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