Sunday, December 16, 2012

Because He Loves Me

"He is jealous for me, 
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory, 
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me."
~ How He Loves Us

It is always so amazing to me how God knows what we need, exactly when we need it.  This weekend, last night especially, I just needed to feel loved.  I am quick to get upset at times that I don't have the earthly love of a husband, and I soon forget that I am loved the way I desire to be... by the Father.  As I cried myself to sleep last night out of sheer frustration about a particular area of my life, I woke up having forgotten how upset I was, and the things I yelled at God.  Then all of a sudden in the midst of worship in church service this morning I heard the line, the bar of music that opens the flood gates every time.  "How He Loves Us" has been my mantra for the last 16 months.  In the midst of the unknown and out of frustration, God always seems to bring that song to mind or I hear it during worship at church.  Many would say it's a coincidence, but for me, for my heart, I know that it's God singing over me.  It is His way of reminding me that in the midst of feeling lonely here on earth, I am not alone.  And He is jealous for me, for my heart, so why would I settle for mediocrity when He desires so much more for my heart, for my life?

As I edge closer to a BIG transition in my life, I remember how scary other transitions have been in the beginning and how I have plowed through and found myself on the other side.  I have spent nearly the last 2 years wrestling with God over my dream, or at least one of them.  I got to the point earlier this year where I was fed up and ready to quit, I didn't see the point.  But then I remembered that my heart didn't yearn for this dream because it's easy, it's because God only calls a few of us to do it.  Am I the best at it?  No, not yet anyway, and besides what's that measurement look like?  So I sorta, kinda shelved it.  I continued to do what I was called to do where I was, and to do it well.  I didn't always have a happy heart, but over time, when I wasn't expecting it, God made a way.  Do I have dreams beyond this one, absolutely.  But I think I've learned to let them go and trust that in His timing all will be revealed.  There is just one dream that absolutely tears my heart to pieces to let go of, but I cannot help but wonder if I let it go, if then and only then would it come to pass. 

God's plans are tremendously larger than anything I could ever hope or imagine.  So as I gear up to enter a large transition, my hope is that I learn to lay down this fragile dream of mine.  Trusting the one who made me, the one who stirred this desire within my heart will know the perfect time in which it shall come to pass.

"She says that beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it's the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you're at a new beginning.  Just give hope a chance to float up.  And it will..." ~ Hope Floats (1998)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's a Journey... Not a Destination

"Eventually, you will learn to relax and enjoy the adventure of our journey together." ~ Jesus Calling

I wonder sometimes how many times things will change or how many times someone has to remind me that life is a journey, not a destination before I finally get it.  The last couple of months have brought good news of big changes in my life, but for whatever reason, I'm gracefully terrified.  I say "gracefully" because I seem to keep it closed in, rather than running around like a banchee.  But if you ask me how I'm doing, I probably wouldn't be able to lie very well.  Truth be told, I'm excited, but fearful at the same time.  I'm not quite sure what the fear is about other than at the young age of 31 I'm finally stepping into a job where my skills and talents will be used at a full-time capacity.  I'm getting ready to be the lead therapist for a group of teenagers at a mental health hospital.  It's odd to some folks as I LOVE this age group, such impressionable minds and a wonderful opportunity to be a significant role model in their lives and encourage them.
But often times I wonder why in the world they would ever listen to me. Now maybe I'm being presumptuous to think they do indeed listen to me, but I'd like to think so. Then there are so many times I go back to the years I wrestled with God over this journey and I remember so clearly deciding to take a leap of faith, trust Him, and see where it is I end up. For now, here I am. I'm about to embark on a career path that I couldn't be more excited or passionate about. I'm still fearful, but I believe that comes from knowing something BIG is going to happen with this leap.
I guess only time will tell...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Celebrating Billy... Celebrating Five Years Old!

Dear Billy,

The picture above is one of my favorites of you and your big sister.  Man I miss those chubby little cheeks.  It's hard to believe that this year marks 5 years since your birth here on earth.  I still wonder what you would look like right now.  Would you be as tall as your sister?  Or at least close to her in height?  Would your home be 10 times louder with 3 boys running around versus only 2?  Whatever the decibel difference, I'm sure it would be greatly welcomed if it meant you were here with us.

When the weeks and days get closer to your birthday or the date of your birth up to Heaven I tend to get a little anxious, wondering how I'll respond to those days.  But then I remember there is nothing I can do to change what happened, I can however thank the Lord for His grace, His patience, and His healing hand.  At the deepest part of my heart, from the pit of my soul I cry out "Blessed Be Your Name."  God's Word says in Psalm 34:18, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."  I believe that God grieved as we grieved over losing you, and with each birthday that passes the grief that comes, mixed with the relief that you are safe in the arms of Jesus, He is there every step of the way.

As we celebrate yet another birthday without you Billy Bug, we find peace and hope in the fact that it means we are one day closer to seeing you once again in Heaven.  One of the greatest gifts I've ever received was becoming your aunt on November 1, 2007... I will never forget spending a whole week with you shortly after you were born, just watching you sleep and holding you close to my heart.  Had I known I'd only have you to hold for 5 months, I might have held onto you longer during that week.  But for now, I find rest in knowing you are safe in our Savior's arms.

All My Love, Forever & Always,
Aunt Cristyn

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Dark Side: Can You Love Me? Can You Love Mine?

Ahh... the eternal question that every girl/woman asks others... Can you love me?  Can you accept me for me, every part of me, every area of my life?  I would be lying if I said I haven't been asking myself this question for years and more often in the last year.  I think that as we become adults the realization of people coming and going into our lives becomes clear.  There is a season for everything and everyone... right?

I have the privilege of working with a young woman right now who reminds me so much of myself 14 years ago.  It's crazy to think that I'm not too far removed from the shoes that she now stands in.  She's asking herself if she can be loved, accepted by others.  If what she's doing is "good enough."  And to her I say, "yes."  Because I realize now 14 years later that "good enough" is a relative term.  We each have a different standard, a different definition for "good enough."  Now, is there a standard in which you can compare yourself to the standards of society or the world?  Yes, I do believe so.  But at the end of the day, I think you really have to ask yourself if you're doing good enough for you.  What does that look like?  And at the end of the day do you know that no matter what... God loves you right where you're at?

"Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me.  And once that person is with me, I hold on and don't let go."  ~ John 6:37 (MSG)

So many times we seek to control areas of our lives that we lose touch with what is real, what is true.  The fact is, we are human in a fallen world, whether we want to recognize it or not we have a dark side.  That doesn't mean we have to live in it, sit in it, and ignore the goodness, the light that God is calling us into.  I'm willing to bet that on a daily basis we each find ourselves in a tempting situation or sin struggle, one that we have kicked and screamed and struggled to fight to overcome... by our own strength.  But it's when we give up that fight, when we allow God to come in and give us that strength that we find peace, healing, redemption.  So in God's eyes, you are good enough, and He loves every part of you... even your dark side (aka your struggles).  Would He like to see you walking in absolute freedom, yes of course, but He also knows it's a process.  Be patient with yourself, and remember that as you seek to be loved and accepted for who you are, so do others.  

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Gobblety Goop in the Bloggity Blog

If you've been a reader for long (indulge me here, I like to believe I have regular readers) you'll notice there is generally a tie in from my title throughout whatever I write.  At least I'd like to think I have that flow :-)  But if you had a glimpse of just a few minutes inside my head today you'd find that what is swarming around and traveling between my head and my heart is not quite fluid at all.  I wouldn't generally write if I didn't have a solid point, but for whatever reason today I felt the desire to share the "gobblety goop" inside my head.  Count yourselves blessed ;-)

I start with my walk from the parking garage into service at church this morning.  In that 2 minute walk what ran through my head flowed from how my day was mapped out, to needing to still get butter and eggs from the grocery store, to thinking about my sweet 3-year-old nephew, Nathan who has a tendency to passionately express that he hates something (i.e. "I HATE this Mommy, I HATE it's taking too wong to get to Texas").  That's a lot of things in a short 2 minute walk, but that's the truth.  My point is this.  I found myself stuck on Nathan's passionate expressions of disliking certain things, and realized that in my heart right now I find that I'm expressing the very same thing to God.  "Lord, I HATE this season!  I HATE that a certain person doesn't know me, I HATE that I allowed them to 'break' me!  I HATE that I can't be closer to my sister (geographically speaking) right now!  I HATE that someone won't take a chance on me and see that I could be a wonderful asset as a counselor to their organization!"  I would go on, but I think it's pretty clear that you can get the point.  I thought it was interesting that this should suddenly float to the forefront of my thoughts and heart today.  As I sat in service today, God's voice just spilled over me.  One of our pastors at Watermark, JP, has been speaking the last 3 weeks on Psalm 23.  Today he talked about the last 2 verses and broke it down to this... "those who don't have peace in their lives/hearts are those that are not walking closely with God."  OUCH!! I hear ya Lord, I get it.  So I sit and write out what God is teaching me in this moment through the gobblety goop in my head and heart.  I pray that as I step into a new week my priorities will shift, my heart's desire will bleed for the Lord that I would draw nearer to Him and forget everything else.  Trusting that in His time it will all make sense.  

Well there ya go... I guess I did end up flowing and having a point :-)  I can honestly say that which I just wrote came as a surprise to me.  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

In the Face of Tragedy

My heart has spent this weekend grieving for those affected by the tragedy that struck Aurora, Colorado early Friday morning.  I cannot pinpoint why my emotions are all over the map other than to deduce that it may have something to do with my career field.  This is the first tragedy that has struck our nation since I've become a counselor in the professional world.  And since earning my degree and license I see things differently.  I question things differently, and I try my hardest not to allow my anger towards a situation to get the best of me.  I am no expert on tragedy, I have no idea why that individual made the choices that he made to harm so many innocent people, but for whatever reason my heart has felt this strong desire to write this weekend pertaining to this particular topic.  I put it off, I prayed about it, I questioned what I have to say that would matter to anyone at all.  And yet here I am... writing.  

The closest thing I have to relate to this situation is that I too faced unexpected tragedy in my life.  And from my experience I can say that tragedy alters one's life.  There are two ways it can be altered... two ways you can choose to go.  Either you allow it to change you for the better or you allow it to change you for the worse.  I would have to say for me tragedy changed me for the better and continues to do just that.  I see things differently, and although I relate closely to being sensitive I would say it made me that much more sensitive to tragedy and all those involved.  In the case of the theater shooting in Aurora, CO this past weekend I would have to say that my heart grieves for ALL involved, including the man who allegedly caused this tragedy.  I'm sure that comment right there is enough for people to comment and question why I would say such a thing, but I say that because clearly there was something so off within this individual, so altered in his brain that he made the choice he made.  This is by no means an excuse for what he did, or to take away the unbelievable and incomprehensible pain that the families are feeling over the unexpected loss of their friends and family.  I cannot imagine the excitement these individuals felt over the anticipation of being able to see this movie, staying up late to be one of the firsts to view it.  I too have been excited about this movie coming out, but I have to say it's really hard to even think about seeing it now in light of what has happened.  Not out of fear, but rather out of the fact that I'm not sure I can sit in the theater and watch this movie, knowing that I'll probably be wondering what those individuals in Aurora were feeling and estimating at what point the man who intended to cause so much harm walked in and altered the lives of so many.

BUT... it was not my intention to write this blog just to share how I felt about it, but rather to maybe, hopefully leave a bit of hope for someone who may have been closely affected by this tragedy.  My hope, faith, trust, and love fall in the hands of the one who created this world.  The one who created each of us... God.  I don't know why such a tragedy would be allowed to happen, in the same way I'm not sure why He allowed tragedy to strike my family over 4 years ago.  These are questions I have for that day I meet Him face to face, or at least that's how I feel right now.  What I can say to all this is that we are not alone...

In the Bible, Matthew 28:20 Jesus says, "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." And although we don't always understand why things happen as they do, God's word tells us in Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."  

I am keenly aware that all of this may mean nothing right now, when tragedy is still so fresh in the hearts and minds of those closely affected.  For me, as strong as I'd say my faith is, as strong as my love and trust is in the Lord I too found myself so angry with Him soon after my nephew died four years ago.  I was hurt and felt so alone, that the Lord did not hear my cries and prayers over Billy.  But then one day while writing out of my broken heart there was this peace that came over me, one that surpassed any understanding I felt I had over the situation and I chose to walk a different way.  I chose to walk in hope, to continue to trust and trust more deeply in the one who loves me more than anyone else in the world.  I chose to continue to live the life He has laid out for me, to continue to dream the dreams that have been placed on my heart.  And I encourage you, dear readers to do the same.  In the midst of this most recent tragedy, the tragedies that may have affected you in the past, or the those that might affect you in the future... always, always chose to walk in the light, in hope, in love for He has amazing plans for you.  

"Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." ~ Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV84)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

What Happens with a Broken Heart...

"Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." 
~ Matthew 11:28

Several weeks ago I had a conversation with a couple of girlfriends.  One of them is married and made the comment that she wish she had heeded the advice of an older woman in her life about not giving her heart away so much.  That when you give your heart away it's less that you are able to give to your husband one day.  My friends continued on this topic for a little while longer and I just sat there pondering that comment (much like I do when pondering seems necessary).  I never said anything, but I can't say I agree with it.  I'm also not here to advise going out and just freely giving your heart away.  The couple of times I have laid my heart out on the line, only to have it returned in many pieces I find that over time it is healed and became stronger and lovelier than ever before.  Because of the chances I've taken, the vulnerability I've shown I can say I feel more equipped and ready to love my future husband as God calls me to and is currently training me to do.  And there's is absolutely NOTHING I did to heal my broken heart, at least not on my own.  All I did was humbly and faithfully take it to God and ask him, in HIS timing to heal it, to make it whole once again.  It was after the last time it was broken that I realized the common thread.  That all the times it was broken were the times that I allowed an earthly man to seep into the areas of my heart that belonged to Christ.  I found myself seeking approval from man and affirmation rather than trusting in God and who He says that I am.  I promised myself that I would never do it again... I hope I can keep that promise.  

I know God loves me, there's not a question in mind about that.  But I also know how saddened He becomes every time I have to climb into His lap with my heart in hand, all tattered and torn.  Sometimes it has to stay in His healing hands for months at a time.  And it's not just through broken romantic relationships, but He's held it through broken friendships, death of a loved one, death of a dream(s), disappointment, unmet expectations, etc.   I know that God loves when I come to Him, but I also know He loves it more when it happens all the time, not just in the broken times.  I'm in a new season.  One where I'm learning so much more than I think I ever have before about myself.  At any given moment you might find me hysterically happy or hysterically sad.  On some occasions I admit that I get mad (yes, I said it... mad).  But I don't care, because I know I'm being honest and it's through a healed heart, albeit covered with scars, but healed nonetheless,  that I'm walking out who Christ says I am and who He longs to see living a life that honors and glorifies Him.  

I don't know what the next step is or where the next season will take me, or even how many more broken hearts I'll endure here on earth, but I have no doubt of who will be with me every step of the way.  Ready and willing to heal my broken heart, if necessary.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

I Won't Give Up: A Lesson in Dream Chasing

"On hearing this, Jesus said, 'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'  For I have not called the righteous, but sinners.'" 
~ Matthew 9:12 (NIV '84)

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." 
~ Proverbs 13:12 (NIV '84)

"'Cause even the stars they burn
Some even fall to the earth
We've got a lot to learn
God knows we're worth it
No, I won't give up"*

Do you sense a theme here?  I've found myself at a crossroads lately.  A crossroads between what I love to do, what I want to do, what I need to do, what I don't really care to be doing, and the place where I deeply long to be in the midst of all of it.  I guess the bigger question is... in the midst of this crossroad, what will I chose to do?  Will I give up... or will I look up, trusting in the one who has illuminated the path before me?

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." 
~ Psalm 119:105

The last 18 months have been a little deceiving in what I refer to as my "human" eyes.  I had so many distractions and what the world would refer to as worldly possessions.  I had deceived myself enough to think that I deserved it.  I knew where my life was going, I had the perfect life mapped out and was full steam ahead.  Had you told me 18 months ago that I would be where I am today, I probably would have just laughed in your face.  Terrible, I know!  And hindsight is always 20/20, right?  That kinda sucks, but then again, how would I know to change things in my life if I couldn't see my mistakes from before, if I refused to see my mistakes from before?  Being able to see hindsight in 20/20 reminds me of how grateful I am to be surrounded by such a strong cloud of witnesses, friends and family that hold me up, that intercede for me when I don't have the faintest idea in how to approach the Savior.  I thank God that these are the people who have not and will not give up on me.  I thank God that my best friend looks at me with a sweet and innocent blank stare when I have my "Ah Ha!" moments, knowing full well that she has probably been trying to tell me all along whatever it is I think I just discovered about myself.

I don't know what my future holds, I will say trying so hard to navigate it and control it over the last 30 years has done wore me out!  One thing I do hope is that my thirties look dramatically different from my twenties.  Not that my twenties were bad, but I learned so much that I would assume not repeat ;)  I want to love more deeply, take more risks, open my heart to the hurting, not allow others to make me feel inferior (not that I'm superior by any means either), trust more intently, and never assume when there's so much I don't know.

I'm not giving up, I don't know where I'm headed, but wherever it is, I'm not giving up... I'm looking up.

"I don't wanna be someone who walks away so easily
I'm here to stay and make the difference that I can make
Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use
The tools and gifts we got yeah, we got a lot at stake
And in the end, you're still my friend at least we did intend
For us to work we didn't break, we didn't burn
We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in
I had to learn what I've got, and what I'm not
And who I am"*

*I Won't Give Up by Jason Mraz (Love is a Four Letter Word 2012)

Saturday, June 2, 2012


"A friend loves at all times..." ~ Proverbs 17:17

There is this wonderful woman of God I know, and I'm lucky enough to call her my best friend.  Her name is Stacey and she doesn't know this yet, but she is the inspiration for this post.  I sure hope she doesn't mind :)

Stacey is one of those super special treasures, that when you meet and get to know her you cannot help but thank God she was brought into your life.  Stacey and I go back about 6 years, and let me just say I have no question it was God that brought her into my life.   You see, she opted to stick around and invest in my life after I acted like a crazy loon the night we met.  Oh, but that is another story for another day.  I could go on and on singing her praises till I take my last breath here on earth, but her inspiration for this blog comes from a statement she made to me in a conversation earlier today.

Stacey and I have had our fair share of frogs in our lives that did not turn into princes.  We have gone back and forth crying on each other's shoulders.  She's been angry for me when I didn't have it in me and I've been angry for her when she didn't have it in herself.  We are a rockin' team!  The thing that Stacey said that got me into blog worthy processing mode was her question of "Why am I the girl who prepares a guy for marriage to someone else?"  Oh sweet friend, how I believe so many girls have asked this question out loud as well.  My response to my sweet best friend... I told her that God didn't want her to settle, that the reason why it hasn't worked out yet for her is that God has someone more amazing than she could ever imagine for her.  I suddenly realized I was preaching to the choir.  I too have been the girl that prepares the guy for someone else, and that is a heart breaking place to be.  But I have to remember and I have to remind Stacey that there is that possibility that some other girls have had the job of preparing our husbands for us.  Praise the Lord for those women and Praise God that He has protected our hearts and lives from something that could have been potentially harmful or hurtful years down the road.

I love the wisdom and the sudden realizations that are coming to light in my thirties.  I'm even more grateful that I've got my beautiful friend to walk out each and every one of these seasons with me.  Stacey and I are what I would call a "Beautiful Mess."  We are learning who we are, we are trusting God in what He's calling us to do with our lives, and we are tripping all over the place trying to fit the pieces of it all together.  We are not perfect, but I think that's why we laugh so very much!  

Cheers to you my gorgeous BEST FRIEND!!! I cannot wait to see what God has in store for us as the years go by.  You are loved! 


Thursday, May 17, 2012


"Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up." ~ Proverbs 12:25

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." 
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11

"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called 'Today,' so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." ~ Hebrews 3:13

I don't know why, but lately words have become more vibrant to me, more alive.  Not just the things I hear, but the things I say... especially the things I say.  Maybe it's my job, but I'm more inclined to say it has more to do with the tug God has on my heart.  Words of encouragement has always and probably always will be my number one love language.  Wanna know the way to this girl's heart, well then encourage her!  But like I said, more than the words I hear lately, the things that I hear more vividly, more clearly are those things I say.  My heart breaks sometimes when I hear some of the things I say, the things I say out of my flesh and not out of the Holy Spirit.  Do I trust God enough to speak through me?  Sometimes, but a lot of times I don't... or at least I haven't.  Someone close to my heart was the first to really point this out to me, and not just let it slide as my "personality" as I've always claimed.  I thank God that person was a part of my life, even for a short while.  No one had ever referred to me as edgy or sharp before, but then this person came along and opened my eyes to see a whole other part of myself.  Maybe that was the only purpose for this person in my life.

Don't get me wrong, there is a time and a place for playful words, but I needed to start looking at my heart and checking how much of the words coming from my mouth were playful or harmful versus helpful, encouraging, uplifting.  My heart breaks when I hear others cut me down, even if just in fun.  I do not want to be that person who is hard hearted or unloving.  I also don't want to be that person who is constantly trying too hard to get others to like them or please them.  I want to be exactly who God intended me to be and being an example of His love.  I foresee this being a life long lesson for me, but my hope is that others will start to see a change in me.  A sudden softness that glows and exudes the life of Christ.  I pray that His Word would come alive in my heart so that I can come alive to others.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

And the Greatest of These is Love: A Berlin Story

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV)

"But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13 MSG)

I have just spent the last week in a country I had no idea I would fall in love with, after all, I was only coming for vacation. I planned an adventure to a land unknown (or briefly known based on history classes in school) for the wedding of very dear friends. I had the time of my life that no amount of words in a blog could ever express. But for those of you who only know me by the words that I write, I will try to give the story justice. And please be patient as I write this from my phone and in the delirium of my exhaustion from this wonderful trip.

A lot of love, patience, hope, faith, and trust over the years have gone into what lead me to Berlin, Germany this past week. The wedding in which I attended I have known the bride for 7 years, the groom almost 3. I watched as a love & courtship unfolded internationally over the last 3 years. What a beautiful story in patience, love, trust, and grace. Not just towards one another, but with the Lord as well.

I spent the last week not only helping the bride & groom prepare for their ceremony & party, but learning a whole new level of trust in the Lord. How to love others better, to laugh more, and to fully be the person He had called & created me to be. It was quite sweet and surreal as I laid my head down to sleep on my last night in Germany. In that moment I realized that I had spent a whole week just being me. No charade, no trying too hard to impress others, but truly finding comfort in who I am. I pray this is a forever change. I by no means have arrived, but in my pursuit of contentment in whatever season I am in, I am getting closer. Praise the Lord...oh my soul!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Until I...

"This vision is for a future time.  It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled.  If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place.  It will not be delayed." ~ Habakkuk 2:3 (NLT)

It seems fitting that this verse is today's scripture to add to my 2012 collection of scripture cards.  It fits perfectly right where I'm at.  God has given me a vision... multiple visions actually, but with each vision comes a specific time.  Do I know that time frame, do I know at exactly what day, time, or hour the vision will come to fruition?  No, I don't.  And I'm realizing that there's so much freedom and excitement in not knowing what, when, where, or how.  It's just been in the last month and really in the last couple of weeks that I've stumbled upon this peace.  In fact I had the privilege of sharing this with a dear friend today, telling her that in the midst of all I've seen and been surrounded by over the last year, and more specifically over the last 8 (almost 9 months) I realize I am incredibly blessed.  God chose me that I may still be single at the wonderful age of 30!! That I may have the joy and privilege of cultivating relationships, meeting new people, and watching as God is using those He's brought into my life to sharpen me and push me closer to Him.  And unfortunately for some of those He's brought across my life path, they may never know the impact they've had on my life.

There is a hope and dream deep within my heart that desires to share my life with another, to have the joy and experience of brining life into this world and following God's will that my future husband and I may be able to raise our kids as children on fire for God, that they'd always know His love and that He indeed has an amazing plan for their lives.  But with that said, I don't want it to be an idol, that I make it my goal in life and miss out completely on all God has for me right here... right now!

Remember those scripture cards I mentioned earlier... it has been a tough resolution to maintain, but here is a glimpse of January 1, 2012 thru today (April 23, 2012)...

Each of those cards is digging me deeper into God's word, and each has a corresponding prayer on the back side, that I may truly live out God's plan for my life and walk out His promises for me within His word.  In addition to the cards, there's one of my greatest joys and passions... singing and right now worship music is on continuous repeat in my car, on my iTunes, in my head.  I leave you tonight with the parts of the song on repeat as we speak...

Yeah, let me fall down at Your feet
Feel Your presence all around me
Don't let go until I am closer
Closer than I've ever been

Until I find myself in all Your glory
Until I'm weak enough to seek Your strength
Until I know that I am held by mercy
Until I am closer, closer than I've ever been

So break this heart of mine if it means
That I'm letting go by holding on to You

~ Mark Schultz, Closer Than I've Ever Been (2011)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Stop This Train... I Wanna Get Off!

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

It is 19 days into my Make Me Over month and it has not been as I expected... imagine that ;)  It actually started off with a couple of punches to the heart, but as the days have gone on, as the processing continues I find that I'm much stronger than I give myself credit for and I've been pleasantly surprised by the twists and turns that have occurred with "going with the flow."  In fact, my deactivation of Facebook as part of this deal in April has been such a relief that I'm considering carrying that over into May.  We'll see, I'll have a better idea when I get back from Germany on the 6th :)

That's my quick little update for you on how it's going, in case you were wondering.  But the reason for this blog entry is simply the power behind music.  Random, I know, but welcome to my world.  I'm a huge music person, and it's not so much about the music as it is words of the music.  For instance, here are a few song lyrics that have been on repeat in my head over the last 2 1/2 weeks.

"But you went away, how dare you, I miss you.  They say I'll be okay, but I'm not going to, ever get over you." ~ Miranda Lambert, Over You

"He said turn 68, you'll renegotiate, don't stop this train.  Don't for a minute change the place you're in.  Don't think I couldn't ever understand, I tried my hand." ~ John Mayer, Stop this Train

"Like no one would even notice, if you left this town, and never looked back.  You walk outside and all you see is rain, you look inside and all you feel is pain.  You don't know it yet, but down the road the sun is shining, In every cloud there's a silver lining.  Just keep holding on.  And every heartache makes you stronger, but it won't be much longer.  You'll find love, you'll find peace, and the you you're meant to be. I know right now that's not the way you feel, but one day you will."  ~ Someday You Will, Lady Antebellum

Take what you will from what you read, but I think you'd be surprised the work these songs have done on my heart.  In spite of the fact they are all secular songs.  That last one was inspired by an unexpected conversation I had with an old and dear friend this past weekend.  In trying to explain the recent happenings in life, it became very clear that we don't always understand in the moment why things happen and on some occasions we never understand... we just endure and move on.  And unfortunately in the search for answers all we find sometimes are more questions.

I'm loving this season of separation, of revelation, of falling in love, and everything in between.  Which I guess contradicts my title, eh?  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't frustrated, scared, confused, and a little heartbroken over this season, but it has been in the midst of all that I've found a deeper calling, a deeper reason for why I'm here.  In fact it has nothing to do with me, and the further I get into this season, the further I get from my selfish self :)  I don't know what God is up to in this season, but I'm sure glad He brought me here... Praise God for the desert!

"'You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,' declares the Lord, 'and will bring you back from captivity.  I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,' declares the Lord, 'and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.'"  ~ Jeremiah 29:13-14

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Make Me Over April

"I've been silent instead of speaking up, Gave my advice instead of giving love
I have been unfair, faithless, and unkind, I have shut my eyes just so I would stay blind
It's not what I meant to do, 'cause I want to honor you"*

In the last week of March I hit a spiritual and emotional wall.  I found myself up against a corner, no where to turn, all I could do was look up.  I looked up in the hopes of finally being able to surrender that which I had no control and seek God fully.  I often times find myself hitting walls such as these, but that week in March was pretty bad.  I was exhausted, emotional, and had no desire to "pull myself together."  I put that last part in quotes because I seem to be an expert at pulling myself together, sucking it up, moving on, and forgetting that just as much as my patients, I too need self care.  If there were a support group for people who are notorious for lack of self care, I would be the first to introduce myself... every time.  

"Hi, my name is Cristyn and I struggle to allow me to take care of myself!"

For whatever reason, I seem to think that if I care for myself that means I'm being selfish.  I fail to fully understand what Jesus said in Matthew 22:39: "And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself'"  Oh how I laugh to myself when I think of that verse, not because it's funny, but because I always think of what my dear friend's fiance (soon to be husband) says to her about it.  He has reminded my dear (and very giving) friend that the verse says to "love your neighbor as yourself, not better than yourself" (Shout out Reiner & Paula).  I love that he has told her that and that she in turn has relayed that to me.  It's so true, how in the world can I or anyone else love a someone else as ourself when we are not loving ourselves?

The point I'm getting at dear readers is that this month, this glorious and beautiful month of April is what I call my "Make Me Over" month.  At the end of last week I bought not one, but two Groupons!  That's right, crazy, zany me bought something for myself!!! I bought a month of unlimited Yoga and a couple trips to a sauna.  I've never been to a sauna, should be a fun, little "relaxing" experience.  I'm really excited!!  In addition to that, I cut myself off from social media, or at least that which I'm a part of (Facebook and Pinterest).  It's so easy when there is an App for each on my phone and my phone very rarely leaves my side.  So, knowing I never get on Pinterest on my home computer it made it easy to delete from my phone, and then I just deactivated my FB for the month of April.  I guess if you are one of my readers, and a friend on FB you now know that I have not singled you out and deleted you, but rather I deleted myself.  It's only been 4 days, but let me just say there has been freedom already, plus lots of extra time to spend seeking God and taking care of me.  PLUS, at the end of this month you will find me treating myself to a lovely vaca in Berlin, Germany for one whole week... attending the glorious wedding of aforementioned friend (the one regarding the Bible verse).  

It sounds so weird to say that I'm taking care of myself.  In the past I've just ignored myself, pushed through to the point of getting sick at times.  I'm also guilty of allowing others to take care of me so that I don't have to worry about it (one less thing on my To-Do list, I say).  It's a crazy web we weave inside our heads when we make excuses for taking care of everything and everyone else other than ourselves. We live in a world that says "GIVE, GIVE, GIVE" sometimes and although I'm not an advocate for "TAKE, TAKE, TAKE" all the time, I am a big fan of Give and Take.  

I challenge you friends, spend this month or a month sometime in the near future taking care of yourself, making yourself more of a priority (if that's what you struggle with) and see what happens.  Pamper yourself!  Girls, go out with your girlfriends for manicures and/or pedicures, or a spa day.  Guys, go out with your dude friends to a sporting event, or a rousing game of Top Golf (is that even a game?).  Whatever you do, do it for you, and be sure to tell me all about it later! ;-)

Just know that as long as God is moving in me and speaking to my heart, you'll find out about it here on Blogger... most of the time.


"Make me over, make me new, Make me a mirror, a reflection of you
Take me all apart, take me to your heart and pull me closer, sweet Savior, make me over
I am only made of your imagining, I'm dust and clay on the wind
Wash me in the river of your sacrifice, Until I'm changed, purified"*

*Make Me Over by Natalie Grant

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Four Years...

"Then I saw 'a new heaven and a new earth,' for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'”
"He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'
He said to me: 'It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.'" ~ Revelation 21:1-6

My Sweet Billy,

It has been four years since you went home to Jesus.  Four years since I read that scripture from Revelation at your Memorial Service, man how I wish I never would have had that experience.  At the same time, I was most honored to stand up and read from God's word in remembrance of your sweet life.  Some days it seems like quite a bit of time since I last saw and held you and then other days it seems like it was just yesterday that you were here.  So much has happened in 4 years.  I finished grad school, your Mommy and Daddy brought two more boys into this world, and have returned to Colorado Springs.  Your big sister, Avery is a kindergartner. I know you would've loved the stories she shares about school, her teacher, and classmates.  I see so much of her in you when I look at your picture.  I even see some of your little brothers, Nathan and Jared.  God has been so good to send us little reminders of you here on earth through the love and expressions of your siblings.  It doesn't make me miss you any less, but it does remind me that you are safe in the arms of Jesus and that now I'm four years closer to seeing you in Heaven some day.  

You are loved sweet boy and remembered with great joy.  Sometimes I look at the pictures your Mommy sends me of your siblings and I imagine where you might be standing in the picture, what you might look like, and although it sounds crazy to some it helps me to never forget you and the precious family you were a part of here on earth.  You will always be my nephew, you will always be your mommy and daddy's first boy, Avery's first little brother, and big brother to Nathan and Jared.  I look forward to the day that Nathan and Jared ask more questions and understand more about where you are.  One thing I wish I had an answer for is why.  But we trust God in His plans and in His time.  Maybe He just needed you more with Him than He believed we needed you here with us.  

I miss you and I love you.  Thank you for giving me the honor and privilege of being your Aunt Cristyn, 5 months on earth, and forever in eternity.

Aunt Cristyn

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Strip Me... What Will You Find?

People Magazine does it every year...

They dedicate an issue specifically to those they name "Most Beautiful People," and while all those featured are indeed beautiful, I can't help but ask, what are the requirements?  What is People Magazine looking for when they search out the "Most Beautiful People?" As far as I can tell, I see what is on the outside as being the primary requirement.  What do I have to negate that? What do I have to keep me realistic about what is beautiful...

God's Word:

"The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." ~ 1 Samuel 16:7

This is not a post dogging on People Magazine, in fact, I am a fan of the magazine.  It seems to be the closest to mixing celebrity and reality over any other celeb focused magazine out there.  What this post is about, however, is encouraging others to think about how they portray themselves, to think about how they would define beautiful.  If you're a parent, what are you teaching your kids about true beauty? If you're a teacher, an aunt, an uncle, a grandparent, and so on and so forth.  We all have the opportunity to impact the world we live in, the people we come in contact with everyday.  So I encourage you dear reader to keep reading... stand up, and join me in helping to change the way our society views "beautiful" and the path we are setting up for future generations.  Stand with me to get the word out this week during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week for Everybody Knows Somebody.  If you don't know someone, you do now.

Hi, my name is Cristyn and I've been walking in recovery from Anorexia Nervosa for 11 years.  My struggle started at the young age of 12 and continued until I was 19.  Six and a half years hidden under a dark cloud, in a depression, thinking my true identity laid in what the scale said, how much my hip bones stuck out, and how much faster I could run when my number dropped.  Now here I am 30, passionate to fight the fight to make a difference in what future generations see as "beautiful."

Did you know?*
- Only 1 in 10 men and women seek treatment for an eating disorder.
- Up to 24 million of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder)
- Eating Disorders have the highest mortality rate of any other mental illness
- Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness in adolescents
- An estimated 10-15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are male
- The body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by only 5% of American females

Here's me all made up for a photo shoot:

And while a lot of credit goes to the make-up artist who did my make-up and the super talented photographer who captured this moment of me.... I still, at the end of the day, go home wipe off my face and what I'm left with is what I have deep down inside me.  My heart I would hope speaks much louder than my face, my clothes, my hair, and even the shoes on my feet.

Here is me au naturale:

And yes, I have this ridiculous vein that pops out of the middle of my forehead and I'm not really sure why.  I just noticed it a couple years ago and over time I've come to embrace it as part of my natural beauty and unique look.  

One of the things I'm doing this week to help represent and embrace natural beauty is take part in the campaign, Barefaced and Beautiful, Without and Within through The Renfrew Center Foundation.  I hope that you'll join me in partaking in even something small to help raise a voice for the awareness of eating disorders.  

Although I may not be the most eloquent writer/speaker and I may not have penned a book (yet), I ask that you share this with the circle of people you are in relationship with.  Family, Friends, Church Community, Co-workers, and even strangers that follow you on Twitter or FB.  Let's be a part of something great that could change the world for generations to come!  I may only be one voice in a million, but I refuse to let anyone take that from me.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Beauty...From Ashes!!

My first thought at my life 6 months ago was this...

Oh, but after a while into those 6 months that illustration seemed a tad bit dramatic and I realized it was more like this...

And the funny thing is, the second one seems more poetic.  It's as if it represents God holding my life in His hands... or at least what initially felt like my life a few months ago.  

You see, life threw me an unexpected curve ball, much like it has in the past.  I realized things were not as they had seemed but what I found was a beauty yet to be discovered.  Often times in the past when life has thrown me curve balls I've allowed myself to get angry, to wallow, to sit and ask myself "what did I do, why this when it all seemed so good?"  And not that there is anything wrong with those feelings, but for me I would stay in that darkness for longer than I needed to.  But this time was different, it just felt like it had to be.  I'm not sure if because of the life experience before, or because I was already in the midst of a self-seeking journey.  I always already in the midst of hungering at a deeper level than ever before for the love of my Heavenly Father, to know Him at a grander scale, more intimately than ever.  I realized that those I've leaned on for so long for direction and advice need not necessarily be replaced, but most definitely not my first resource in the midst of struggle.  I was using others as a quick fix for a larger problem, a way to fix the wound at a much faster pace than what God had planned.  My heart continues to hunger at a deeper level than I've ever known and I hope and pray that I will never lose that hunger.  Should it wane I pray to continue to surround myself by a magnificent cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1).  That I would not be allowed to turn my back on God, but gently reminded of the love He has always shown me.

Over the last 26 weeks (6 months, 2 weeks) God's word has come alive like never before... words that I wrote years ago regarding Hope Deferred suddenly rings true once again and guides my heart back to the verse that inspired it...
"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." ~ Proverbs 13:12

And then there is the verse that I was gently reminded of during a season that lasted a mere 10.5 months...
"An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up." ~ Proverbs 12:25

So much truth lies in that one sentence and so many others that come alive when I open God's word.  I long to be that person that brings others a kind word, a loving word... it's part of the reason I chose to become a counselor.  I realized soon into those 6 months of darkness that coming out of it couldn't take the length of time it has taken in the past.  I didn't want it to.  I have longed to see God's hand in the unexpected, to continue to believe in the unbelievable, to trust that the impossible truly is possible.  It has been in the last week where that clarity has finally shown through once again.  The beauty is finally arising from the ashes of what was, or what could have been.

For me this picture represents that... I believe that within the life of a butterfly is a lovely story yet to be told.  What once was a fuzzy and possibly not the most attractive caterpillar, is now a gorgeous, fluttery butterfly.  No longer having to inch along on so many legs, but now it is nearly weightless and able to fly to parts never reached before.  What a beautiful story of redemption! 

Beauty is arising from the ashes, and not a physical beauty, but rather an inner beauty I've kept hidden from myself and from the world for much too long.  The time has come to let that girl arise, the one that was silenced nearly 20 years ago.  I find my days spent thanking God for the journey I've walked, for the wisdom I've gained for the truth of His love for me.  

"There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off." ~ Proverbs 23:18

Monday, February 13, 2012

Some Assembly Required, Manual Not Included

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

It is hard for me to wrap my mind around the idea of being "chosen."  God chose me... He chose you... He chose us.  That's a very hard truth for me to fully grasp sometimes.  I look at my life, I look at my failures, I look at the times I've disappointed the people I love and care about and still... He chose me? Really?!? Why???  For nothing more than He simply loves me, loves you, loves us.  Now that is a truth I can cling onto.  And sometimes, that's all I have, or at least it seems that way.  When the darkness of life falls on me, when the harsh truth that this world is not what God intends for Heaven strikes a chord with me, I cling to His love.

But how do we find rest in His love when all this world often does is throw busyness at us, and a million different reasons to feel unsettled or unloved?  My belief, at least from my own life is the realization that we are constantly being built, or altered, or stretched/challenged.  God does not intend to keep us the way we were when He first created us.  As we grow in love, in life, in experiences, we are changing.  We come with so many different parts.  Parts we don't notice when we first open the box that is our life and personality, some parts we burn out and have to replace with the same part but a newer model.  Sometimes as we grow we find that some parts that fit well for awhile no longer fit us, we are ready for something more advanced or more challenging.  But what doesn't come with these parts, what is not included as we form into all God has intended us to be is a manual.  Yes, we have His word and I am a firm believer that part of its purpose is to guide us through this life here on earth.  But what about the times when you can't see past your own wall of tears?  What then?  Broken hearts don't have a manual with a step by step explanation of how to become whole again.  How to survive the unexpected loss of a loved one has no A, B, C connect the dots relief.

My belief is it is a combination of things that create that manual.  First, is God's word, for there is so much healing hidden in His word.  Words that I may never have found if my heart hadn't been broken so many times, if I hadn't had that experience of losing my nephew when I least expected it.... and quite possibly if I hadn't tried to destroy my own body.  I thank God that He is using His word to repair my heart and to shout out His love for me when I don't quite understand why He chose me.  Secondly, is time.  One of the greatest things I've heard in my adult life is that "time is your best friend."  It's so true, as impatient as I can get sometimes, I look back on my life and I think "Praise God all it took was some time."  I'm in one of those moments right now, I look back on the last 6 months of my life and it's been hard, but not my hardest season of life.  It has been an opportunity filled with disappointment from man, but filled with new understanding and deeper love for my Heavenly Father.  It has been time to reflect over the years before and see where I am not trusting God and where I'm trying so hard to do the work alone, by my own strength.

I don't know where I'm headed, I know where I'd like to be, but I'm finding where I want to be and where God wants me to be doesn't always add up to "where I'm headed."  I look forward to the continued assembling of my life through the hands of the King.  I look forward to not knowing how to assemble or what the manual says.  I look forward to creating it as the Lord best sees fit.  I look forward to growing closer to the One who chose little 'ole me.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

"He's in Heaven...with Jeos"

A few weeks ago I had the honor and privilege of hanging out with some of my favorite people... my sister, her hubby, and their three beautiful children, in Colorado Springs, CO.  Each night I would help put my niece and nephews to bed and part of that privilege is snuggling with my 5-year-old niece, Avery in her bed for a bit as well as with my 2-year-old nephew, Nathan in his bed.  One of my last nights visiting them in Colorado Nathan and I had finished praying and we were just chatting.  I'm not sure of the exact context, but we got to talking about his big brother, Billy (who passed away of SIDS in March 2008).  I asked Nathan if he knew who Billy was and he shook his head "yes."  I then asked him if he knew where Billy was.  Nathan answered very confident-like with, "Yeah, he's in Heaven, with Jeos [Jesus]."  The way he sounded so confident just blew me away.  I knew that my sister and brother-in-law share many stories about Billy and celebrate him on his birthday here on earth as well the day God called him home, but I was still taken by surprise by how much Nathan "knew."  I realize he is only 2 and may not fully comprehend, but I look forward to the day that he understands more.  He knows that he'll see his brother once again, and although I would have loved to see them grow up together, I put my trust in what God ultimately has planned.

The reason I share this story is because I've been spending a lot of time thinking about what I'm doing with my life and the path that God has called me down.  I had a friend lovingly question my motives for wanting to move to Colorado to be closer to my sister and wanting to spend so much time focusing on helping (and ultimately being on staff) with SIDS America.  I love that she did, because it got me thinking seriously about my heart and my intentions.  I thought about it all last night, this morning when I woke up, this morning during my run in the rain, and now I'm writing it out.  It's because of Avery, Nathan, and Jared (my sister's 3 kids here on Earth).  It's because they won't get to know their brother this side of Heaven, but yet they know who he is.  I want to spend my days working with grieving families so I don't forget where my family has been and what God has/is bringing us out of.  I want to sit with these families for however long it takes because I longed for someone to sit with me during my grief over losing my nephew nearly 4 years ago.  I want to give back in a subject that is barely touched both in the church and outside the church.  The career I've chosen is difficult for some to understand, I get that.  There are plenty of other things I would not be good at, but that's why God created people who are.  I feel called to do what I do, I trust that God gives me the strength to be the compassionate, caring, and loving person I need to be for my patients.  Plus I love talking and hearing about peoples lives, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

So why are my eyes fixed on a move to Colorado and being a part of something new and amazing in SIDS America?  Because there is a love, a patience, a compassion burning deep inside my heart. So much so that if I ignore it I feel like I'm ignoring God.

"The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing... Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." ~ Psalm 23:1,6