Saturday, December 31, 2011


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

I didn't get around to writing an update letter/Merry Christmas letter this year so I decided I'd blog about this past year instead :)

The way the year started and finished were far from expected.  I can't say that 2011 was a completely bad year, but it wasn't quite the best either.  I would say the best of this year came in February and March... the end of a very long journey.  On February 11 I sat for my LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) Boards and passed!  It was such a huge relief, I had so many random little glitches during my test time that I was about to throw in the towel before ever finishing.  After passing I soon found a supervisor for the 3000 hours I have to obtain as an intern in the state of Texas and sent off all my paperwork to the State Licensing Board to obtain my official license as an LPC-Intern (which found it's way to me via snail mail in March).  This is a journey that dates all the way back to 2005 and I couldn't be more thrilled to finally be practicing.  Of course it has been a slow... very slow start.  I've been working a combination of counseling jobs in addition to maintaining at least 30 hours/week at the Pediatric office I've been employed at since September 2009.  My main counseling duties find me part time in Carrollton at my supervisor's private practice.  I have 6 patients at this time and am learning quite a bit from all of them.  In addition I serve alongside some incredible people within the non-profit organization at Camp COPE, a military camp for families of those serving in our military.  I have the privilege of working with the kids of soldiers and let me say it is a wonderful way to give back to those who give so much to keep us here in the states safe and free.  I have also been working from time to time at Sundance Behavioral Health Center in Ft. Worth, the same location where I obtained my hours as a grad student.  It has all been a wonderful experience and I'm hoping that 2012 will find me in more of a full-time role as a counselor, or at the very least in a career field where I'm doing what I love... helping others :)

This summer found me back in Colorado for a week spending time visiting my sister, her hubby, and their 3 beautiful children.  I also had the opportunity to explore a few other towns, Buena Vista, Leadville, Aspen and Salida.  It was a great trip and I even had the chance for a small snowball fight upon Independence Pass.  It was wonderful to see my sister as always, but sad to have to say good-bye as well.  The end of the summer came with the unexpected loss of someone close to my heart and a treasure that will forever leave a lasting impact on my life.  While moving through the grief of that I found myself stepping into the joy of counseling and working with others who are struggling to find their way through life.  I'm finding this is not at all what I was expecting, but at the same time so much more.

September brought the opportunity to serve with Camp COPE again and I found myself for the very first time stepping onto a military base, Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.  What a humbling experience, I truly had no idea (and still cannot fathom the true impact) the magnitude of the sacrifice of our men and women serving our country and I could not be more grateful.  It was wonderful to have that weekend on base and continue to hear stories of the families who sometimes unwillingly let go of their loved ones to serve the rest of us.

The fall found me packing up my life once again (9th time in 6 years) and moving in with two wonderful ladies from my church, Watermark Community Church.  I was so nervous, I did not know either of them before moving into the house and I couldn't be more at peace.  It is a joy to spend this season of transition with the two of them and share life with them.  My sense is that this is another transitional situation for me and though I don't know when, I have a feeling that whatever move is next it will be a BIG one.

November 21st was a huge milestone as I celebrated my 30th birthday.  I've been waiting for this day since I was 26.  Although I have no idea what my 30s hold, I do know that reflecting back on my 20s has brought great revelation and the hope that the mistakes I made in that decade won't be repeated in this one.  And December 4th found me celebrating entering my 30s with accomplishing a huge challenge... my first half-marathon, Dallas White Rock Half-Marathon.  It was very wet and very cold that day, but I finished with my best running time... 2 hours, 1 minute, and 21 seconds.  That's an average of about 9 minutes/mile!

I look forward to the year ahead (as I have in years past).  I already have plans for lots of traveling and lots more running.  I have plans to travel to Colorado in January and hopefully again in September for the Denver Rock and Roll Marathon (this time I'm going for the full).  May will find me across the ocean in Germany for a week as I share in the much anticipated wedding of a very dear friend, one I consider to be much like another sister.  I hope to attend as many Camp COPE weekends as possible and hopefully a weekend escape to the Texas Hill Country with my most beautiful and precious best friend.

2011 brought a lot of revelation, most of which came in the final few months.  It brought joy and heartache and the most unexpected life changes.  I struggle to be grateful for what became of this year, but I remember that God has not left me, nor has he forgotten me.  I thank Him that His grace and mercy is so big and so overwhelming that me being angry doesn't deter His love for me at all.  I wish the very best for you in the upcoming year dear readers.  And whatever comes of this year, I pray you find the best and trust in the one who loves you the most.

Happy New Year and Many Blessings,

"Forget about what's happened; don't keep going over old history.  Be alert, be present.  I'm about to do something brand-new.  It's bursting out!  Don't you see it?  There it is!  I'm making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands." ~ Isaiah 43:18,19 (The Message)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Encourage... to give Courage

The dictionary defines encourage as "give support, confidence, or hope to (someone)."  Someone else once defined it for me as giving another courage.  This is a topic that has been on my heart a lot lately.  As I struggle to find courage myself, I find that I am in a profession where I hand out encouragement daily.  I love it, I find as a counselor I meet with individuals who may never have been given courage or if they were it was tied or connected to some outcome or expectation.  That they could be who they wanted or what they wanted if they would just do this or that.  Truth be told (at least from my perspective) we all just want to know that someone, even if just one person, believes in us regardless of what we're able to do or what we can give that other person or anyone for that matter.

As I've gotten older my perspective on Christmas has changed... for the better.  When I was younger my focus was on the wonderment of it all.  The lights, the tree, Santa, cookies, presents... anything and everything but the true meaning.  I just didn't get it when I was little.  But now, now I wonder about that most momentous night when Christ came to earth as a baby.  I think about what lead to his birth, what Mary must have been thinking when the angel came to tell her that she would give birth to the son of God.  What Joseph was thinking, what their parents thought.  How do you even begin to explain to others that you have not slept with your betrothed before marriage and yet you're pregnant?  I can't imagine that you possibly could, except that God was in it... every step of the way, He had a plan.  He still does.

Mary was given courage in that God chose her.  He gave encouragement that she could fulfill what He called her to do with her body, with her life.  There are a million other stories in the Bible of those that were given courage from God.  That despite what they were doing with their lives or the choices they made, God still encouraged and gave them new hope, a new life.  He would use where they struggled or the bad decisions they made in the past to fulfill the promise He had on their lives.  And I guess that is where I'm going with this post.  We have a book full of encouragement to use with one another.  We don't have to struggle to find words to say to give courage to another.  God gave us a handbook with timeless words of encouragement.

I love words of encouragement, they are my number one love language and so I guess I get frustrated when words are handed out with a feeling of emptiness.  Like the person just wants to say anything to make someone else feel better so they pull out the over used "I'm sorry you're hurting" and that's it.  And I'm not here to point fingers, I've been there, I struggle to find words to say when others are in a place I cannot relate to or a place very different from myself.  My hope is that when I search my heart to find words to encourage another it's more than just an "I'm sorry" but something deeper, something that will give the other person hope that they're not going to stay in that place where all they hear is an "I'm sorry."

My hope as a counselor, as a daughter, as a sister, as an aunt, as a friend... whatever role I'm in that I would go past the I'm sorry to something I see in that person that maybe in the moment or the season that person cannot see in themselves.  To give them hope and remind them that where they are at right now is not where they are destined to stay.

There is not a whole lot I can do.  In fact there are many things I am not gifted in, but I do know that God has called me to give courage, to encourage, and to go deep with people.  I hope that my life, much like Mary's and so many others in the Bible will be one that God is pleased with, one that I fulfill all that He has called me to do here on earth.

"Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished." 
~ Luke 1:45

Be Born in Me (Mary) by Francesca Battistelli

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Devil Went Down to Dallas

Two and a half weeks ago I completed one of the biggest challenges of my life, I ran and finished my first half marathon (13.1 miles).  In mid-August I decided that to celebrate me entering my 30s I wanted to run a half marathon.  Crazy I know, but it sounded like a great challenge and a great way to help distract me from other unexpected life changes.  I thought about running a full marathon, but didn't think I'd be ready and figured I'd better start out small :)  So thus came the decision to enter the Dallas White Rock Half Marathon and luckily I had the privilege to train with Team in Training, a part of the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society.  Not only was a able to train with an amazing group of people, but I was able to raise money for cancer research in the process as well.  I finished the half marathon in record time (for me anyway).  I completed it in 2 hours, 1 minute, and 21 seconds averaging my best pace of about 9 minute miles.  I was extraordinarily impressed with myself especially considering it was 40 degrees that day in Dallas and rained through the majority of my race.  I had run in rain before and had run in the cold, but never the two together.  Not only was I doing something I'd never done before, but in weather I had never done it in before either.  It couldn't have been a better day (well, other than no rain of course).

The thing of it is I had the best time training and God showed me so much about myself and things of my past and present that took me by surprise and helped me grow (and continue to grow) beyond belief.  Years ago in middle school I chose to run cross country so that I could continue in the Athletics program at school.  I found that I loved it and continued on through the track season that year and cross country again in my eighth grade year.  However in the midst of all that is when I became very self conscious of my body and used running to feed my desire to lose weight I didn't need to lose and thus began my struggle for 6 and a half years with an eating disorder.  I look back now I see how the Devil stole my joy for something I loved and was good at.  He came to steal, kill, and destroy... and he nearly did, but at the end of the day it was the Lord who saved me and healed me.  Now here I am 17 years later and I'm finally running again, having completely forgotten how much I loved it and how much freedom it brings me.  When I am out there I am completely uninhibited.  I don't care what others think about my running style, or what I'm wearing or the fact that I'm mouthing the words to whatever song happens to be playing on my iPod at the time.  When I am outside running I am just Cristyn, not who anyone else wants me to be... I'm just that girl out running.

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." ~ Genesis 50:20

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Mere 30

It's funny.  I'm not sure what to say... just that I felt a strong desire to write tonight.  You see it's my last night of my twenties and I just might be one of the few women in the world that is beyond thrilled to be turning 30.  It's not that things were terrible or horrendous in my twenties, it was life and God graciously helped me through it.  It's more like I finally seem to get it a little more... the game of life that is.  Will I ever understand it all?  Of course not, but when God gives me words like that from Jeremiah 29:11, "'For I know the plans I have for you', declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"  How could I doubt that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be?

We all have a story... multiple stories to be exact that make up our life here on earth and my first 30 years are full of them.  The good, the bad, the ugly... every single moment plays a part in the path and the direction God set out before me long before I even took a breath.  How amazing is that?  Sometimes I lay awake in bed pondering that.  It sounds strange, but to think that He who created me, He who breathed life into me knew long before I ever did all the times I'd say "yes" or "no" or which direction I would go with my season(s) of life.  Praise God!  It may feel like a mistake sometimes, the choices I make, but I thank God He is gracious and loving, slow to anger, and compassionate that He is there to get me back on track.

Over the last few weeks I've been able to look back on the last decade and see how the choices I made seemed to put my life on hold.  How so many times in my twenties I was constantly waiting for something.  I focused so much on the future that God only knows what I missed in the present.  My hope going into my 30s is that I'll be able to be in the here and now and yet excited about the unknown of the future... not fearful.  And also that I wouldn't be so hard on myself about the past, for the past helped get me to where I am today.  It is because of my past that God is going to use me to minister to the lives of others.  At least I hope so.  But maybe all my past will be used for is a way to be a better listener to my nieces and nephews and God willing... my own children someday.

As I prepare to say good-bye to one decade and hello to another I take great comfort in Zephaniah 3:17

"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."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


free - not physically restrained, obstructed, or fixed; unimpeded

Too many things I can't do too well,
afraid I'll try real hard, and I'll fail--
This is how it's been.
Till the day You pounded on my heart's door,
And You shouted joyfully,
"You're not a slave anymore!"

"You're free to dance-
Forget about your two left feet
And you're free to sing-even joyful noise is music to Me
You're free to love,
'Cause I've given you My love,
and it's made you free*

It's funny how God does things, how He seems to work everything out.  It's really no surprise to me (looking back) that Ginny Owens would perform with the worship team at Watermark Community Church this past weekend.  Not only that, but service started with her performing "Free."  How fitting for this season.  About three months ago a good friend of mine showed me a popular YouTube video of a whale being cut free from a fishermen's net.  In showing me the video she was implying that I had been set free, free to be me, free to find the one God has for me to share my life with.  In the early stages of grief I adamantly argued with her, telling her that I didn't feel as though I had been captured or restrained like the whale had been.  I think that maybe in that moment I just didn't get what God was trying to explain to me through my friend.  Now it's all starting to make a little more sense.  You see, I wasn't restrained, not by anyone else anyway.  I was restrained by my own false belief and self-hatred.  I had fixated myself on how things should be or should've been that I was completely missing God's gentleness and love towards me.

Now here we are a few days into a new season and I laugh because I realize all the arguing I did with God over the last few months has led me into this very sweet season of redemption and hopefully finding ultimate freedom in Him.  I've found myself in this predicament before, when will I ever learn, I don't know.  But I thank God He is patient and kind and loving and merciful (just to name a few characteristics).  There's been a strange peace that has fallen over me the last few days, one that I can't really put words to, but I won't make excuses or downplay my joy.  I find myself dancing again, singing again, and remembering the very things that make me uniquely ME!  All I can say is that He is with me and I with Him... even in what seems to be the darkest times.  He hasn't forgotten me, He hasn't abandoned me.  I look forward to what this season has in store, I have a feeling it is going to be something quite unexpected and amazing!

Free from worry, free from envy and denial
Free to live, free to give, free to smile*

*Free by Ginny Owens

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Birthday Celebration for an Angel

This is not where we planned to be
When we started this journey
But this is where we are
And our God is in control

Though this first taste is bitter
There will be sweetness forever
When we finally taste and see
That our God is in control
And we'll sing holy, holy, holy is our God
And we will finally really understand what it means
So we'll sing holy, holy, holy is our God
While we're waiting for that day
~ Steven Curtis Chapman, Our God is in Control

Happy 4th Birthday Billy!!!  Oh how greatly you are missed.  I've been thinking about you a lot lately and missing you just the same.  It's hard to believe you would have been 4 today.  It is truly an honor to share my birthday month with you and your younger cousin, Will.  I spent 25 years with November all to myself in our family and then in 2007 you and Will came along and I finally got to share my birthday month with someone, 2 of my favorite boys to be exact.

So much of life has happened in 4 years.  I often wonder what Heaven is like and what you're up to.  Your sister Avery once asked me who makes birthday cakes in Heaven.  My response to her was that we would have to ask God when we get there.  She is a great big sister, she loves and misses you as we all do.  And your younger brothers are hilarious and so full of life and personality.  I imagine the three of you would have given your sweet Mama a run for her money.  I look forward to the day that Nathan and Jared fully understand who you were to them.  You would have been an awesome big brother.  Your Mama reminds me constantly (though not intentionally) what God spoke to her before you were born.  That you would be light and life to those around you... and you are, even today in your absence here on earth.  You've been a constant reminder to me to love, cherish, and fully grasp every moment here on earth for we are here but a short while.  

I long to see your sweet face once again and hold you in my arms, but until Jesus comes back or God calls me home I will wait for that precious day.  This may not have been what we wanted or what we would have planned, but I trust that God's hand is on all of this.  I've seen how he continues to heal your Mama and Daddy.  I see the light and life that is within them as they reach out to other families and help them through the grieving process of losing a child to SIDS.  You left a legacy that not even a little guy like you could comprehend, but only our big God.  

I love you and until I see you again I send you big hugs and kisses!

Aunt Cristyn

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Season of Gratitude

"I lift up my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip - he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  The Lord watches over you - the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.  The Lord will keep you from all harm - he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore." ~ Psalm 121

This is the verse that keeps pushing me through my training for a half marathon a mere 6 weeks away.  I've been training since mid-August and my excitement and passion for this has only grown during this time.  I have been lucky enough to partner with Team in Training to prepare for this challenge.  While I prepare to run 13.1 miles, I also have the opportunity to raise money for a great cause, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS).  What sparked my interest to start training wasn't what LLS does through Team in Training, in fact I had no idea they even existed until after I decided to run the half marathon.  What sparked my interest was out of pure selfishness and a deep desire to press on and push through an unexpected loss in my life.  It wasn't by death, but rather by reality not meeting expectations or rather a hope and a dream.

I've watched from the sidelines as the enemy has come in to steal, kill, and destroy the areas of my life that made me so uniquely designed.  I've allowed the Devil to steal my confidence, kill my dreams, and destroy my hopes.  And all it took was the closing of a door... literally.  And that was over two months ago!

But then something cool happened yesterday, however the details will remain undisclosed because if I told you then you'd think I'm absolutely crazy!  Plus I believe that there are "ah-ha" moments from God in which that is where they stay... strictly between you and God.  Besides, it's really irrelevant except that I truly believe it was a moment in which not having to know or understand something finally made sense.  When I went for my 6 mile speed training run this morning "Praise You in the Storm" came up on my playlist and my eyes were focused, my head was in the zone (despite my legs feeling like rubber), and it hit me... the reality that's been missing is just being.  The just being okay with not having it all together, the just being that even a counselor needs a counselor sometimes, the just being in the midst of change and having no idea how to navigate through it.  The just being of in the now and not having some perfect little cookie cutter future mapped out.  Do I have hopes and dreams of what I'd like my future to look like?  Why yes, of course... but I'm learning that it might take several more puzzle pieces to see that come together... if at all.  For all I know my future looks very different and the path to getting there is much more detailed with God at the driver's seat.  The key is letting HIM take the wheel (insert Carrie Underwood song here).

I'm grateful for what got me here... it's a bittersweet reality.  But I'm starting to see through the fog, I'm starting to see what I couldn't see 3 months ago.  I'm realizing that because someone took a chance on me, I took a chance on change.  I'll fight it, don't get me wrong... I'll fight change till I'm blue in the face and on my knees pleading through the tears for things to go back the way they were.  But I know that's not what God wants and that is not what I want either.  I want things to be smooth, easy, and understandable... but that's not what He intended and so I trust that His plans are greater than mine and when all is said and done I will look back at my silly 'ol plans and just laugh.

Click here to watch Casting Crowns perform "Praise You in the Storm":

If you'd like to donate to Team in Training and help raise funds for cancer research click here:

Friday, October 14, 2011

Open Letter to A Girl's Broken Heart

Precious Girl,

First, watch this....

Has anyone told you how beautiful you are?  No?  Oh my goodness, but you are and it's more than just what you portray on the surface.  It goes deeper than mascara, eye liner, blush, and a pretty outfit... it's what I see in your heart.  I see a young woman growing in her faith and love for Jesus Christ.  I see a lady desiring to honor her Heavenly Father in all that she does.  I see beauty in how you love others, the BIG love that you show, the grace, compassion, and understanding.  I know you get frustrated at this life, at others sometimes, but unfortunately that is still part of our nature.  We are not perfect, yet we are perfect-able.  God wants you to turn your eyes from the things of this world and fix your eyes upon Him.  He loves you with that BIG love that you try so hard to show others.  Remember, we love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).  I know you feel you've been hurt but the truth is your expectations just didn't meet reality and that does stink.  However, I know you, I can see you down the road and the unexpected joy that you will find just around the corner.  The smile that slowly finds its way back to your face is illuminating and inspiring.  You have feared your own strength for so long and now it's time to reconcile that with God.  To remember it is not a strength you came to find alone, by yourself, but rather a strength that God has placed in you and has been growing over time.

You are confident... intelligent... beautiful.... funny (and this one is okay, don't try to hide it, it can be a rarity)... you are a wonderful creation of the Heavenly Father and I'm pretty sure He doesn't make mistakes.  If right now you cannot grasp on to the truth that is spoken here, I pray you at least grasp on to the truth that God is FOR you!  That cheerleader you've been praying for to come along side you in life... that's God.  He's your biggest fan!  I pray that God shaped hole that you've rediscovered in your heart would be filled with God, and God alone.

You will survive this and remember... you always come out stronger than you were before.  I've seen it, I've seen your life unfold and I cannot wait to see what else God has in store for your precious heart and the life He has given you here on earth.  Hold on to Him, for He NEVER lets go of you.

In His Love,

You restored me to health and let me live.  Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish.
In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back. 

~ Isaiah 38:16-17

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Who Will?

I've found myself resting quite a bit in a song recently... it's entitled "What Love Really Means" and is by JJ Heller.  Such an amazingly gifted artist and leaves so much for one to ponder.  I stumbled across the YouTube video for this song a couple weeks ago and it reminds me of what I believe God is calling me to do and what it means to truly love another.  I've said it before (at least in my quiet times with the Lord) and I will say it here... love is more than a feeling.  It's an action, a lifestyle, a choice.  I wrestle sometimes with myself as I've been told I love with a big love.  There's no sorta love from me... when I'm in, I'm all in.  This appears to be a weakness at times, especially when that love is not returned.  But it's in those moments that I remember what I stated a couple sentences back... it's not just a feeling.  I choose to love others, I choose to love them sometimes despite what they say or don't say to me.  Why do I do this?  It's a calling, a commandment from God.  In Matthew 22:39 it states that the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself, the first being to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.  I strive to follow both of those, but also know that I fail miserably sometimes.  I often take the second great commandment to such a length that I love others better than myself and it's only after I am sick and rundown that I realize I am terrible at caring for myself.  The point I make in all this is who will love others when they feel unloved?  Who will stand in the gap and pray and believe for the impossible or unbelievable when someone else doesn't have the strength?  Who will show this world what love really means?  Is it me? I hope so, at least I know that is what God is revealing to me in this season of life and through the love others have shown me.  Is it you?  

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Define or Refine

I was caught off guard this morning by an overwhelming sense of denial.  It was a moment of clarity that I found in reading a book by Mark Batterson entitled Soul Print.  My community group and I at church are studying and working through Soul Print right now and it couldn't have come at a better time in my life.  The premise of the book is basically finding your freedom in who God created you to be and who you are not... finding that your uniqueness is not just God's gift to you, but your gift to Him as well.  As I was reading the chapter we are to study this week I realized that it's been several times in my life and most recently over the last year that I've spent in denial of what God has refined in me He wants to use to redefine me.  This post might be a rambler, but I hope you'll stick with me and follow my train of thought to the end.

I'm very vocal about my past and the disease that held me captive for 8 years, that of Anorexia Nervosa.  From the age of 12 to the age of 19 I was abusive towards my body.  Denying it food, pushing it past normal limits of exercise, all to be a "perfect" size and shape.  The whole time not willing to admit that it was so much more than about food and body image.  There was a bigger, more deep rooted issue going on.  But that's not what I write about today, today I suddenly remember how many times I've allowed others to squash my voice about it.  I've lived through the shame I felt in having an eating disorder, I am well aware the guilt and shame that comes with walking out this disease... I won't forget that.  But now, nearly 11 years into recovery that shame is no longer an issue, or at least it shouldn't be.  God used an unfortunate circumstance, a bad choice on my part to REDEFINE me.  This is what I had framed several years ago soon after it was published....

This is an article published in my hometown newspaper back in April 2005 when I held a community event to raise awareness about eating disorders.  Soon after publication I had it framed with my hospital bracelet and wherever I lived it hung somewhere on a wall in my home or apartment.  That was the case up until about a year ago... a year ago it was removed from the frame and placed in a filing cabinet for safe keeping.  Why?  I was asked when hanging stuff in my apartment if I really wanted to publicize this, after all it seemed like such a private issue.  In my desire to please someone else I reluctantly placed it hidden away.  To be honest I had forgotten all about that day until today.  The part of the book I'm reading discusses Life Symbols and how the author keeps momentos that represent significant life changes for him and his family.  This article is a life symbol for me.  It reminds me of where I've been and how far I've come and how God is using my life experience to help others.  Is this a private issue? Absolutely.  But at the same time I've seen how this disease is slowly taking over our culture.  It seems very subtle, but I believe it is more prevalent and dangerous than most realize.  So no, I won't be silent about my experience and if you come to my home and ask to see the article, I will gladly show it to you.  In fact, I'll probably go buy a new frame for it today.  It took me years to overcome the shame and guilt I held from this disease and I won't forget the day I finally found freedom from those feelings.  It was while praying that God spoke softly and reminded me that it was all for a greater purpose, that He would use what I intended to harm myself to minister to others.

My beauty lies in the creator, the day He created me out of His image I believe it was flawless.  Somewhere along the way I second guessed what He created, walked away from what He called beautiful.  Focused more on what was outside rather than continuing to sharpen what was inside to bleed out.  Now I live my life to get back to that point where I am purely beautiful in His eyes... 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Let Me Introduce Myself To You...

"I'm not trying to hide anything
I wear it on my sleeve
I wear it on my sleeve
I'm not trying to be something I'm not
This is all I've got
This is all I've got"*

Not perfect, but perfectable.  Dancing Queen.  Karaoke Shining Star.  Counselor.  Friend.  Aunt.  Daughter.  Sister.  Niece.  Cousin.  Granddaughter.  Confidant.  Beautiful Creation.  Coffee consumer.  Half marathon trainee.  Southern Methodist University Alum.  Amberton University Alum.  Lake enthusiast.  Mountain enthusiast.  Beginner Kayaker.  Writer.  Loving.  Compassionate.  Lovely.  Passionate.  Fighter.  Head Cheerleader for the Under Dog.  Tom Hanks enthusiast. Romantic Comedy/Drama/Action Packed Movie Connaisseur.  Cherry Coca-Cola Consumer.  Ballpark Hot Dog Lover.  Texas Rangers Fan.  Beginner College Football Fan.  Jesus Freak.  Rule Follower.  Peacemaker.  Believer of all things "impossible."  Wine enthusiast.  Carnivore.  Disciple.  Prayer warrior.  Animated.  Captivating.  Dutiful.  Dreamer.

"I hope you stare just long enough to see
The heart that's beating here inside of me
Beyond all of the things you may think you know
I'm just a kid trying to make it home, that's it"*

*MercyMe; No More, No Less 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


This little light of mine... I'm gonna let it shine
This little light of mine... I'm gonna let it shine
Let it shine
Let it shine

Oh how I wish I was living the above song lyrics.  My desire is to live a life that is honoring to God and exudes compassion, love, trust, goodwill... etc.  However, right now, my flesh says my heart can't do that right now.  And maybe there's some truth to that, maybe there comes seasons in our lives where our hearts are best left to ourselves and God... that no man can come in and break what the Lord is trying so desperately to repair/build up.

What got me thinking this was not recent life occurrences, but rather a comment from a stranger at church this past Sunday.  The Bible says to make a joyful noise unto the Lord... not necessarily an "in tune" one or a "right on pitch" one.  When I came to accept this verse many years ago, I stopped wondering who was listening around me... I didn't care, I was there to worship the Lord, not perform.  I've loved to sing since I can remember... I was constantly making joyful noises around my house growing up.  In fact, when I was real sick my parents noticed that the music had stopped, the singing and dancing had all stopped... they knew something was wrong with their daughter.  When I picked it up again in college, I never looked back.  I found the courage, not once, but twice to try out for the worship team at the church I was attending at the time... rejection found it's way to me both times.  I was crushed, I had been complimented on my singing voice and although I've never had voice lessons I thought that maybe I could pull it off and be on stage :)  I think that maybe God knew where my heart was in all of it and that's why I came to find a peace sitting in the crowd each Sunday, passionately singing to Him and being a part of His grand choir.  I've never looked back, I've never thought about who might be able to hear me or how I sounded or if they too thought I had a good voice.  In fact, when someone does compliment me I tend to blush and give a sheepish "thanks."  I don't know why, but I suddenly can't find the words to express gratitude when compliments are given to me.

What is the point of my "I like to sing and think I do it well" tangent?  Well, this last Sunday a stranger during meet and greet time told me he thought I had a beautiful voice and he proceeded to tell me it was a gift.  No one has ever said that to me... at least about the gift part.  I was completely caught off guard.  God used a random stranger to encourage me in an area that I honestly don't even pay that much attention to, much less believe that it is a gift.  I sing because I love it, not to be heard... and it's been a long time since I've done it.  I realized I've silenced myself over the last year and not really realizing it.  On occasion I would sing or have music on in my house or car, but not nearly as much as I have the last 6 weeks.  God is breaking me down simply to build me anew.... He is taking that which was never mine, revealing Himself in a mighty way (in unexpected ways), and renewing my heart and passion for that which I've lost sight of.

I will no longer allow myself to be silenced.  Will I try out for a worship team a third time?  No, probably not.... I kinda like just being in the crowd and singing a joyful noise unto the Lord.  After all, it's meant for Him is it not?

Monday, September 12, 2011


But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. ~ 1 Peter 2:9

It's interesting to me how in the 11 years that I've known the Lord, that I've come to walk into a relationship with Him that there is so much scripture for me yet to discover.  I love this verse because it reminds me that God chose me!  What amazing revelation and comfort.  We live our lives waiting and hoping to be a chosen people... chosen for the best sports team in grade school, chosen to attend our number one choice of college, chosen for that job in the real world, the one with the corner office with a view and assistant who brings you coffee every morning, for girls our hearts wait to be chosen by the "perfect" guy all while being told not to chase him, but to be patient.  We live our lives longing and hoping to be chosen by man... but what about God?  Why not wait, hope for, and long to be chosen by the only one who can fulfill the deepest desires of your heart?  He has called us out of the darkness of waiting and hoping and longing to be chosen by man.  We are called to live in His light, a light that will always choose us first.

I've spent the last 5 weeks drowning in worship music and time with the Lord.  I've loved every single moment of it, and then I decided to step away for a weekend.  This past weekend I filled my schedule to overflowing and while I loved the time I had with friends and getting stuff done around my house, it didn't take long for me to realize there was a distance that had grown between me and God.  Just like that, in the blink of an eye I suddenly became dependent upon myself to heal my grieving heart.  I woke up this morning feeling numb, broken, and unable to move.  I was caring the weight of the world while I slept.  The weight of waiting to be chosen by man.  So tonight I went back to where I've been these last 5 weeks... I went back to the white chair in the corner of my living room, worship music playing softly in the background, Bible open, heart open, and words of gratitude to the one who always has and always will choose me... no matter what I do or where I go... there He is.

Heavenly Father, 
I come before you tonight with an open heart, full of gratitude and grief.  While my heart may still ache for what could have been, I praise you for what will be.  You've promised that what I sow in tears I will reap in joy.  You also promised that you would never leave or forsake me.  Although life looks so much different than I thought it would at this stage of my life, I thank you that I'm right where I should be, right where you planned for and expected me to be.  I lift up my friends, family, co-workers, and strangers that they too would find peace and gratitude in the love and life you've planned for them.  That they too would be a chosen people, on fire for you... not waiting to be chosen by man.  Thank you for this season of loss and darkness that I may not forget where I've been, where you want to take me, and everything in between.  Thank you that you've lead me and continue to lead me into your wonderful light!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Rushing River God (aka kayaking)

Rolling River God
Little stones are smooth
Only once the water passes through
So I am a stone
rough and grainy still
Trying to reconcile this river's chill

I went on an adventure this morning, or at least that's what it ended up being.  I decided in the last few weeks that there were things that I've been wanting to do, things that I kept putting off and reasoning that one day, someday I would do them.  As silly as it sounds, kayaking at White Rock was one of those things.  I had it on my list to do all summer since I now live by the lake.  With the long labor day weekend I decided that today was a good day to finally embark on the adventure.  It was finally going to be cooler in the morning and I so wanted to go out there and be alone with God, to pray and seek His face with all the questions stirring in my heart.  Fifteen minutes into my paddling and the wind picked up so I decided to turn back.  I knew right away when I turned around that it would be a battle against the wind.  Oh how much of a battle it was.  At first it seemed humorous, like I knew God was trying to teach me something.  After 30 minutes of paddling against the wind, against the current I was in tears.  Scared that I would be out there all day, no one was around.  The only people I could see were runners and bikers along the trails and I knew they wouldn't hear me, I was too far in the middle of the lake.  I cried more and more and prayed with all my heart that God would calm the wind, that He would somehow miraculously send help.  A boater, someone in a canoe or kayak...heck, I was even hoping someone from the shore would see my struggle and find help.  With each force that I put into paddling against the wind, it blew me that much further away from my destination.

Sometimes raging wild
sometimes swollen high
never have I known this river dry
The deepest part of you
is where I want to stay
and feel the sharpest edges wash away

I found myself paddling toward the shore, I figured if I could get out of the water, I could walk back to the beginning.  Part of me was scared that I was stranded for who knows how long and the other part of me was scared that the company I rented from would charge me more than an hour since I was out longer than the planned time.  It seems silly, but this was what was going through my head this whole time.  I finally made it to the shore and there was a fisherman kind enough to drive me back to where I started.  He saw me struggling as I got closer to the shore, help came in a very unexpected way today.  It wasn't by another boater coming by and finding me, it wasn't by helicopter or the rental company coming out to get was by a fisherman who served in the army for 10 years and now works as a Sears washer/dryer mechanic, it came in the form of a man named Jeff.  On top of that when I got back to the rental company they were so kind and only charged me for the original hour I set.  I had been out for a total of one and a half hours, but it seemed like eternity.  Their only concern was that I was okay...and I was, I am, I will be.

This morning I set out for a peaceful morning with God, and it started out that way and ultimately proved to remind me that things don't always feel peaceful.  It's the ability to find peace in the midst of chaos, confusion, and questions that may never be answered.  It's finding a source...THE source of love and comfort in Christ Jesus.  There is nothing else, no person, no thing, no place that will fill the gapping hole in my heart that only God can fill.

But when I close my eyes
and feel you rushing by
I know that time brings change 
and change takes time
And when the sunset comes
my prayer would be just this one
that you might pick me up
and notice that I am
just a little smoother in your hand*

*River God by Nichole Nordeman

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Currently Loving...August 2011 Version

I haven't done this in a very long time, but it always seems to remind me of the unique design that God had when He created me.

....His songs of worship over me
....early morning runs in the darkness and stillness of the new day
....knowledge of a new career
....anxiety of change/transition
....sitting in the presence of my Savior daily (multiple times)
....dancing around like a fool in the living room of my apartment
....singing at the top of my lungs in my 1999 Corolla I affectionally call "Captain"
....the role of Aunt Cristyn to 9 wonderful nieces/nephews...8 here on earth, 1 in Heaven
....the role of encourager, to strangers, friends, co-workers, family, church community
....being encouraged in a season of so much unsettledness
....that your flesh may feel lonely, but you are never alone
....the challenge of a half marathon only 14 weeks away
....the joy of entering a new decade of life in a few months
....the continued dream of a helpmate and family of my own
....laughter, at myself, over something super silly
....remembering that I'm animated and expressive and I have a peace about that
....writing once again
....renewed hope for a passion that has been growing since the age of 14
....the excitement and nervousness of the unknown
....learning who He truly is and how to place all my trust and hope in HIM


"Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our sufficiency comes from God" ~ 2 Corinthians 3:5

It's interesting the flood of memories that come rushing to my mind when I read this verse.  You see, when I was an undergrad at SMU I was a part of an amazing group of godly women.  We were a Christian sorority, fully on fire for God.  Passionately loving and pursuing Him and walking life with one another.  I read the first word of this verse now and immediately I can recite the rest of it without blinking an eye.  I remember all the times we'd recite it as a group at the end of a Monday night meeting.  I sure do miss those days and often times wonder why I didn't invest more of myself into it.

It's interesting how appropriate this verse is right now in this season of life.  My heart is broken over a relationship and like I've done in the past when a relationship ends, I throw myself into whatever else is going on around me or in my life.  Whether it be work, family, friends, writing, sleeping, exercising, learning to cook...and the list goes on and on.  I somehow convince myself that if I can be content in doing all these things on my own strength then I'll be just fine.  And to some degree there is truth and wisdom to this theory, however over the last two and a half weeks I've found that all I really want is to sit in the presence of God.  Worship songs are played louder, and heard in a completely different way.  My extra drive time between jobs is spent processing through what God is telling me about where I've been and where He wants to take me.  I love how He's gently reminding me of the passions I so conveniently tuck away somewhere when someone else comes along.  And this by no means is the fault of the other person, but purely and fully mine.  And you dear reader have the privilege of being the first to hear me admit it.  I allow passions and dreams to die when I believe another might be coming to fruition.  Of course this too has some validity to it, but when it is by my own hand, my own doing...without trusting in God's doing, then it's not healthy.

The truth of the matter is that without God, I am nothing...with Him, I am everything.  And even in those times when I am not everything, He still loves me (and you).

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Lessons Learned in a Sea of Tears

"If I'm down don't count me out; I'll slowly get back on my feet; stumblin' and fumblin', but I keep on coming; just as long as you're not giving up on me"*

"Oh, the only thing that matters is to love; This is the only lasting treasure; Love endures all things, and believes all things; and hopes all things; love never ends, love never ends"*

"We knew joy was coming, we just had to wait"*

"Won't you be my voice calling; won't you be my hands healing; won't you be my feet walking into a broken world; won't you be my chain-breaker; won't you be my peacemaker; won't you be my hope and joy; won't be my love"*

The above are all songs that I've heard over and over again in the last week.  They couldn't have come at  a more perfect time.  The reason is irrelevant, but what I will say is that God has been trying to get my attention as he constantly is... but for whatever reason I've finally answered his knock with absolute abandon over the last two weeks.  My eyes had been fixated on the things of this world and that which I truly believed would make me happy and what I convinced myself was in my best interest.  That which I believed without a shadow of a doubt that was God's will.  The truth of it all is that what He is asking of me is to allow grace to flow, that when I stumble and fall I would get back up again and keep running after Him.  To love with abandon and without reservation.  To trust Him, even in the dark, lonely, and/or sad times... joy is coming in the morning.  And most importantly He's asking me to be His shepherd, that I would help guide those lost and lonely back to Him.

My heart breaks at the thought of who I've become sometimes.  The love I fail to show, the grace and mercy I fail to give, the anger and frustration that can so easily entangle me and hold me captive.  Deep in my heart I long to run after God, to dive in blindly and trust that even if life "feels" hard or things don't make sense, it all will in the end.  I gotta believe that at the end of the day God wants me to rest fully in Him and leave all the details in His hands.  To embrace my "shattered dreams" so that the ultimate dream that He is calling me to can be fulfilled.  I hurt right now, deep down the questions I have about my life, the direction I'm going, the unanswered prayers, the false hope, the lies I've believed, the false idols I've placed my trust in... it is all killing me inside.  But alas, there is a tiny little light, a small flicker of hope where God rests and is pushing through the pain to ignite a raging fire throughout my whole being.  With that I gotta believe what He says... love endures all things, believes all things, hopes all things... love NEVER ends... HIS love never ends.  

"I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way.  What you have done is wonderful.  I know this very well." ~ Psalm 139:14

"You restored me to health and let me live.  Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish.  In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction;  you have put all my sins behind your back." ~ Isaiah 38:16-17

*Back to You, MercyMe
*All That's Left, Steven Curtis Chapman
*Sing Hallelujah, Steven Curtis Chapman
*Won't You be my Love, MercyMe

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

You're Invited...

A King and His only son have invited you to come... to sit with them, to share life with them for eternity.  And not just to come, but to come just as you are.   You see this isn't a one time only party, this is a lifetime celebration, one that promises peace and eternal life.  An invite that says to come, even in rags of unworthiness, as the gates will still swing open wide.  To come sinner, just the way you are... to find what your soul has been longing for and with every expectation, great and small... come.

As I walk this life here on earth, I struggle with what I deem "fit" for me and what God says He desires for me.  I still find myself picturing what I believe my life and world to look like, and that may not line up with what God wants.  But in the midst of finding God's way over my way, I find myself on bended knee in my rags of unworthiness as He so patiently and lovingly invites me in... to stay, with Him, forever.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Birthday Cakes in Heaven

Avery, my 5-year-old niece, asked me several months back who made birthday cakes in Heaven...
I told her I wasn't sure and that we'd have to ask God.

What prompted that sweet conversation between she and I was a little tour we took around her old neighborhood in Colorado Springs, CO back in August 2010.  When I showed her the house she lived in with her little brother, Billy, she quickly remembered why she and Mommy and Daddy (my sister and brother-in-law) moved away from Colorado and back to Texas for a little bit... her sweet "baba B" had gone home to Heaven, to be with Jesus.  That day came on March 29, 2008.  Avery, the sweet big sister to not just Billy, but now Nathan (age 2) and Jared (age 6 months) is wise beyond her 5 years and has such the sweet spirit.  She'll tell you stories of her little brother Billy, and how he is now in Heaven with Jesus and that someday, she too will get to be with her brother and Jesus in Heaven.  We (my sister and I) refer to her as our little prayer warrior...always quick to offer a prayer for someone else in need.

I still wonder how different things would have been had Billy lived.  This much I know, he'd be 3-years-old...probably a loving (and sometimes annoying) little brother to Avery.  I look at pictures of their sweet family since he passed and I wonder where in the picture he might be.  It might sound a little sad and depressing...but I know this little pumpkin will forever live in our hearts and I can only imagine that even if we can't see him in the picture, he might be somewhere in it anyway...or at least able to see it from Heaven.

Since Billy died, I pay closer attention to how Avery has learned to say my name over the Nathan, Will, and Brock come to know me as their aunt...I hold them all a little longer, spend more time reading stories and laughing with them...mostly because I didn't get enough of that with Billy and so quickly we take for granted that which is right in front of us.  We think that it'll always be there.  But the truth is we are allotted a short visit here on earth and promised eternity in Heaven with the Father, through the promise of His Son.

These are the blessings God has given us here on earth.  Billy will always be a part of that and when God deems fit, we will see Billy again in day.

"Lord, you formed Billy's inward parts; you knitted him 
together in his mother's womb.  He praises you,
for he is fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; his soul knows it very well."
~ adapted from Psalm 139:13-14

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

10 Years in the Desert?

I missed a personal milestone the other day.  On Monday, January 10, 2011 I completed 10 years of sobriety from my eating disorder (Anorexia).  You see, on January 10, 2001 I admitted myself to Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas' Psychiatric Unit into their eating disorder program.  I completed 2.5 weeks inpatient and another 2.5 weeks outpatient.  I was diagnosed with tachycardia, an enlarged aorta, and mitral valve prolapse...all of which reversed itself as I got healthier.  I watched as my personal freedoms of walking, talking and visiting with family/friends stripped away as my focus became taking care of me.  Over the last several years some people have wondered why I do not celebrate my discharge date as my sobriety date.  To be honest, I can vividly remember January 10, 2001.  I can tell you what my parents and I did prior to me walking through the double doors onto the psych unit.  I remember hearing that my sister came up to the hospital only to be told she couldn't see me because I was under 72 hour seclusion from the outside world.  I can tell you how I cried for hours, how another patient held my hand while I had my blood drawn and how in the middle of the night God spoke so vividly to my lost and broken heart.  How He showed me what my world would look like if I didn't turn my life around.  On January 10, 2001 God gave me a choice... I chose LIFE!  

So here I am 10 years later, and so much of life has happened... the good, the bad, and the ugly.  All of which I am so grateful to have been able to walk through alongside the Lord.  For He has never left me, even in those darkest days of recovery, even in moments when my heart was broken and handed back to me by man, on those days where I struggled to make sense of unexpected loss, and especially on those days where I struggled through and army crawled my way to the finish line of graduate school.  I now spend a lot of my time preparing for my licensure exam that is a mere 4 weeks away and I cannot wait to see how God is going to use me as a counselor.  I thank Him profusely for those days at Presby and for the months and years that have followed where I am gently reminded that I am a broken soul only redeemed by the love of Christ.  I praise Him for I do not have to walk life alone.

I've seen how God has used this time to draw me closer to Him, and how I've fallen deeper in love with Him than ever before.  I look forward to how the next several years will turn out and look forward to sharing it with the world as He sees fit.  

"I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry." ~ Psalm 40:1