunt Cristyn

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Grief sucks... I tried to think of a better way to open up this post, but truly I've got nothing else.  Grief is uncomfortable, often times completely unexpected, and hard.  There's no time frame for it, in fact, often times it starts when we least expect it and continues for an indefinite amount of time.  And there are not many people that know what to say or do in times of grief.  Despite having faced my own unexpected grief in life, when the tables are turned and someone is in need during their time of mourning I struggle to know how to love them well.  I sometimes wrestle with my own confusion, not able to wrap my mind around the purpose or plan behind the loss has occurred.

You see, just over 5 months ago my family (or soon to be family) lost a great man.  My future father-in-law became very sick one morning and by that afternoon he was dancing and singing in the presence of our King.  It's been a journey of more questions than answers, and having the privilege of encouraging the man that I love (and who will soon be my husband) that it's okay to feel whatever he's feeling.  It's OKAY to cry, it's OKAY to get angry, it's OKAY to miss someone you love being here on earth with you all the while knowing they are in a better place with God.  Some days I think grief should be easier for me because of what I do each day, but then I remember I too am human, there are no powers that protect me from the wave of emotions of grieving.  Praise God for that, despite the discomfort I find that so much strength and faith comes out of allowing myself just to mourn sometimes.

In addition to losing my future father-in-law, my fiance's family faced another loss in the last week. A close family friend, a man considered to be like a second father to my fiance was killed in a tragic accident.  Nearly 5 months to the day of losing his dad, my guy faced the loss of another man that he truly admired, and without warning.  I think sometimes what makes grief the hardest is watching the people you love grieve, and knowing that they have to, they have to face the waves of emotions and find comfort in the fact that God's plans are better than anything we could ever imagine.

As hard as it was some days enduring the unexpected loss my family faced 6 1/2 years ago, I can see how God has used that to be able to love and comfort my fiance through this time.  I see how my sister, who lost her baby has been able to encourage my guy, and the comfort he has in being open with her about his own grief.  Despite grief being hard, I think the most beautiful product from it is how God intertwines lives and experiences to encourage each other, to love one another, even if it's a complete stranger.

Another man was hurt in that same accident that took the life of my fiance's family friend.  He is facing a long road to recovery, and one of the most beautiful things I've seen come out of this situation is the love and support for this man.  The family that lost their husband, their father, their grandfather has set up a way to help this man as he journeys thru his own recovery.  Please consider giving to the Townsend family, although you may know nothing about this man or this situation, if you have faced a journey with grief consider this as being a way you can "pay it forward."  A way you can give knowing how difficult it can be going through the motions of mourning.


The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. ~ Psalm 34:18

Monday, May 26, 2014

Trust and Hope

Trust: belief that someone or something is reliable, good, effective, honest, etc. (courtesy Merriam-Webster Dictionary online)

Hope: to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true (courtesy Merriam-Webster Dictionary online)

Listed above are two words that I've found myself grasping tightly to in this year, 2014.  "Trust" came through time spent with God and prayerfulness as 2013 was winding down and 2014 was on the horizon.  Here we are and the sun is just about to peak over this year and I find myself adding another word to the list..."Hope."  While Merriam-Webster is very helpful in giving me the English language definition of trust and hope, I have become intrigued to find what God says in His word about both trust and hope.

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.  Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal." ~ Isaiah 26:3-4 (NIV)

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." ~ Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

"In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name." ~ Psalm 33:21 (NIV)

I realized in my time with the Lord as my heart was preparing for all the excitement and unexpectedness that comes with one year ending and another beginning that there is a constant theme of desperately trying to depend on my own ability.  That I am not leaning into and trusting the Lord for the things he desires for me to trust in him for, I do not live out Proverbs 3:5-6 as much as I'd like to think that I do.  So then the question I had to ask myself is "why not trust the Lord?  What is your fear?"  And I find that it all goes back to feeling out of control and believing in some warped sense that I can control things.  HA!! Praise God that he has been gentle with me as I come to terms with my inability and grasping onto how truly able He is!  For me trust has truly been a gentle word, a word of peace over my life.  As I let go of the things I'm trusting myself to accomplish/complete, and turn it over to God I am better able to see His work in my life and those around me.  My heart is grateful for my insufficiencies and that He is truly sufficient enough (2 Corinthians 3:5).

Now with nearly half the year complete I've been in the book of Romans for the last 6 weeks or so and focusing on chapter 8, one verse at a time.  Tonight, through meditating on God's word, prayer, and worship I broke down Romans 8:24-25 realizing the significance of the word "hope" with where I am right now.

"For in this hope we were saved.   But hope that is seen is no hope at all.  Who hopes for what they already have?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."
~ Romans 8:24-25 (NIV)

And then through my study on scripture of "trust" I realized how closely connected both "hope" and "trust" are throughout God's word.  The connection for me has been that as I trust in the Lord, I find that my patience for that in which I hope deepens...lengthens.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." ~ Romans 15:13 (NIV)

I even found where hope sandwiched trust in Psalm 33....

"We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.  In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.  May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you."
~ Psalm 33:20-22 (NIV)

The Lord has spoken as I've sought him...what words is he speaking to you?  What theme do you find running in your season of 2014?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Gentlemen...This Blog's for You!

As I was getting my self primped and ready for work this morning one of my favorite songs came on my itunes playlist.  For me it's one of those songs that I've used, ever since it was released, to pump me up and encourage myself.  Even at 32 I have my moments where my self-esteem is less than stellar, and through my posts, you can catch up on another time I've shared on self-esteem and inner beauty (Strip Me... What Will You Find?).  But I digress, for today's inspired blog comes not just from this song, but as my mind started to wander and I found myself contemplating why there's not as much focus on encouraging men in the same way.  Now, I could be completely off base, there may be 5000+ bloggers out there purely dedicated to boosting the self-esteem of me, but I cannot help but wonder, how many of them may bring God into the mix.

Let me give you a small taste of the song that inspired me this morning...

He's on the edge of giving up tonight
He's feelin' like he's wasted the best days of his life
Afraid he'll never be the man he thought that he could be
When he looks inside he's so ashamed of who he sees*

I cannot help but wonder how many guys feel this way when they look at themselves, or think back on decisions they've made in their lives or are in the midst of making?  I know men and women are different, I'm not so naive to completely miss that.  But are we really that different when it comes to struggling with our self-esteem.  Let's be honest though, in a crowded room of men and women, you're more likely to see women raise their hand when answering the question, "who here struggles with self-esteem?".  But being that I have two older brothers, a brother-in-law, a father, and a boyfriend...I wonder what's my role in encouraging them when they are discouraged with how they see themselves? How can I help boost in them all the great and wonderful things that I see in them?  

For starters, we gotta be consistent in prayer...trusting God's hand in it and not trying to do it by our own will and strength.  The truth is, each individual person is created and identified by God, not me, not anyone else...so why would we or how could we depend on our own selves to define ourselves or anyone else for that matter?  Quite frankly, left to our own will we'd continue to change and rework everything on the outside to find a definition of self, for God's word says:
"'For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.'" - 1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV)

This is such a tough verse for me to remember, and not just in how I interact with others, but with how much pressure I place on myself to encourage and edify the men in my life that I love and care so deeply for.  So, in the same way I have to look to God's word to identify and describe me, I also have to dig deep into His word to trust in encouraging the men in my life.  For when I look at those 5 men (and the 4 little men growing up behind them) what I see is their heart, not what's presented to me on the outside.  

Honestly, this is not one of those super deep/rocket science type blogs.  It's pretty straight forward and simple.  My final say on this particular topic is especially for those women with a significant other (boyfriend, fiance, husband) in which I remind you as the women these men trust with their hearts, we are called to pray and lift them up to the Lord.  I truly believe that as we are obedient to that the result is this...

"The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.  She does him good, and not harm,     all the days of her life." - Proverbs 31:11-12 (ESV)

*Mark Schultz - Father's Eyes

Friday, November 29, 2013

Reinventing Eve

"Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper who is just right for him.'" - Genesis 2:18 (NLT)

It is in that verse that we come to find out the reasoning for Eve, for God did not believe it best for Adam to be alone.  Although there were animals in which Adam was given the responsibility for naming, God still did not find the "right" helper for him... and thus we received Eve, Adam's helpmate. Even the unchurched and unbelievers know what happens next as Adam and Eve were given a lush place to live, as well as enjoying a perfect relationship with God and with one another.  Adam and Eve sinned, and thus began the world we live in now.  Being a woman created in the image of God I obviously most related to Eve and find it difficult to see things from Adam's perspective.  Both Adam and Eve had responsibilities to own up to in the Garden, but my focus in writing is from a female perspective, after all...I am a female.

After reading through the first few chapters of Genesis and digging deep into the creation of the world and the fall of man, I find how God is showing me the process of reinventing Eve in modern times so that women today (and men as well) do not continue to live a life of sin.  My study bible in which I seek God's word is The Life Recovery Bible.  I utilize this Bible as I continue to work through my own recovery, a process that I believe will be lifelong.  Not because I don't believe God won't heal me, but because I trust Him more than myself to guide me through this life.  All that to say, by studying the creation of man and the fall of man I learned that God painted a picture for us of true love and commitment, as well as the first illustration of His grace.  After reading through the mistakes and weaknesses of Eve, I realize that I too fit those listed.

  • Disobedient to God's plan revealed to her... check
  • Not taking responsibility for her own sin... check
  • Made excuses, rather than admitting the truth... check
  • Her actions brought sin into the world... my actions may cause others to sin :(
So how in this world is God reinventing Eve?  I cannot speak for other women, but for me it looks like committing myself to a community of other single women, those that I can and agree to be transparent, vulnerable, and honest with regarding ALL areas of my life.  It also looks like me being honest with myself and another group of women I've committed to through a 12-step recovery program known as ReGeneration.  ReGeneration is "recovery in Christ when life is broken"... and boy how life is broken this side of Heaven.  Sunday afternoons are reserved for time with my Community Group, time spent with 5 other remarkable, God-fearing women who walk out their lives humbly, honestly, and selflessly.  Every Sunday from 2:30-4:30, the 6 of us meet as we learn how to reinvent Eve, to reinvent our lives through God's guidance, love, and grace.  We meet together because we know where any one of us stands alone it is that much more difficult to walk out what God is calling us to, what God asks of us.  On Monday evenings from 6:30-8:30 I confess to 10 other women my sin struggles and reveal what God is showing me through my own recovery process.  I learn from them truth, grace, love, and understanding of how to truly walk in recovery and humility.

Lessons learned from reading and studying God's word in the first few chapters of Genesis include, realizing a good marriage requires love and commitment, even in the midst of tough times.  When relationships accept God's grace and forgiveness, then they will persevere through life's difficulties.  The more complacent we become we breed ground for temptation and become less aware of Satan's schemes against us.  

I am weak, I am a sinner, I am prideful and selfish.  I struggle with admitting that I struggle with self-righteousness and believing that by following rules of this world or of my own decision then I am better than those who do not.  I see what Satan wants me to see daily, the ugliness of my sin.  However, I strive to see more than that and trust in the beauty that God created me with and intends for my life to exude.  My hope in reinventing Eve is that God will use what He is teaching me about myself to minister and to love others.  Not that I would be prideful or self-righteous in my own recovery, but that I would readily admit I am not perfect and it is only by God's grace that I may learn from my own mistakes and sin and turn away from them.  

I humbly pray to see a world where women come together to reinvent Eve the way God fully intended her to be, not the way the world portrays her to be or to have become.  I hope and I pray that Godly men would come forward and selflessly reinvent Adam.  The fall of man is how we got where we are today, but that doesn't mean we have to stay there.  God can and will equip each of us to humbly walk in the way He designs us to, if we would only trust His plan and His grace for our lives.

"Then God said, 'Let us make human beings in our image, to be like ourselves.  They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.' So God created human beings in his own image.  In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." - Genesis 1:26-27 (NLT)