Friday, November 29, 2013

Reinventing Eve

"Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper who is just right for him.'" - Genesis 2:18 (NLT)

It is in that verse that we come to find out the reasoning for Eve, for God did not believe it best for Adam to be alone.  Although there were animals in which Adam was given the responsibility for naming, God still did not find the "right" helper for him... and thus we received Eve, Adam's helpmate. Even the unchurched and unbelievers know what happens next as Adam and Eve were given a lush place to live, as well as enjoying a perfect relationship with God and with one another.  Adam and Eve sinned, and thus began the world we live in now.  Being a woman created in the image of God I obviously most related to Eve and find it difficult to see things from Adam's perspective.  Both Adam and Eve had responsibilities to own up to in the Garden, but my focus in writing is from a female perspective, after all...I am a female.

After reading through the first few chapters of Genesis and digging deep into the creation of the world and the fall of man, I find how God is showing me the process of reinventing Eve in modern times so that women today (and men as well) do not continue to live a life of sin.  My study bible in which I seek God's word is The Life Recovery Bible.  I utilize this Bible as I continue to work through my own recovery, a process that I believe will be lifelong.  Not because I don't believe God won't heal me, but because I trust Him more than myself to guide me through this life.  All that to say, by studying the creation of man and the fall of man I learned that God painted a picture for us of true love and commitment, as well as the first illustration of His grace.  After reading through the mistakes and weaknesses of Eve, I realize that I too fit those listed.

  • Disobedient to God's plan revealed to her... check
  • Not taking responsibility for her own sin... check
  • Made excuses, rather than admitting the truth... check
  • Her actions brought sin into the world... my actions may cause others to sin :(
So how in this world is God reinventing Eve?  I cannot speak for other women, but for me it looks like committing myself to a community of other single women, those that I can and agree to be transparent, vulnerable, and honest with regarding ALL areas of my life.  It also looks like me being honest with myself and another group of women I've committed to through a 12-step recovery program known as ReGeneration.  ReGeneration is "recovery in Christ when life is broken"... and boy how life is broken this side of Heaven.  Sunday afternoons are reserved for time with my Community Group, time spent with 5 other remarkable, God-fearing women who walk out their lives humbly, honestly, and selflessly.  Every Sunday from 2:30-4:30, the 6 of us meet as we learn how to reinvent Eve, to reinvent our lives through God's guidance, love, and grace.  We meet together because we know where any one of us stands alone it is that much more difficult to walk out what God is calling us to, what God asks of us.  On Monday evenings from 6:30-8:30 I confess to 10 other women my sin struggles and reveal what God is showing me through my own recovery process.  I learn from them truth, grace, love, and understanding of how to truly walk in recovery and humility.

Lessons learned from reading and studying God's word in the first few chapters of Genesis include, realizing a good marriage requires love and commitment, even in the midst of tough times.  When relationships accept God's grace and forgiveness, then they will persevere through life's difficulties.  The more complacent we become we breed ground for temptation and become less aware of Satan's schemes against us.  

I am weak, I am a sinner, I am prideful and selfish.  I struggle with admitting that I struggle with self-righteousness and believing that by following rules of this world or of my own decision then I am better than those who do not.  I see what Satan wants me to see daily, the ugliness of my sin.  However, I strive to see more than that and trust in the beauty that God created me with and intends for my life to exude.  My hope in reinventing Eve is that God will use what He is teaching me about myself to minister and to love others.  Not that I would be prideful or self-righteous in my own recovery, but that I would readily admit I am not perfect and it is only by God's grace that I may learn from my own mistakes and sin and turn away from them.  

I humbly pray to see a world where women come together to reinvent Eve the way God fully intended her to be, not the way the world portrays her to be or to have become.  I hope and I pray that Godly men would come forward and selflessly reinvent Adam.  The fall of man is how we got where we are today, but that doesn't mean we have to stay there.  God can and will equip each of us to humbly walk in the way He designs us to, if we would only trust His plan and His grace for our lives.

"Then God said, 'Let us make human beings in our image, to be like ourselves.  They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.' So God created human beings in his own image.  In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." - Genesis 1:26-27 (NLT)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dear God...Is there Kindergarten in Heaven?

The world was still for a while, I had a moment of peace and quiet and my eyes were fixated on a picture of you.  You were only 3 weeks old when the picture was taken, and being unsure of how it might turn out or how you might react to the camera, your momma took a chance anyway.  Thank God she did, because out of that we got this...

My sweet little's hard to believe it's been 6 years since you came into this world.  This year would have been another milestone for you, starting school.  I sometimes wonder what you'd be like had we gotten the chance to have you here with us on earth.  I know God had another plan, a bigger plan, one beyond more than I could ever possibly try to imagine...but it still hurts sometimes.  So I gotta ask, is there kindergarten in Heaven?  How do you learn your letters and numbers?  Again, I'm sure God's got it all covered ;-)

I'm beyond blessed to be called your aunt and while I wish things would've turned out differently, while I wish we had more time with you here on earth, I have to believe that God has an amazing plan. He always does and I've already seen it unfold a bit.  I see the life and love in your big sister and little brothers that we were privileged enough to see in you, even if only for 5 months.  I see the grace and mercy that abounds through your Mama and Daddy as they are given opportunities to minister and support other families that have lost a child to the very thing we lost you to.  God's ways are much higher than ours, so who am I to argue with the one who created all things and knows all things.  

As another birthday passes all I can simply do is remember you, the baby boy I had the honor and privilege of holding, loving on, and praying for.  Your life plays a significant part in my life and my story.  Praise God that He used such a sweet and small little boy to teach a silly, sometimes OCD, and busy bodied young woman like me.  I'm forever grateful for that!

I love you William Thomas Jr., you are my sweet little prince laughing and running and enjoying the eternal life that God has designed for you.

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.  All these things are gone forever." ~ Revelation 21:4 (NLT)

Monday, September 2, 2013

We keep singing, "Hallelujah"

"Whatever's in front of me help me to sing hallelujah"
- Bethany Dillon, Hallelujah

As we come to the end of another summer I'm realizing that the theme for this year, 2013 is to sing "Hallelujah" no matter what comes.  That in all things to truly give thanks for it is in everything that God is working and His hand never lets go of us.  With the tremendous blessings that have come over the summer months, just as many (if not more) obstacles have come as well.  And with those obstacles have come the opportunity for me to throw up my hands, to say "forget it, I'm done," and walk away from all that I truly believe in.  But then again, don't we always have that "out?"  Praise God for that still small voice that lead me to open my Bible and guided my heart into the story of Job.  A man who lost everything and by everything I mean EVERYTHING.  But yet in the midst of all the loss this is what the man who loved the Lord and believed there was good in it said,

"But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last.  And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God!  I will see him for myself.  Yes, I will see him with my own eyes.  I am overwhelmed at the thought!" ~ Job 19:25-27

So, if Job can handle losing everything and still give praise to God, can't I continue to sing "hallelujah" in the midst of the transitions and challenges of this summer.  I haven't lost anything, in fact I've gained much.  In the stillness of this world, when I force myself to stop and rest is when I see that God simply loves me.  He is jealous for me, for all of His children, and I truly believe that even at the slightest hint of taking our eyes off of Him and placing it onto the things of this world is when challenges come.  So often we are quick to become angry with God and filled with questions of "why me?" or "why now? what did I do wrong?" when in actuality the purpose behind it all is to trust more deeply in the one who loves us more than we could ever comprehend.  When life stops making sense to us isn't that when we should trust more so in the one who has it all under control?  Why does it seem that we believe we can control any and every situation when it doesn't make sense?  After all it is God and God alone who is sufficient enough with the ambiguities of life and we can trust in Him.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Love Walked In

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."
~ John 1:1-5

"And it's the greatest story ever told, that when it looked like there was no
more hope.  Love walked in through the door, face to face
with brokenness said, 'it's still worth dying for.'
Met the world with a kiss, walls fell down, When love walked in."
~ Love Walked In, Mark Schultz, 2012

So many stories I hear each day as a therapist.  Stories of brokenness and hopelessness.  One of these days, the dream I had long before I realized God was directing my steps towards becoming a counselor, will become a reality.  Until then I think of the all the little things that occur each day where I can see that "love walked in."  The times throughout my day or the day of a client where I can truly see God's hand.  While I know He is always with us and His hand is upon us, it's in those moments when I reflect back on my day or week and realize God had me the whole time...I can see it now.

One of the biggest struggles I'm seeing with my clients right now is such tall walls and an inability to trust others.  It breaks my heart because I see so much of my past reflecting back at me through their struggles.  I want to scream and shout that it gets better, that when all is said and done the one person most affected by the walls and inability to trust is the person putting the wall up and choosing not to trust.  I cannot explain in enough words that people who break trust have struggles all their own and their choices have nothing to do with the person they betrayed.  While I am fully aware that does not make trusting others easy and an automatic, "okay, what the heck, let's jump right on in to the deep end without knowing how to swim" kind of a response, I also know life is about taking risks and learning lessons.   There is no owners manual to the game of life (unless of course you are indeed playing the board game, "Life").  The best I can do as a counselor is trust that somewhere along the way what I share, how I push my clients to think beyond their circumstances, it will all sink in.  Or maybe I'm not the wisest person they ever talk to in their life and someone else is the one that pushes them to that "Ah Ha" moment.  I love what my co-worker reminds me almost daily..."we're planting seeds."  It's a good way to look at it and takes a tremendous amount of pressure off, sometimes.

The reason I really sat down to write tonight was that I felt disconnected from the very thing I love to to others.  I came home so incredibly sick today from a migraine and while I was forced to rest, because I could barely move to do anything else, I started thinking about my "love walked in" moments (as I like to call them).  You see there are a number of "moments" where I have no doubt that God walked in, He truly pulled me out of darkness and saved me.  One thing that I'm incredibly vocal about and blessed to be saved from is Anorexia Nervosa.  I see so much shame, guilt, and imprisonment amongst women who suffer from this disorder.  I see so much ignorance and insensitivity from those who struggle to educate themselves about it.  Don't get me wrong, there are a number of things I have failed to educate myself on so I can clearly identify my own sensitivity to people not understanding the disease of Anorexia, or any other eating disorder for that matter.  I know that I'm too close to it to allow myself to become too heated about it.  

My other significant "love walked in" moment is that of losing my nephew, Billy Jr., to SIDS at 5 months old.  While God has done a tremendous healing in my heart, I cannot help but look back on that season of life with such gratitude that despite my anger, God never let go of my heart.  In fact, He loved me so much that as I allowed Him to heal my heart what I got was one that beats stronger and has learned to love that much more greatly.  With my "love walked in" moments I have room to love deeply those who suffer from a disease that comes with such shame and guilt, as well as those who have faced the unexplainable loss of a child.  I'm no expert, but as I continue to trust God and His love for me, I hope and pray that love is reflected off me and onto others.

"We love because he first loved us."
~ 1 John 4:19

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Dreaming With An Open Heart, An Open Hand

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."
~ Ephesians 3:20-21

Have I told you that I'm a big dreamer?  I feel that it's a consistent theme throughout my postings, but if you're new to reading my blog, then you wouldn't necessarily know that yet.  I am, I love to dream.  I dream of my future, I dream of what my career will turn into over time, I dream of being a wife and a mom.  I wonder sometimes what it'll be like when I meet Jesus, what he'll say, what he'll look like.  Unfortunately my dreams lately have been a bit road blocked.  I've allowed myself to get caught up in the busyness of life and I fail to slow down long enough to do that in which I love...dream.  For some this may seem like a waste of time, building up something in one's mind that may not necessarily come true.  But you see, I have a big God... I mean A BIG GOD!  And He longs to see the deepest desires of my heart fulfilled.  Does it all match with His will for my life? Not always, but I've seen over time that when it doesn't there is so much relief in knowing that His ways are higher, His plan is better than any I could ever create in my wildest dreams.  God has blessed my dreaming heart more than I ever thought was possible.

The thing with dreaming though, is remembering to keep an open heart and an open hand.  That not every dream I dream will come to pass, and some will not come in the way that I thought or imagined.  Back in January of this year I had become discouraged and thought that I could control things and make things happen my own way, but what I found was a very broken heart and the realization that I was not trusting God with the deepest dream I think I've ever had.  So in early February I humbled myself, I went before God and friends closest to me.  I went before them broken and beautiful, revealing a long kept secret sin and as a result, God has revealed more truth and love than I could ever imagine possible.  It was in those early days of February that I truly laid down my deepest desire and dreams.  I chose to fully trust Him with a place in my heart that I for so long refused God to have control of.  Then early May came, my heart was healing, trusting and ready to take a leap of faith.  I knew that as I took this leap of faith I couldn't do it by my own will/power, but rather it had to be different.  If I am going to continue to dream, I'm going to continue to do so with the blessing of the Lord.  I am going to do so with an open heart and an open hand that He may change my dreams, or bring them to life more vividly than I could ever hope or imagine.  What I've seen is words come to life that only God has heard me cry out.  The longings of my heart so deep down that I kept it only between me and God is slowly coming to life.  Do I still get scared sometimes that the enemy is trying to trick me?  Yes, I do, but in those moments I remember to take it to the Lord daily.  To trust what He says is true and I'm gently reminded that fear is not from Him.  I chose to believe what I hoped for at the end of 2012.  I believe that 2013 is a year that will sweep me off my feet and take me by complete surprise.  Nearly 6 1/2 months in I'd be lying if I said it hasn't.

God is good, so much better than I think I've ever realized years prior to this year.  I don't know what God is up to, I don't know why so many times I believe that my way is better than His.  For it is when I fully trust Him and follow Him that I realize how powerful His love is for me.  Thank God for a dreaming heart!  Thank God that He does not allow me to fall into the cynicism of this world, that He's taken a broken/cold heart like mine and turned it into something loving, encouraged, and hopeful.

"For the spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline." ~ 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)

Friday, March 29, 2013

It's Been 5 Years...

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

It's hard to believe that it has been 5 years since my nephew, Billy went home to Heaven.  It was so unexpected, and as an aunt living in another state at the time, there weren't enough hugs or chances to rock my sweet boy to sleep.  Sometimes when I miss him the most I watch the videos my sister and brother-in-law created of him and sent to me prior to his death and even the ones sent after.  He was and will always be a precious gift unto my family and I thank God for the healing that has come into my heart over the years since.  I thank the Lord for the gift and blessing that my sister was able to have two more babies and how much of their older brother shines through them.  Being an aunt is not something I take lightly or just the title of another family member.  I adore my nieces and nephews and I praise God that there is no greater gift that I've experienced yet in this life.

Today I remember a sweet baby boy with ridiculously cute and chubby cheeks, and an infectious laugh who will always have a piece of my heart.

William Thomas Darnell, Jr. 11/01/07 - 03/29/08

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."
~ James 1:17

Friday, March 22, 2013

Counseling vs. Cristyn: An Identity Crisis

"The identity of a person is based on the distinguishing characteristics of that person."*

"Your identity involves both inner character and outer conduct, which distinguish you from everyone else.  Your visible conduct should consistently reflect your inner character.  This forms your identity."*

The Visible Me: Reflected by how I'm known by others.  Based upon my personality, actions, masks, pretenses, outer appearance

The Real Me: How the Lord knows me.  Based upon my nature, character, and value system


Can you see where I'm headed with this post?  It has been a while since I've blogged and the theme that keeps popping up, the one that is the subject of many conversations with those in my life who mentor me has been "how do I define myself?"  I've realized over the last year and a half that I've slowly shifted from truly knowing who I am, knowing the visible and real me to labeling myself as "Counselor Cristyn."  And initially it was cute and funny, but over the last few months I've realized it has become more of a mask, a way to hide my true self and convince others that I'm strong and wise.  Not to say there isn't any strength and wisdom in my true identity, but realizing it shouldn't be defined by what I do.

The truth that I'm realizing is that it became easy for me to throw myself into my career, to throw myself into counseling when other things in my life seemed to be falling apart.  Instead of facing the disappointment head on and working through the frustrations I opted to strengthen my ability to help others with their disappointments and frustrations.  In fact it wasn't too long ago that I told a friend of mine, "I believe I'm better at being a counselor than at being Cristyn."  Talk about a heavy statement!  I don't think I realized the truth of it all until I threw that statement out there.  I also think I've relished in the praise of others regarding what I do and the statements of "I don't know how you do it, I couldn't do it."  I shifted my identity into what I do rather than who I truly am based on accolades and the attention I received from others.  I LOVE what I do, don't get me wrong.... but it cannot be who I am.

I've sat in this for a while now and separated myself from my career when I get home at night to begin to define who I truly am.  I find rest in this:

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

I also am finding a new peace in what I like to do and the uniqueness of my personality.  I'm finding comfort in my randomness, my madd dance skillz :)  and the reality that counseling is what I do, and Cristyn is who I am.

My face before dishing out unicorns and rainbows
across the city of Irving

*Resource: "Counseling Through Your Bible Handbook" by June Hunt (2008)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hi, My Name is Cristyn...

"'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 a hope and a future." ~ Jeremiah 29:11

I reflect on this day quite a bit, it is one of those infamous days in my life that I will never forget... or at least this day 12 years ago.  January 10, 2001 was the day I finally gave up my fight.  And let me just say my closest and dearest friend at the time, Anorexia, was none to happy about it.  I was tired and sick of fighting to look like something or someone I was not supposed to be.  A million different things run through my head on this day as it rolls around each year, mostly I'm just in awe of how far I've come and where God has brought me.  

I don't expect that many people will get why I recognize this day or why I even remember it, but for me it's a day of celebration.  I chose to finally let go of that which had so easily entangled me for so long.  I had chosen to follow God in ALL He has for me instead of just a little.  

I was 19 years old, scared out of my mind, but trusting that I needed help.  After much discussion with my therapist, psychiatrist, and parents I opted to admit myself to an inpatient program for eating disorders without question.  My parents got word that there was an opening in a program in the DFW area, and soon thereafter we were off to the hospital.  I was now an adult so I'd be admitting myself, but my parents could stay with me up until I entered the psych unit.  I cannot remember the last time I cried that much.  I also cannot remember being so aware of my hunger.  Later that evening I found out my sister came up to the hospital in hopes of seeing me before I entered the program, but it was too late, she'd have to wait 72 hours to see me.  I remember thinking in that moment how blessed I was to have my sister.  I'd spent so much time hating her... PRAISE God there was no long lasting damage due to the poor choices I made and the hatred I had shown my precious sister.  

My first night at the hospital was terrifying and a bit like an out of body experience.  I remember waking up in the middle of the night with a headache and after getting Tylenol from the nurses, I soon found myself getting sick.  Looking back it was probably due to the anxiety and amount of tears I cried.  But the fact that it even happened scared me even more and I realized in that moment that it was now or never.  I was either going to kick this now or I'd find myself battling it in the midst of pursuing a romantic relationship and/or after I became a mom someday.  I watched how painful this disease was not just to myself, but to my family and friends at the time as they struggled to understand why I suffered so much.  Under no circumstances would I be able to carry on these bad habits, plus be a wife and mother.  

After 5 1/2 weeks of treatment, the fear of a potentially deadly heart condition, and the love and support of family I walked out of the program determined that I would never go down that path again.  And I haven't, but I'd be lying if I said there are not moments or days where it can be a battle.  I know my weaknesses and I know when I have to fight to overcome them sometimes.  

These days you'll find me working, or as I like to refer to it as "serving," as a counselor (LPC-Intern to be exact) and I love it!  I can look back on that day 12 years ago and see that God was using it to prepare me for such a task, a duty, as this.  Sometimes people comment on how hard my job must be and how draining it must be to listen to others and their problems, and it can be hard... if I let it.  But more than that, I would define it as rewarding.  God prepared me for a job such as this and I shall serve Him with all I have.  If at any point in time He tells me that I'm done, I've fulfilled that which He has asked of me, then I will faithfully and humbly walk away.  But as long as people trust me and are willing to open up their lives to me, then I'll be here.

"We live by faith, not by sight." ~ 2 Corinthians 5:7

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012: A Year of Rebuilding

"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 (NIV)

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." ~ Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

2012 felt very much like a rebuilding year.  Having just barely entered my 30s at the end of 2011, this year found me rediscovering so many things about my hopes, my dreams, myself, and most importantly... my God.  By the end of it all, I was laughing as I found myself begging God for things not to change.  Sometimes I wonder if God even knows what to do with me... one moment I ask for one thing and the next when that thing comes to pass, I find myself at His feet begging for things to go back the way they were.  I'm so grateful His love never changes, that His love never fails.  

Believe it or not, the beginning of 2012 found me extremely discouraged by the career path I had chosen, wondering what in the world I was even thinking in the first place.  A few months into 2012 I began the process of looking for a job out of state, wanting so much to escape what I thought I couldn't in Dallas unless I left.  Low and behold, God had a different plan.  Six months into 2012 and I had given up hope in regards to trying to get out of Dallas.  I threw up my hands and told God, "whatever."  Meaning, whatever you want to do, doesn't matter to me because clearly my opinion does not matter... what-freakin'-ever!  Oh I was beyond mad, but I was done trying so hard.  I had decided that I was destined to remain in a support role (career wise) and continue to do counseling work on the side until March 2016 (when my intern license is set to expire).  If I did not obtain my hours by that date in March 2016, then I was done.  I had decided that it wasn't worth the headache, heartache, and frustration to start over.  Probably the best decision I have ever made... to give up (so to speak).  Little did I know (as always) that God was up to something pretty amazing. 

I remember having conversations with my counseling supervisor over the job search and how things were going.  I had told her that I had essentially stopped.  I felt like so much focus was going into trying to find a full-time counseling job that it was ultimately distracting me from focusing on the work I needed to be doing with my clients in private practice.  I also told her that part of me felt like if I just give up and stop worrying about it so much that maybe, just maybe something would fall into my lap.  I look back on that conversation now and I envision God looking at me, shaking His head and saying, "If only she would just trust me, trust my plan.  I got this under control, I don't need her help."  Although I envision that he probably does that quite a bit with me.

As I pursued other endeavors, and continued to over commit myself (something I'm a pro at) I stumbled into an "Ah ha" moment.  I had begun the process of pursuing a volunteer commitment with my best friend and in the midst of it I realized I was absolutely crazy... or would be if I pursued it.  After much prayer and wise counsel, I decided to step down and not continue to pursue the venture with her.  Fearful that I would let her down, I explained that it would not be wise for me to take on such a big commitment and potentially wear myself out to the point that I couldn't serve to the best of my ability.  I've been extremely blessed to have a best friend who is incredibly gracious, understanding, and loving... I'm not sure what life would be like without her.  All that to say, within 24 hours of me stepping down from that potential commitment, a door was opened and I was offered a full-time counseling job.  Not just any position, but a position in a hospital that I was quite familiar with.  The same place that I completed my student internship at 2 years ago and have been doing PRN work for the last year and a half.  If only someone else could have been there when I received that job offer, I was taken off guard and excited to the point of tears.  I love those God moments that are so special they often times only make sense to you (and God of course). 

So here I am, one full day under my belt of leading the Intermediate group at Sundance Behavioral Health Center in Ft. Worth, and living in a new place that's all my own once again.  As I look back on this past year I see that God knew I longed for new beginnings, for change that didn't include memories of my past... something that was all mine.  I look back and realize that 12 months ago, I wasn't ready, my heart wasn't ready.  It took another wrestling match with God, time for me to be my stubborn self before I realized that God is God and I am not.  He's got this life of mine under control, all I have to do is sit back and breathe.  I don't expect that I've fully grasped this yet, but I hope beyond all hope that as I continue to wait for other dreams to come to pass I will not be as stubborn as I have been with this most recent one.  I also don't expect that this is the end of this dream, but merely the beginning.  I look forward to see what God is going to do with me. 

Lately I've realized there is an inordinate amount of compliments/observations regarding my smile.  I've realized that is often times the first thing that people notice about me, and I've wondered why that is.  But then I realize it is the Lord that gives me reason to smile.  For the work He has done and continues to do in my life... why wouldn't I smile and why wouldn't it be beautiful?  After all, it is all for the glory of my King!