Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The End...

This week marks the end of an incredible journey, one that began over 2.5 years ago, one that was not without some bumps in the road or doubt along the way.  This week marks the end of my journey of achieving my masters degree in professional counseling.

The Fall of 2005 is where it all began... after adamantly telling myself and everyone around me that I had no desire whatsoever to continue on in school after achieving my bachelors degree in 2004, I found myself longing for something more just a year later.  As I sat on the floor of my room in a house I shared with 2 friends, I completed the application to Amberton University, a school in which not many had heard about and quite honestly I'm not even sure I recall how I learned about it.  I mailed it off and a few weeks later I received an acceptance letter and a student ID.  Perfect!  Now I just had to enroll for classes... but wait, where was I going to find the money to pay tuition and what if my husband showed up to sweep me off my feet and I never finish?  Yes, these were the questions I pondered for 3 more years before I ever took the plunge to enroll into grad school and finally pursue the dream that God had placed upon my heart, the vision He had for my life.

Fast forward to March 15, 2008... Spring quarter begins and I start my first course with Amberton, an online course.  Something simple so that I can manage my full-time job as well as other commitments and start to pursue my degree.  Only I had no idea what was to come, what this journey would bring and the doubt that would soon follow.  In January 2008 when I had decided for sure I was going to enroll at Amberton, my prayer soon became that I would fulfill God's will in this and that if at any time He asked me to quit, I would and be okay with not finishing what I had begun.  Two weeks after I started my world started to crumble around me... at least that's what I perceived to be happening.  March 29, 2008 my nephew, Billy Darnell, Jr., died in his sleep from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and there was nothing I could do about it.  My sister and her family were living in Colorado at the time and it would be close to 48 hours before I could get to them.  I was convinced it was God telling me that grad school was not His plan for my life.  I was ready to quit with only 2 weeks under my belt.  After talking with my sister and mom and allowing myself time to catch up, I realized that it wasn't God telling me to quit, but rather my own insecurities surfacing.  My insecurities of whether or not I could actually counsel people and make even a lick of a difference for them in their lives.  I'm glad I was wrong about wanting to quit.

Here we are, the week of graduation and I miss the job I've had over the last 5 months.  I had to complete a certain amount of hours as a student intern in a counseling role for school and I had the pleasure of working with some awesome kids in Ft. Worth at Sundance Behavioral Health Center.  The adolescents were my favorite and they sent me off with the most encouraging good-bye I've ever received from anyone.  One of my patients (a 16-year-old boy) even wrote a letter to me, the head therapist, and the mental health tech thanking us for what we do and asking us to never give up on kids like him.  I copied that letter, it now hangs on my fridge as a reminder of how far I've come and what I am fully capable of.  Those kids saw it, God sees it... why in the world should I ever doubt the gift that He has placed within me.  This is not by my strength, but by the strength of the one who breathed life into me, the one who destined this journey for me.

I loved working with kids in the role of counselor and in a few months after I've completed my board exam and am licensed with the state of Texas, I look forward to working with a group all my own and knowing that everyday, every step of the way I'm not alone.

My cup indeed runneth over and I'm one blessed girl!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Happy Birthday Billy (11-1-07)

My Sweet Billy Bug,

Happy Birthday buddy!  You are 3 now and I can only imagine what you would be doing if you were here on earth with us.  Although my heart misses you so very much, I am gently reminded that with each year and birthday that passes you have the joy of spending those special days with our Father in Heaven.  Your sister asked me a few months ago who makes birthday cakes in Heaven, she misses you too.  This year your Mama had another baby boy, Jared Wesley.  He grasps my wrist when I hold him just as you used to do and your little brother, Nathan.  What a sweet reminder that you will forever live in our hearts.   I imagine you running and laughing and enjoying wrestling with the Lord.  Thank you for making my 26th birthday so memorable, what a joy it was to hold you, nap with you, and watch as your sister loved helping take care of you.

As I've prayed through this season God has gently laid on my heart the worship song "How He Loves Us."  It has brought so much healing to my heart in those moments where I miss you the most.  I see how the Lord loves us and has loved us through this season of grief.  As I get ready to graduate with my masters degree in counseling you have not been far from my mind.  I remember your sweet face and the short 5 months we had with you on days when I am tired and not sure I am doing well with my patients. Your face is what has pushed me through many times in the last 2 1/2 years.  I long to help other families that have lost a baby either to SIDS or by some other unexpected way.  You've left a huge legacy here for someone so small.  I thank God everyday that you are resting in His arms, even if what I would love is to hold you myself and watch you grow up here on earth.  We may not understand the why, but we have enough faith and trust that God has got it all under control and will never leave us.

I love you and until I see you again I send you big hugs and kisses from earth.

Aunt Cristyn

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Not My Will...but HIS

"A man's mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure." ~ Proverbs 16:9

I looked in the mirror the other night and I didn't recognize the girl staring back at me.  Where there was once a wallflower, a shy stick figure of a girl, now stands this elegant, independent, beautiful creation of a King.  I've always existed as such, but it was only in the last couple of years that I came to understand and truly believe what God created inside of me.  With that revelation it has become to pour out and shine on the outside.  I think if you had asked me a few years ago what the future looked like, what life looked like for me, it would have been rather bleak.  More confused and unsure than anything.  I sit in my safe little nook of my bedroom and where pictures once stood, there are now blank spots as I begin to pack up and prepare for the next season of life.  It's a beautiful journey we are on here on earth, despite the ups and downs, good times and bad...darkness and light.  

I still haven't found words to explain what all God has done in and through me as He has shaped my life, but I believe when the time is right...in HIS timing...then I'll have the words.  The Lord has filled me to overflowing, more than I can ever hope or imagine.  I don't know what is up ahead, what the future holds, but I know that based on the journey I've already been down thus far, there is nothing I can't do in Christ.  

Ten years ago I had no idea I'd be in this place, I had no idea this would be the journey God would bring me through...honestly, I wasn't even sure I was going to live 10 years ago.  But God knew all that, He knew when my heart would bleed for Him, when my heart would break because of this world, and He always knows what I need right when I need it.  My God is a God who saves and by the blood of His son I am indeed saved.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Still in the Making

Today was a GREAT day!  Another day where as magnificent as it was, it could not be placed into words and God and I really connected.  It's been a while since I felt the peace of God and just assured that I was exactly where He wanted me to be.  I can't stop smiling... for a multitude of reasons really, but for now I'll just share today.

I've been praying pretty intently now for the last 4 weeks about a short term internship I had applied for in Washington, D.C. with International Justice Mission.  Such an amazing organization and you can find out more about what they are doing around the world at www.ijm.org.  When I first heard about the internship I had no reservations, in fact I didn't think twice about telling everyone that was the path I was going to take after graduation and that I would be applying, etc., etc, etc.  But then about a week before I sent in my application I started to feel lots of anxiety about this choice and questioning my decision to apply and seek out something that really did not pertain to my degree in counseling.  After seeking wise counsel I was finally able to focus my prayer about it on just praying that God would either very clearly open the door or very clearly close it.  Today He very much closed that door and in an instant I felt a weight lifted and a peace I had never known before.  So much anxiety flew the way of the bird during winter time.  The cool thing about it was I just returned from a trip to Colorado last night and for the first time in a long time... Dallas really felt like home, it was good to be back.  Colorado had been removed from the potential job/relocation list about a month ago and so the choice was between D.C. and Dallas, and God made it perfectly clear today that D.C. was not where he was calling me.

I don't know why everything suddenly changed, why in a matter of less than 24 hours I stopped wrestling with God about staying in Dallas and instantly just knew there was no where else I should be.

Over the last two plus years I've spent a lot of time soul searching and as hard as the path has been at times, I got through it....WE (me & God) got through it.  I look back over my life sometimes and I see how the puzzle pieces have come together and how one step, one decision has led to another and another and eventually here... and ultimately where He is leading me.  I'm excited to see what the future holds, I'm excited to have a peace and be able to focus in on one particular area where God has me.  For now I'll keep smiling and when times get dark or tough, I'll remember this place where God brought me so that I won't forget that He's always with me.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

We Took A Walk

I thought this evening would be a bit more productive than it was, but then again when I got home from work I realized there wasn't a whole heck of a lot to be productive about.  I did get some laundry done and cooked dinner, but beyond that I didn't have a lot of good ideas on world peace or solutions to fighting world hunger, so I decided to spend some time processing recent life developments and listening to worship tunes.  God is so good, He missed me, so he tugged on my heart and I followed.  I started processing through some upcoming changes and the fact that graduation (with my masters in counseling) is but a wee 8 weeks away.  An answer from D.C. on a potential internship is only 4 weeks away and I honestly have no clue what's next.  It's exciting, but mostly a little nerve wracking.  I also "should" be following up with some people about possible job leads, but it's hard to predict when you'll be "hirable" when you're dependent upon a board exam and a whole state to approve your license... no stress there!

But as I sat and let God sing over me, as the tears began to fall at the thought of all we've been through over the last 10 years and most specifically the last 2 1/2 years, I thought it would be fun to dig out some old journals.  And when I say old... I mean OLD!  These are a bit from high school, a lot from college, and a few years from my early recovery days.  I wanted to share something a bit deeper, but decided that if I was going to share it with anyone, it really should be my family first... they're the ones that deserve it the most especially after the hell I put them through for 6 years.  But I did run across something a little more light-hearted and fun...

Date: 12/13/04

Things to do in Life (in no particular order)

  • Learn to snow ski
  • Ride a jet ski
  • Finally get up on water skis
  • Dance in the falling snow
  • Go to New York in the winter
  • Spend a night looking at stars, telling stories, and laughing
  • Learn to cook a gourmet meal
  • Spend a summer in Europe (Paris, London, Italy, Rome, Venice)
  • Ride a vespa somewhere, anywhere in Europe 
  • Write a book (both children's & testimonial)
  • Go to a world series game (no matter where, who, or when... preferably the Rangers)
  • Remodel & decorate my dream house
Needless to say I had completely forgotten about this list and I can readily admit that not one of these things can be crossed off.  I could probably add a few things, but I can say not much has changed... I would love to do all the above sometime in my life.  

It's been a good season, a heart-breaking, life altering season... but good nonetheless.  I must close as I long to journal tonight about things that I'll probably not share, but at least I know God knows it all.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Out of Fear?

"Some time later, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, 'Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.'" ~ Genesis 15:1

""I am God, the God of your father,' the voice said.  'Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make your family into a great nation.'" ~ Genesis 46:3

"The Lord is my light and my salvation - so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?" ~ Psalm 27:1

Oh if only I could rest in these verses... and maybe I still can, the key is finding rest in anything these days.  My mind races miles ahead of my body and I quickly find myself worn out and exhausted from trying to keep up with the never ending "to-do" list in my head.  Sometimes I can't even catch everything fast enough to write it all down.  This is how life has been recently (and by recently, I mean this last week).  It's as if I hit warp speed and I can only see a short amount of time to get all the things done that I need to get done.  For instance, I need to pack... but not just pack like I'm moving somewhere else, but pack for 2 different locations.  Oh and remember not to pack anything for storage that I might need should I end up going to Washington D.C. come January.  Speaking of D.C. that's the primary reason I'm writing.  If only I could tell you how many times my head and heart have wrestled with this choice.  It's a little ridiculous how quickly I change my mind on this, and the funny thing is that when I first heard about it, I had no questions or reservations, it seemed like the right thing to do and a wonderful opportunity.  And it still does, but it hit me tonight (or maybe I just finally admitted it) that fear has been a strong driving force in NOT going.  I haven't even been offered the position and I'm thinking of a million non-rational reasons why I shouldn't go.  I'd give you my list, but I truly believe you have better things to do than read my PRO/CON list for D.C.  And besides, it's all in my head (along with my forever long "to-do" list) anyway.

So here's the thing... if fear is the only reason why I wouldn't go, then I probably should... right?  And again I haven't received an answer yet, but maybe that's what I'm afraid of the most... getting my heart set on this adventure and then finding out that I'm not chosen.  It's not like I've walked out shattered hopes and dreams before, but then again is that any reason to stop believing?

I'm a little quieter these days, but now you know why.... so if you wonder or desire to ask why, maybe just say a little prayer.  Pray that I'll find my way far from fear and forever in the arms of hope!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Season of Redemption

As this season draws to an end (we're 12 weeks from graduation people), I have to admit I think I'm more terrified of what's next. Of course, I have no clue what's next, and I think that's what makes it so terrifying. But at the same time, it's been such a joy to walk this season of life... blood, sweat, tears, and all! Two weeks into this season and I was ready to throw it all away, I had never felt such pain and walked out something so hard in my life. Honestly, I often think overcoming anorexia was simpler than learning to live life here on earth without watching my nephew, Billy grow up. No aunt (or parent) should outlive their nephew (child). But we're doing it... my family and I. I often go back to a quote from Mary Beth Chapman, "Until I die or Jesus comes back we can do hard!" I...Can...Do...Hard!! I may not always want to, but with God on my side, I can do it.

I've done a lot of reflecting lately, especially during my excursion to Colorado Springs last weekend (Aug. 27-29, 2010). How redeeming it is to watch as my sister and her family have returned to the city where they gave their son back to the Lord when he was only 5 months old.

The picture above was taken on the trip when I first met Billy. Avery was 21 months old and B was only 3 weeks old. It was a sweet and wonderful trip. Now when I look at the Darnell family and the pictures that I see I feel like there will always be someone missing. Below are pictures from my most recent trip, one with Avery (now age 4) and Billy's little brother, Nathan (age 1 1/2).

A dream has been reborn for their sweet family... as well as another addition (another boy due end of September). As for me, well... as soon as we descended into Denver on my flight, August 27 I heard the Lord say the enemy had been defeated. A smile found its way upon my face and I felt a peace. A peace that I knew meant Cheryl, Bill, Avery, and Nathan are exactly where they should be. And although Billy's body is buried in Dallas, his spirit and joy lives on amongst all the Darnell's. Cheryl asked me if things had changed since I hadn't been in Colorado since Billy had died. I told her yes, but that so had we. It wasn't a bad change, but I could feel it... but it was a "meant to be" change. It's hard being this far from my sister and her kids, but I trust it's what God has for now. If He ever makes a way for me to be closer than I'll trust in His timing... not my own.

The biggest thing I've had to learn for me in this season is that I have to find my own way. I have to live my own life. Everything changed when Billy died, and in that moment I think I knew that I could never go back to the way I was. I've found an independence that I never knew existed. And not an unhealthy independence from God, but one in which I've learned I'm fully capable of being the woman he created me to be.

This has been a hard season, but all the while truly redeeming. I believe that if Billy were still alive he would be quite the independent, stubborn (in a good/cute way) little boy. I thank God for my time with him and whether he is here on earth or in Heaven... I will always be his aunt!

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

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sundance, Rotation Four

Man how time flies!! 12 weeks until graduation and only 11 until I finish up at my internship. It has been a wonderful and amazing experience. I actually started my fourth rotation last week (unexpectedly). Most all the other interns are on a semester rotation with practicum, whereas I'm on a quarterly rotation at my school. Because of this my supervisor needed to move around the rotations and I began working with the adolescent group 6 weeks earlier than expected... and I LOVE it!! Right now the group is pretty small (6 kids) and mostly lower functioning and with aggression issues. I'm actually pretty surprised with myself how well I'm able to ignore the random outbursts and attention-seeking profanity...if only I had that ability when I was growing up towards my big brothers ;-)

Within this group we currently have an eating disorder patient and I think she is great. You can't really have favorites in my career field, but I must say I see a lot of who I used to be in this girl and absolutely enjoy working with her and her fighting spirit. She is amazing, funny, and compliant in working with her treatment team. I didn't get to see her in the beginning, but I know from what she has shared that all along treatment has been her idea and she is fighting incredibly hard to take care of herself and get back to her Senior year of high school and her friends. This girl gets it and she is motivated to get better and stay better.

During all this time I've gotten to know the staff better as well and truly enjoy working with everyone. I'm mostly looking forward to September 13 (the beginning of the end) and finishing up this journey. What a journey it has been and most importantly a significant part of my testimony.

Monday, August 16, 2010

My New "Normal"

This blog has been a long time coming (I think I've used that phrase before) and there are actually a few more months to come, but I just couldn't resist writing where I'm at tonight.

I've said it before and I'll probably say it till the day I die, but Billy's death changed me. There was Cristyn before Billy died, and then suddenly, without warning, there became Cristyn after Billy died. It has been a most difficult growing pain for me and more painful to watch as my sister, her husband, and their daughter, Avery adjust to life without their precious "B." And then of course there is his younger brother, Nathan and soon to be youngest brother (due in late September) who will never know Billy this side of Heaven.

I'm not sure if anyone else noticed the change, but I did... I still do, everyday, especially when I look in the mirror and late at night when it's just me and God. I have no doubts that the people who were in my life before Billy died and are no longer in it wouldn't recognize me anymore. True I haven't changed much physically, but I believe they would be blown away at how I've grown spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Once upon a time I was described as a turtle, and I highly doubt anyone would give me that description today.

I had to adjust to a new "normal" on March 29, 2008 and as I quickly found out there were a few things I couldn't take with me from the before to the after. For a short while a dream inside of me died when Billy did, as well as the death grip I had on what I thought my future should look like. As the months passed by, when I started to see how God was getting me through the grief (not over it, I'll never be over the loss of my first nephew), I saw how he resurrected a dream and the passion was re-ignited in me, and that I was fighting for something so completely different now.

I've learned to lay down my future, on a daily basis, for it could all change in the blink of an eye. I've watched as the Holy Spirit has become more alive in me and I've fallen in love with the beautiful creation God has created me to be here on earth. My self-confidence is unexplainable, I've learned not to care so much what others think... that's about them, not me. I'll always dislike the event that transpired to get me here, but at the same time, I have no desire to go back to who I was. I've learned to love change, as hard as it is sometimes, I realize how necessary it is.

I have a fire and passion to change the world, and I thank God for that. I also thank Billy, that every time I see his sweet, smiley, chubby face in a picture, he is the catalyst for this new "normal."

Sundance, Rotation Three

Wow! Third rotation and completely amazed at how much I've learned in only 10 weeks! This is such an awesome experience and such confirmation that I'm on the path that God set out for me so many years ago.

I started last week working with the Elementary Two age group (kids ages 9-12). We have about 16 kids in the group right now, 2 of which are only 8, but they're in our group because Elementary One is busting at the seams with 20 kiddoes. This is dramatically different from Elementary One, not so much redirecting for one thing. However, I'm finding that I might not be cut out for working with kids between the ages of 5-10, at least not in a group setting. These are good kids and they are shockingly honest with us therapists and I love that about them. I love that they feel safe with us (regardless of what has happened to them) and that we are entrusted to help them and their families function at a much better level than they had been.

I think one of the most consistent things I've learned about (at least working with the younger kids) is how CPS works in Texas and how different foster families and adoptive parents can be. I had a family therapy session with one of our newer patients today and his adoptive parents are AMAZING!!! They love this kid, they are on the same page as parents, and it was strictly by chance they adopted this kid (and his brother and sister)... I however believe it was purely a God thing... He knew what these kids needed. They are sticking with this kid through the good, the bad, and the ugly. He has a loving home and it truly spoke to my heart the sacrifice that adoptive parents make and it is stirring so much more in my heart.

Alas, I ramble now and if you know me well you know I could go on... and on... and on....

2 more weeks with this group and then I move on to start working with the pre-adolescents... I'm really excited about that group (unnecessary drama and all!). Oh and on another note, I finished my Practicum I class tonight... one more class to go in the fall (Practicum II) and you'll be lookin' at a graduate with her Masters degree in Professional Counseling. So excited to see the light at the end of the tunnel get brighter!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Guest Blogger on SIDS America

*The following comes from Bill Darnell, my brother-in-law and Executive Director of SIDS America*

It is with a humble, hurting, and heavy heart that I reach out to you. I am desperately seeking immediate financial help for my family.

We recently moved back to Colorado Springs. It has been so healing and redeeming to return to where our hearts have always desired to raise our family. This is where we believe God has called us to be and where we are to base our nonprofit ministry, SIDS America.

At the same time, it’s been humbling & frustrating considering what our lives, lifestyle, and routines were just 28 months ago living in Colorado Springs before Billy’s death. I was making $75,000 a year in a corporate management job. Both cars were paid for, we had no credit card debt, we had saved up over $45,000 in emergency savings, we owned our home with considerable equity built up, and we were so blessed that Cheryl could stay at home with Avery and Billy. We felt financially responsible, independent, self sufficient, and wise with decisions and investments. We never asked anyone for help; in fact, we sought ways we could bless & serve others, and our life & future felt very happy & hopeful.

Then, Billy died.

Now, 28 months later, we find ourselves desperately trying to survive. I’ve worked over 40+ hours a week, with minimal income, since launching SIDS America back in November 2008. We’ve depleted our savings and have even taken out loans to further the ministry and to help pay off grieving families' funeral, burial, and emergency medical bills.

  • We’ve served over 60 families across the country, representing hundreds of lives deeply impacted by the tragedy of SIDS.
  • I've aggressively been raising funds for our nonprofit ministry. To date, we’ve raised approximately $100,000 in private donations, and Cheryl and I have invested $135,000 of our own money into the ministry. All of these funds have been depleted to serve families in need, provide appropriate resources, and to form, build, and further the ministry.
  • We have dozens of volunteers across America who have offered to help us identify families who have lost a child to SIDS, visit and encourage grieving families, write notes of encouragement, pray for the families we serve, provide meals for grieving families, lead support groups in their hometown, organize fundraisers, and to contact their local pediatrician offices, hospitals, birth centers, daycares, medical examiners, churches and tell them about SIDS America.

As a family, we are just 10 days away from facing complete financial ruin and destroyed good established credit. For 28 months now, we have found a way to pay our bills on time, to keep afloat, as we aggressively & persistently formed, built, and grew SIDS America while all along searching for, reaching out to, and helping newly grieving families. Also, although this is humbling and hard to admit, we’ve had to apply for food stamps & Medicaid in order to get by.

Yes, the death of Billy has put our fragile lives in perspective.

Forming and starting the only faith-based, 501(c)(3) SIDS nonprofit in the country has come at a great price. But we have no regrets. In fact, we have new found empathy for the families we are serving.

I feel like we are getting a second chance at life again being back in Colorado. Our 4th child, Jared Wesley, is due in less than 45 days, and I can't tell you how much I long to welcome him into a calm, secure home environment, to make Cheryl & my kids feel safe, secure & stable again.

Would you please consider helping me reestablish my family and continue this ministry? Whether it’s $10, $100, $1000, $10,000, $100,000, or somewhere in between, given as a one time gift, or given monthly, your support will help us rebuild our lives. Even more importantly, your support will allow us to continue in this life-building ministry. Broken hearts will mend. Babies' lives will be saved. Hope will flood homes. All because YOU invested in SIDS America.

Here’s how you can help.

Our board has approved a $65,000/yr Executive Director salary for me to run SIDS America. If you can contribute to my ministry support, not only will you allow us to reach out to newly grieving families and further the ministry as laid out in the attached SIDS America Investor Proposal / Business Plan, but you will also help us continue on the path of healing here in Colorado Springs.

If this letter touches you anyway and you feel the urgent situation we are in, the most direct way to help us is to give online at www.sidsamerica.org/donatetoday. Any amount you give would be tax deductible since SIDS America is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit ministry, and you would receive a receipt for tax purposes.

Or, you could send a check made payable to SIDS America to our new Colorado office address:

SIDS America
13710 Struthers Road, Suite 120
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80921

Or, you can send anything you want to the home we are renting:

Bill & Cheryl Darnell
14618 Allegiance Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80921

If the tragedy of Billy’s death and the path it has lead us down forces us to have to face bankruptcy, ruined credit, and years of not being able to own a home again or to get a loan, then I’m at the very least going to go down fighting to the last second. I refuse to be “that guy” who at his most desperate hour, didn’t ask for help. Please help us.

Thank you for your prayers and support.

Bill Darnell

Sunday, August 8, 2010

SIDS America

This is how I remember Billy. Smiley, lovable, cuddly... all in all a happy boy. And that is exactly how I imagine he is running around in Heaven with Jesus. It's been 28 months since this precious boy went home to Jesus. So much of life has changed, so many seasons have passed and I see a strength and a legacy that he has left behind. He's our little bear cub... leaving a paw print on the hearts of all those that knew and loved him and I even believe a bit of him lives in his little brother, Nathan and I look forward to see what comes from the personality in his youngest brother due in just under 2 months.

The biggest legacy this little one has left is the birth of the only faith based 501(c)(3) SIDS non-profit in the country. There is a huge need for SIDS America and although I might be a bit biased, I think when you read about what they are doing and how they are working to help other families in need, you'll want to be a part of it too. I realize times are tough, the economy is struggling, but it doesn't take much to support a worthy cause. I truly believe that if you (dear readers) consider giving financially you will find you will be blessed beyond belief. It may not be in the way you think, but I believe it will blow your socks off and you will be pleasantly surprised.

Please, if you do nothing else, take time to read about Bill and Cheryl Darnell at www.sidsamerica.org and you can also read about some of the families they have helped. You can also be a part of assisting these families and others by donating at www.sidsamerica.org/donatetoday Please consider donating, you won't be sorry.


*Below is the essay I've submitted to International Justice Mission (IJM) as a part of the application process to intern with them next Winter*

“We will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony, everyone overcome.” ~ Desperation Band, Jon Egan, 2007

Over the past two years, I have seen and heard time and time again of people who have “overcome.” They have overcome difficult circumstances, they have overcome tragedy, and they have overcome attempts by the devil trying to gain a hold on their lives. My most vivid picture and testimony of the will to overcome come from the tragic and unexpected loss of my nephew, William Thomas Darnell Jr., to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), in March, 2008. As the two years have passed since that day, I have witnessed as my sister and her husband have pressed deeper toward the Lord and placed all that they have in His hands; and, as a result they have overcome and continue to walk in healing. I have witnessed how He has blessed their faithfulness to Him. Has it been an easy road? No, not in the least, but it has been a journey from loss to meaningful life once again.

As the days following that tragic day unfolded, I watched from a distance as my sister both questioned and listened to her Heavenly Father, and trusted as He began to speak and comfort her and her husband. I watched as my sister so adamantly wrote and delivered the eulogy at her son’s memorial service. I watched how her grief and honesty testified to others in being open and honest with their grief. I watched as she and her husband built (and continue to build) a ministry that assists other families who face the same loss that they experienced. It is a ministry that might not have been planted had they not walked this road themselves. I have witnessed and heard the countless stories of the families they have assisted in the year-and-a-half that the ministry has existed, and I have seen how God is using the love and compassion in their hearts for a greater good.

I believe that overcoming is a choice that we are all given the opportunity to make. My sister and her husband overcame by trusting in God’s plan, while not knowing what it might be. A lot of the strength they found came from the support system around them. They were able to choose to overcome, to trust in the Lord because of so many people around them trusting, praying, and believing for them.

I foresee for my future a calling to trust in, support, and pray for others. Years ago, I felt called to pursue a masters degree for a career in professional counseling. It was not until two-and-a-half years later that I finally began the journey that would get me to that degree. Through that journey, it has never been about the degree or the initials after my name, but about continuing to work through my “overcome” moments and hopefully helping others do the same.

There is so much hope in the phrase “to overcome” and I thank God for the work He has done and continues to do to help me overcome challenges so that I, in turn, can minister and help guide others toward Him. International Justice Mission is a ministry that gives others the opportunity to choose to “overcome.” When I look at the work that IJM has done and continues to do, I see how they step forward as God has called each worker and volunteer. Those workers and volunteers teach others across different nations to overcome, to see that there is something beyond what they have always believed to be the only way to survive.

Jesus Christ came to this world to overcome so that we may have the choice to overcome through his power and love. It is when we make that decision that we fully walk into all that God has planned for us. Overcoming is a universal word, a universal concept… I do not believe that there should be any cultural barriers when it comes to learning how to overcome.

Monday, August 2, 2010

I Can't Imagine...

...doing anything else.

The other night a good friend and I were talking, sharing life and laughs like we most often do. In the midst of the conversation regarding my internship and going into the counseling profession she stated that she couldn't imagine going into that field and hearing all the stories and circumstances surrounding the patients and being able to leave it at the office. I told her I couldn't imagine not being in it, not being there to help these people, to hear their stories and help guide them towards life.

This is a short blog tonight as I'm exhausted, my heart is overflowing and as a counselor I'm finding how much more I need the ultimate Counselor, Jesus Christ. I wanted to share as a mini-testimony that God truly does have a plan and as I step into the one He's mapped out for me I want you to know I can't imagine being or doing anything else (except for maybe being a wife and a mother...someday).

Good night dear readers & God Bless!
~ C

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Uneven Break?

I have a question for you tonight dear readers... have you heard the song "Breakeven" by The Script? If you haven't I'll share a bit of the lyrics with you.

"I'm still alive but I'm barely breathing
just prayed to a God I don't believe in
'Cause I got time while she got freedom
'Cause when a heart breaks, no it don't break even...

What am I supposed to do when the best part of me was always you?
And what am I supposed to say when I'm all choked up and you're okay?
I'm falling to pieces, yeah
I'm falling to pieces"

Having been in counseling myself since the age of 14 and now finishing up my masters in order to practice as a counselor this song really irks me. I try to stay clear of too many soap boxy subjects, however I've heard this song a million times too many on the radio and I just cannot resist sharing any longer. In a nutshell it's stupid. Part of me wants to sit down with this person and piece by piece dissect the situation (the counselor in me), but of course I realize it's just a song and there may not be any legitimacy to it either. However, someone (or someones) are out there listening to this and literally falling apart because of broken heart and I can't help but think how stupid this song sounds compared to the reality of broken relationships.

A little background for you... when I first heard this song, I thought it was kinda catchy, especially for a break up song. However, I felt it was a little drastic, but quickly realizing I had been there many a time before. The second time I dissected it a little more and putting to work my skills from my own personal therapy as well as what I'm learning as a mental health professional, and most importantly putting into practice my faith above all else, I've realized how utterly ridiculous this is and how it can keep an individual from fully moving forward.

This whole song is based around a guy who put his worth and definition into some girl (and girls, don't get me wrong... we do the very same thing). The truth of the matter is, no one can define you, no other person can be the best part of you. You are the best part of you, every quirk, every habit, every single make up of who you are is you... no one has the power to take responsibility for you or take away a part of you. God created each one of us differently and uniquely, he also created us to be in relationship/community with one another. You cannot be in relationship or community with others if you are not you, if you don't know you, or you find yourself taking on the personality of another to "fit in." That is not healthy, that is not being whole as God intended. I think that is the biggest thing I'm learning for me right now. I cannot be the best counselor I want to be for my clients if I don't know me, if I don't know my values/beliefs, or if I'm changing my outward appearance to please others. I also cannot be a good wife to my future husband someday or take care of our children if I don't know how to care for myself.

I realize relationships are hard and it's extremely hard when they break or fade away, but I've also come to realize that just as man may have the capacity to break my heart, so does God and in all those moments (whether even or not) it comes back together stronger and larger and more loving than before. These are learning moments my friends, no matter what they look like or how hard they seem to be to endure at the time. I can honestly look back on some of my broken life moments and I thank God for the teaching, and I thank God for the people who may have walked away, that they had the strength to walk away from something that could have become completely disastrous or destructible.

I'm finding a lot more strength and confidence these days. I'm not perfect by any means and I still have my own issues to continue to work out, and although my life hasn't really turned out the way I had planned, I thank God for where I am, what has transpired and all the love and life lessons I'm learning along the way as I continue to run this race. I hope and pray the same for you, because not knowing yourself is probably the most heartbreaking thing of all.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sundance, Rotation Two

This week marked the fifth week of twenty-three in my practicum for my masters and I began working with the youngest age group, Elementary 1. These kids range in age from 5-years-old to 8-years-old. Many of them are struggling with depression and aggressive behavior as well as some ADHD issues. It has been a whirlwind of an experience and I'm loving every minute of it. It definitely utilizes more energy out of me, but these kids are great and remind me how much I am passionate about this field and my continued interest in working with kids. It is a complete 180 from working with the women's group, mostly because these kids are more behavioral than cognitive at this age. They have a hard time putting into words what they are feeling and their first reaction to most situations is to act out.

I'm continuing to gain more experience with paperwork, which I know doesn't sound exciting, but to me it's a part of the job and it makes it all seem more real. I've also sat in a few family therapy sessions and I'm quite impressed with the families we are working with (thus far). I haven't been able to meet with every family and I know that I'll have the opportunity to meet some other ones next week. I will continue with this age group for 3 more weeks and then move up to Elementary 2, at which time I'll be wrapping up my summer session of class at Amberton and gearing up for my final class of my masters degree and pulling out my study books once again to prep for the Boards in December (hopefully).

Prayers are always welcome my friends, especially for these kiddoes. They are remarkable and have so much life ahead, please pray that they would be able to trust in me and begin to tear down the walls they've built. Also continue to pray for me, in true Cristyn fashion I'm constantly on the run from one activity to another, my biggest prayer is that I would be patient with myself and know when to stop and rest.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

All Growns Up!

I stole my title from my super duper oh-so-smarty pants older brother, Brian. He's featured in the picture below...

Okay, so that's an old picture, but it never ceases to amuse me. He cracks me up and is one of my best buds, I love the kid!

But that's not what this blog is about. I had the honor of spending the afternoon today with two of my favorite little munchkins, my nephews Will and Brock...
These two handsome mischief makers are my other brother, Bill's sons. Will is the elder of the two and featured on the left above. This kid blows me away! He's 2 1/2 and super communicative, detail-oriented, and a super sleuth! As I was driving out to McKinney to care for these wonderful treasures I went back to that March day over 2 years ago when after finding out that my other nephew, Billy Jr. (my sister's son), was sick I drove out to my brother and sister-in-laws house. Will was 4 1/2 months old at the time, a mere 2 weeks younger than Billy Jr.

As I reflected upon that day I recall the exact details as I approached my brother's house. He, my sister-in-law Denise, Will, and myself closed ourselves off from my eldest nieces and nephew by hanging out in the master bedroom as we awaited to find out what was going on. I held Will in my arms and as he looked up at me I remember promising that he would see his older cousin again and would grow up and play with him. I so desperately wanted to believe that, but I honestly can't tell you what I believed in those hours of waiting. After my brother made a few calls to the hospital in Colorado, my sister finally called and gave us the tragic news that Billy did not make it, he had passed away. Life became very numb in that moment, time sorta stood still for the longest time.

Now here we are just over 2 years later and I feel like a whole lifetime has passed sometimes. My sister, her husband, their daughter, and youngest son (born since the death of Billy) have moved back to Colorado to build their lives and dreams there and are expecting another bundle of joy in just under 3 months. My brother, Bill and his wife, Denise have since added another baby, Brock who is 17-months-old today! Brian, after 11 years has finished his Bachelor's Degree and gearing up to teach junior level history courses at our alma mater in Coppell... I couldn't be more proud!

And me, well, for the first time I feel like an adult. I look back on that day in March 2008 and I recall how immature I was, how lost I was, and how timid and fearful I was. I see the woman in the mirror now and I couldn't be more grateful for the healing God has done in my heart and the hearts of all my family members. One of the greatest honor and responsibilities I've ever been given was that of becoming an aunt to all my precious nieces and nephews.

Billy Jr. will never be forgotten and we will forever tell the stories of his short life that brought so much joy to us all. God has done a miracle and I can tell that I'm all growns up now! ; )

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sundance, Day 1 & 2

"The Lord is my shepherd..." ~ Psalm 23

The verse that has weighed on my heart since late April/early May is that of Psalm 23. There is significance in that and I have no doubt that it is He, my shepherd, that has gotten me to this point. What an amazing opportunity God has set before me. This week marked the beginning of my student internship as required for me to finish up my masters degree in Professional Counseling. By the end of this year I shall be known as Cristyn Rohloff, MA, LPC, NCC. It's kinda weird, all those letters behind my name. And no, I will not go around in public shouting my newly accrued title out loud just for the sake of saying it... that would be really weird.

When I walked into the offices at Sundance Behavioral Health Center in Ft. Worth on Monday morning I had no idea what to expect. Within 30 minutes of arriving I had finished paperwork and found myself sitting at a conference table with a "treatment team" assessing a few of the women in the women's group. It was a whirlwind to say the least, but I was just excited to be there and take it all in. My first 4 weeks at Sundance I have the privilege of working with the Adult Women's program that began in November of last year. It had never crossed my mind having an interest working with adult women, but in just 48 hours I see the pain and hunger in the faces of these women and how much they struggle to have some sort of normalcy back in their lives, one in which depression, pain, anxiety, and fear didn't exist... at least not to an extent that it prevented them from living their everyday lives.

As I've said and will continue to say, it is truly a privilege to be able to be a part of something so amazing and wonderful and life changing. Sundance also works with kids and adolescents (ages 5-18) and that is what drew me to the program initially. I will have the opportunity during my coursework to rotate into the other groups, but I'm learning that unexpectancy is the best expectation to have. I am really surprised at how quickly the skills and cues I've learned in the classroom have come instantaneously as I've sat and observed the women's group. I hope that in my short rotation in each group I'll have the chance to make some sort of impact on the lives of these clients... I can already tell they will most definitely make an impact on mine.

I will not be updating my blog each time I'm at my internship (Mondays and Tuesdays), however with each new rotation and as new changes come up I hope to update you dear readers on what is going on at Sundance. Please be praying for each patient, and most specifically right now that the women in this group would put forth the work and find a desire to change their lives. Something brought them here and something keeps them coming back for the time they are allotted at the center.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Es Tiempo

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

My dear friends and readers, this post has been a long time coming... two years in fact. Two years ago I would never have imagined I'd be where I am today. Content, happy, overjoyed, excited, blissful, and so unexpectant of what's to come. It's funny how in the last few weeks God has so neatly packaged all that he's been trying to speak to me over the last two years into one phrase... "it's time." Those were also the words I wrote to my sister a few days after she told me that she and her family would soon be moving back to Colorado, where God has called them and where they left their hopes, hearts, and dreams when their son, Billy Jr. died. I'm truly amazed at how beautifully God has written the story of our family and how with each bump in the road he has indeed knitted us closer together. I'm going to miss having my sister nearby, but it's time. It's time to let her go and trust that God is going to take care of her and her family. That with each new day her beautiful children will grow stronger and wiser physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And the story and legacy that Billy Jr. left behind will continue to grow and someday both of his little brothers will know who he was and the love he left behind. Losing him pushed me that much harder to go after my dreams to find a deeper faith in my Heavenly Father that I never knew even existed. I truly believed I was about as deep as I could go before Billy died. I can't wait to see Billy again, to hug his neck and thank him for what he left behind.

But this isn't all about trusting God with my sister and her family as they embark on their newest journey to Colorado (with baby number four on the way no less... another boy). This is mainly about trusting God with my journey and the adventures I'm gearing up to embark on. Not long after God spoke to me about it being time I happened to notice a billboard on my way to work. It was for the Texas Rangers baseball team and all it had was a batter and the words "es tiempo." In English that translates as "is time." I have no idea how long that billboard has been up or how many days I traveled to work passing it by, not giving it a second thought... but now I see it everyday and it reminds me of the season I'm in. It's a good season, a self seeking, heart smiling, joyful tear falling season. One where I realize I've come so far and yet so far left to go. One where there's no anger left residing in my heart, but yet I'm still learning to forgive. It's time to walk in all God has for me, despite the fact that I'm still human, I'm not perfect, and yet I'm covered by the blood and love of Jesus Christ. It's time to finally let his sacrifice stand in my life and just let go of all that I try to control. It's difficult, but I'm so amazed to see all that he's already done and continues to do as I learn to trust and walk in his promise set before me.

My most treasured memories with the Lord are the moments when he speaks so softly and it lasts forever. I'm starting to see "it's time" unfold and I'm excited to walk out the adventure(s) he has before me... for I am not alone, but He is with me always.

"Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm, and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure." ~ Ecclesiastes 8:5

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Box

Life is hard living in a "box." It took me years to realize it and quite a few people along my life path to point out that I do indeed live life inside it... or at least use to. You see, it's difficult to see outside the box, it's difficult to understand what is outside and around the box in which one lives.

I remember the first time I had this discussion about how I viewed life. I was called into meet with one of my professors in college. It was my senior year at SMU and I was taking a theater class to fulfill one of my elective requirements... Creative Dramatics (don't act like you're surprised by this). Charlie was the professor and I remember sitting across from him in his office when he stated that what he noticed in me was this beautiful ability to become a completely different person when acting out a scene, but then somewhere along the way I'd pull back as if I'd seen something in me that I didn't like or that I didn't allow myself to be. Little did I know at that time that meeting would stick with me for years to come. I've carried that scene in the back of my mind and occasionally it pops up to the forefront and this time around I felt the need to put it into words. I thank Charlie for that. But that wouldn't be the last I heard of this viewpoint within me.

Three years after graduation and after that class with Charlie I came face to face with the "box" once again and this time in terms of the end of a "relationship." I was told I place people in a "box" and I expect them to act uniformly. I didn't get it this time around, I was bitter and mad for this suggestion and the person for the pain and hurt they had brought to my heart. Now 3 years after that encounter I finally get it.

I'm learning that living in a "box" is not fun and so one dimensional and restrictive. There's a lot of life to see, I may not understand it all, but it doesn't hurt to try. Grace, mercy, and patience are beautiful things and I think that is what I'm understanding the most out of all this mess. People are very much more than one aspect, more than one characteristic. That is the one thing I so painfully came to realize over 2 years ago and struggled to express to others at the time. I'm grateful for this journey and blessed that I can choose to step outside the "box" and see the world as it was truly meant to be seen.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I Dreamed A Dream

Once upon four and a half years ago I sat on the floor of my bedroom in a house I shared with two friends dutifully filling out an application to a graduate school that I was not even sure I was supposed to attend or what I would do if I got accepted. A few weeks later an acceptance letter came along with the proper ID needed to be considered a "student." That letter sat in a box for three years until the time came for the dream the Father dreamed for His daughter to pass. With an open heart and blind eyes I took a leap of faith and here we are today, just over two more years later and I'm a little less than 6 months away from graduating with a masters degree in counseling that I said I never wanted : ) Never say never... right?

It's been interesting to me to watch this journey come to pass. I remember throwing in the towel my junior year at SMU and thinking, "to heck with this... I'm not even good at this." Pertaining to the subject of psychology of course. Granted I was so close to finishing the degree I did anyway, but under no circumstances was I intending to do any graduate work and I certainly was not about to obtain my Masters Degree. Oh how glad I am that I was wrong! God knew, He knew exactly what was going to happen and how it would all come to pass... for that I am grateful because I couldn't have crafted a more beautiful story if I tried. It's been hard, no doubt about that... but shoot, if hard is what it takes to get where God wants me than I'll do hard any day of the week.

Which leads me to the next part of this journey... Practicum, also known as my student internship. I am required by Amberton University to complete 300 hours of Practicum under the supervision of a Licensed Professional Counselor or Psychologist before I am eligible to graduate. For my placement, I've selected Sundance Behavioral Health Center in Ft. Worth. Yes, I realize that is quite the hike for someone living in Dallas, but I can already tell every moment will be absolutely worth it! I had my intern orientation today and I got to hear more about the make-up of the kids that attend and the situations that I would see the most. These are super smart kids dealing with behavioral issues that they have no idea what to do with. Some have been kicked out of their schools or on the verge and they want to be at Sundance, they want to get help. I was there once and so it is more than an honor and a privilege to be able to give back and help them find themselves. I'm entering a very fulfilling career and as scared to death as I am at failing these kids, there's something in the back of my mind that gives me peace knowing I'm doing the right thing.

It's not about me, it never was. Many people have believed in me over the years when I couldn't figure out down from up and now... well, now I have the chance to impart that belief and wisdom into the younger generations of today. I write tonight asking you to pray for the kiddoes at Sundance Behavioral Health Center. They're there for a reason and they want to be and how amazing to know that somewhere out there, people are praying for a generation to be healed and to change the way in which they live.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
~ Psalm 23, NIV

The days leading up to my graduate exam this week the Lord had placed upon my heart Psalm 23. The only sense I could make of it is the constant thought of "God is always with us"... and I left it at that as I prayed the beginning of the chapter over and over in my heart. Now here I am 4 days after aforementioned exam, having passed it and still my heart is heavy with Psalm 23. So as I've meditated and continue to meditate on it this is what I have thus far...

I had a lot of doubt in my abilities this week. The first thought that came to mind as I processed through Psalm 23 was God asking, "Why did you ever doubt me? You haven't before during this journey. Have I not set a purpose before you and breathed it to life?" ... Ouch, sometimes I don't like how well God knows me. But with that question I read through it all again... and I continue to do so until it all makes sense. There's not a lot of meat to this blog, but just sharing what God is sharing with me. One more thing before I sign off... Psalm 23 via The Message Bible...

God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet
pools to drink from.
True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send
me in the right direction.
Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I'm not afraid
when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd's crook
makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.
Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.
I'm back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.
~ Psalm 23, The Message

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Holy Roar

Over these last few days of preparing for my big departmental exam the song laid upon my heart has been Watermark's "Holy Roar" sung by Christy Nockels. It is a moving and passionate worship song all about the pursuit of God. It exemplifies exactly what this journey has been for me... a pursuit after God and the passion He has placed upon my heart for so many years. I found it a little poetic when I noticed for the first time the other night that this song is on an album entitled, "The Road to One Day." In past blogs when I've spoken of this dream I've dated it back to 2005 when I first applied to graduate school, however when mediating upon it all last night I really felt that God placed this calling on my life at the age of 14. That was 14 years ago!! This has been a dream that has taken ups, downs, twists, turns and unexpectancies. Just goes to show God doesn't give up on us, but is patient and kind for as long as it takes for us to realize what He already knows. At 14 I was diagnosed with depression and anorexia, I spent the better part of my high school and college years trying to figure out why I was the way I was and why I made the choices I made. I still don't have a definitive answer, but I have a peace that surpasses all and any understanding. For I am a child of God and nothing less. I am a miracle, a blessing, and a treasure. What I do believe is that maybe it was all a part of the plan to get me where I am now... pursuing a masters degree in counseling so I in turn can help kids who struggle with their identity and the false beliefs they have that lead to mechanisms to suppress all of it.

And me graduating and obtaining my masters is by no means the end of a dream. I've thought over the last few weeks, "what's next? What will I pursue when this dream is done?" The thing of it is, this is just opening a door to so much more. I'll be given the responsibility of counseling future generations and my hope is that it will help turn the tides in what we foresee our kids, grandkids being born into. This is a fallen world, that I know. I also know that I can't "fix" or "save" anyone, but if I can help change the way they think, the way they see things then let's get movin'!! I pray that my heart will not die in this area, and that should it ever become hardened or separated from this pursuit then I need to find a new occupation. I'm tired of living in my own little world pretending that everything is "normal." What is normal anyway? I'm ready to cause a Holy Roar and walk through the open door God has been preparing for me for the last 14 years. It's way past time to step into my calling and walk in obedience to the Lord.

What's God calling you to? What is your "Holy Roar?"

"Rivers of renewal, the spirit whisper a revival
And He sends us rushing, Lord, send us rushing
Open hearts with hopes of unity, we're servants to love in lost
Lord, send us reaching, yeah

Oh can you hear it? It's the song of the redeemed
The pursuit of passion for the one who set us free
Oh can you hear it? We're crying out for more
And listen to our song, it's turning into a holy roar, a holy roar, yeah

And we come rejoicing and singing and crying out to You, Lord
Can you hear the holy roar?"
~ Holy Roar, Christy Nockels, The Road to One Day

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Where is Your Faith?

Faith... the dictionary defines it as "belief that is not based on proof..." or "confidence or trust in a person or thing..." and the list goes on.

...but here is what the Bible says about faith...

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."
~ Hebrews 11:1

And as of this week, this is how I feel about it all... "ARGH!!"... it's scientific really, too scientific to explain beyond my pirate definition : )

In all honesty, I think what it boils down to is God just tapping me on the shoulder and asking, "Where is your faith, Cristyn?" And he's right to ask, my faith seems to have gotten lost amongst the piles of papers I have hiding in my closet (trust me on that one, something you don't actually want to see). I have a number of excuses in my back pocket... "I'm stressed out," "I'm exhausted," "I've been spending my whole life prepping for my graduate departmental exam,"... blah, blah, blah. I often wonder if we sound like the teacher from the 'Peanuts' cartoon to God when we talk. I know he hears all that we say, but when it comes to us making excuses I truly wonder what he hears. I've gotta believe that as he loves us unconditionally, he probably just shrugs his shoulders in these situations and says to himself "give 'em time, just give 'em time, they'll come around."

I don't know about anyone else, but it defeating and humiliating to admit when I'm wrong. I've only recently come to realize this through some intensive recovery time and soul searching. I passionately dislike admitting when I'm wrong and there are plenty of times when I'm wrong. And recently as it pertains to my relationship with the Lord, I've been W-R-O-N-G!! Praise God for grace, mercy, and patience. These last few days I've completely allowed myself to be distracted by the enemy. The still, small voice I've allowed into my head is not that of my Heavenly Father, but rather that of the enemy that is trying to convince me that I won't be a good counselor, my only shot at love ran the other way (screaming), the only babies I'll ever know as my own are my nieces and nephews, and someone dear to me might possibly be sick. Hence the "ARGH" response mentioned earlier. Shoot, I've had a total of 3 emotional meltdowns in 5 days... that might be some sort of record for me.

Am I stressed? Exhausted? Continuing to burn a candle at both ends that no longer has a wick on either end? Yes, but my strength does not come from me... it comes from my Father in Heaven. I've known all along this journey that this is not something I can accomplish or complete alone, so I have to know when enough is enough and surrender to the Lord. I'm finding that it usually comes days, sometimes even weeks before my breaking point. There's only so much I can do and then the rest is left to God. He only allows us to do so much and even still it's all with Him by our side. The thing of it is we have to recognize that, we have to acknowledge him and be willing to surrender and accept that He's not there to ridicule what we couldn't do, but rather to help us finish the task set before us along this path.

So, where is my faith? Just where it should be, in my Heavenly Father who has a purpose and plan in all that He does... Where is yours?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Here With Us

"Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord and delight in his salvation"
~ Psalm 35:9

"The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take
great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will
rejoice over you with singing."
~ Zephaniah 3:17

Oh how I wish I had blogged about this the other day after it all happened. What with all I have to remember these days all my recall is reserved for my graduate studies. Hoping and believing God will meet me here and what I have to say will translate well to you dear reader.

Thursday night was a night I reserved for focusing some more on going over all the theories of counseling in order to prep for my big test. I had just finished making poster-sized "maps" explaining each theory and taping them to the walls/doors of my bedroom. After I went around the whole room taking them all in on Thursday night, I found myself collapsing on my bed wondering if I could do this... if I could master this test and in turn eventually complete my degree and step into the role of "licensed professional counselor." Such responsibility comes with three little letters... L, P, C. Before I could even get the thought or the contemplation across my mind, the Lord flooded me with songs of praise! Never in my life have I heard so clearly the Father express how proud He was of me. And the thing of it is, that's all I heard and that was more than enough for me. The floodgates opened, my soul, body, and mind was being washed clean as the tears came pouring down. My professor had warned us that we'd hit a psychological wall about this period in the studying process, but this was no longer about whether or not I know this stuff, but rather it was about this journey ending and the adventure that lays ahead because of all that I've pressed into up to this point.

Do you know how amazing it is to hear the Father say he's proud of you? I hear my parents say it often and I especially love it when it comes in the context of them introducing me to someone, but there is just something so comforting and reassuring when it comes from the Heavenly Father, the one who breathed life into me, the one who created me out of His own image. Never once on this journey have I found myself questioning what God was doing, I would question what I was thinking, but always, always, had the peace of God knowing what He was doing. My prayer in December 2007/January 2008 was consistently this:

"Father, if at any point in time this is not what you have for me. If counseling is not the calling you have on my life or the path you have set before me, I will quit wherever I'm at and be okay with that. I want to be in complete obedience of what you have for my life."

Ladies and gentlemen... our God is a great God! He never led me astray, he never sent mixed signals, and when I was weary or tired, He gave me rest, carried my burdens and got me here. In fact He continues to carry me through and I trust that He'll do the same for you in whatever you need. I've seen a promised fulfilled and maybe this is a small dose of what I needed in order to believe that He'll do the same in other areas of my life.

I don't know what is next when all this ends in November, but I trust that God's got a plan and that He won't disappoint. He loves me with a big love, He is teaching me to do the same, and in turn I hope to teach others. Who would have thought that this crazy, fun-loving, dancing, singing, daydream believing woman of God would end up here? I didn't, but I wouldn't have it any other way!

Praying and believing for your God moments as well, that more often than not you'll have time where you feel His presence, hear how proud He is of you, and hear His songs of praise over you!