Sunday, March 29, 2009

Have You Heard?

I have a new nephew.  His name is Nathan Ryan and he's just awesome and cute!  I guess somewhere along the way as he grows up I'll have to start calling him handsome instead of cute, but until then...

His birthday is March 25, 2009... he came at the perfect time and is such a gift to my family.  A year ago I don't think any of us would have expected such a wonderful blessing from the Lord, but He is a good God, a God who redeems and heals and now here we are.

Nathan has a big sister, Avery who is now 3 (she just had a birthday too) and she is so good to him.   She loves reading to him and hugging and kissing him.  She's not too fond of sharing him, but she will for she is compassionate and understanding.  When he cries she will be the first to try to calm him down with "it's okay Nathan, it's okay."  She's a great big sister, and I'm not gonna lie, her Mommy is the best of the best in this area...

Nathan has a big brother as well.  Billy preceded us to Heaven.  We miss him very much, but we'll see him at the right time.  I wonder sometimes if Nathan and Billy already met.  After all God knows us before we are even conceived.  We are all created out of His image and knit together within our mother's womb.  I hope the boys got to play before Nathan made his entrance into our world... maybe that's why he waited a couple of days past his due date to meet us.  Nathan is such a wonderful gift and blessing and when I look at his sweet (handsome) face I see a little bit of both his sister and his brother.  I look forward to watching Nathan grow up and seeing how God uses him to advance the Kingdom.  What an amazing testimony this little boy is and what a treasure.

365 Days Ago...

... things changed, life changed, my perspective of life and God changed when my worst fear came true.  I always feared losing one of my nieces or nephews, and then my fear became a reality at 10am on Saturday, March 29, 2008.  That was the day that my nephew Billy went home to be with Jesus... completely without warning.

He was only 5 months old, none of it made sense... at the time.  There are still moments that I have where I want a complete and detailed explanation from the Lord, but I realize that may have to wait until I see Him face to face.  However, I've seen glimpses of hope in the last year, I've seen God's hand as He has used Billy's death to show me life.  Billy's death was only a part of the puzzle that was God's pruning and beginning to move me from where I was to where I needed to be.  I've never felt more pain and loss than I did in 2008.  With the number of good-byes (not just by death, but by life changes) I had I really didn't see how I was going to get through it and make it to the other side.

But here I am, barely standing with the scars to prove it.  Then I close my eyes and in a flash I remember everything that got me here.  I remember falling to my knees the moment my dad called to say Billy wasn't breathing, I remember sitting stone faced when my brother hugged me and told me Billy didn't make it.  I remember wanting to start walking to Colorado, anything to get to my sister... she needed me.  I remember wanting to do anything to bring that sweet boy back here with our family.  I remember watching in amazement and awe as my sister and her husband stood before family and friends to minister the hope and joy that came from Baby Billy's life at his memorial service.  I remember coming back home and watching as everyone else kept moving forward with their lives and feeling as though I was stuck in the mud.  

As I remember it gives me strength to move forward and to not stay stuck... that is a revelation I only came to this week.  You see I miss Billy, immensely, but I don't miss the person I was before his death.  People told me this would change me and I didn't believe them.  However as I look back on the last year I see nothing but change... I had to.  God had no intention of keeping me where I was or who I was and for that I'm extremely grateful.  Now don't get me wrong, there are definitely feelings I miss having from last year, but I don't miss the year, I don't miss the person I was.  I feel as though I'm finally learning to stop living in the past and trying to re-create what was, but rather learning to embrace the here and now and fully grasping all God has for my future.  

Before Billy died I was definitely intimidated by others, I was a chameleon willing to change and adapt according to what pleased others.  I wasn't me and I hadn't been for a long time.  It was subtle things, but enough for me to look back and realize it was not me.  I wanted so much to make everyone around me happy and be the girl they needed me to be that somewhere along the way I kinda forgot the girl I needed to be... period!  So as the last year has progressed I've grown back into the girl I was called to be.  I picked up the dream I kept brushing under the rug and I'm running with it... in a little less than 2 months I'll have 9 classes left before I graduate with my Masters in Counseling... it's amazing and scary and fun all at the same time.  I've faced lots of opposition in this area and I love that I continue to push through and I'm starting to see God's hand in it all.  I now look in the mirror and I see a girl full of life, fun, joy, talent, intelligence, compassion, craziness, and sometimes a little sadness.  I feel every emotion and I don't care anymore.  I'm tired of shutting myself down and out so that everyone else around me is comfortable.  What is comfortable?  And since when am I the responsible party for comfortableness?  

Life is uncomfortable at times and I think those are the times where we grow and learn how to adapt.  God has a crazy sense of humor and for that I'm grateful, because otherwise I would probably still be the scared, timid, little girl hiding inside the awesomeness which is the woman I'm called to be.  

All this to say, my life did indeed change 365 days ago and as much as I hate and still grieve over what happened, I'm grateful for where it got me.  Instead of hunkering down and hiding from life I decided to take it head on and I'm able to see all the beauty that has come with it, and I've been able to see God's hand in the testimonies that have resulted from the lives changed.  

I look forward to seeing my Billy in Heaven someday, but until I do I praise God for what He's doing in my life and in the lives around me.  Billy left his mark here with us and I look forward to see how it grows as the years go by. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

You See... There Were These Ducks...

My brother stumbled upon a new friend in my parent's backyard on Saturday, March 29, 2008...

... that was the day Baby Billy went home to be with Jesus

And then today, Wednesday, March 25, 2009 my brother discovered in my parent's backyard these little friends...

... today is the day that Baby Nathan was born

Coincidence?? I don't think so...

"Blessed be Your Name in the land that is plentiful
Where your dreams of abundance flow
Blessed Be Your Name

Every blessing you pour out I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in Lord
Still I will say
Blessed Be the Name of the Lord
Blessed Be Your Name

You give and you take away
You give and you take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord blessed be Your name"
~ Blessed Be Your Name, Matt Redman

Friday, March 20, 2009

After the Good-Bye... Then What?

I've been listening to Rascal Flatts' newest single endlessly in the last week or so.  It is a sad song and I'm not sure what continues to draw me to it... until this morning.  I heard it again on my way to work this morning and the chorus struck a chord in me.  

"Here comes goodbye
Here comes the last time
Here comes the start of every sleepless night
the first of every tear I'm gonna cry

Here comes the pain
Here comes me wishin things had never changed and she [he] 
was right here in my arms tonight

Here comes goodbye"
~ Rascal Flatts "Here Comes Goodbye" 2009

All of a sudden it hit me why this song ran so deep in me.  The first few times I heard it the picture I imagined with the words was the scene of a break-up between a couple.  But then I thought, what if instead of "here comes goodbye" it actually means "here comes hello."  I know this point of view may seem heartless and cold, but stay with me here.  

When I heard this song this morning I started to reverse the words & started to think about what if in the times we say "goodbye" we are actually saying "hello" to something else.  For instance, when a father gives his daughter to the man she is to marry at her wedding.  The daughter is thereby saying goodbye to her father, and hello to the man who will guide her and protect all the rest of her life.  

I guess for me I suddenly realized that with all the goodbyes that I had to say in 2008 I may have actually been saying hello to a completely new life, a new me (or rather the old me I haven't been in several years), and a new outlook.  My hardest goodbye came with the death of my 5-month-old nephew, Billy nearly a year ago.  In the last few weeks/months I've been trying new things, most of the time not thinking twice about whether or not I "could" do or if I would even like it... the thing is I tried.  And that little boy pushes me beyond more than I could ever imagine.  

Tonight for instance I was rock climbing and so frustrated with myself on a certain course & continuously telling myself that I "couldn't" do it.  Until I hit my breaking point and then I closed my eyes and all I could see was Billy's sweet smile in my minds eye.  I was reminded that although he is up in Heaven living the greatest life any of us could ever imagine, there are still the experiences we have here that he will not get to participate in.  I realize that he was too young to try rock climbing (learning to walk first always helps), but it was the symbolization behind it all.  I see that boy's face in pictures and videos and I praise God that he never knew fear or pain or suffering as we do.  So, I take chances, I explore new things and the old things I loved before but haven't embarked on in a while.  I take on challenges and I learn to stand for what I believe in and who I am.  I fight against the fear that keeps me held back and I remember that I already survived my greatest fear... and that was losing Billy (or any of my nieces or nephews for that matter).

I encourage you, take a chance... find the things that you never knew you would love, write down your experiences... after all what you find could be absolutely amazing.

**side note**
Before writing this post, I did a little online research and found the music video for the song mentioned at the beginning.  The video actually has nothing to do with a break-up, but rather having to say goodbye to a loved one.  The women in the video is saying goodbye to her father who died, and buried next to him is her son who passed away beforehand.  The father (grandfather) asks the little boy what it's like... his response... "there are no more goodbyes." 

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Ladies & Gentlemen, I Would Like to Introduce...

Ms. Independent

I single handedly assembled a desk this weekend.  Not just any desk, but one complete with 13 shelves... it looks great (not to brag or anything, but hey a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do). But wait, there's more... see, I not only assembled my desk and designed the placement of books, pictures, etc, but I also framed my story (that was featured in my hometown newspaper 4 years ago) as well as designed the decor that is above my bed.  I took cards that I bought months ago that have quotes on them, framed them and hung them strategically placed above my bed.  I was so proud to see what I had accomplished today, almost to the point of tears.  I guess it comes down the fact that I am a huge dreamer, I have so many big dreams that feeling like they may not be obtainable makes me reach and stretch that much more to achieve them.  However, almost a year ago I allowed some of those dreams to die, not in the sense of giving them to God but in the sense of allowing the enemy steal them... and others.  

Right now I look up from my newly assembled desk and on the left I see the story that helped me achieve what is on the right (my degree from SMU).  If you look down and to the right you see my growing collection of counseling textbooks which are guiding me towards my next big dream.  Sometimes I forget what I'm fighting for, what I'm working towards and what I'm dreaming about, but then I take a step back and I see all that God is doing even when I don't feel His presence.  I miss the days when I exuded His love, these days it takes everything I have in me to remember that He is right beside me, fighting for me, and dreaming all the way.  

I feel as though life stopped about this time last year, God picked me up to turn me in a completely different direction, however I'm not sure He has planted my feet back on the ground.  I see my feet moving, but I don't see me going anywhere... until recently.  I'm proud of the woman I'm becoming.  I'm proud that I'm learning to stand my ground, learning what I love, who I love, and the things that make me happy.  I'm proud that I'm finally after all these years of talking about emotions, learning to actually feel them and allow myself to.  I'm proud that I'm no longer limiting myself, but rather I'm allowing big dreams to grow inside me and trusting that God will prune me and guide me towards the direction I should go.  

So you see, I'm Ms. Independent which is right where I should be...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Little Female Perspective

Dear Readers,

I'm really going out on a limb tonight as I'm usually not the one to give relationship advice or share from a female perspective.  I'm not one for controversy so usually I hide away or change the subject altogether.  However, as I was sharing with a guy friend of mine the other night it got me to thinking that maybe just maybe it would help if I shared with the male species what exactly is going on in the female species mind after a break-up.  Bear with me here as I have a feeling this might bring a flood of comments.

I'm not sure where to begin other than to share the context of my conversation with my friend (we'll call him Freddie so as to protect the innocent).  We were hanging out the other night and I asked Freddie if it was weird after he and his girlfriend of over a year broke up and she cut off all communication (i.e. asked him not to contact her and expressed that she did not want to be friends).  He said "yes" and so I then asked if he thought that my former boyfriend thought I was weird when I did the same thing... and again he responded with "yes."  Man did that cut deep into my heart.  I never want anyone to think I'm weird (although I totally am, but that's for another blog) or to hurt anyone by protecting myself (which is what I'm getting to).  So I've been thinking about it a lot as the week has progressed and I realized that males and females just see things differently (no I did not just figure that out), process things differently, and most definitely protect ourselves differently.

So here is my point with all this...

A.  If a girl (or guy) stops responding to you, put yourself in their shoes.  Whether they were the breaker or breakee (in the relationship) give them some space, understand that all your conversations after having dated will be different.  Chances are he or she may not be able to deal with the pain after hanging up the phone each time the conversation ends with "well, I guess I'll talk to you later" instead of "I love you and I'll talk to you tomorrow."

B.  Don't ever tell someone you broke up with that you hope to see them around or talk to them soon unless you genuinely mean it.  It does not help the broken hearted as it actually comes across as "hope" for something that may not be resurrected.

C.  Recognize that if you have exchanged the "I love you" phrase and then take it back (as in "I don't love you anymore") it's probably going to take some time for the other person to learn to stop loving you.  Therefore, if they say they don't love you either or they can't express that to you right now (if there is talk of a second chance) they are probably lying to you to protect themselves and not look like a fool.

All this to say, give the other person some space.  If God resurrects the relationship as a friendship, recognize that it will not be the same and it won't be easy, especially if no friendship was established initially (i.e. you met and then started dating right away).  If He doesn't, then don't label them, they're not weird, they are completely normal just broken and confused and trying to work through their own emotions.  

Please recognize that I by no means apply this to every situation.  After all each situation is different and sometimes a friendship may work out just fine.  I share this to hopefully put a different perspective on it.  Please don't send me hate mail, I'm no expert, just a girl trying to figure it all out myself. 

Thanks for listening, I hope it helped.

~ C

Friday, March 6, 2009

In the Most Unlikely of Places

"He... gives grace to the humble" ~ Proverbs 3:34

God speaks to me in the most unlikely places these days.  Unlikely in the sense that I'm usually not expecting it.  Everywhere I've been looking to feel His presence and hear His voice has proven nothing less than disappointing.  He must know this because then He speaks to me at work when I'm filing charts, or at night when my heart is missing someone so deeply.

I don't know what it was about yesterday, but towards the end of my work day I had the most humbling experience and was quickly reminded that things don't happen by accident... there is a purpose, even if we never figure it out.  I actually do love my job.  Maybe not every aspect of it, but there are those moments of such accomplishment and the moments with parents where they are truly grateful for all that we do to help them out.  I love those moments and I especially love the daily conversations I have with kids each day... talk about humbling. 

I truly believe that where I am right now is just a piece of the puzzle that is preparing me for the huge career change I'll be making next year.  I can't wait to see how God brings it all together.  I've found myself in such a dark and lonely place over the last year and there have been moments where I felt the Lord abandoned me.  But then yesterday happened and I realized that what He is teaching me, what He is showing me is that He doesn't just exist in the church building or in a worship song, but rather He exists in the moments I have with our patients at work or my co-workers.  I pray now that my heart will change, I pray that my attitude will improve and that the expectations I have towards my life will line up with all that God has for me.  I don't want to miss a moment, I don't want to miss one whisper or one tap on the shoulder.  

We only get one round at this life here on Earth, why not take every moment by storm?  Why not begin to look for God in the most unlikely of places? 

Monday, March 2, 2009

Learning to be Cristyn...

"Suppose I said
I am on my best behavior
And there are times
I lose my worried mind
Would you want me when I'm not myself?
Wait it out while I am someone else?
Suppose I said
Colors change for no good reason
And words will go
From poetry to prose
Would you want me when I'm not myself?
Wait it out while I am someone else?
And I, in time, will come around
I always do for you
Suppose I said
You're my saving grace"
~ John Mayer "Not Myself"

This is a very well known song by a very well known musician.  It has also been running through my head for weeks now.  There is a lot of focus for me on me right now.  Not in a selfish way, but more in a self discovery kind of way.  I haven't felt like myself for about 3 years now.  I suppose some of you are surprised by that and might be wondering about the girl you've met (if you've met me in the last 3 years).  I guess after everything that 2008 brought I finally realized how short life is and we truly only get one time to make a first impression.  I want to present myself for who I truly am, not a chameleon.  I don't want to hide behind a mask, I don't want to change my colors to impress those who may only be in my life for a season.  I guess what I'm trying to say is I want to be the person God created me to be (crazy, sarcastic, intelligent, pretty, talented, singer, dancer, writer, counselor, etc.) from the moment I tell some "hello" to the moment I say "good-bye."

At the same time I want people to take me as I am, even in the moments (or seasons) where I'm not myself.  In those moments where I spontaneously decide that it is time for a hair change and I cut it all off (like now), or when I can't stop crying because I feel there is just too much pain in my heart for me to fully comprehend, or the moments where I can't stop laughing at something so completely stupid that I may be the only one laughing.  I want to know that when I jump on a stage to have a "dance off" with some stranger that I can do it without noticing anyone else in the room (which I have done).  I want to know that at the end of the day, when all the decisions have been made and there is no turning back that there is always going to be someone waiting to greet me.  I want to know that there will always be that one person who will forever have a little faith in me, no matter what.

There is still a lot of self discovery for me about me and still a lot of regrets and brokenness to work through, but I'm choosing to take a leap.  Who knows, I might find something amazing and someone I forgot even existed.  It's about time I got back to being Cristyn, and not someone else.  After all, I've only got one chance to do it right.