Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Forgiveness: The Ongoing Saga (Part II)

I had a really good talk with an awesome friend the other night. She and I are complete opposites in a lot of things when it comes to life, but when it comes to opening up ourselves to what God can do with us and sharing it with one another... well that my dear readers is something we do have in common. I love her heart, she drives me crazy sometimes and I don't always agree with her advice, but at the end of the day I find that she (in one way or another) does have a point.

We got on the topic of "forgiveness" and it was interesting and simple what she told me. She asked me why I couldn't just let it all go... my response to her? "I don't know, every time I think of what happened and try to forgive and let it go, I get so angry all over again." I've been praying for a long time for God to show me a way to forgive a deep seeded wound. It was interesting what I came across tonight that reminded me of all the reasons I've forgiven people and things in the past. I remember the good times, because despite whatever may have happened, despite my perspective on it all... there were good times, sweet times, moments where I felt loved and cared for. What happened was so simple and I believe to be a gentle guide from the one who loves me like none other. I drove past the Galleria Mall (in Dallas) on my way home from babysitting. Ever since I can remember the Galleria has always had such a delightful Christmas display inside and out (lights in the trees outside & a beautiful tree in the center of the inside). Just over 2 years ago in an effort to surprise me, I endured one of the most unexpected and sweet dates of my life. Granted I don't have a long track record in the dating department, but alas this one goes in the record books with an 'A' for effort. In a nutshell, in spite of the struggle to find a way to forgive, I remembered a good moment... that's been happening a lot in many different areas of my life lately.

Over a span of 3 years I've allowed a wound to be reopened time and time again. At the point where I've been stitched up and those stitches are about to be removed I find myself reopening the same wound. But this time... over the last 22 months I've felt the hand of God slowly, but surely stitching me up again. It's been a long process, to this day I still don't feel that the wound has been completely closed up, but with each happy/good memory I recall I feel a new stitch go in... I feel His healing touch as it continually places the pieces of my heart back together in what I hope to be a final intensive surgery session.

Just remember my friends... with the bad comes the good... remember the good times, it will help you through the deepest parts of pain.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Time & Hot Cocoa

What a random title I've composed... what can I say, I guess when you hit blog number 100 you start to fade in the creativity department. Oh how I hope not, I anticipate many more blogs to come, way surpassing the 100 mark.

Time has been a big thing on my heart lately though, and oddly enough my most thought provoking moments come late at night over a cup of hot cocoa (or coffee, depending on if school is in session or not). I don't know what it is about time, but with it comes so much revelation, change, and the hope of new promises and possibilities. As I type this out I'm staring at a sign posted on the back of my bedroom door. It includes a thought provoking statement that represents this season of life for me and within the statement is the word "time." The other day I was thinking back to where I was 2 years ago and when I thought about it I realized that I don't even recognize the girl I was 2 years ago... time has brought a lot of change. I used to think that time and change were bad. That time seemed to take forever to pass by and that anything that changed only brought frustration and stress. As I've learned to grasp hold of both concepts I see God changing me. What changed me nearly 2 years ago was the reality of life and death... how quickly they both come. The reality of needing to grow up, to embrace change and trust in the one holding me in His hands all came as a result.

When I stop and think about time and change and how much they intersect one another, it brings tears to my eyes. There is a part of me that wishes so much that I could have what changed 2 years ago here with me now, but then I realize that change and the time that has passed is what got me to where I am now... a blessed land. It's funny, I'm only 28, but still life has not gone at all the way I thought it would. I'm realizing that's okay, I've seen that in the midst of the unplanned it's really not that bad. In fact, I'm finding that with my "plan" I'd probably be a lot more lost, still trying to embrace both time and change.

Time brings change and sometimes change takes time. Be patient dear friends, for it will all make sense in the end.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


for-give-ness ~ noun
the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven

"This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."
~ Matthew 26:28

We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
"Do to others as you would have them do to you." ~ Luke 6:31

We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift." ~ Matthew 5:23-24

Ah, forgiveness... quite possibly one of the hardest (and sometimes disliked) words in the English language, and maybe even in other languages as well. Why is that? Why is it so difficult for us to acknowledge that we are wrong, why do we often times seem to let our pride get the best of us? Do we realize that when we don't forgive we are choking the life out of ourselves... we're choosing to live a life grumpy and dissatisfied (even if we won't admit it).

I've been on this journey towards forgiveness for about 8 1/2 months now, and before that it took me a whole year to even acknowledge I needed to begin the journey. It's hard, to admit when you are wrong, to realize that in the midst of losing something (or someone) in your life, you find that you have some faults/character defects that played a role is hard. For a type A, slight OCD personality such as myself, I hate messing up. I hate being wrong, and I most definitely hate making mistakes. But alas, I've discovered that I am not perfect, nor will I ever be... at least not on this side of Heaven. Is God perfecting me? Yes, I do believe that. Am I learning from my mistakes, from my past? I sure hope so.

Here's what I'm trying to get at. Eventually you will grow tired of living a life with an unforgiving heart. And I'm not saying the whole heart is unforgiving, but if you walk with any unforgiveness towards another, there's a place in your heart that is not willing to forgive. I'll be the first to admit that I have it, and I pray each day that there will come a point in time where I can walk out forgiveness towards a certain situation. But for right now, my first step is admitting to God (and you, my readers) that out of a sense of needing to protect myself I find it very difficult to forgive at this point in time. I realize it is choking the life out of me, I feel it everyday and I fear it towards my future... but all I can do right now is trust that there will come a day when my heart changes and forgiveness for this situation doesn't seem so hard.

I will say this, in the last few weeks I've had other situations that I had been holding onto anger and resentment and finally just got tired of it. I got tired of carrying that burden and having such a dark spot in my heart... it wasn't worth the pain that I was holding onto. Another point about all this is that you forgiving another doesn't require a conversation with that person... but what it does require is a conversation with God and absolute sincerity. Trust me when I say he hears ya, he knows your pain and he wants to fix it... you just have to let him. God and I have had several knock down, drag out fights over the last 20 months and I believe and hope that I am coming to a place of peace and forgiveness towards him.

As I close I leave you with one question... Are you willing?

"Examine yourself and see if you have forgotten how to be sorry."
~ Oswald Chambers

Friday, December 11, 2009

Just a Fool?

"You're just a fool, just a fool to believe you can change the world.*"

Most times when I write I can close my eyes and see what is written on my heart being transferred to paper... tonight is no different, but it comes with a heavy heart. You see there has been this battle of the mindsets lately and after a long week and a long day I looked in the mirror and what I heard was "Look what you built...I'm proud of you." Words from my Heavenly Father and at a time when I was not looking for reassurance or affirmation, just looking to lay my head down for a good night's rest.

I guess what prompted all this is not just the battle between the lies I hear and the truth I know deep down inside, but the physicality of actually piecing something together tonight. I spent my evening putting together what seemed like a billion pieces of wood with a billion nuts and bolts in what has turned out to be a beautiful dining table and chairs.

But it wasn't just about what I could build with my hands, but the things in my life God has taken and together we've built a story of victory and an ability to overcome. Sometimes I forget that, and then I see the reminders all around me and when I'm finally still I allow God to minister to me, to show me the love, encouragement, and affirmation that I so long for and that only He could give. These moments have been few and far between lately and I guess that's what gets me to the title of my blog here. Sometimes I feel like such a fool and daily I feel as though I've done foolish things... but God is teaching me I'm human and I'm bound to make mistakes... it's okay. It's what I learn from those mistakes that matters the most, can I walk it out free of pride and allowing God to change me.... I hope so. God told me He's going to use me to change the world, now it's up to me to utilize the tools He's given me (much like the tools I used to build the dining set) to fulfill the promise He has laid out before me. Do I feel the fool right now? Yes, but I'd play the fool for God any day if it means it will draw me that much closer to Heaven and to Him.

"Don't listen to them when they say
You're just a fool just a fool
to believe you can change the world.
Oh the smallest thing can make all the difference
Love is alive
Don't listen to 'em when they say
You're just a fool just a fool
to believe you can change the world.*"

* Carrie Underwood, Change, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Promise

The Promise to redeem us, one to free us
Break this silence in the violence of our lives
~ Michael W. Smith, The Promise 2007

I love this time of year! All the lights, laughter, joy, music, food, family, friends, etc. But that's not all of it... for this is the time of year where we celebrate the greatest gift given to the world, that of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Yes there is something sweet and wonderful about the way Christmas music and lights and trees make you feel, but what about the blessing that comes with this celebration? That is what I've been meditating on lately. This blog might be a little premature, but I just couldn't hold it in any longer... I think mostly because I have lost sight of the promise given to me and it hit me full force tonight.

Tonight I spent some time with a dear friend and as we were talking I nonchalantly shared one of my greatest fears with her and it was in that moment that I realized I had given up. Given up on God, given up on me, given up on the truth...

God set before me a vision, a dream, a promise my sophmore year in college and there has been so much hope tied up in that and for whatever reason over the last year I've gotten off track and lost sight of what it is that He is calling me to. Yes I am pursuing my masters and yes I believe God has called me to do that, however that is only part of the dream/promise that He has set before me... the other part is what I've lost touch with. And this finally gets me to why I'm writing... promises. God promised the world to numerous characters in the Bible and as I picked it up to search and study these promises, these are the ones that stood out to me...

To Abram:
"Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward." ~ Gen. 15:1

To Joseph:
"But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.' All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet." ~ Matt. 1:20-22

To Mary:
"But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.'" ~ Luke 1:30-33

Notice how He tells Abram, Joseph, and Mary to not be afraid. How is it that one little four letter word (FEAR) can keep us from fulfilling that which God has promised us or set out before us? For me my promise is not all in my hands (it's a 2 part deal), but the part that is means I've gotta have a little five letter word (FAITH). All the time I ask people to trust me, to have a little faith in me, to give me a chance, but yet I'm always the last person to follow that advice. I'm always the last person to trust myself, to have a little faith in me, and most definitely to give myself any sort of chance. Maybe it's about time to change all that.

Of course I realize this is a little bit easier said than done, so I set before you the first challenge for the coming year... I guess you can call it a Faith challenge (and by all means, keep me accountable too). Search your heart dear friend, see what it is that God has promised you, what you hope for, what you've heard God speak over you and mediate on it for a bit. Mediate to see if you've lost touch with that promise or if you've lost hope in the idea or in God. He won't be mad, I promise... He just wants you to be honest. Take a leap in 2010 and reignite that passion towards that promise that God has set before you (whether just recently or some time ago).

I think you'll be pleasantly surprised in what God can do and will do... be sure to keep me posted, I too want to hear how God is making your dreams come true!


Monday, November 30, 2009

Conversations with God

I went for a walk this evening. It was lovely, cold, crisp, and the path was only illuminated by that of the moon... it was a sweet evening with God. As I was walking the trail behind my apartment complex I started to think of all the conversations we have with God daily, what would others think if they could hear us? Would they understand? Could they too relate to what the Lord and I were conversing over?

I come before you tonight my dear readers with my heart on my sleeve and snip-its of my conversation with God this evening as we walked together around the "lake."

Me: [at the beginning of my walk, not thinking much of anything]
God: How long are you going to avoid this? You know you have to deal with this right?
Me: I was kinda hoping it would just go away, that if I ignored it long enough or brushed it to the side it would wash away in the past
God: Nope!

Me: So how does this work? I've tried for months now to "get over it" to "let it go" and "move on"... clearly not working, what am I missing?
God: For starters, you're not me... there is no clear cut escape, nothing clean about it... it's gonna hurt and it's gonna suck, but you have to allow yourself to feel every part of it
Me: I'm not trying to be you, I don't want to be you, that's a lot of responsibility. I just want to be healed and know that I can move forward with my life and that my past won't hurt another
God: I made you, you're a Type A Control freak, it bugs the heck out of you that you can't fix this, that you can't put a band-aid on it and move on. Your past might hurt someone moving forward, but you have to trust me in order to find out. In order to find out if it even matters and if that hurt is enough to keep people away.

Me: I don't want to cry anymore, I don't want to pray about it, I just want it to go away, how do I make it go away
God: You walk through it. Remember that song you'd sing to your pre-school students about the bear hunt? The only way you're gonna move forward and continue on is to go through "it"... whether it be good, bad, or all the stuff in between.

Me: [long quiet contemplation as I continue my walk...]
God: You are going to get through this, I know you. You will walk out all the more stronger and wiser, you just have to trust me and as scary as it sounds you have to trust yourself. Feel every part of life, feel the pain, the joy, the fear, the sadness, the anger... all of it. That is how you're going to get through it.

Me: [softly singing as I sit quietly in my designated quiet time space...] "So I fall before you; in all of my shame; ready and willing to be changed. Own me, take all that I am, and heal me with the blood of the lamb. Mold me with your gracious hand; break me till I'm only yours, own me.*"

*Own Me by Ginny Owens, 1999

Friday, November 20, 2009

Something's Changed...

So, my birthday is today... yep, normally I'm ecstatic about this day of the year, but the last couple of years have found me facing it more quietly and with a little less gusto. I think in years past I've gotten a little obnoxious with my birthday countdown and the fact that it stretched over a weeks time as I celebrated with friends and family. However, with the age of 27 and now 28 came the realization that there would from now on be a part of my birthday celebration missing, my nephew, Billy. You see he too was a November baby, like his cousin Will and myself. I was so excited as my 26th birthday grew near... the two weeks leading into it I celebrated the birth of not one, but two nephews and now it's just me and Will without B that celebrate our birthdays each year. I have the revelation that 'B' is in a much better place, but it doesn't make it hurt any less, it doesn't make me miss my birthday buddy any less with each passing year.

I guess I set myself up for failure when I put so many unspoken expectations on sharing my birthday month with Billy and Will. When those boys were born suddenly everything changed. I had gone from never having to share my birthday celebration with anyone in my family to sharing it with two amazing and remarkable boys. This is quite a selfish blog on my part, but I think it has its lessons learned and changes of perspective, which I will get to now...

Everything changed after Billy died, I changed, life changed, my vision for life, passion, and God all changed. This is nothing new, I've stated this more than a dozen times before, but it just seemed relevant to share once again today. Ever since Billy died there were certain things in life that just didn't seem important anymore. One of those things for me was my birthday, it sounds a little depressing/sad, but I don't mean it in that way. My birthday became a day to reflect on the blessings bestowed upon me versus how I've blessed the world somehow just by being alive. Spending time with family and friends took on a much deeper meaning and I hope that I've been able to show a deeper appreciation for the role of each of them in my life. When I woke up this morning I was greeted with so many wonderful birthday wishes of blessings and love, and I so appreciate each one of them. But the important thing for me not to lose sight of here is that whether those things are said every other day of the year or not, they are there... the blessings, the love, the encouragement, the support... it's all there the other 364 days, even when unspoken.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Season to Reflect

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

As I was drifting off to dreamland last night and was sharing some thoughts, hopes, and dreams with the Lord I began to reflect on seasons of life. The last couple of years have been really interesting and not at all what was expected (pretty typical of most seasons I guess). As I thought back on what led me into the season I'm in now, I realized that there seem to be themes and that I seem to be towards the end of a trilogy (so to speak).

When I stepped into 2008 I had a completely different vision for where my life was headed. In January 2008 I was on this crazy high regarding life and little did I know it was all about to get flipped upside down. I made the leap of faith to finally begin graduate school (after 2.5 years of contemplating and having been accepted by a school). It was a really big deal and I wanted to know what I was doing was right, so I prayed and left it with God, I left with Him the promise that if any point in time this turned out not to be the path He had for me, I would graciously walk away and have faith that He would guide me in the right direction. This was a big step for someone who wants to complete everything she begins and wants to do it with excellence. In March I began my graduate school career and two weeks later I almost quit, convinced that because of the death of my nephew that it just wasn't what God wanted for me. Was I ever wrong, and so glad I was. After missing a chunk of school work I was able to catch up and found myself with an 'A' in my first grad school course. As the months and year wore on I would soon face other curve balls in the game of life and soon find myself feeling as though there was nothing left... but I kept at it, I kept my eye on the prize. Moving into 2009 I began to rebuild what I felt I lost, all the while realizing I lost a part of me in all of it. I found 2008 to be a year of loss and what seemed to be continuous pain. I choose to believe that 2009 would bring restoration of a broken heart, trust that what the enemy intends for evil the Lord truly does turn to good. I like to think of 2009 as my year of rebuilding, rediscovering, and accepting truth.

Here I sit, after finishing my eighth class for this year, adding to my grad school credits a completion of 33 hours and only 15 left to go before I graduate next November. I can't believe it, I kind of want to cry. How I got here, I couldn't tell you, I couldn't even draw you a map if forced to. All the credit goes to God, for I am tired and weak and had it been by my own strength I think I would have quit a long time ago. 2009 truly has been a rebuilding year through residual pain.

So what is left in what appears to be a trilogy of seasons is that of 2010. Do I know what to expect? No. Do I want to try? Not really, I'm finding that being surprised sometimes isn't as scary as one might believe it to be. If I had to take a guess on what "theme" would come with 2010, what lays on my heart at this time is "acceptance." A year to find my own way, to trust that I can do many things, and that even in the times where I trip and fall there is a Heavenly Father who accepts me with open arms to comfort me, to love me, and to encourage me.

I look forward to continuing to share life's adventures with you my dear readers. Tonight I leave with you a song (of course, what else were you expecting?). I'm very much already in the Christmas mood and so I've been listening to music already (don't judge me, it makes me happy and stress free)... Michael W. Smith has a remarkable song entitled "The Promise" and I leave with you a few verses to reflect on. I pray that this year has been kind to you and even in those times where it hasn't been I pray that 2010 will bring you so much more than you could hope and expect. Trust Him, trust the hand that guides you daily and know that there is nothing that is too difficult for God... He's with you.

"Fear not, oh, Israel for there is peace still to come
A word to break the silence, a promise set to bloom
The promise to redeem us, one to free us
Break this silence in the violence of our lives

Emmanuel is sure to find us soon
The mighty rule to Jesse's star of truth
And bring us unto glory, tell His story
Heal the broken and restore thee to His name

The star will guide us to the humble place
Where Christ the King reveals his earthly face
And we will see Emmanuel, God is with us
God is for us, God is in us, we will see"

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes." ~ Psalm 37:7

"Be still and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations.
I will be exalted in all the earth." ~ Psalm 46:10

As I sit here in the quietness of the evening, in the stillness of the day I think of you. I think of that which you've called me to... a life sometimes unbearable to walk out. But I close my eyes, I see your face, I feel your touch and all my expectations just melt away. My hopes and dreams look different in your eyes, along your path. For me it's about getting to the next step, but for you it's about understanding the step I'm on now before moving forward. It's about fully loving, trusting, understanding and in those times where understanding is impossible it's about letting go. When my heart breaks for what was or could have been I find strength in knowing that I have yet to see how the story unfolds, I have comfort in knowing that you are not done with me yet... thank you. On those days where I feel as though I'm walking with a scarlet letter pinned to me I find I have to trust that only you know all there is to know about me, not even I can comprehend that much.

So I close my eyes, and as a tear rolls down my cheek in all that I hope to be for you, I walk in brokenness searching for that stillness, that peace that only you can bring. When I seek the comfort of another I realize that it is first and foremost you that I need. Come, come into my heart and my life, plant your roots in me that I may become a shining light out of this darkness. And help to be okay with those times that brokenness may find its way into my life, for those are the times where I gain strength and understanding in all that you are and all that I am not. Help me to be still...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Caught Between Heaven & Earth

Today would have been Billy's 2nd birthday... and I was doing well, functioning through the day until around 7pm. My bible study is working through the book by Francis Chan entitled "Crazy Love" (an amazing read by the way, I totally recommend it). Tonight's discussion was on death (of course, what better timing, right?) and if there was anyone that we knew that died unexpectedly, what achievements did they leave behind, what regrets might they have had? I lost it in a sea of silent tears. I couldn't speak up, I was torn with anger. My heart broke for the little boy who didn't get to live life with us here on earth. But I realize that is the selfish part in me, for I know that he is experiencing a much more fruitful life and joyous experience in Heaven on a daily basis with the one who created us all.

What I realized through my grief and anger today is that I'm stuck in a place I don't want to be, but at the same time I don't want to leave. I'm stuck between Heaven and living a life of eternity with God and those who have gone before me & living life here on earth with those I love and still walk life with. A couple months after Maria Chapman died (Steven Curtis Chapman's daughter), Steven Curtis Chapman wrote that he and his wife wanted to be with Jesus now and didn't want to wait, but yet they had to wait until God called them home. I think that is the hardest part in all this. As much as I have here on earth yet to finish, I often think of how much greater it will be to live in eternity with my Heavenly Father. I long for all the moments I missed with 'B'. I long to hold him again, to nap with him, to see him laugh, to see him walk, talk, all of it. In my mind I know that day will come when it's time, but my heart longs to see that sweet face again.

I sat down at Billy's grave sight today for a long time, just talking to him. I talked to him about how much we all missed him, and how I wondered what he would look like now... would he have blonde hair like his daddy and sister? Would he be a ham like Avery and Nathan? I wondered how he would say "Aunt Cristyn." All the things that run through my mind more often than not. I wondered if he, Avery, & Nathan would be like the three musketeers. I see so many similarities in all three of them and can't help but think if they had been given the chance that here on earth they may have been the greatest of friends (in between their sibling rivalry moments of course).

I long in the deepest part of my heart to see that sweet face again soon, but until that time comes I pray God gives me the strength to finish the work here on earth He has called me to. I was called to live a life that counts and not give up. I will see my 'B' again and I look forward to the day that he runs to me and takes my hand and introduces me to our Heavenly Father. I look forward to the day where I am no longer caught between Heaven and Earth.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Great Love for a Grieving Heart

"To God belong wisdom and power;
counsel and understanding are his.
He reveals the deep things of darkness
and brings deep shadows into the light."
~ Job 12:13, 22

In a previous blog posting entitled "No Greater Love..." I spoke of how grateful I was to have the family I have and the joy of having become an aunt twice more within a two week span. Now nearly two years later much has changed but the one thing that continues to reiterate within me and the constant whisper of God that tugs on my heart is that of a great love. I have never realized the strength and power of love until that joy I had two years ago came crashing down only 5 months later. Here I am on the eve of what would have been my precious nephew, Billy's second birthday and all I can say is "how did I get here?". And this is not a phrase of despair, but rather a phrase of shock, disbelief, gratefulness, peace, and healing all wrapped into one. God has shown nothing but GREAT love for my family and even in the moments where I still cry and I still grieve over losing such a precious gift, I find that what was left behind, the legacy Billy left within me, is an ability to love deeper, to understand greater, and to laugh harder. For although it has been 582 days since our family gave Billy back to Jesus to live with Him for eternity, it just means that there are 582 less days on earth we have to live without him and therefore we are that much closer to seeing him in the Kingdom of God.

This last week I've spent time looking back at the last two years of my life and where I have been, the valleys I have walked through, where God has lead me and where He continues to guide me as I walk into the fullness that He has set before me. I am in awe of His greatness, for it is nothing that I did. In fact if it was up to me or by my own strength I definitely would be curled up in a corner somewhere enduring a complete and total emotional breakdown. Love is what is getting my family through this time and love is what will continue to get us through as the years go by. I'm so blessed, I love how God has taken a family that has always been so close and just drawn us closer to one another. I love that what the enemy meant for evil, God took and made good. Out of the grief of losing their son, my sister and her husband created a non-profit (SIDS America) to help other families walk through their grief. They are able to share with others how God spoke over them, how He walked with them (and continues to do so) through their grief, and how God is healing their hearts. Billy has left behind a greater legacy than I'm sure even he could ever imagine... I have no doubt that he couldn't be more proud of his mommy and daddy here on earth, I know I am. A legacy and organization I too hope to help out with in the near future.

Tonight as I get ready to close my eyes and wake up to another birthday without Billy, I leave you with a song that brings comfort to a grieving heart...

"Broken hearted from all you have lost
How can you sing through your tears?
What is this music that can bear such a cost?
What is this fire that grows stronger against the wind?
What kind of flame can this be?

This is the love that God showed the world
When He gave us His Son
So we could know His love forever
Beyond the gates of splendor."

~ No Greater Love, Steven Curtis Chapman

Sunday, October 25, 2009

This IS my Story...

Have you ever sat and listened to a song, I mean really listen to it, specifically the words? Often times that's all I hear, I don't hear the music at all. Today's song is the wonderful worship song, "Blessed Assurance." Such powerful words and re-done quite a few times by some amazingly talented worship leaders. Ross Parsley, the worship leader of New Life Church in Colorado Springs had his worship team record it on their Counting on God album, which was released around the time that my nephew passed away and right after their church endured two different tragedies only 13 months apart. In case it's been a while since you've heard it here are the words that have replayed over and over in my head today:

"This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long."

On the Counting on God album Ross Parsley leads his whole church from the worship song, "Overcome" into those two lines from Blessed Assurance, and they sing it over and over again... that's all they sing, and for me that's all they needed to. I'm laughing at myself right now because through the tears and rapid typing I feel as though if I don't get this blog written soon someone might miss it... breathe with me now won't you?

Whew... okay, I'm back and focused again : )

I've been taking some trips down memory lane lately and I got to thinking about my story, the one God has neatly written and knit together. Sometimes it's almost unbelievable where I've been and where God is leading me... and I'm only 28 (ok, so I'm rounding up, but I only have about 27 more days before I hit that mark). I was looking at the picture of me and Avery the day she was born the other night... I was 24 at the time...

(look how tiny she is... look how young I am)

That little girl is now 3 1/2 years old and has the biggest heart of anyone I've ever met in my life. She is a part of the last nearly 28 years that make up my story thus far. Along with the joys of becoming an aunt (8 times in the last 3.5 years) there have been plenty of tears and heart break and gut wrenching decisions that got me onto the path that I'm on now, the path that is leading me into what will be the pursuit of a 5 year long dream. I don't know if any of this makes sense, I think my ramblings are even confusing me, but you gotta hear this... I do have a point.

We all have a story, it's different from any other and that is what makes it great. One of these days I'll have the courage (and the words) to share all that God has done in me. Some of you already know, others of you don't and when the time is right it will find it's way to Heart of the Matter.

Lastly I want to share with you the story of another. I mentioned New Life Worship & Ross Parsley at the beginning of this blog, the following video on YouTube explains the story of their song "Overcome."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Is God Enough?

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." ~ Psalm 51:10-12

I just got off the phone with one of the most amazing women I know, she has only recently come into my life and I couldn't be more blessed by the wisdom God pours into her to share with me. Tonight I was sharing with her some aspects of my life where I'm really discouraged right now and other areas that have totally thrown me off focus. The question that kept coming up was, "can you trust God in this season of life, can He be enough for you when you are desiring other things that are not yet fulfilled?" Ouch, it hit right to my core, straight to the soul. She also asked me if there was one area of my life where I had no doubt in my mind that I was walking out God's purpose for my life. I told her of one, but in all honesty I can think of two. The first and most recent is that of pursuing my graduate studies in counseling. There is such an amazing testimony in how God has really placed His hand on my life as I travel this path. I don't intend to keep it a secret forever, but it is definitely being saved up for a graduation speech ; ) Assuming there is a speech of course. The other is the path it took me to recover from my eating disorder so many years (9 years in January to be exact) ago. When it finally hit me that I was not living the life God had purposed for me I had no questions about my recovery and the steps required to get there (and stay there).

To answer my friend's question, "yes, I can trust Him.... at least in the areas I have no question about His intended purpose." The real question I have to ask myself now is "can I trust Him with the areas where I have yet to see His purpose fulfilled or the desires of my heart answered? Can God be enough while I wait?" Before I was able to share with my sweet friend I shared with someone else via text that I felt confirmation that I had yet to find peace in a certain area of my life. My conversation tonight confirmed that clearly I'm not finding God to be enough, I'm not allowing Him to be enough. I still struggle to find control when things don't go exactly as I would hope or plan, now it is time to lay it down (past time actually) and let God be enough in every area of my life. I trust that He'll be enough to provide the finances I need when I start an internship that pays nothing, I trust that He'll open doors that are more than I could ever imagine when pursuing different options for my internship, and I trust that despite my unbelief sometimes He is going to use me to speak to the world, to share that which He has done and continues to do in me.

My question to you dear friends on this Tuesday night is this... "Is God enough?" is He enough for you when your husband/wife does not meet your expectations, when your children do not obey or are not following the Lord, is God enough when you have no idea how the bills are going to get paid in the state of our economy? Is He enough when it seems the whole world has let you down? What will it take for you to say, "Lord, you are more than enough..."

"PEACE. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart." ~ unknown

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Once Upon A Time... Where I Stood

"There were sounds in my head
Little voices whispering
That I should go and this should end
Oh and I found myself listening"

Some say "time heals all wounds" others say "time is your best friend," personally I just combine the two. I've given my heart time to heal and feel like I'm being really good with patience in some areas of my life, but then there are these little things that keep popping up that make me go "whatcha talkin' 'bout Willis?" Of course I'm really talking to God so it's more like "Dude, what the heck? Seriously?!? I thought my past was supposed to just go away after some time." I guess when you don't really deal with it and just wish it all away it finds it's creepy crawly way back into your present day life. So now I've decided that no matter how long it takes, I'm not going to brush it under the rug, but rather process through it. I realize I'm kind of vague in my details here, but please recognize it is to protect the innocent. I've chosen to be angry for a long time about a certain situation (actually a couple situations) and I am the only one that can carry that burden, at least until I actively choose to hand it over to God and move on.

I wrote before of how I find life through song lyrics and this blog is no different. I found a song this weekend that speaks true to the battle within my heart over the last several months. I've finally come to a point in my life where I realize for me to walk in the fullness that God has for me I have to be willing to let go of the past... past hurts, past heart breaks, past lies, past sins, overall my past lifestyle. It's hard to find a way to let go of what you once held so dear and even loved once upon a time, but now, well now I stand in a completely different place and there is someone else (or will someday be) standing where I once thought I'd be forever. I in turn look forward to my someday and I thank the person who is or most recently was standing in the place that I will one day be. I'm in a season where I'm finding who I am and learning to trust myself. I do have someone to thank for that (actually a couple someone's) and it is my heart's desire that one day I'll be able to let go of the hurt and fully open my heart in absolute gratefulness. It's a choice everyday to be grateful, to be happy, and to walk in the path laid out before me. I hope that with this writing I will begin a change that one day I will look back on as a significant point in my life...

"'Cos I dont know who I am, who I am without you
All I know is that I should
And I don't know if I could stand another hand upon you
All I know is that I should
'Cos she will love you more than I could
She who dares to stand where I stood

But you taught me how to trust myself and so I say to you
This is what I have to do"

~ Where I Stood, Missy Higgins

Monday, September 28, 2009

But a breath...

I see life in music lyrics and lately a subject that has been heavy on my heart is our time here on earth. In the middle of dissecting this matter I heard Brooke Fraser's "C.S. Lewis Song"... if you haven't heard it you should, it speaks volumes....

When I hear this song, rather when I belt this song out at the top of my lungs in the confines of my car (or occasionally at home) my heart just melts at the bridge where she sings about our time here on earth being but a breath and so we better breathe it in. I always think back on my life during this part and I think how quickly time passes and life changes and lives end. I write this because it gives me a voice I can't find otherwise. I write a lot about my nephew, Billy, who passed away in March 2008. I guess you can say I'm still feeling the effects and with my studies to become a counselor I can't help but continue to dig deep within me to allow God to bring up that which is not my most glorifying. I have emotional vomit on a regular basis these days and when I think of Billy I think of how much I missed with him and how much I continue to miss as he grows up in Heaven and I continue life here on earth. It's hard, but deep down somewhere within me there is that realization that hope is coming. I've already seen parts of it through Billy's younger brother, Nathan, who is now 6 months old and without realizing it has a lot of the same mannerisms as B did. Don't get me wrong, I don't see Nathan as a replacement, I see him as a wonderful and beautiful gift from God and I choose to believe (whether right or wrong, I don't know) that Billy guided Nathan before he got here. I just have this feeling that he told Nathan that their older sister, Avery, is a total ham and he would enjoy playing and laughing with her. I believe B probably told Nathan the little things that would bring joy to his mommy and daddy. I believe he encouraged Nathan to be his own little person because that in and of itself would bring so much healing to a broken family.

I lose way of my thoughts very quickly when the Spirit moves, but the fact of the matter in all this is don't make up excuses or reasons not to do things, not to follow your dreams, or not to get to know someone... life is but a breath... you better breathe it in before it is gone. For me I began to finally chase a dream March 15, 2008.... two weeks later God took Billy home and it crossed my mind to give it all up, to just forget it, but I didn't. I breathed it in and now in less than 13 months I will have successfully finished my masters and on the path to becoming a licensed professional counselor. When I get tired or weary with my studies I remember the little boy who brought so much light and life to all those around him and I'm encouraged to keep pressing in.

"If I find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy,
I can only conclude that I was not made for here
If the felsh that I fight is at best only light and momentary,
then ofcourse I'll feel nude when to where I'm destined I'm compared

Speak to me in the light of the dawn
Mercy comes with the morning
I will sigh and with all creation groan as I wait for hope to come for me

Am I lost or just found? On the straight or on the roundabout of the wrong way?
is this a soul that stirs in me, is it breaking free, wanting to come alive?
Cos my comfort would prefer for me to be numb
An avoid the impending birth of who I was born to become

For we, we are not long here
Our time is but a breath, so we better breathe it
And I, I was made to live, I was made to love, I was made to know you
Hope is coming for me
Hope, He's coming"

~ C.S. Lewis Song, Brooke Fraser

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ecuador: Adventures from the land of Guineas!!

Hello dear friends! Well, it has been 5 full days since I've returned stateside and I'm still recouping from lack of sleep... but then I realize I'm a full-time multi-tasker (work, school, volunteer, babysit, aunt) that sleep isn't really one of those things I do anyway. I wanted to hit some highlights about our trip (and promise not to bore you with every detail... that's what coffee talks are for).

Overall, we had a great time and an even greater team. A team of 13 of us went and spent 2 weeks in Cuenca, Ecuador with Steve and Bobbie Clark. Steve and Bobbie are not missionaries with my home church (Trinity Church Dallas), however their daughter (Krissy) is on staff and a great friend of mine as well. We became the first team that Trinity has sent to Ecuador and I have to say I truly believe we set the bar pretty high ; ) The people of Ecuador were so gracious, warm, and welcoming....

... okay, so maybe they weren't there to greet us, but I think we are way cooler (and cuter) than some crazy soccer (or futbol...whatever) team they were really waiting for. Our first day was spent sight seeing in Quito, Ecuador (the capital) as were unable to get to Cuenca until that evening. We had a great time taking team pictures and exploring the center of the world...

It's a little difficult to see, but we are all there and lined up along the Equator line. After spending a day in Quito, it was time to get down to business and head to Cuenca where we worked with Steve and Bobbie and their church for 2 weeks. Every person on the team brought such excitement and talent and it was truly an honor and blessing to travel, sleep, eat, laugh, and work with these 12 other guineas for two weeks. We did quite a few projects at the Clark's house. I started off my trip by cleaning Bobbie's kitchen for 2 days straight... she says it sparkles : ) But don't tell my mom because then I'll have to clean her kitchen too : O The boys worked diligently on building a sidewalk and extra classrooms for the church... here is what we left behind as a reminder...

... so you kinda have to tilt your head to the left, but you get the point. We also worked on washing the tent (inside and out), wiping down chairs, and painting classrooms that were already existing (word to the wise, painting cinder blocks not an easy task... oh and it might be a while before I enjoy the color blue again). We truly enjoyed working together and with the assistance of many different iPods we even brought a little karaoke to Ecuador. We were constantly laughing with and at one another. In addition to all our laborous work we held a few workshops in the evenings for the worship team, children's church team, and drama team. I got to work with the drama team and that was awesome (I know, I know... you're probably not surprised that I worked with the dramatic teens). Friday night of our first week we split into groups of 3 and went to 4 different small groups to speak. I had the opportunity to share what God has been doing in me and through me since the loss of my nephew, Billy last year. It was truly an honor to share with these people, despite the language barrier. So many warm, welcoming hearts and homes... it was truly a blessing to be there.

I have so much more to share, but yet I feel like I need to leave something to talk about over coffee. I will leave you with the end as that was pretty interesting. With only one flight (meaning one plane) out of the city we were in at the end of our trip (Guaygil, Ecuador) we found out early Friday morning (Sept. 18) that we would not be heading home at our allotted time. Oh well, that meant we got to stay a wee bit longer and American Airlines put us up in a pretty swanky hotel... the Hilton. It was beautiful and the buffets of food were never ending... so much food, so little space for me to fit it in. In addition, upon arrival at the hotel we found out that the Ms. Latin Americas beauty pagent was occurring that weekend and the contestants were staying at the Hilton as well.

After a hearty second breakfast (we had already eaten before traveling to the airport to find out our plane was no bueno) we ventured out to the pool area. Of course at the same time the contestants were filming and being photographed. The boys were ooing and ahhing, the girls were just laughing at the whole experience... what a strange way to end a mission trip. Here is the photographic evidence so you'll see I'm not making this up....

You may not even care that much, but never in a million years do I believe another trip will end the same (unless another team goes the same time next year and ends up in the Hilton as well). In addition the President and Vice President of Ecuador were supposedly there, however the secret service was so minimal you would never have known (except someone told us).

There you have it... lots of adventures, lots of stories, and so much more to share. Let me know if you want to hear more. Thank you for the support as we traveled, your prayers were greatly received and appreciated.

With My Utmost Gratitude,
Cristyn : )

Sunday, August 23, 2009

One Day Further....

You know when there is something exciting that you are anticipating you might find yourself counting down the days till said event occurs. For example, tonight there are tons of little 5-year-olds too excited or anxious to sleep because tomorrow is the first day of Kindergarten... their first day of school with big kids. Or the teenager who is just a few weeks from turning 16 and being able to show his/her independence by obtaining their drivers license, and the thousands of first year college students who will, over the coming weeks, uproot themselves from their hometown and will plant themselves in a completely new city, state, and/or country to begin their education that will help mold their future careers. Those are the ones you know are counting down the days till a new chapter begins... or a new sense of "freedom" is found.

But what about those times that you may find yourself secretly counting down the days, or it may find its own way across your mind/heart. That's where I've been over the last few weeks. Some know what is going on, many don't... and that's okay, I share it with you my dear readers because after all it is a matter of my heart : )

As of yesterday (Saturday, August 22, 2009) Nathan Ryan reached the age that his older brother, Billy Jr. was when he died. Which means today (Sunday, August 23, 2009) he is one day older than Billy Jr. It's kind of a strange feeling. Mostly because the last time I held and loved on sweet Baby Billy he was only 2 months old. Nathan is laughing and cooing and playing with me and I can feel him and love on him at 5 months of age. I didn't get that opportunity with Billy.

I'll make this short and sweet, it is not my intention to bring pain to anyone's heart, but rather hope and peace... We (my family) are so blessed by the birth of Nathan Ryan and the joyful heart that God has placed within him. These last few weeks have been bitter sweet and I treasure all the moments I shared with Billy and I trust that he knew who I was. In the same way I treasure every single moment with Nathan (even the moments when he is inconsolable) and I know when he looks at me with his great big smile he knows who I am, that he can trust me. It's hard to cry when you've got this adorable face looking up at you...

Nathan Ryan Darnell age: 5 mos.

" 'For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' " ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A New Perspective... A New Life

I had the awesome privilege of having lunch with an incredibly wonderful woman of God today. She has been walking through some stuff with me only recently and the revelation that comes through my meetings with her is absolutely amazing and so difficult to put into words... but alas, I will try as I feel led.

We were discussing some life issues and past relationships that I've been dealing with and working through the residual effects. She made a comment about who I was before and who I am now. The revelation that God wanted to share with me through her was that I was one person before my nephew died and now I'm a completely different person. Now, I heard that the loss of my nephew would change me, but I had no idea until just recently. There is joy with that, but at the same time there is some pain. I lost a few relationships in the months that proceeded Billy's death and there are times when I wish that those people could see me now... could see that I did indeed walk out one of the absolute darkest hours of my life, and I walked it out with my relationship with God and my faith intact. Actually I have to say it is greater and stronger than ever before.

I walked away from lunch today feeling reassured and affirmed that I'm on the right path, I am loved, and ultimately I'm good enough... even if it's just in the eyes of the Father. I still can't put everything into words, but I think for now bits and pieces will have to do until the rest of it falls into place. I almost feel at times as though I'm just an observer and for this season of life I have the great honor of witnessing as God continues to build upon my testimony. I'm grateful that the tears I cry now are no longer just tears of pain, but the tears of joy have once again returned... my heart is truly happy, I'm happy and on somedays it is a strange place to be.

My last thought I want to share with you tonight is actually a song. Many of you know me and know that at times life rolls around to a song... and then it plays in my head over and over again and on occasion comes out of my mouth. The song playing in my head right now and on most days is this...

"I've dealt with my ghosts and I've faced all my demons
Finally content with a past I regret
I've found you find strength in your moments of weakness
For once I'm at peace with myself
I've been burdened with blame, trapped in the past for too long
I'm movin' on
I've lived in this place and I know all the faces
Each one is different but they're always the same
They mean me no harm but it's time that I face it
They'll never allow me to change
But I never dreamed home would end up where I don't belong
I'm movin' on

I'm movin' on
At last I can see life has been patiently waiting for me
And I know there's no guarantees, but I'm not alone
There comes a time in everyone's life
When all you can see are the years passing by
And I have made up my mind that those days are gone

I sold what I could and packed what I couldn't
Stopped to fill up on my way out of town
I've loved like I should but lived like I shouldn't
I had to lose everything to find out
Maybe forgiveness will find me somewhere down this road
I'm movin' on

I'm movin' on
I'm movin' on"

~ Rascal Flatts, 2000

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Restoration of a Broken Heart

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."
~ 1 Peter 5:8

What can you do with a broken heart, when every time you try to pick up the pieces and move on it just falls apart all over again? Who do you trust to close up the wound with a tender touch and a painless stitch? Who do you give the deepest part of your thoughts and feelings in the hopes that they'll understand?

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
~ Matthew 11:28

Sometimes I obtain the title of a blog before the rest of it comes to me. Yesterday I obtained the title "Restoration of a Broken Heart," and thought for sure it was time to write. However, the rest of it wasn't there so I had to put it to rest for the time being... well, I think the time is now. Of course with every blog I write I approach it with a bit of hesitation. I believe my writing is a gift and I pray that God will use it (whether today or someday down the road) to bless and minister to others... so here I am, with great joy and a lot of gratitude to unsuspecting friends that inspired this & God of course.

I've said this a million times and I believe that I will probably say it for the rest of my life, it is a part of my testimony and what is forever etched on the inside of my heart... my life changed forever on March 29, 2008. That is the day that my sweet 5-month-old nephew, Billy, went home to be with Jesus. As days go by and now over a year later I still have moments where I miss him, but more than that I continue to see what God is revealing and digging out of the deepest part of my soul because of that life changing moment. I still don't have the words for it all yet and that can be frustrating because in the moments where I want to share with people I feel so alone and lost in a sea of people because I suddenly don't know what to say and not sure others will understand what God has done and is doing... I suddenly cannot explain the loss and heartache that has slowly but surely turned into joy and dancing.

It is all a process, and probably will be for a while... all I can say is I'm walking out the "restoration of a broken heart." It starts with just allowing yourself to be completely broken and feel every emotion of every minute of every day despite how others may feel or react to you. Then, when we least expect it is when God comes in (not that He ever left) and slowly and ever so gently stitches the broken pieces of our hearts back together. Just like a deep cut, the stitches come out eventually and what remains is a scar... a story to share with others for the rest of our lives. Billy will always be a part of my life story, the joy he brought to those around him, and the sweet reminder and legacy he left with his family here on earth. I praise God that his parents were able to capture some of the most tender moments on camera and share it with the rest of the world. Sometimes when I miss him the most I go back to those videos and pictures and am gently reminded that he is in a better place, he is happy, joyful, and safe. There is no one that could take better care of that sweet boy than Jesus himself.

As I continue to walk out this restoration I also walk out the mistakes that I made and the poor choices I chose in that season leading up to Billy's passing (and some thereafter)... and the words I was given was this...

"When trying to be someone or something we're not, we find ourselves lost in a sea of unknown."

So I continue to walk through this restoration or refining of my spirit if you will. I face the choices I've made, I find I have not been the girl God has called me to be out of an insecurity and hesitation of what others may see. But then I realize I miss me, I miss who I was called to be, and with a huge leap of faith and great timidity I seek God to find the missing girl inside.

One other thing that I realized tonight as I looked around a room of some old friends and new ones (all of which make up the awesome team that is Team Ecuador 2009), I have a ton of blessings that walked out some of the darkest hours in my life... my friends and family that held me up and interceded in prayer for me when I could not. For that I'm forever grateful and I realize that even when I feel so alone I am not.

"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." ~ 1 Peter 5:10

*B and I taking a nap @ his home in Colorado (Nov. 2007), he was 3 weeks old here

Monday, July 27, 2009

How I've Spent My Summer Vacation: Part II

Same idea, different class, less intro... let's get to the point!

Interview & Treatment Plan of Family Y

I. Introduction to Client and Significant Others

AF: 50, lawyer, Caucasian

AM: 52, entrepreneur, Caucasian, alcoholic diagnosis

CM: 16, 11th grade, athlete/honor student_(Twin A)

CM: 16 (IP), 11th grade_(Twin B

II. Presenting Concern

AF: Blames husband for financial distress within the family, feels that she has to work extra hours so that her sons can afford the life that she had growing up.

AM: Upset that he made such a poor business decision after so many years of being responsible within his own company. Upset that he cannot support his family they way he’d like to and that wife has taken it upon herself to be the “bread winner.”

CM: (Twin A) Very supportive of mother and the decisions she has made to support family. Blames father for throwing business away and causing mom to have to work so much harder. Feels supported in both athletics and academically by mom, but not as much by dad.

CM: (Twin B) Admires all the hard work that dad put into his own business for so many years and understands that mistakes happen. He feels mom and brother should understand that as well and support dad as he picks up the pieces. Argues with mom over his desire to pursue art and not athletics or academics like his twin.

III. Background Information

About 9 months ago Dad lost his business that he had since graduating college in a bad business deal. Ever since that time, Mom has taken on extra cases at work to compensate for the loss of the dual income within the home. Out of frustration over not being the primary bread winner for the family Dad took up drinking excessively over 6 months ago. The two sons have their own outlets for dealing with the family stress. Twin A works hard at school and is a star athlete at his high school. He admires his mom for going out of her way to provide more income for the family, and feels Dad is lazy. Twin B doesn’t care too much for school and uses art as his outlet. He admires Dad for all the years he worked so hard and for the fact he is trying to start another business from scratch. Upset with Mom for spending so much time fighting with Dad and not being more supportive in his efforts to pick up the pieces.

IV. Systematic Assessment

Client/Relational Strengths

Personal/Individual: All four have a distinct way of viewing life and in how to achieve goals not only for themselves, but for the family as well. Parents are both highly intelligent and educated. Sons are their own individuals and taken from the examples their parents set and made their own path.

Relational/social: Parents both come from strong families of origin, and are encouraging of their boys in the futures they hope to pursue.

Spiritual: AF and AM both share strong desire to be more committed and involved in local church. Boys enjoyed the different activities and outings supported by the youth group.

Family Structure and Interaction Patterns

Couple Subsystem (to be assessed): Parents’

Couple Boundaries: Enmeshed & Other

Rules for closeness/distance: Frequently disagree on the choices the other has made for the family financially and in the area of work ethic. Avoid each other when argument becomes too heated and repeat pattern on daily basis. Wife places pressure on husband to conduct self in the same way as she in accordance to values/wishes.

Couple Problem Interaction Pattern:

Start of tension: AF informs AM that he needs to stop playing around with “making up” another business and find a “real job.”

Conflict/symptom escalation: AM gets upset that AF does not respect his desires/wishes in how he wants to support the family.

Return to “normal”/homeostasis: Ends by AM starting to drink and AF withdrawing from conversation to another room.

Communication Stances:

AF: Placator

AM: Blamer

Describe dynamic: AF focues on the needs of the family and how to maintain that financially. AM is focused on what is the best way to support his family based upon his desires (career-wise). AF picks up extra hours while AM struggles with what to do.

Divorce Indicators:

Criticism: AF/AM, Ex: Both critical in the approach to supporting family financially

Defensiveness: AM, Ex: AM very defensive in that he will approach his job search the way he wants to and feels is best for his family.

Contempt: NA

Stonewalling: AF/AM, Ex: Both tend to stonewall when AM begins drinking.

Failed repair attempts: Ex: Neither frequently extends repair attempt.

Not accept influence: AM, Ex: AM refusing to accept influence of AF at this point in relationship due to his sense of duty to be the primary provider for family doing what he desires professionally.

Harsh startup: AF, Ex: AF increasingly harsh in raising issues.

Hierarchy Between Children/Parents:

AF: Inconsistent

AM: Inconsistent

Ex: Both parents show an inconsistent style in that AF is more authoritative with Twin B and more permissive with Twin A, whereas AM is the opposite (authoritative with Twin A and permissive with Twin B). Both CMs would like to see parents support any decision they make towards their future, but find it hard to work through the disapproval when parents do not seem to understand their differences.


AF and CM (Twin A) against AM: Ex: In last few months, AF has grown closer to CM (twin A) in support of his desire to pursue an athletic scholarship for college over an academic scholarship, would like to pursue a career in professional sports, each angry that AM does not feel this is a productive or worthy career choice.

AM and CM (Twin B) against AF: Ex: In last few months, AM has grown closer to CM (twin B) in support of his desire to pursue art as a career choice and possibly open up an art gallery one day. AM admires CM tenacity and joy for the arts. Each angry that AF does not feel art is a “smart” career and stereotypes that artists are “druggies.”

Communication Stances:

AF: Placator

AM: Blamer

CM (Twin A): Superreasonable

CM (Twin B): Irrelevant

Ex: CM (twin A) follows the belief that as he pursues and does well in each area of his life he can distract from problems at home. CM (twin B) is focused on avoiding any and all tension and enjoys the escape that his artwork brings, has no desire to please anyone and is grateful to not have to try to please his father. AF is more focused on the financial needs of the family over emotional/mental needs. AM is more focused on his needs to provide for the family.

Hypothesis (Describe possible role or function of symptom in maintaining family homeostasis):

Both CM’s emotional and mental needs for the support of both parents during this time in their life has forced the family to address dynamics that were only mildly problematic in the past: AF’s obligation to be primary financial provider, AM’s depression/lack of availability in the evenings for family time, and the couple’s unresolved issues related to AM’s professional dilemma.

Substance/Alcohol abuse: Hx: AM’s paternal grandfather and father were alcoholics during bad business times/abuse associated with negative professional outcomes.

Sexual/physical/emotional abuse: NA

Parent/child relations: Hx: Parents on both sides have close relationships with children in which they share common interests which fulfill unmet needs in marriage.

Physical/mental disorders: NA

Historical incidents of presenting problem: Hx: AM was unable to connect with father growing up due to father’s desire to make it in the business world, often times leaving him unavailable. AM related mostly to mother emotionally and mentally. Sister had close relationship with father and was distant with mother.

Family Strengths: Strong work ethic, desire to make it on their own and not become dependent on society; professionals; highly intellectual.

Previous Solutions and Unique Outcomes

Solutions that DIDN’T work: The couple arguing about AM’s job situation and choice to pursue another business venture has not helped; parents have not provided a united front in supporting (equally) the desires/interests of twin CMs.

Solutions that DID work: AM’s desire to get back in the workforce and be the sole provider for his family. AF willing to step up professionally for a season to bring in more income to support family. AM’s support of CM’s (twin B) desire to pursue art and AF’s support of CM’s (twin A) desire to pursue sports.