Thursday, August 28, 2008
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
"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.
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...
P.S. I posted a pic of my new hair just in case you were wondering how it looked...
Thursday, August 21, 2008
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
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
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!
Monday, August 11, 2008
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 : )
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
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
"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
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
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
…does not envy
…does not boast
…is not proud
…is not rude
…is not easily angered
…keeps no record of wrongs
…does not delight in evil
…rejoices with the truth
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
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
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
Oh how I wish this season would be different than it feels. I guess you could say I'm getting a full dose of life these days...but it is not what I would have wanted. God is teaching me something so valuable right now and all I want to do is wrestle with Him. To shout, "No, you are wrong, you made a mistake, you need to bring Him back...to his family that loves him so dearly." I talk in circles these days, the words I mean to express are harder to get out and the meaning of it all is more often misinterpreted. I write this through a cloud of tears so full that I can barely see the computer, I listen to a worship song that I heard for the first time at my nephew's memorial service a few weeks ago. And although I know we are to be grateful for where he is now and trust God that is something I just can't do right now. I can't explain to my sister and brother-in-law why they can't hold their baby boy anymore and more importantly I cannot explain to my sweet 2-year-old niece why every baby she sees is not her "ba ba B" and that he is now with Jesus, at least not at a level where she can truly understand.
I'm learning to be real and allow myself to truly feel my emotions wherever they are at any given moment in time. Earlier today I was joyful, contemplative, maybe a little irritated at some point and now, well now the hole in my heart is more evident than ever. I truly realize how much I need God in my life, but oh how it hurts to express a grateful heart when my sister and her family are in such pain and have no explanation for why their perfectly healthy son passed away in his sleep. I am blessed, this I know, I mean how else can you explain a man who just entered my life 6 months ago sticking around through the tears and pain? The only explanation I have is it must be love. I can't be the person I want to be for him right now and that kills me. When he is stressed and frustrated I want to be the one to help him find peace and some sort of understanding if any. Right now all i can do is listen to him and just say "I'm so sorry about that baby." I mean how many times can you hear the same thing before you start to wonder if you are truly being heard?
I'm not gonna lie, I am a joyful, happy person, but right now I'm sad and for the first time in several weeks I can finally admit that I too am mad at my God who I know loves me and my family but for whatever reason He allowed this storm to come. Maybe we were drifting apart, maybe we were taking each other for granted, I don't really know, but I do know that I will not let go so easily of the people that I love. Sometimes I wonder if God took Billy away because I was not spending time pursuing him, because my first love has not been my source of direction, my source of passion and answers. Was it because I turned to others before I turned to God? But then isn't that a selfish way to think? I mean how could I, one person who loved her nephew so dearly be the cause of him returning to Jesus so early?
Welcome to my world right now, the shock has worn off and never before have I felt so empty that nothing at all can fix me, nothing at all can fill me and when I sit down to pursue God I have no patience to wait on Him right now...where has my heart gone, when will I truly be "real?"
Original Post: April 21, 2008
That is what my dad wrote when he sent out an email on behalf of my sister and her husband announcing that their precious 5-month-old son passed away early Saturday morning, March 29, 2008. But he was so much more than a blessed child, but a blessing to all those around him as well. I realized today that there are so many things that I learned from Baby Billy in the short amount of time he spent here on earth with us. For one thing, always laugh...life is not so hard that you can’t take the time to laugh. Laugh at yourself first and foremost, laugh at others (not in a belittling way) and laugh together. This precious boy has brought a loving family that much closer together. No we never wanted to bond over an incident such as this, but because of this God has made a way that we would stop the busyness of all our lives to be together, to love on one another, and to laugh together...to remember the good times.
Billy was such a happy baby, he loved watching his big sister run around the house and be her silly self. She would help calm him when he was fussy in the car, she is such a wonderful big sister...of course she learned from the best one in the world. Avery may not understand what is going on and why exactly Baby Billy can’t come home anymore, but he will live in her heart forever...through the memories shared with her from her mommy and daddy.
The two weeks leading up to Baby Billy’s passing I was dealing with such overwhelming anxiety and depression...neither of which made any sense to me...life is great. Early Saturday, March 29 I woke up after sleeping straight through the night for the first time in a long time. I was so excited about the day and both Avery and Billy weighed heavy on my heart, so I prayed. I prayed for joy and safety, for blessings and love...little did I know our Heavenly Father had already taken Billy home to be with Him in paradise. I’m grateful for that wonderful and peaceful morning I had with the Lord, for the ignorance I had regarding my nephew’s passing, even if just for a couple hours. When I received the call from my dad that Billy was sick and not breathing I dropped to my knees in a flood of tears and felt all my anxieties and depression leave me. Nothing else mattered anymore than being with family and some how, some way getting to my sister as quickly as possible.
Prior to getting to Colorado with my sister and the rest of my family I was surrounded by never ending love from friends and family. I am so grateful for the encouragement and prayers that have been sent on behalf of my family. In a time where no one knows what exactly to say, how to support each other, or even how to pray, it is good to know that there are others standing in the gap.
The most important thing I can leave with you as I close is to love on your babies...love on your family, no matter what is going on. For you never know when God may call them home. Billy definitely served a purpose for the few months he was with us and there is definitely a purpose to his passing. Will we ever know? Possibly not, but we trust in the Lord and believe that His ways our higher than ours and everything works together for those who love Him.
"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." ~ Psalm 34:18
Original Post: April 1, 2008
1) make or become different
2) take or use another instead of
1) the act or the instance of making or becoming different
The theme of this season of life is change…I know, I know so unoriginal from the last season or the season before that. After all, most seasons of life are initiated by change in some way or another. Oh but when change comes my way I do it right…yep, not just one change but generally multiple changes. So what would this Spring be unless I took on multiple changes and not just any, but wonderful changes.
For starters there is the boy who just happens to be the most wonderful, godly man I know…we've been dating for 4+ months. I know that doesn't seem long but he and I have clicked from the first moment we met. It is so easy for us to talk and hang out…we love to laugh and love to be surrounded by friends and family. That was an easy change/transition, but alas there is more. See, in a few days I'll add the change of graduate school to my life resume and I couldn't be more nervously excited…is that even possible? Nervous in the sense of I have no idea how life will all balance out, but excited in the new adventure and the career aspects that will come upon completing my degree in three (maybe less) years.
Along with the wonderful boy and the new adventure of grad school come the spiritual changes. See, I know that in the midst of it all God is stretching me bringing me into a season where if I even think about letting go of His goodness and love I'd be crazy. He orchestrates every aspect of my life and I know it was His blessing that lead me and Christian to meet and I know it is His grace and mercy that has given me the passion and strength to pursue my masters in Family Studies so I in turn can use it to help families in need.
So that is where I'm at on this day, Thursday, March 6, 2008. And this is the verse of the season…
"Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." ~ Philippians 4:4-7
And this one is just a bonus verse…
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment." ~ 1 John 4:18
Embrace change my friends for that is what will help shape your life…it is a great adventure!
Original Post: March 6, 2008
"Heal my heart and make it clean, open up my eyes to the things unseen. Show me how to love like you have loved me. Break my heart for what breaks yours. Everything I am for your kingdom's cause, as I walk from earth into eternity." ~ Hosanna, Hillsong United 2007
Little did I know that this has been the prayer deep in my heart for all of 2007. It wasn't until this summer that I realized it. For this summer was the first I heard it and every time I hear it since then all of my heart and soul is poured into each and every word.
"Heal my heart and make it clean" - That I may only know purity and love, that the hurts of the past would not cloud my future and all that is to come and the pain that is yet to be endured and persevered would be faced with absolute purity.
"open up my eyes to the things unseen." - That I would turn my eyes from myself and the things that cause me to be selfish and turn to you and seek a selfless faith. Open up my eyes to the things I turn a blind eye to that seem to not exist when in all reality exist more often than I would like.
"Show me how to love like you have loved me." - That I would know the purest and strongest love that ever existed, one in which God sent His only Son so that I could have abundant life. That as you have loved me I too can give that same love to others, that the love I show would have no end, would have no limitations...that I too can love just as you have loved me.
"Break my heart for what breaks yours." - That I would hurt as you hurt Lord, that I would not accept the things that are unacceptable to you. As I have been given a life that counts and I have been given a love that shines with your goodness I would fight for the things and the lives that you fight for.
"Everything I am for your kingdom's cause, as I walk from earth into eternity." - That everything I stand for, all the things that come from my heart and my mouth would represent and glorify you as I am here on earth and as I walk towards eternity.
I am so amazed at what God has done in 2007, the strength and growth that He has brought me. I look forward to 2008 and all the goodness that God will bring as He has so faithfully done in the past.
Original Post: December 30, 2007
• Emmanuel – the name given Jesus Christ as the deliverer of Judah prophesied by Isaiah
• Hallelujah – God be praised (uttered in worship or as an expression of rejoicing)
• Joy – a feeling of great pleasure and happiness
• Gloria – a Christian liturgical hymn or formula beginning (in the Latin text) with Gloria
I never realized how beautiful and significant all these words are until this Christmas. I hear these words at least once a year around this time if not more. So much power and significance it doesn't really make sense that we could so easily forget about them during the remainder of the year. I guess I've just realized how I've gotten so caught up in my own life and what crazy busy thing is going on right now that I've somehow forgotten the simplicity of this season and what it all means.
Yes there are always a ton of Christmas parties happening and gifts to buy, but how often do we really take a moment and reflect on the significance of this holiday? Do we only designate Christmas Eve in which we reserve for church to celebrate our Savior's birth or Christmas Day in which we might thank our Heavenly Father for the ultimate gift of His ONLY son before we enjoy a meal with our own families? What about all the other days of the year? We may not bust out the Christmas music, but the truth of this holiday is that without it we would remain lost.
I don't write this to be critical, I write this because I too am guilty of getting so caught up in the glitz of the season that I can forget the significance of it all and the true reason for the season. I think of how scared Mary must have been when given the task of giving birth to our Savior King. How much disbelief Joseph must have felt when told that he would be given the task of being Jesus' father here on earth. And what about Jesus himself, that is a daunting task to know that you are the one, the only one who will save a fallen world. But they did it all with such faith and strength. Not their own strength, but because of their faith and trust in God they all knew that things would work out exactly the way He intended them to.
I guess what I'm trying to say here is reflection. Reflect on those words you hear in the music this time of year. How often we sing "Emmanuel" or you see the word "joy." Think of the significance and the impact and joy that one Savior brought to a lost and fallen world, and continues to bring with the truth of His story and His purpose.
Original Post: December 7, 2007
"There is no greater love than this, there is no greater love that could ever be given. For a man to be willing to die so another might live, there is no greater love than this." ~ Steven Curtis Chapman
On this Thanksgiving week, I have no choice but to look at my life and be nothing more than grateful! As I sit here and write I can see out of the corner of my eye my sleeping prince, one of the newest additions to my family...my nephew, Billy. Then back home in Dallas is my other little prince, Baby Will who at 33 weeks decided it was time to enter our world even though he was still so small. I'm not surprised that Will is the fighter that he is, his dad (my brother) is a pretty stubborn/tough guy himself. ; )
October and November of this year have probably been two of the busiest and most surprising months of my life. God is so good, even in the times when I forget all that I'm believing for He doesn't. And the cool thing of it all is that in the midst of all the change and new additions not much has changed. My heart has just grown bigger, which is by far the greatest growing pain I will ever endure. When my niece was born last year I never knew I could love another human that much, but I was wrong...I loved her more, and now there are two more little bundles of joy to love just the same.
I think the greatest thing for me has been the fact that both of these little boys came into this world in the month of November, my birth month as well. They are by far the greatest gifts I could ever ask for. There is no greater love that I could be given in this season of my life than to have the honor of being called "Aunt Cristyn" or as my niece, Avery likes to say..."sta sta."
There is so much joy in the ability to love and to be loved in return. If you do nothing else this week, be sure to hug someone a little longer than normal, to share laughter with your family even if it's over something stupid, and be sure to express a grateful heart no matter how hard it may seem. We've been given the gift of love and joy by one who knew nothing else, so why not share it with all those you come in contact with.
Happy Thanksgiving and lots of Love,
Original Post: November 20, 2007
The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. ~ 1 Samuel 16:7
She prayed to see beyond the looking glass, for years she prayed that which she saw was not what appeared at first glance. As the months progressed and the years went by she was given a pathway, one that she always seemed to miss. A sea of green suddenly appeared as though it was all that ever existed. It shined and sparkled like never before. Then one night, one unexpected and heartbreaking night the sea flooded and the beauty that was hidden underneath seemed to overflow like never before. The flood was so rampant and so quick that it could fill any sea to overflowing. All that she had been praying for started to emerge.
She once heard a quote, one that quickly became a motto deep in her heart. "And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." So despite all that she heard before, the memories that still seemed so close that she could touch them she decided it was time to risk it all and begin to blossom, to step out of her once comfortable cocoon.
So she begins, a journey including many twists, turns, narrow and wide pathways, but never to return to the old again. For now, now she has finally begun to understand what it means to see beyond the looking glass.
Original Post: October 23, 2007
"Back to the drawing board," she claims with a bit of a sigh. Hope has been deferred once again, but not completely crushed. This time the drawing board doesn't seem so far back and it comes with new expectations, new hopes, and new dreams. Settling just isn't an option and having her mind made up for her doesn't seem fair either. So she begins to draw, she draws not an object, but the prayer that rests in her heart, the hope that ceases to exist. She's waited her whole life for God to bring this to pass, for the time when everything just seems to align. She wonders, "should I take a step forward, a left, a right, a step back, was there something behind me that I missed?" But then a peace comes and rests gently in her, a peace that surpasses any and all understanding that she has ever had. The smile reappears on her face, the sparkle in her eyes, and the glow of her face all return just as it was before. She suddenly realizes that all this time she has been looking down, that someone somewhere told her to look down so as not to stumble, not to fall. She then begins to look up and forward to see what it could be that she has been missing by looking down. Hope is what was missing all this time, hope that was planted in her heart so long ago suddenly seemed so hidden and lost. So as she looks up and moves forward she trusts that she will not stumble, she will not fall. She instinctively knows to step over this hurdle and go around that one, she has no fear of what might happen, but rather faith of what could be.
Original Post: August 27, 2007
Look to your left, right, now in front of you, and behind you. Now look up and then down…what did you see? Walls? Yeah, me to, however what we don't always realize is that those walls are nothing other than a temporary boundary line keeping us within our current position. If you step outside from wherever you are, work, home, errands, whatever you will find that you have more than one option to get to your next "boundary." I'm sure you're thinking that due to the fact that your car got you where you are now it seems to be the only option to get to the next destination, but you are wrong. See, you are fully capable of walking, running, catching a plane or boat, heck you could jump on a train, or snatch a bike from somewhere or someone (although that last one isn't recommended for any reason). I guess what I'm trying to point out is how often we limit ourselves based on our "boundaries" or most obviously our circumstances. I've realized most recently how much I limit myself because of this or that. Forget this or that, why not take a leap of faith, a chance and hope that I don't fall flat on my face. Should I, then I know not to try that way again. I'll just pick myself off, dust myself off, and start all over again just as I've always done since I was a little girl.
I'm just tired of shrinking back, hunkering down and beating myself up because of my circumstances, or the box that I place myself in. So now, after this newest chapter in my life ending way sooner than I anticipated I'm ready to take a huge leap of faith that I keep putting on the back burner time after time. We shall see what happens, it may end up being a huge mistake but the fact that the feeling the desire to follow through ceases to exist in me only means that I have to take this chance, this risk. We can't always place ourselves in these neatly organized, well kept, fear-driven boxes. Sometimes there is a little tug, and other times there is a forceful push to move us on to the next big thing. Don't ignore it, take a leap of faith, take a chance on "what could be," and find all that may be out there awaiting your arrival.
(originally written July 21, 2007)
Original Post: July 28, 2007
Entering the world for the first time, she is innocent, helpless and in need of a great love. Unbeknownst to her there is a love she is surrounded by, a love that will never let her go. She grows, she searches, she questions, she ponders and gradually finds a life that she longs for/she dreams of. She stumbles/she falls and with every new step, with each time she picks herself up, brushes herself off and starts all over again. As she stands she stands taller than before for the one that she leans on is stronger than she could ever hope or imagine. And she keeps moving forward.
The storms come, the clouds are continuous, dark, and everlasting...there seems no way around it, so she goes through it. She holds onto that great love that was revealed to her at an early age, even though she is still unaware of His true strength and true love. On the other side is joy, peace, and prosperity all that she had turned away from before.
And so she continues forward, and not alone but with an army of those who trust in the same great love and through the storms she gains strength and wisdom that she never knew existed before. Along the way she carries this song in her heart, one that has been with her since her very first days...
"Jesus loves me, this I know
for the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong,
they are weak, but He is strong."
"Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me,
the Bible tells me so."
Original Post: July 15, 2007
"Just when the caterpillar thought life was over, he became a butterfly."
It seems we all have a story much like the caterpillar mentioned above. When life seems to overtake us, when it seems to overwhelm with unanswered questions that pile up one after the other, we are ready to throw in the towel. But then, when we least expect it, a transition happens, something so beautiful it simply takes our breath away. It happens for the young girl who has never known a romantic love and right when she is ready to believe that love ceases to exist, her prince charming walks in. It happens for the young wife who over and over again has been told that children are not in the cards for her, and then suddenly she is pregnant. It happens for the team who is down by 3 runs, bases loaded, and the person least likely to hit a grand slam does, winning the game for the home team.
We see it all the time, we are surrounded by caterpillars turning into butterflies. So why then, if we see it all the time, if we are surrounded, do we choose to believe that it could never happen to us? Maybe I'm alone in this thought, maybe it is my season of life right now and the desire to have clearer answers that puts this weight on my heart, but maybe it's not. I allow the unanswered questions, and the blurry directions of life to convince me that it would be easier to just throw in the towel. I've made some decisions over the last month or so that are not like me at all, and other night I hit my breaking point. I had a Jacob wrestling with God moment and I can say that it wasn't the first time. As I ceased to back down, as I committed to stay right where I was until God had spoken to me, low and behold I realized the truth behind my current position and confusion.
It appears that my time has come to transition from a caterpillar to a butterfly and I am refusing. Only because this cocoon, this home I've known for so long is so comfortable, never changing, exactly the way I like it. Nobody can make us transition out, no one can push us out of our cocoon (whatever it may be), but the longer we stay the more we miss out on the next chapter, that season that we have longed for when we are able to fly.
As I decide whether to stay or go, I hope that you will take the chance at becoming a beautiful butterfly because if it weren't the right time, it wouldn't be an option.
Original Post: May 9, 2007