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I grew up in a home that was, in my opinion, fairly balanced. My mom brought us to church and encouraged us to grow in our faith and pursue our dreams. My dad taught us how to survive in the real world with logical thinking…and to also pursue our dreams. Really, we were sheltered; our parents protected us from having to learn anything before we were truly ready to handle it. We all have the basics: respect others, trust your gut, don’t take candy from strangers. Some other lessons were learned: things you’ll be grounded for, how to respond if someone disagrees with you, getting up after a fall (physical or metaphorical). I’d say they did pretty great. But for some of the millions of questions I’ve asked over the years or the snotty arguments I created for the lack of answers, it was always the same: Krystin, you’ll understand one day when you’re older. BARF! As a young (read: stubborn) girl, that’s the last thing you want to hear. Growing up doesn’t come with a manual, but I think if it did, this would be the chapter called: “Damnit, They Were All Right.”

I can remember a few choice moments where that stupid answer was given to me that in hindsight was the right answer to give.

When I moved to Tennessee, I was prepared to take over the world. I moved in with my mentor and thought I had officially made it because a 27-year-old Artist Manager for one of the biggest names in the local singer-songwriter circle was letting a 20-year-old move into her space. I, of course, was young and dumb – out until 2 and 3 in the morning getting nachos (which is smart at midnight…SARCASM), driving to love circle to admire a city that didn’t know we were the rulers of, throwing dance parties at each others houses with cakes for a treat…because nothing says dance party like cake. I begged and begged my mentor to come hang with me and all my friends, knowing that her presence would add to my own coolness. Repeatedly, she would turn me down. “Krystin, one day when you’re older and have a big girl job, you’ll understand the importance of your own bed and will appreciate solitude.”  Never!

Nope, she was right. Here I am, 27, with a big girl job that begins at 7:30 each day and rearranging my evenings to know what I can and can’t handle when I have to be up so early. I’m not saying I always say no to people when they call, I certainly don’t…especially if it’s someone I truly enjoy. But I do cut myself off and send myself home.

Way back when I was 14, I was a freshman in love (read: obsessed) with a senior boy. Seriously, it was bad. It’s not one of my better seasons in life and, deny it all I want, it’s still part of my story. I prided myself on being the youngest person to be a part of one of our teacher’s “Backyard Club” – a group of HS students that would all go hang out at her house. (There’s a lesson on appropriateness somewhere in there, but we’ll save that for a later time.) I’d go over and spend time at her house knowing this boy would show up and hoping he’d realize by getting to know me how perfect we were for each other. As a starter on the football team, I’d get him good luck gifts that made his lockergirl jealous. I remember one time while out purchasing gifts for this boy, my ever-supportive mother asked me if I wanted to really be doing all this for him. “YES!” She let me know her actual thoughts on the situation and gave me some “advice” on self-respect and what actual relationships look like. She followed the rolling of my eyes with a “Krystin, one day when you’re older, you’ll understand just what a gem you are and how you deserve to be treated.”  UGH!

…………she was right. That boy was a jerk and a royal one at that. It was pretty devastating to my ego and worse on my heart. I wish I could say he was the last jerk that I let into my world, but that would be a lie (one of those things I get grounded for). Let’s just not open the can of worms on emotionally unavailable boys I’ve fallen for since then and what that says about me. Ha! Suffice it to say it’s a lesson that I’m still learning – even to this day. People accept the love they think they deserve. That truth hurts just a little, right?

In June of 2004, I traveled with Young Life to Egmont, British Columbia, Canada for a week-long camp where I ended up truly meeting Jesus for the first time. Quick backstory, I’m a planner. I like to know the details before just jumping into things – at least for the most part. I had been dreaming of the University of Texas my whole life. It’s all I wanted. So here I am, in Canada, a singular week after receiving my HS diploma and I have a little conversation with Jesus about who’s better at making plans: me or Him. Duh. It’s me…wait…it’s not? Crap. It was there that my whole world flipped upside down and the dream I had always had for UT, which I was leaving for in just two short months, dissipated. So, I asked what should I do if my dreams don’t mean anything? “Krystin, one day when you’re older, you’ll understand that dreams can change.”  Blasphemy!

……………………………………………..I really do have a hard time admitting when I’m wrong, so doing it three times in one post is KILLING ME and, I digress. He was, and still is, right. See, if I’d gone to UT, I never would’ve come to Nashville. I wouldn’t have the friendships that I have today that are continuously shaping me into who I’m becoming. I’d never be able to tell you stories about getting a best friend out of Hootie and the Blowfish, or being on Kelly Clarkson’s guest list, or playing Dream Phone for hours on end because it’s the funniest thing you haven’t seen since you were ten. My life here isn’t perfect, but it’s perfect for me. So, I don’t mind admitting that I was wrong on this one.

If you’ve found yourself here for one reason or another and are just so sick of hearing someone tell you “one day when you’re older,” know you’re not alone. But know, that the journey of learning you were wrong is probably going to be one of the best times of your life. Embrace your mistakes, learn from them, and forge ahead ready to be wrong again. If nothing else, you’ll have some hilariously embarrassing stories about yourself for the future.

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If there’s one thing you don’t know about me (or maybe you do), it’s that I’m pretty stubborn. There are very few people who can get in the way of me when I’ve made up my mind about something. By very few, I mean Jesus and my dad.

Almost a year ago, I was sitting at Cross Point‘s downtown campus when Wes Howard announced that they would be going to Haiti. I was pretty excited. I remembered what I had learned about Haiti from the media – it had been devastated by a massive earthquake in 2010 and never fully recovered. I remember seeing all of the pictures. I knew people who went in to help. I prayed for the poor and powerless. And that was about it. Why? Because I had my own life and my own mission field to pursue – high school students. I also remember feeling like I should go. Then, of course, laughing.

The thing is, for as stubborn as I am, I am made in the image of God…and he can be just as persistent and relentless with what he wants. I started hearing more of the details of our partnership in Haiti and I was intrigued. Our pastor spoke on the importance of missions and my heart started beating faster. The high school girls I was working with began to put up walls and that, combined with an increasingly more busy schedule made it hard to continue ministry there. I had a pretty good argument with the Lord. And on the day that I moved the last of my stuff into the place I live right now – sitting in the middle of boxes and boxes of “stuff” – I gave up. I said yes. The girl who never wanted to go on a missions trip said yes.

I had no idea how much I needed it.

Fast forward to August 4th, 2012. I’m up far too early, grabbing my bags, and headed to the airport when one of my best friends starts playing and singing songs over me (she’s the best singer I know, so she could sing the annoying lambchop song and I would be totally fine about it). One of those is Take Heart by Hillsong United. And suddenly, this very stubborn and strong-willed girl is in a puddle of tears. I was terrified. I couldn’t breathe. I just kept thinking “what if a hurricane hits”…”what if we become prisoners to the country”…”what if I never see my family again”. Terrible thoughts, one after the other, over and over and over.

Then these words….

So take heart
Let His love lead us through the night
Hold on to hope
And take courage again

Peace.

We landed in Haiti. Driving around, I wasn’t shocked by what I saw. I knew what to expect. I was just fascinated…and glad to have made it. We stayed in Port au Prince the first night, got up and went to church, and made the 5 hour trek to our destination in the mountains in a town called SaintMichel-de-l’Attalaye. Our accommodations were far nicer than I expected, but still not like anything I was used to. Our food was great, our team got along well. There wasn’t much more we really could have hoped for. Monday the 6th was our first work day. I was on the morning work/afternoon play schedule. We set out bricks, poured mortar for about 3 rows and broke for lunch. After that, I was setting my stuff down when out of the corner of my eye, I realized there was someone waiting for me.

Her name is Louventa. She was my shadow for the rest of the week. Would not let go of my hand. And still hasn’t let go of my heart. She waited ever so patiently every day for us to finish lunch and would peek over the wall and say my name…which sounded like “creaseteen” from her surprisingly deep and raspy voice. She’s only 7 and has a stronger voice than I do. The minute I stood up for lunch, she would run to my side, brush the dust off my clothes, take my hand and lead me to play. We jumped rope, sang, did cartwheels, played chase, threw frisbees, drew pictures, and anything else we could dream up. The kids were more tiring than the work!

What I realized by the end of our time there was that the language barrier wasn’t such a barrier. Louventa would speak to me, and what I didn’t understand, she didn’t fault me for. She just held on to me tighter and showed me the way. And in that moment, I remembered what it means to be loved. Truly loved. I thought about the Father and how He tries to speak to me. I think about the times He invites me to dream and be adventurous with Him. I think about the times when I’m absolutely terrified, or weak, or I’m angry and I don’t understand…and He doesn’t fault me. He just holds me tighter and shows me the way.

I never wanted to go on a missions trip. Ever. I never thought I needed to. But the Father had to out-stubborn me and take me to one of the most broken countries in the world just so I could remember – really, truly remember – how much He loves me (and little Louventa). He orchestrated every event in my life to lead to this point so that a broken, confused, stubborn girl could realize her worth and how much everything counts. I will never be able to fix Haiti. No one person could. But I can love. I can be a light. I can hold a hand and pour mortar and jump rope until I can’t feel my legs anymore if it means little Louventa (or any other child) can understand that she is loved – furiously and unconditionally loved.

The words still echo in my mind…

All our troubles, And all our tears, God our hope – He has overcome

All our failure, And all our fear, God our love – He has overcome

All our heartache, And all our pain, God our healer – He has overcome

All our burdens, And all our shame, God our freedom – He has overcome

God our justice, God our grace, God our freedom – He has overcome

God our refuge, God our strength, God is with us – He has overcome!

little birdy told me…

Recurring Thoughts

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