Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Change in Perspective: Reflections on 2008

Change - verb - make or become different

Perspective -
- a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view; true understanding of the relative importance of things; a sense of proportion

It's not quite the new year, but I have been reflecting a lot on this last year and how through it all my perspective on life has changed dramatically and for the better. Things seem a lot more clear now and some of what I've come to realize makes sense, but then again hindsight is always 20/20, right? When this year started the only change I was looking to make was to start my graduate studies towards my masters in counseling...well, I did that, and God had other things in mind as well. My whole life was flipped upside down and one of my greatest fears became a reality on March 29 of this year. My world seemed to be crashing down around me and there was only so much I could do to keep it together (Praise God that He gives strength to the weak!). It was only the beginning and after a few more disappointing changes throughout the summer I realized how strong I truly am...not physically but Spiritually.

By no means do I have this all figured out, I'm not sure I ever will...but then again that was something I needed to learn through this storm. I'm still walking through it, I can't deny that...there are still times when I'd much rather hunker down and hide away in bed for a day. However, that is not truth and that is not going to keep me going. Through all the sadness, all the disappointment, and tremendous change of this year I've learned the truth behind Proverbs 17:17 "a friend loves at all times." I've seen my closest friends (and even some new ones) stick by through the times when I fell apart, through the good times, and most gratefully through the moments of temporary insanity. I've found a love to call my own, and a strength and a passion that I feel I'm starting to scratch the surface on. I'm starting to finally pave my own way, to find the things that make me stop and ask "why" instead of just taking things at face value. I'm learning the true depths of love in so many different aspects.

Is this what I planned for in 2008...of course not. Would I change some of the events that transpired...yes, if it were up to me (but it's not). Would I change how I responded to these changes, how I walked them out...absolutely not.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I'm not really sure where to start on this blog, all I know is that God is pressing upon my heart to write...out loud. I write a lot, it is a passion of mine, a hobby so to speak. Some days there are thoughts that stay behind closed doors within the privacy of my journal and then there are other days (like today) when it is something that needs to be said out loud to share with the world.

In Romans 5:2-5, Paul writes, "And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."

I have held onto, grasped, even clinged onto this verse with all that I have over the last few months. I have used it to not only encourage myself, but to encourage others as well. It is so beautiful and accurate and helps to make sense of even the darkest moments. I heard of two dear friends this week who have lost someone close to their hearts recently and it continues to change my perspective on my current season of life. I've been in such a funk that I wasn't even sure that God could snap me out of it...my faith was waining. But then when I hear about others, when I realize I've been so self focused instead of others focused my perspective changes. I start to look at all the simple/little things that bring so much joy to my heart instead of focusing on what has brought so much pain. The hope starts to shine through once again...

"Hope has a way of turning it's face to you just when you least expect it
you walk in a room you look out a window and something there leaves you breathless
you say to yourself it's been a while since I felt this but it feels like it might be hope"
~ Sara Groves "It Might Be Hope"

This chorus comes from a song that I've only recently heard in the last few months. It leaves such a vision of what I know God has for me. It leaves something deep in my heart, a reminder that I have not been forgotten or left behind. I share all this with you, all these random mumblings as I know there are others struggling...I've talked to them. There is hope and sometimes it takes believing in what is unseen, in dreaming big and laughing even when it hurts so much.

I leave with you tonight a list of what God has blessed me with, what He has reminded me of so much when all I want to do is hide away...I encourage you to make a list, and post it somewhere you'll see it and read it everyday...there is a light at the end of the tunnel and joy in the midst of pain.

The laughter and curiousity of a 2-year-old child, the joy and awareness of all that is new to a 1-year-old, the memory of a joyful baby boy and the joy of a miracle in the making. A career and a desire growing larger everyday. A burning passion to step outside of my comfort zone, to be used by the Lord to share what He has shared with me. An endless amount of questions because there is the knowledge of something more...beyond what is seen. Trusting, having faith that what has been placed in my heart will come to pass at the right time, in the right season. Knowing that with Him, nothing is impossible. Believing that what I have inside me is contagious, it's just a matter of overcoming fear and having a willingness to share. Knowing that He has planted in me a desire to dream BIG and to love with a never-ending and BIG LOVE!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Little Billy SIDS Support Official Launch

"And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." ~ Romans 5:2-5

This is a verse that my family and I have held tightly onto over the last 7 months, since the unexpected loss of my nephew, Billy. God has revealed so much of himself through the grieving process and as of yesterday the hope is starting to shine through. Yesterday, November 1, 2008 what would have been William Thomas Darnell, Jr's (Billy) 1st birthday became the day that his mommy and daddy, Cheryl and Bill Darnell launched their foundation in remembrance of his short life. Little Billy's SIDS Support can be found at www.littlebilly.org. This foundation developed from the unexpected and tragic loss of Billy at 5 months on March 29, 2008. As my family has worked through the grieving process there comes the realization that we are not the only ones that have suffered the loss of a little one to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). There are countless families who do not get the opportunity to say good-bye to their sweet baby for the only sign of this unexplainable syndrome is death.

Cheryl and Bill Darnell, through their grief and love for their son, have developed Little Billy's SIDS Support as a way to help other families who suffer the same kind of pain. This foundation exists to help with the financial demands that come with losing a child to SIDS (hospital bills, funeral costs, burial costs, etc), as well as giving families a connection to other families who have suffered the same kind of loss, connections to grief counseling/ministry, etc.

This is a cause very near and dear to my heart. Billy was not only my sister's son, but he was my nephew...one of my boys. I do hope if you do nothing else you will visit the website and read more about what this foundation is doing to help others, and maybe consider (if you are able) contributing in some way.

Thank you,
Cristyn : )

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Standing at the Line...

It's been a while since I've really sensed God moving in my life. I know He is up to something, I trust that, but when I hear His voice and a vision comes with it...those are the moments I long for. I often keep these visions hidden behind closed doors within the pages of my journal, but I felt a strong desire to share this one with you all (my readers) as I have a feeling there might be others in the same place in their relationship with the Lord.

As I've been praying through this season and asking God to speak to me, to show me the next step He has blessed with an incredible vision, one in which I have yet to walk through. There is a line that has been drawn in the sand, not a temporary line drawn with a stick, but rather a permanent line made out of steel that won't disappear. In fact, once I cross that line there is no turning back, that line made out of steel, once it is crossed, will quickly become a gate that cannot be opened. Once I cross the line I'm leaving behind the pain of this season and I'm just not sure I'm ready to do that. I know it sounds crazy, but leaving behind the pain of the known and walking into the unknown scares the heck out of me.

I share this with you as a source of familiarity, but also in the hope that you will stand and believe with me to pass over that line, to finally fully let go of all that entangles me and keeps me from going to the next level in my relationship with the Lord.

Know that even in the times that God takes away He is preparing you for something even greater. I've witnessed before my eyes on more than one occasion in this season as God has taken away, but in the aftermath has left behind something yet to be discovered. God bless and don't stop hoping!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My Cardboard Says What?!?

"They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony"
~ Revelation 12:11

Months ago I attended a church service where at the end multitudes (okay, so it was like 20-30, but still...that's a lot) of people came out one at a time holding a piece of cardboard...large enough to read from the crowd. Each person had their own and one by one as they stepped out they showed one side that shared a past struggle or sin in their life, but on the other side was their personal miracle. On the other side was what God had done with that struggle or sin, what He had done to heal them. If you had asked me over 7 years ago what my cardboard sign said, this is what you would have read...

"I struggle with anorexia, low self-esteem, and poor self image."

...of course that was then, and now it says this...

"He redeemed me by the blood of the Lamb and renewed my self worth...I AM healed!"

So what got me to writing tonight? Well, lately I've been in repeat mode with worship music...the same songs one right after the other all 30-45 minutes of my drive time between work and home and then some as I study or just relax for the night. One of which is Desperation Band's "Overcome" (I strongly recommend giving it a listen...so awesome!). Towards the end of the song you hear different people exclaim their struggles and sins and how God helped them overcome. I'm in a state of learning to overcome, of allowing God in to help me overcome. As I hear these people explain their struggles and sins and the declaration that God helped them overcome, I remember that scene at church months ago...the scene where I couldn't even try to hide my tears if I wanted to.

So here I am now...standing with another cardboard sign and as well as I'd like to think I can hide behind it...people start to notice. If nothing else God knows and that's enough for me to know it is way past time to let Him in to help me overcome. What does it say today, well...

"My heart is broken, confused, and lost...where are you?"

...but it will say this soon, I know it...I trust that it will...

"God helped me overcome!"

What does yours say, do you have one right now...do you even know?

~ C

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A Story to be Heard...

I had some time to kill the other day before class so I headed to the cemetery to visit my nephew's grave site. Kinda strange I know, but there always seems to be a peace when I go there. Life kind of stands still, even if just for a moment. I have one friend who always questions why I go there, knowing full well that the person I'm going to visit is not actually there. I'm not sure what it is, but I find it to be a safe place and those times I go to visit little Billy's grave or even my grandfather's (who is resting there as well) I find that I have so much to say. So much of life (good or bad) to share with them. I know they aren't there, but I guess seeing their names written in the ground opens the floodgates of words for me.

The point of this blog is to note what I observed on my most recent visit to the cemetery. I got a bit turned around trying to find my nephew's grave site and as I was turning around to go back in the right direction I paused for a moment. I noticed an older man in the distance visiting a grave site of a loved one and for a moment I just wondered what the story was behind it all. I wondered if it was the love of his life that he was visiting, if it was a child or grandchild, niece or nephew. I realized that every person there, whether in permanent rest or visiting, all have a story. My grandfather had a story, and my nephew, as young as he was had a story too. I watched with a happy heart, a compassionate heart as the man stood there for a moment with his head bowed, blew a kiss and turned to get back in his car. It was such a heartwarming moment, to know that even though there are loved ones that have gone before us to help prepare the way for us, they will forever have a place in our hearts, they will forever have a story to be told. I believe that Avery will be the one to share with her future brother or sister about Billy just as my grandmother has filled in all the gaps in the story of my grandfather for me and my siblings.

I just wonder how much time we take now to sit and listen to our loved ones share their stories while they are still here on earth with us. Do we make the time or are we always too busy? Lately being too busy just sounds like an excuse to me (and I do it too, regretfully). I just never want to be too busy that I miss something...whether it be big or small. There could be a ton of time left for us, or there could be just a short time...not to be depressing or morbid, but do you know who knows your story? Do you know who can share it with those you go before?

Monday, September 29, 2008

It's Really Good to be Back Home!

"Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.

Wouldn't you like to get away? Sometimes you want to go

Where everybody knows your name,
and they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.

You wanna go where people know,
people are all the same,
You wanna go where everybody knows
your name"

Where Everybody Knows Your Name by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo - Cheers Lyrics

This is a bit of a sequel to my blog from a month or so ago (the one about going back home). Well, I made a return to another home this past weekend and I was quickly reminded how good it feels to go where everybody knows your name. : ) Yes, I've referenced the "Cheers" theme song and compared it to that of my lovely home church. Don't be taken my stuff out of context now...I'm not saying it's like a bar, I'm just saying it's a place where you can go where everybody knows your name and they are truly glad that you came. : )

I've been searching for someone, for something over the last couple of months and it took misplacing myself to realize what it was I was looking for. I am looking for support, love, laughter, consistency, brokenness greeted by grace, and a whole heck of a lot of that mercy stuff! I don't know what else to say that the "Cheers" theme song hasn't already said...so there you have it.

Goodnight for now!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

It's all a part of the Puzzle of Life

I was driving the other day and thinking...this happens a lot as I spend quite a bit of time in my car commuting from one place to another. I was thinking of how God is slowly, but surely putting things back into place for me and opening my eyes to the new season He is creating and guiding me into. I began to realize that as we can only see a small part of God's plan, it appears to be much like a puzzle. You have a bizzillon pieces to choose from, but only one particular piece will fit here and there to form the complete puzzle. There are pieces that you are so convinced will fit, that if you try hard enough or turn it a certain way it will fit and work towards making the puzzle complete...someday. But as the frustration of trying to get the piece to fit settles in, you decide to place it to the side and come back to it...maybe try another piece or even another part of the puzzle all together.

So you start to work on a different section and through your own strength and frustration you begin to see it from a different angle. You realize the biggest part of it all is missing...prayer. So you begin to pray, not sure what to pray for you just begin to pray for what is in your heart. Then all of a sudden what you least expect (and sometimes what you were praying against) starts to happen, God starts to guide your hand and place the puzzle pieces exactly where they belong. A joy begins to grow in your heart as you find that what you were so sure would not be a good fit actually ends up being the best one. You find that when you slow down and take things one step at a time, one bit at a time...it all falls into place.

There are a bizzillion puzzle pieces out there, any of which we could force to form our own personal puzzle, but if you really take the time you find that the best ones come in time and the puzzle is more beautiful than you could ever hope or imagine.

I still have quite a bit of puzzle pieces to put into place, but I look forward to the finished project one day. : )

Monday, September 15, 2008

What's the Plan Stan?

I'm getting a lot of questions these days regarding what I want to do with my life (career wise) and where I see myself in 5 years...10 years...etc. Well, I came across a very intriguing quote from a movie the other day and I thought I'd share it with you. I pray it brings you peace and a little more adventure! ; )

"Instead of telling our young people to plan ahead, we should tell them to plan to be surprised."
~ Dan Burns (Steve Carrell) from 'Dan in Real Life'

Peace out my people! : )

Grief is Like an Ocean...

I heard a quote tonight, I'm not sure if it is real as I tried to google it and nothing came up even remotely close to it...but it still spoke volumes. It was talking of grief, pain, and sadness...all emotions I've become very familiar with in the last six months. However, I have my own spin on it and it ties to what I read as I spent my quiet time with God this morning.

See, grief is a lot like the ocean. It is deep and dark and scary. One can even get lost in the waves of it all, being continuously tossed back and forth...but unlike the ocean, grief does end somewhere. There comes a point in time where you wake up and the pain isn't quite so hard to bear and the days come and go where not one tear was shed. I have days like that sometimes, and other days the tears fall like they are never ending.

The other day I stopped by the grocery store looking for some "Thank You" notes and I stumbled across Halloween Candy. Usually my first thought is, "Oh jeez, really? Halloween time already? Guess that means Christmas isn't far behind." But not anymore, I was actually really surprised by my reaction. I started to cry. I started to cry because for me Halloween brings the memory of last year when my dad called to tell me my sister was in labor and that he was headed to Colorado. I have the memory of him calling me at 2am on November 1 to tell me he arrived safely. I have the memory of my sister calling me to tell me that her son was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen and she prayed so hard that he would wait to make his arrival on November 1 and NOT be born on Halloween...and that she couldn't wait for me to arrive in Colorado to meet him. All very sweet memories, but now...well now we will celebrate each of his birthdays every year without him...that's where the ocean begins.

...but there is an end...

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven."
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

There was a designated birthdate for Baby Billy...November 1, 2007
There was a designated birthdate for him in Heaven...March 29, 2008
There will be a day where our grief will become joy, where our mourning will become dancing, and where Halloween candy won't bring tears to my eyes. : )

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Don't Hide Your Heart

Someone once told me if I can’t verbalize what I want to say then maybe I should write it down…so here it is, just for you (my readers)…

All the questions in my head Are from my heart instead Be real to me now That's all I'm asking Be real somehow More than anything More than anything So lay down the sword And put away the doctrine Love a little more, love a little more 'Cause everybody's broken ~ Real to Me, Nichole Nordeman

You’ve got one foot here and one foot there…which way will you choose? I’m not here to judge, just an observer of the life I once led. No time for this or that, but just enough time to pursue that which only fulfills for a little while. Could I be wrong? Of course, so then explain your heart to me. I’m here, I will listen, explain to me all the things you are, and all the things you want to be, but whatever you do please don’t hide your heart. Be honest with yourself, be honest with God, and be honest with others. Try the life of vulnerability, of letting others in...truly, deeply…not for me, but for you. You might find a little less stress, a little more time, and a lot more contentment. Contentment is not bad, it’s not settling, it’s trusting in where you are at any given moment is right where you should be. I believe in you, that’s all you need to know…but at the same time I have to leave…I have to keep running the race. Just know that whether broken or “whole” there is always work to be done.

Be real to others, be real to God, and be real to yourself.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

To Know HIS Name!

I gotta be honest here (because that's what I do), I've asked God lately why He has forgotten me. It's been a frustrating last few months, but in talking to a friend last week I was reminded that God takes nothing away without lifting us UP! Thank goodness for that. I came across a worship song in the last few weeks that I know I've heard a million times before, but for some reason now is the time it has spoken the most to me. So I want to share this song with you in hopes that it will speak to you as it has to me. The whole song speaks volumes to me, but I highlighted the parts that get to the deepest part of my heart EVERY time. God bless and don't worry, there is a link to hear the song after the lyrics. : )

The precious blood of Jesus Christ redeems, forgiven I’m alive, restored set free.
Your majesty resides inside of me,
forever I believe. forever I believe.
arrested by your truth and righteousness
your grace has overwhelmed
my brokenness
convicted by your spirit, led by your word
your love will never fail
your love will never fail

‘Cause I know you gave, the world your only son for us to
know your name,
to live within the saviours love and he took my place,

knowing he’d be crucified and you loved.. you loved, a
people undeserving!


Sometimes it's GOOD to go Home!

So here I am back home in good ol Coppell...in the same room I grew up in. Of course since I moved out over 3 years ago a lot has changed in here...in other words my parents made it a guest room with somewhat nicer furniture than what I took from them. : ) That's okay...I kinda feel like a princess in a bed fit for a queen. I do love it here...not matter how much I stubbornly fight God on this issue right now...I'm right where I need to be. Plus I know it is only for a season and an amazing season it will be as I continue on the journey He has laid out for me...a journey in which I'm learning me, I'm learning what I love, what I don't love so much and the boundaries of life that need to be set. All this in just the 2.5 weeks I've been back home, oh gee I can't wait to see what else is up ahead.

I went for a walk in the coolness of this evening and that is what really spurred me on to blog this little bloggity blog. Although much has changed in Coppell, so much is still the same. The path I walked tonight brought back so many memories of running to train for cross country and the many walks to and from school. One path came with a little wall I liked to walk along when I was in middle school. I had my backpack on and flute in one hand, while swinging the other as I followed the brick wall until it ended. I also walked past the elementary and middle school I attended and there was the memory of running the perimeter of both schools for cross country practice on early mornings before school started when it was nice and cold...I wonder if I still have the stamina to run that path or if I even remember the path. I think I'll save that task for another evening...when it gets a bit cooler. : )

So, you see...although this is not exactly what I had in mind for this season of life (I was hopin' I'd be rockin' a little bling and planning a really big party involving a beautiful princess dress and penguin outfits) I love where I'm at. Why? Because sometimes the life we plan for ourselves gets better when we let go and let God in to plan all the details.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

It Starts with a Mustard Seed

"Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this moutain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." ~ Matthew 17:20

So I was talking with a friend tonight and he asked me if there was one thing I could change about him what would it be...so I proceeded to tell him. And then the tables were turned and I asked him the same about me. It's a very eye opening question and you definitely have to be willing to go into it with an open heart and trust that the one you are asking is responding in love. After hanging up the phone I started to ponder our enlightening conversation a bit more and immediately God reminded me of Matthew 17:20 in which Jesus informs the disciples of what little faith they have and that it only takes faith as small as a mustard seed to make a change. I'm longing for that these days...for change and for my faith to be as big as a mustard seed. I hadn't even realized that it was smaller than that.

Another story that came to mind was when Jesus calmed the storm. The most recent version I've heard of this story came from my 2-year-old niece, Avery and I have to say her rendition of it is quite compelling...

"It wained and it wained (hand motions showing rain coming down used in this description) and then Jeos (Jesus) came and stopped (holding out hand like stop signal) it. Jeos stopped the wain." ~ Avery recapping the calming of the storm as told to her by her Sunday School teachers

He's coming and the rain's a stopping, because that is one of many things our Miracle worker does...He comes to calm the storm, to lead the lost, and to love many!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Season Such as This...

"Live with the wonder of a child
Pray with your arms thrown open wide

Love with a love that has no end

Until I see you again"

~ Until I See You Again, Mark Schultz (Broken & Beautiful)

We are coming up on 5 months since my precious nephew, Billy passed away. I can't believe it, some days it seems like just yesterday and other days it seems like a lifetime ago. Today we rejoice in the fact that he is laughing, running, and playing in the arms of Jesus...and we also rejoice in the fact that God has blessed my sister and her husband with another addition to their family that will make his/her arrival in March of 2009...talk about divine appointment. : ) The grief doesn't seem so hard to bear anymore and in the last few weeks I'm starting to see all that God is teaching me through this and how he is using my precious nephew to open my eyes to understand an emotion, a word that I never realized I didn't fully understand...Love.

Life happens when we least expect it, at least that's what I'm learning. We think we are living, fully living...but I think now that in those times when what you least expect happens, well that's when you fully live. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, when I go to lay my head to sleep the last word that usually pops into my head these days is love. Did I love today, not just say it...but show it, I mean really show it. Love has so many connotations to it and I guess I feel as though I'm learning every angle of it.

I look back 5 months and think "how in the world did I get through that, how did I continue to go on...to stand" and I realize it wasn't even me. What kept me going was a number of things...mostly God's strength, but also I see the faces in my mind of all the friends that held me up the day after I found out Billy was gone. I see the faces that continue to stand with me and my family today as we go through the motions of living life without him. I see love. How else can you explain those who will just sit and listen...or those who at no particular time on any given day pick up the phone just to find out how you are? Nothing else matters anymore, truly. I'm in a season right now where you could say it's dark and a little unsettled and a wee bit confusing, but when I'm still, when I take even just a moment to seek God I see His hand...He's got a plan. I've made some crazy (at least some would say that) decisions in the past few months and I'm not gonna lie...I question myself on those decisions some days, but then God comes in and calms the fear, ceases the questions and reminds me that with each step of faith I take He is right there guiding me.

I invite you to join me on the journey of learning all about love...it's more than an expression, an emotion, or a way to share affection for someone...it's a lifestyle. Nothing else matters, really truly...no amount of money, no job title, no amount of approval from a specific person, nothing else matters if you do not love.

Adventures with Atomic Farts...

I have the wonderful joy and honor of continuing my side career of professional babysitter...a position I have every intention of maintaining at least until I get married one day, and even then I might keep up with some clients (some people are just too hard to say good bye to). And tonight has been no different...with an adventure at every turn. I've been babysitting this young boy since he was 3-years-old and now he is 8...crazy how time flies. He definitely has a never ending energy about it, but it's perfect for me because it keeps me going and distracts me from my own little adult world all full of crazy (and sometimes stupid) thoughts. Needless to say, next to being an aunt, this is the best job I have.

After a yummy dinner at our favorite dinner place, The Corner Bakery, we came home to video games. I gave Star Wars a time or two and quickly gave up...it's just not as exciting as Smash Brothers on Wii. Thus we began the never ending battles of Smash Brothers...where Andy picks a different guy every time (because he knows all their individual tricks) and I become bound and determined to master one character before I can move on to another (usually I give up and change anyway knowing that pigs will fly before I win a round at Smash Brothers). Tonight I got to know Wario...apparently the evil twin brother to Mario. It was pretty funny...he rides a motorcycle, only to jump off of it, blow it up, and occasionally eat the parts. But better than that...he shoots out atomic farts, yes it's true...I never thought farts would make me laugh so hard. So as I placed Andy to bed tonight we had a great laugh about Wario eating tires and other junk, where I then made a joke about that being the explanation for his atomic farts. I love that I made Andy laugh...that was the absolute best part of my evening. Kids make adults laugh all the time, but very rarely do you find kids laughing at a joke from an adult. It's good to know I still have a sense of humor with the kiddoes I watch.

So that's my story about atomic farts...nothing too exciting, but definitely worth sharing.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Wait - stay where one is or delay action until a particular time or until something else happens

"Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about."
~ Acts 1:4

I attended worship service at Bent Tree Bible Fellowship this morning and it was so amazing. The senior pastor, Pete Briscoe, has been teaching on evangelism the last few weeks and today he shared some amazing truths about the lost that surround us, the ones that we love on and fellowship with that do not know or realize the truth behind the gift of our Savior. But beyond that God used what Pete was teaching to speak deeper to me and deeper into my season of life right now. The way I see it right now is God has striped me of everything (well, not EVERYTHING, but definitely things I was clinging onto for stability/support). But God sees it so differently and He spoke to me today...or at least He started to. I know there's gotta be more, especially knowing how amazing God is and seeing all that He has already done in the last few weeks.

I'm looking for a new job right now, and it's not easy...in fact it's a little frustrating and depressing. I want to shout at the top of my lungs from the rooftops what an amazing employee and asset I would be to any company, but alas that's not really feasible. So I keep searching...but then today happened and I wonder if there is so much more to this season than looking for a job. I'm 26 and I'm tired of doing something just to get by, and the last job I had was amazing and taught me so many valuable lessons and stretched me way beyond what I could have hoped or imagined. But that job was a huge blessing and sort of landed in front of me, could that even happen twice?

So the one word that stuck out more than anything in today's message at church was "WAIT." God told the apostles in Acts to wait where they were, not to leave or move...that what He had promised them would be coming and that when it did then they could make their next move. I couldn't help but think that maybe that is God's word for me as well. Maybe I am to wait for a designated period of time, for in that time God will fulfill what He has promised me and what He has laid out for me and then, when that comes to pass, I can step out to do all that God has created and purposed me for. I get a little weary on words like this because I don't want to misinterpret what God is saying/teaching, but at the same time I don't want to be disobedient.

There has been a very small window of encouragement for me today as there is so much unsettled around me and so much heartbreak that sometimes I find it hard to be strong enough to reach out to Him, to even trust that He truly does have something so amazing just waiting for me on the other side. I do know Him though, I do know that I hear from Him through the Holy Spirit living in me...it's just a matter of working through the fear. I guess now with no other distractions going on I can focus more on overcoming the fear and starting to trust the one who loves me more than anyone at a whole new level.

I share all this to be truly transparent with you (the reader) and in hopes that you too will find a way to let your guard down and be truly real with those around you, those who you love and trust and even the ones you hope to guide into Jesus' arms one day. I have two words to leave with you and they have become my focus of prayer these days...peace and joy. I pray that God will restore the peace and joy in my heart that has been missing lately.

So long for now...
~ Cristyn

P.S. I posted a pic of my new hair just in case you were wondering how it looked...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Day in the life of an Aunt

I have to say of all the responsibilities that I have in my life, of all the "jobs" I have...being Aunt Cristyn is by far the best one EVER! I can't even fathom how much more my heart will grow one day when I have kids of my own, but I sure am glad that with each time I become an aunt again my heart grows about 10 sizes bigger! There is more than enough joy, love, patience, compassion, and about 50 million other emotions/feelings to go around for all the little ones in my life.

Today has by far been the greatest day in a sea of a million (or maybe closer to a trillion) not so great days lately. I'm starting to wonder if my friends might be right, maybe this is meant to be a season of rest for me, a season in which my eyes will stop looking at myself and what I'm capable of doing on my own, but rather unto God and what He is capable of doing through me once I stop being so stubborn and allow Him to use me! What made today so different than most any other day is I had the joy of spending it with one Avery Elizabeth, my 2-year-old niece whom I love oodles and oodles. The day started off with a knock on the door and one little voice on the other side exclaiming, "Hi Aunt Tissyn, come on in." Oh gee, I sure hope she is not that friendly with the UPS person. We started off our day with donuts and chocolate milk (major bonus points for me starting her day off with lots and lots of sugar). We played around for a bit once she proved to me that yes indeed at 2 she can most certainly dress herself. One of her favorite toys right now is her Mr. Potato Head. The best part about it is when you put his eyes where his mouth goes, his mouth where his ear goes, his arm where a hat should be and a nose where his feet should be...I think you get the point. But better than that is when you try to fit Mr. Potato Head's body parts on you!!! Talk about rolling on the floor laughing, Avery got the biggest kick out of that.

Avery and I continued our day by venturing out to the mall, buying some stuff for Mommy so that she could pamper herself once and a while, and then finishing it off with playtime with her older (and one younger) cousins. My precious Avery is so full of joy, more joy than I think I've ever seen in a 2-year-old. She loves everyone and is so enamored with all that is around her and ever changing. She brings so much light and life and joy to all those around her...she truly sets the example of what I hope to be someday. She is obedient and respectful, lovely and caring...I don't think there is much more you could ask from this sweet little girl.

As I was driving home this evening from my fun-filled day, I was listening to one of my favorite worship CDs and suddenly every word of every song made sense. They all stood out so much larger and more clearly than before. I can't believe that I have only begun to scratch the surface of How Great God Is and all that He has for me in the future. And to finish the evening off, I came home to tell my dad about my day...and his response..."I don't know how you are going to have kids one day when you are so busy being such a great aunt." Oh, I'm sure God will make a way, after all I've already seen how much He has stretched my heart...but what greater way to end the day than to know I'm right where I should be, doing exactly what I'm called to do...LOVE!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Life Fully Blessed

Oh what a crazy season this has become. I feel like one event has turned into numerous events which has all snowballed me into a season of "unsettledness." Ugh! I hate that, I truly do...but then I'm reminded of how blessed I am, even in the midst of my world being flipped upside down. See, I am surrounded by so much love in my life. Love from friends and love from family...for that I could not be more grateful. I had the honor and privilege of speaking with 3 very wise and wonderful women that having been walking life with me for years all within the last 24 hours...God must have truly known what I needed. I wanted so much to guard myself and not let them in as I always have before, but I couldn't resist, I was desperately seeking wise and loving council. I already knew some decisions I needed to make, but God answered by prayers by showing me clarity through the words and wisdom of the 3 women I trust immensely.

I'm not gonna lie...I'm scared right now. It's a very real and very raw emotion that I can't hide, even if I tried. I go out of town for 10 days and I knew I had one big obstacle to tackle when I got back...but in actuality I ended up with 3...that I was NOT prepared for. I know God makes a way, I know he'll provide and bring blessing and love to my life...but right now it could not get any darker in here...at least that's what I think. One of these women that I've shared life with mentioned that this could be an amazing season of rest for me, for me to learn to truly let go and let God take control of every situation. Does that mean stop looking for a job, give up on finding a roommate or a new place to live? Of course not, but it does mean learning to fully trust and not allow my anxiety to rule my life. That seems easier said than done. But at the same time, I'm willing to find out. If this truly is a season of rest where I can place priority on my graduate schoolwork and find a place of true contentment, then I'm all in. I'm more than happy to let God lead the way as I know that I would probably leave nothing but a destructive path if I was in control.

So can I? Can I truly let go and let God lead the way during this rocky season? Can I trust the only ONE who has proven time and time again that there is a reason and purpose to each and every thing He lays His hands on? Come along with me...share life and let's see what He has in store!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Good-bye South Carolina!!

Ok, today is my last official day in good ol South Carolina. Yesterday was a very calm and low key day for me. Jess and I both woke up not feeling well so we decided to lounge around the house and watch a movie (we watched "License to Wed" so funny and so good). After that we went and got our nails done and then off to eat a quick bite and I got to witness as Jess and her mom had vocal rehearsal (they are part of a vocal performance group out here called 'Sweet Adelines'). It was interesting...the group is great, but not really my cup of tea. I joked with Jess that she was in a Jazz hands performance club.

After that wonderful adventure we headed to some friends of Jess and Martin's. Jess and I hung out with the wife (Melissa) while Martin and some of his other cop buddies hung outside throwing darts and drinking beer (what most guys do outside...I think). We had fun talking girl talk and watching the Olympics...it was intense a few times, I'm not sure I can handle watching the Olympics consistently.

About 11:30pm (EST) we decided we were wiped out and headed home. It was a good day to lay low as it rained most if not all day. Today we are back at Jess's work and then in a bit we will head towards the airport (we have a couple of errands to run before I jet set back to the land of the living). I'm glad I had this wonderful adventure/experience, but I'm also looking forward to all that awaits me back home.

Oh, and I forgot to share one very fun fact about my family...my brother and his wife are expecting another baby (a boy to be exact) in January/February of next year. Please keep them in your prayers as they transition from having 4 kiddoes to 5 and that it would be a smooth pregnancy for my sister-in-law. I'm sure I'll be sharing more as the months go by.

Good-bye South Carolina!
~ Cristyn

Monday, August 11, 2008

One Tired Texan Girl...

Phew! This has been a wonderful vacation, but I'm worn out. I love that I came here to spend time with my beautiful, younger cousin...but more importantly I'm so glad that I threw caution to the wind and let her make all the plans (sort of). I've tried so many things and the last two days have been no different. Yesterday (Sunday, August 10) Jess and I took it slow in the morning and I even had time to talk with my precious friend, Krissy on Skype...all the way from South Africa (It was awesome). After a slow morning we headed to the Southern Bridal Show (or something of that sort). It was awkward as Jess just got married in February and I have no intention of getting married (or even thinking about it) anytime soon. But, her photographer from Charleston was there and wanted her to come by, we even got in for free because of it. So, we chatted with him for a bit and then watched the fashion show. I'm not gonna lie, it was fun seeing all the dresses, tuxes, and bridesmaid gowns...but I'm not ready and that is okay...I at least got some free food out of it. Oh and get this (Dad would be so proud), while in one line getting food from a certain caterer I noticed that the sign for "Crab Dip" did not say that...instead it said "Crap Dip." I kindly informed the caterer and she just laughed, she noted that no one had noticed all day long (it was now 4pm). I joked that she may not get any clients if they think her dip is crap (she laughed, don't worry...I didn't offend). I was kinda proud that I have such a good eye for these things...maybe I should find a job as a copywriter.

Anyway, after that the real fun began. We headed downtown and played through a couple water fountains and I bought some cards and little gift for my niece, Avery. We then headed up to the top of a hotel rooftop for drinks and appetizers to watch the sunset. it was really pretty and I'm so glad I got the experience. Jess and I had a blast talking some more (I don't think either of us has been quiet since I got here) and we called my dad so that he could resolve a debate for us (it was stupid, I won't share the gory details).

Today we headed into to work so Jess could get some stuff done and so I could finally upload our pictures thus far. After that we headed to Isle of Palms (another island out here) and the beach. I had some requests for 'hellos' in the sand and will be sending those out tomorrow probably. We had a wonderful time, it was the perfect day for the beach and my tan is getting darker and darker by the day. After the beach we went into a couple little shops and I purchased some more gifts for my other precious nieces and nephew (Hailey, Mckenna, and Niko that's you...Will, I'm still looking for your gift). And then to The Boathouse for dinner and another beautiful sunset on the water. Unfortunately the service wasn't great, but the sunset on the water was well worth the experience. I even had fried green tomatoes and crab dip...I'm trying all kinds of new things, even if I don't like them all.

Alright, tomorrow is my last full day in South Carolina...it seems I've been here forever. I look forward to coming home on Wednesday evening and catching up with friends and continuing along the new season that God has set before me.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Winery and Carriage Tour

I'm sitting here trying to remember what all we did Friday (where I last left you)...I guess it means that I'm waiting too long before I blog. Friday I accompanied my cousin Jessi to her physical therapy appointment (she just had surgery on her ACL and Meniscus...her MCL wasn't torn all the way so they didn't have to repair that). I had a good time giving Jess a hard time about missing some appointments, I think I would make a great PT...I'd whip those patients into shape in no time, but alas that is not my calling in life.

After PT Jess and I went to her work where I blogged and she worked. We headed towards the winery after a quick bite to eat at what the would refer to as a Mexican Restaurant here in South Carolina. I call it "nice try!" You start to appreciate the simple things in life when they aren't right at your fingertips.

As we were tootin along the country road towards the winery we passed two Bambis...they did not appear to have a good day (in fact I believe one was missing his whole head). I told Jess we should put the what appeared to still be one piece Bambi in her trunk and fix him for dinner...I don't think she liked that idea. We arrived at the winery, tasted some yummy wine, bought some bottles and stepped onto the vineyard to eat some grapes...those things are huge. It was a short visit, but we got some cute pictures and some lovely delicious goodies.

After the winery experience Jess and I decided we wanted to go on a little kayaking trip with her mom through the creek and into the Intracoastal Waterway (it is right outside her mom's backyard). It was a blast, especially since I've never done it before. We found one house that had a rope hanging from their tree to measure the water...you'll see the picture someday when I finally download them. We got out to the Intracoastal Waterway (runs all the way from Maine down to Florida) and hit some cool waves off of a boat and jet skis. Right at the nick of time we headed back as the water was flowing out of the creek.

On Saturday, Jess, her mom Ande, and I all went on a carriage ride tour through downtown Charleston. It was somewhat enlightening, but the tour guide was a bit cocky and liked to talk about his ancestors in Charleston. We did see a road they used in the movie, "The Patriot." After some more lovely/silly pictures we headed home to relax and eat dinner with Jess's parents and step-brother. That was an adventure too as I enjoyed crab legs for the very first time...talk about too much work when you are trying to eat.

Well, now it is Sunday...I'm more than half way through my vacation and I slept the latest today than any other day...woo hoo!!! We are off to the Bridal Show...more adventures to come!!!

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Adventures Continue

I realized after I finished my blog on Wednesday night that I had forgotten to mention the dolphins we saw as we were sailing Tuesday evening. We tried to get a picture, but were not too successful as they like to go in and out of water too quickly...oh well, we plan on spending more time at the beach so we'll look again.

Speaking of the beach, that's where we spent some time yesterday afternoon. We went to Folly Beach out here (I couldn't tell you where it is in relation to anything) and after an hour to an hour and a half we were a bit fried (not literally, just physically). We washed off the sand and headed to a cute little bar on the pier by the beach. While we were figuring out all the other fun things we want to do while I'm out here the sky got a little overcast. It was about 99 to 100 degrees when we headed the beach yesterday, but when we stepped out from the bar it had to have dropped about 20 degrees. We started walking down the pier (got a few more pics...I promise, they're coming) and the wind got stronger and stronger. We watched as people started packing up and heading home off the beach and the sand as it was blown sideways down the beach. It was an interesting moment to see and feel as a storm was blowing in and luckily we didn't get poured on.

After our crazy adventure at the beach we headed back home where Martin was barbequeing ribs and chicken for dinner (he had a couple cop friends join us for dinner). It was a wonderful dinner and afterwards Jess, Martin, and I got a sneak peek at a television show (filmed in Wilmington, NC...home of 'Dawson's Creek' and 'One Tree Hill') that is due to premiere on Fox in the fall. One of Martin's cop pals, Cory Broadwater, is a cop on this new show "Whittaker Bay" so he brought over one of the episodes on DVD for us to view. I won the award with keeping up with all the characters and who did what and who was who...I think everyone was impressed by my ability to keep track of useless knowledge. It was fun and I got to meet a local television star, and if you know me I'll be sharing that story for years to come. Tom Hanks may have a little competition! : P

Alright, today we are headed to the Irvin House Vineyard on Wadmalaw Island. We'll take more pics and get the other ones posted ASAP!

Check ya later,

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Sailin into the firing range

Okay...so I'm a couple days behind schedule here, but I'm going to catch you up ever so quickly on my adventures here in Summerville, South Carolina (close to Charleston). I don't have pictures to post as of yet, but I will be uploading them either tomorrow or Friday to share with everyone so that I have evidence to prove the events I am about to describe.

I flew in Monday evening (August 4) and pretty much hit the ground running. After touching ground my cuz, her husband, their neighbor, and I headed to a wonderful sushi joint. Jess (my cuz) and I got all caught up on life Monday evening.

Tuesday we had a full day spent going in and out of cute little shops on Kuwah Island and about 20 minutes on the beach and then off we went to do some sailing with Jess's friend Diane, her boyfriend, Brad and Jess's hubby, Martin. It was really fun and I learned a bit about boats including steering it. Crazy, I know...some people believe I can barely steer a car, so to steer a boat is a whole other world. It was a wonderful experience and I'm glad I came out here with no expectations...only the expectation to get out of my own little world/box and try new things.

And then, well then there is today (Wednesday, August 6). Today, Martin (my cuz-in-law...Jess's hubby) took Jess and I to the firing range. Martin is a cop in Charleston, so he taught us well with the handguns. Jess was amazing from the get go...I on the other hand, well let's just say it took a few rounds before the target was officially "dead." We had a blast, and I'm so glad that I had this experience. I've never fired a gun before and now I have a little less fear about them because I took a chance and learned how.

Stay tuned as more crazy adventures await me here in good ol South Carolina. I'll post pictures soon and keep you updated as much as I can.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Beach Bound Babe

Okay friends! I'm headed to Charleston, South Carolina in a few short hours. I'm super excited as I'm in a season where I'm learning all kinds of new things about me. I really feel like God is giving me a second chance at many things I've been afraid of. I have a lot of seeking and praying about while I'm on vacation and I'm super psyched to see what He will have for me upon my return. I'm still in the midst of a job search, but I have no doubts that He will provide in ways that I could never imagine.

I'll keep you posted on all the crazy adventures that my cousin and I get into while I'm out there. I just can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to this and how much of a life changing trip this will be.

Love to you all and please leave me a note or two! : )

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The End of One Chapter...

Which only means it's the beginning of another. Tomorrow I close the chapter on my work days at Trinity Church Dallas...my church home and Spiritual family. My heart is so closely tied to all of my co-workers and the volunteers I have had the honor of working with over the last two and a half years. In fact it was by volunteering at Trinity that helped me find the position in the first place. It has been quite the journey with so many fun stories, exciting moments, and so much love and support...more than a girl could ever ask for. I hate good-byes and although I know this is the right move for me to make at this time, it doesn't make it any easier. I have learned so much in my time at Trinity and grown immensely.

I don't know what else to say other than thank you to the hands that have held me up over the last couple of years, without your support I couldn't have done it. I have no idea where I'm headed next (job wise) but just as perseverance is what landed me the job at Trinity, I truly believe it will take the same for the next opportunity. I am headed out for vacation for a few days on Monday (August 4) and there will definitely be fun and crazy stories of my adventures there.

Operations Associate - Member Services
Trinity Church Dallas

Originally Written: July 30, 2008

It Won't Always Be Like This...

Dear Cristyn,

My precious daughter, please know things won't always be this way. I know it is a rough road right now, but there are better days up ahead. Not every night will end in a cloud of tears, but let me say I'm so glad that in the midst of all the pain you still meet with me, you still let me in to the deepest part of you. I am so proud of you. You are precious, so full of life, joy, passion, and kindness. Please know that this season does not define you, it only helps to make you stronger and more compassionate. I am amazed to see how you have stepped up and stepped in to help your sister and brother-in-law...they need you now, more than ever. At the same time be sure to let others in, even when it hurts. I see your pain, I feel your pain, but one thing I know for sure (although you may not understand right now)...it won't last forever.

You have really stepped up to the plate and hit or miss, you keep swinging. Listen to your heart, even if what it is telling you brings pain. I know what is best for you, I have your future locked...in fact it is all history to me. Trust me, trust me even when it doesn't make sense. You have worked so hard to be where you are and I smile with so much joy to see where your past has lead you...to see the compassion and tenderness you have for future generations. I truly believe you are going to change the world around you.

I have so much more to share with you, and it will all come in time. Remember, you receive not because you ask not...go ahead, give me a chance and ask whatever you will and I'll let you know (in due time) if it lines up with my will. Just breathe in and breathe out and be in this moment...don't miss a beat. I'm here, I catch every tear that falls...and remember the best is yet to come. This will soon be seen as a beautiful season that led you into an even more beautiful future.

I love you gorgeous!

Your Abba : )

Originally Written: July 24, 2008

Why Not a Fairytale?

I had a fun moment the other day with my sweet 2-year-old niece, Avery. I was in the middle of changing her diaper (fun, I know) when I noticed that she had Cinderella on her pull-up and I took a moment to quiz my sweet Avery about Cinderella. All I asked was if she knew who Cinderella was, she shook her head "no" and I proceeded to tell her how Cinderella is a princess just like Avery. In addition I took a moment to explain to Avery that being a princess meant that there is the "perfect" prince for her out there (note I said "perfect" prince for her...not that he is perfect, so don't go rantin and ravin on me for saying people are perfect...I know we're not). I told her he would come some day, sweep her off her feet, and live happily ever after, but not to be deceived by appearances or so called "charmers." That the best is yet to come and so worth waiting for. In her what I'm sure was a confused mind, she said in her Avery way..."otay."

I realize that my niece probably thinks I'm crazy and probably had no clue what I was saying (shoot she's only 2, she's got years before she has to worry about her prince), but fairytales and princes and waiting for God's best has all weighed very heavily on my heart lately. I wonder at what point along the way in each of our lives we stop believing that fairytales exist and we stop dreaming big, or even dreaming at all.

I love the movie "Beauty and the Beast" and I can't help but think what an amazing story and life lesson that it teaches children today. Belle (the beauty) was never looking for love, she was always lost in her own precious world...not caring what others thought of her and losing herself in a huge dream world that only seemed to exist in books. At the end of the day she got what she desired and not because she was looking, but because she was living her life and it found her along the way. Belle gave what seemed like an awful situation a chance and it turned into something beautiful and lovely. She found what she wanted through being herself, through loving others right where they are at (although it is tough at times), and living her own adventure.

And what about Cinderella??? She wasn't looking for love either, she was looking to be accepted and treated the same as her step sisters, but instead she endured the cards she was dealt, kept her head up, took a chance and in the midst of running away from love ended up running right into it...she found someone who wasn't willing to miss his chance with having the power of a lost shoe. Or think about Snow White...she made the mistake of trusting a stranger with a yummy looking apple and she found love just by falling into a deep sleep. Ariel (Little Mermaid) was wanting an adventure, wanting to know what another world was like and although she "fell in love" with some guy she saw once...she took a chance and sacrificed all she knew to be with someone who may or may not have wanted to take a chance on her. And Mulan (one of my favorites)...she wasn't even seen as a princess, but to uphold her family name she denied herself, walked into danger claiming to be someone else and ended up saving the day as well as falling in love.

You can't tell me that none of this is real...I know that it's not word for word or action for action from screen to the real world...but take a deeper look at what we could be missing out on. An adventure in a great wide somewhere, more than we could ever imagine. I love that I've been reminded of how much I do believe in fairytales and yes I will continue to teach them to my niece, as well as my little girls (hopefully) someday. There is so much wonder in believing what we cannot see and dreaming big. For me...I'm no longer looking for my "perfect" prince...no, I'm looking for an adventure, and if I fall in love with my beast somewhere along the way...great! But if all I ever get is stories from lands unknown and places I thought I'd never see, then that is enough for me...for I know the bigger I dream and the more I believe in the unexpected the greater the story will be...the greater the adventure!

Originally written: July 21, 2008

Steven Curtis Chapman Concert

Wow! What a wonderful and blessed night I spent with my beautiful sister last night. Thanks to the thoughtfulness of some great friends, Cheryl and I had the opportunity to get tickets to see Steven Curtis Chapman in concert for a benefit serving the Mid-Cities Pregnancy Center here in the Dallas area. It was an awesome night of worship with Mr. Chapman and also a night where my heart and eyes were opened to an increasingly growing problem everywhere. The Mid-Cities Pregnancy Center exists to help women who face an unplanned pregnancy. The center exists to help women weigh all their options and they provide counseling with the truth behind abortion and the aftermath of such a decision, as well as the benefit of adoption and even raising the child themselves. It is a wonderful organization doing amazing things and you can find more information at their website at www.mcpregnancy.org.

In addition to learning more about the pregnancy center, the night was full of song after song by Steven Curtis Chapman alone on the stage with just his guitar or sitting at his keyboard. I love acoustic music, but worship acoustic style is so amazing, especially from such a gifted artist as Mr. Chapman. The thing that made this night that much more amazing is the testimony behind the recent loss of Mr. Chapman's 5-year-old adopted daughter, Maria Sue Chapman. For those of you who are unaware the Chapman family lost Maria Sue in a tragic accident on May 21 at their home in Tennessee while celebrating the engagement of Steven's eldest daughter, Emily and the high school graduation of his eldest son, Caleb. Because of what the Chapman is going through and will continue to walk through, my sister and I could relate to everything he shared.

Steven came out and sat at the keyboard explaining that although this was not his first performance since his little girl died, it was the first without his band there to back him up and for him to "hide" behind. He went on to say that in the last 2 months every song he has written and sung over the years has taken on a whole new meaning...and then he expressed that there is one song in particular that he will be singing at each concert he gives moving forward. That wonderful song is "Blessed Be Your Name," such a beautiful song of worship for our Savior King, Jesus Christ. It is so true though, all the words to that song become so much more deeper and so much heavier when you experience a tragic loss (such as the unexpected death of a child). How hard it becomes to sing "you give and you take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name." And, "every blessing you pour out I'll turn back to praise, when the darkness closes in Lord still I will say...Blessed be your name." It was a beautiful beginning to a wonderful night and in that moment I knew this was going to be a tearful night.

Throughout the evening Mr. Chapman filled it with prayer, music, and stories about his precious daughter and the wisdom his son shared in a radio interview only a few weeks earlier. Caleb (Steven's eldest son) shared that the reason the family has such faith is because of this tragedy, they know that there is something greater than themselves and this world to believe in, to hope in, and without suffering there would be no reason for faith. This is such a beautiful family and Steven really conveyed how genuine he is during the night and how grateful the family is for all the prayers and love that have been sent their way in the last two months.

So many stories were shared last night, really more than I could share here, but last night's concert turned into just an amazing time of reflection for me today. I spent the morning visiting Steven Curtis Chapman's website and the blogs of his family and crew. I leave you with the link to his Official Website. When you have time please visit it and see how amazing this family is and the amazing work they are doing to reach the world and help others in the arena of adoption.

I love you all and for all the prayers and support that have gone out to my family over the last 4 months...I am forever grateful and truly blessed!

Steven Curtis Chapman website: www.stevencurtischapman.com

Embracing the Unexpected...

"The Unexpected" has become the unofficial title of this season of life. Never in a million years did I expect to feel so lost and yet so refreshed and so renewed at the same time. Through all the unexpectancies of life this season I've never felt more close to the Father. And the truth of it is I came into it with boxing gloves up and letting it all out. Never in a million years would I think that I would find so much healing in being real and yelling at God. Thank goodness He is a merciful, loving, forgiving Father. What a beautiful picture we have painted for us of the one who loves us more than we could ever love ourselves or another.

This blog is a bunch of randomness, this I know, but for the first time in a long time I've felt a peace, an unexpected joy for about 3 and a half days and it all started with completely embracing an unexpected moment. See, I've been told that I'm not spontaneous or adventurous enough...you should have seen me on the 4th of July...talk about spontaneous! I have never had more fun in the rain than I did this past July 4th holiday. About 5 minutes before an outdoor barbeque was due to begin at my church (also place of employment) the rain began to fall and not just a little bit, I mean it poured for a solid 45 minutes to an hour in buckets and buckets. There was an obstacle course bounce house that we had rented, so what better way to celebrate the fourth than to challenge a few friends to a bounce house race in the rain. I don't remember the last time I've laughed and screamed so hard...I had the best time and realized how great it truly is to be a kid again. I suddenly feel like I know what God meant when He told us to have a child-like faith.

God is so good, and in the midst of all the pain, he rained down a bit of joy if even for a short while. Due to this amazing blessing I was able to forget my troubles all through the holiday weekend and truly enjoy the present season and walk it out with humility and grace. I still have my moments when the tears fall unexpectedly and I give myself no time line in healing, when all is said and done there will more change than I could ever imagine, but yet so much joy, peace, and understanding...I thank God for the amazing work He is doing in my life and for the greater love that will come out at the end of it all.

Original Post: July 7, 2008

Stuck In the Valley

I stand here and watch as others go by...one friend, two friend, three friend, four. It is much like a Dr. Suess book only without Thing 1 or Thing 2 or boats, cars, a fox in socks, and without Sam I am. These are my friends and family, moving on with life and going on as their path carries them through this season and into the next and for others the one after that. But alas, I try to move only to find my feet are stuck in this mud, I can't seem to put one in front of the other to walk much less run to catch up with the rest. I hear in the distance laughter and music and life being shared, but I'm still here, I yell out, "wait for me," and "you left me behind." But all I seem to see is friends turning their heads and waving me on to catch up. Sure many have tried to come back for me and pull me out, but much like the sword in the stone only the "right" person can pull me out of this mess. Many would say that it is my responsibility and I need to take action to get out of this mess, but the thing of it is I didn't choose any of this, I didn't choose to get stuck here...life just happens sometimes when you least expect it.

I don't voluntarily offer up my heart to feel pain each morning I wake up and realize it is one more day passing without my precious nephew or another day that I won't hear the words "I love you" from a friend. I'm grieving here, I'm a mess...please accept me the way I am, as I am right now in this moment...that's all I can bear to get out of my heart and mouth. Some days are better than others, but without fail there hasn't been a day that has passed where I don't remember the huge hole left behind with no sign of permanent repair.

I realized a week ago I had been wearing a mask for nearly 3 weeks, and it hit in the most unexpected way...just by looking down at the mileage marker on my car. Now all I can see is the place in my room where my knees literally hit the floor when I got word my nephew wasn't breathing or the couch when I heard a friend claim they didn't love me anymore. Flashbacks run through my mind these days and without skipping a beat I feel the tear drops fall when they do. Am I blessed? Of course I am...do I know that? Of course I do. So then what's the problem you may ask...just being stuck and waiting and listening. I want to rush through the grief just so I don't have to feel it, and now I'm forced to sit in it because the only one that can pull me out is my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I can hear him clear as day more often than not these days and that is amazing to me, but I can feel that there is a purpose to being stuck. Will I believe what He says over me? Will I believe how much He truly loves and cares for me and will that be enough? Only by accepting that will I be pulled from this miry pit.

Original Post: June 28, 2008

Truly Transparent

Hi! My name is Cristyn and I'm transparent...(this is the part of the blog where you say, "Hi Cristyn"). I used to think this was a huge problem that I had...being transparent, but in the last week I've come to really embrace it. What does transparent mean? I'm not talking clear (like cyran wrap) here, I'm talking Webster's Dictionary language here. However, for me it means being real, truly 100% nothing held back real. That is me. I wear my heart on my sleeve and love like crazy! All that to say that right now, Sunday, June 22, 2008 I'm not okay. People keep asking if I'm okay and the truth of it is I'm not. Now that doesn't mean i don't believe I won't be okay, it just means right now in this season things are a little dark. The light is hard to find. I'm holding on to a hope that makes me feel like a fool, to a love that quite honestly isn't being shared. But after falling on my knees while shower water beats on my back, I can finally hear God say, "it's okay, you are okay, you are good enough." I've been waiting weeks to hear God say that, but you know why I couldn't hear him...it was because I wasn't seeking, i wasn't waiting on him. Nope, instead I was "busy." Busy studying, busy helping everyone else and not seeking it myself. Now I'm at a crossroads where I truly desire to get to the other side, but I'm completely unsure of how to get there.

It has been 12 weeks (that's 3 months) since my precious nephew died. To all you math majors out there that translates to 90 days. So to the typical observer (in other words, someone on the outside) I should be healed, I should be okay by now. That's not their fault, you can't understand everything and you certainly cannot understand every life situation that someone else endures. But I'm not healed, I'm not "okay." In fact all of a sudden while driving home the other night I realized that he is not coming back. He's not in Colorado with his sweet family, he isn't sick and in the hospital. He is in Heaven with Jesus and I can't hold him, I can't sing to him, I can't kiss him, I can't make him laugh. No, all i can do now is visit his gravesite and close my eyes tightly enough that I believe I can feel him in my arms again. That I can remember his sweet, controlled breath on me as he slept on my chest only a few weeks after he was born. That is all I have left of him. But thankfully, as I watch his precious older sister play and laugh and live I know that a part of him lives inside of her, deep in her heart.

Life has been so unexpected these last several months, like life usually is, but I had no idea that it would hit so hard so much later. I've been so busy trying to figure out my next "move" that I couldn't even admit that I'm not okay, that my heart is truly truly hurting and broken. I hate having to pick up the pieces and start all over again, and this time is so much different, this time the little pieces have little pieces of their own. This heartache makes recovering from anorexia look like a piece of cake (kind of ironic, don't you think?).

So as I move slowly through this season of healing, I have to remember that God is the God who gives, but He also takes away and in spite of it all, no matter what move He makes, I will choose to say "blessed be your name." And for as long as it takes I'll say it until I truly believe it. I also will choose to remind myself of what Oswald Chambers once said and I close with tonight...

"When God gets us alone through suffering,
heartbreak, temptation, disappointment, sickness,
or by thwarted desires, a broken friendship...
when He gets us absolutely alone,
and we are totally speechless,
unable to ask even one question,
then He begins to teach us."

I am nothing more than an onion learning more and more about me and the God who created me as He slowly but surely peels the layers away.

Original Post: June 23, 2008



…is patient

…is kind

…does not envy

…does not boast

…is not proud

…is not rude

…not self-seeking

…is not easily angered

…keeps no record of wrongs

…does not delight in evil

…rejoices with the truth

…always protects

…always trusts

…always hopes

…always perseveres

and…it NEVER fails

~ adapted from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Tears have never felt more cleansing and crying never more free than this night. For this was the night when the beautiful and joyful princess felt and witnessed what love truly is. She grew up thinking that it was always a mushy, butterfly in the stomach feeling, never ever had she felt a love like this and a peace so big as the one she received on this night. The truth of what was happening and the sadness it brought was overshadowed by the fact that it was all done in love and in truth.

When others say that she had been failed and let down, she knew that was so far from the truth. She had been honored, treasured, adored, and cherished more than ever. Finally there was redemption in her heart and she could see love again. Before love was shown to her she knew only darkness. Sure she felt other kinds of love, but never love in which another chose to adore her and accept her just as she is. This kind of love is a miracle! So as she lays her head to sleep on this lovely evening, she thanks the prince that ever so briefly waltzed into her life if only just to show her how to love and allow herself to be loved.

Original Post: June 3, 2008

Love NEVER Fails...

My sister called me tonight as I was on the other line. She left a long message, a really really long message, one in which brought so much peace. It's been 6 almost 7 weeks since my precious nephew passed away and not one day goes by where I don't think about him. My sister called to tell me that she found Baby Billy's journal that I wrote for him before he was born, it was his birth day gift on November 1, 2007. What is so significant about this journal is that in the week after Billy passed a few of us were collecting things we found around my sister's house that belonged to Baby Billy and putting them in a trash bag to be placed in his closet. As I was searching for a diaper for my 2-year-old niece I came across Baby Billy's scrapbook that Cheryl was working on and I placed it in his closet. The scrapbook reminded me of his journal and I started searching high and low around that house for that thing...it was no where to be found...until tonight (Wednesday, May 14, 2008).

When Cheryl called she told me that she was reading through some of the entries I had written to Billy and she told me that I blessed her without even knowing it. It brings such joy to hear that from my sister because for so many years I kept her out of my life and from the sidelines she watched as I self-destructed and waited for she knew some day I would let her back in and all she knew to do was pray...she was a blessing to me. She read the entry in Billy's journal where I had written 1 Corinthians 13 that ends with "love never fails." Cheryl was quickly reminded that she and her husband did not fail their son, they loved him with all that they had and will continue to love that sweet boy forever and ever in their hearts.

I'm glad I didn't find that journal the week after Billy passed for who knows maybe the blessing would still have come if I hid it in the closet with the rest of his stuff, but then again maybe my sister needed it more so now than later.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Original Post: May 15, 2008

Who I Am...

I've gone down this road many a time before...the road to self discovery and who I am. It has come up several times lately and it appears that after about a week of stuffing it down and avoiding the issue I need to declare who I am.

I am the daughter of a King, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! I am also human, very much so...I make mistakes, I sometimes do a poor job of prioritizing and often am not the best friend, sister, aunt, granddaughter, co-worker that I could be. I am human...I don't say this to be negative, in fact that is the last thing I want to do...I say this to declare that I am not perfect and I make mistakes. I love that, truly I do...I have spent too much time trying to be perfect and make everyone happy that it is driving me nuts. I get irritated when a mini-van which is not really mini parks in a compact car space and if they do fit, they still can't fit appropriately between the two white lines...God bless them, for all I know they seriously tried and that was the last available spot for them to park.

I am a bit OCD sometimes, I tend to straighten up the chips at Potbelly when it appears that a few of them are slipping off the shelf. I love to push in the cup holder in my boyfriend's car when it is sticking out without a cup in it...he loves it ;) My bathroom is disgusting and for all I know is growing stuff that can only be seen with one of those scientific ultraviolet lights that they use to find finger prints and gunpowder at crime scenes...normally I hate that, but right now life has been crazy so cleaning my bathroom has been the absolute last thing on my mind.

I am a little silly sometimes, okay honestly...I am a lot silly a lot of the time and that just hasn't been apparent lately. I like to sit and contemplate why root beer has more fizz than other sodas and why exactly does cherry coke taste better than coke...is it really the sweet cherry taste or just because? In addition, why do they have signs on the fire extinguisher at the local hospital that reads "no parking?" No parking what? Your wheelchair, the food cart, stretchers? I mean it could be so many things and yet none of them make sense. Seriously, how many cars do you know drive down the hospital corridors and how many of them park in front of fire extinguishers?

This doesn't really answer a lot about who I am, but it does help explain some of the things that run through my head at random times. Those are the silly and fun things that make me who I am, but there is so much more.

I am a survivor, a fighter, strong, independent and not willing to back down or give up on anything or anyone. I love kids, they are so full of life, care-free and absolutely adorable. My nieces and nephews are the light of my life and bring so much joy to my heart. My family is one of my biggest support systems. I've started working towards my masters in counseling so that one day I can work with kids and families...not sure how long it will take, but as long as it takes I am determined to finish the path that has been laid out before me. It will mean sacrifices of time with the ones I love, possibly less travel time, and for some of the things that I love.

Now here is the part where I share the things that I love...

I love to read, mostly books on Christian Living, but there are several novels I've come across that have been nothing but intriguing. I love walks, to take time out of my day and take in the beauty that God has laid out before me, to see how many ducks are swimming in the local pond or just sit and see what shapes I can make out of the clouds above. I love music, I love to sing and dance and to listen as a song reminds of the life God has blessed me with or the future I long to see. I love flowers...specifically roses and gerber daisies, bouquets full of spring colors and that will light up the room every time you walk in. I love the stars that I can see from my parent's front yard at night, to be able to find the big dipper in the dark dark sky, to think or hope that I see Orion's belt. I love movies, to be wrapped up in a blanket on my couch or in the arms of my love and completely lost in something completely unreal. I love wine and bubble baths...to take time for me and sit and relax in a warm bath full of great smelling bubbles and enjoy a glass of great wine. I hide in my apartment sometimes and engulf myself in the Bible, to learn more about the life that God is calling me into and the love that He has for me, the kind of love that never ends and is unconditional.

I've been told I should be more adventurous and honestly I do crave that, to travel to places unknown, to experience the Dallas night life that in the 26 years that I've lived here I've never known before. I want to learn to play poker just so I can spend more time with my boyfriend and so he has more things to laugh at me about (not that I don't appreciate it, it makes me laugh a whole lot more at myself when he does). I love playing video games with my nieces and nephew...I haven't done it in years, but it reminds me of how great life is and how simple it can be. I want to go to Italy and experience what it is like to drive a Vespa down what looks like a one way street but strangely allows two vehicles. And then there are all the things that I wouldn't think of to be an adventure but somehow they become one.

My biggest adventure is living a life that counts, one where Jesus Christ is the love of my life and what He holds for me is beyond more than I could ever hope or imagine...I can't wait to see where this road will lead.

Original Post: May 2, 2008