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