Christina: My name is Christina. I am 27 years old and I live on the Northshore of Massachusetts with my amazing boyfriend of over 7 years, Patrick. I love ice cream and cats. Taylor Swift songs make me emotional. Titanic is my favorite movie. I am a personal trainer at a gym but also recently began a career as a Recovery Specialist at a drug and alcohol treatment center. I grew up in Hamilton, MA and my first love was dance. I was a ballerina for 17 years. In college, I struggled with depression, anxiety, and disordered eating. By the grace of God, and with the help of therapy and the support of my friends, I have been able to overcome a lot of that inner battle. Going to the gym and learning about strength training also played a huge part in my feeling better about myself. It was important to me that I share that with you for two reasons.
1.) I am not ashamed to say that I still need to ask for help when I get too inside my own head. And,
2.) Everything I've been through has led me to realize that one of my dreams is to someday work alongside a team of other professionals, helping women recover from eating disorders.
C: What a testament for how God uses our mess to make it our message, Christina! When would you say that your faith moved beyond just knowing God to experiencing God?
Christina: God has always been a part of my life. But my faith journey always felt a little different. I was raised by a family that belonged to and attended the local Methodist church that my grandmother has been a member of since 1963. My mother, father, sister, and I would meet my grandparents there most Sundays and my sister and I would go to Sunday School. I enjoyed Sunday School because I had many friends there. I didn't have any "neighborhood friends" but I had lots of Sunday School friends that I "grew up with". I would say around the time I hit middle school, my parents started going to church less and less. Not due to a lack of faith, but more so because they both worked long hours at their jobs and treasured the chance to sleep in on Sunday. My sister didn't seem interested in continuing Sunday school, but I really enjoyed it. And my mom supported me in everything I did, so she would roll out of bed and throw a sweatshirt on over her nightie to drive me to drop me off at church on Sunday. Admittedly, a big reason for wanting to continue was because of the friendships I had developed there. In the next year or so, those friendships developed into something beyond Sunday School. We formed a youth group called the Methodist Youth Fellowship (MYF) and we would meet on Wednesday nights to dig a little deeper into our faith. We had a blast together inside and outside of church. We were on top of the world. Then, one Saturday morning when I was 14, the phone rang. The phone never rang that early on a Saturday morning in my house. Something wasn't right. We had heard about a fatal car accident the night before. They hadn't identified the victims yet. I heard my mom answer it and then I heard the tone of her sleepy voice turn somber. Thoughts raced through my head that it could possibly be one of my 20-year-old sister's friends. I got out of bed and walked out to the living room right as my mom whispered into the phone, "Thanks for calling" before slowly putting the phone down onto the hook. When she turned around and saw me, I saw her heart break as she looked at me. She somehow knew that I already knew what that call was in regards to. She reached her arms out to me and started to cry as she said, "Honey, I'm so sorry. It was Michael Heitz."
Michael was a 16-year old boy in our MYF youth group. His sister Megan was also in MYF and was one of my best friends since birth. The next week or so is still kind of blur. My next memory is staring down at my lap at his funeral, wondering why God would let this happen. Why was Mike dead? Why was I 14 at my first funeral? Why was my first funeral one of my friends? The only thing I could think to do was pray. I didn't have a certain time of day or format for praying, I just did it. I prayed for his family. I prayed for Megan. I prayed for my parents. I thanked Him for my sister. I prayed for the strength to get out of bed and finish 9th grade. This is going to sound selfish, but I felt like I needed God to prove to me that He was still there, if He was there at all. Over time, in small glimpses, I began to realize that God was still present. He never left. I was crazy to think that I had somehow gotten through this alone. He never left.
The next couple of years weren't any easier. There was more unexpected loss, my father walked out on our family, my parent's divorced, my older sister moved to Florida, and I went through my first breakup. I felt like everyone I loved was slipping through my fingers. But even when I felt hopeless, I knew I wasn't alone. I could no longer deny that a Higher power existed. I had some great times as well, don't get me wrong, but my deepest and most connected moments with God came from Him reaching into my weakest moments and reminding me that I was strong.
C: I am not surprised to hear you say that you felt God's presence more clearly and powerfully during the valley. That is often where we have an opportunity to experience Him even more. Thank you so much for sharing your story. In this current season of your life, what is the one thing God has been teaching you?
Christina: In this season of my life, I am learning to be more aware of how God is working in my life on a day-to-day basis. I have so many blessings in my life right now that I never even thought possible. I would be a fool to not thank God every day for the life I have. I am currently reading Famous In Heaven And At Home with one of Caren's challenge groups, and this book really has me thinking. It's reminding me of how dangerous complacency can be.
But I've always interpreted that line to mean that the beauty of Grace is that God has given us the free will to make our own decisions when times get tough. We can choose to either use a tough time as an excuse to shut God out, or we can choose to pray on our decisions, find a lesson in the experience, and grow as a person. If you chose the latter, you will always be growing in your faith.
C: All the YES to how we respond to our circumstances being key. Christina, if you could encourage those out there who are fearful of letting go and trusting God, what would you say?
Christina: What do you have to lose?
C: So thankful for you and your willingness to share your story! I know I personally can relate so much and was encouraged by YOU sister!
If you have any questions for Christina feel free to comment below!
Forgive me for my lack of posts lately. It's harder to manage so many social media platforms while balancing being a new mom! If you want regular content from me, I would ask that you join me on Facebook or Instagram (@carenscorner).
Lately I have been learning the difference between balance and surrender. I find I am always trying to find ways to balance being a wife, mom, sister, daughter, coach, therapist, and more. This morning, however, as I sat quietly on my bed watching my little guy nap next to me (he is usually in his crib but this morning I wanted to just watch him) I heard God whisper this very truth. It really is more about surrender than balance. He called me to surrender each title I was worrying about. He called me to surrender my business, marriage, son, relationships, clients, team, etc. As I began to go down the list praying over each item and asking God to help me intentionally surrender each one, I began to feel His peace.
Don't get me wrong. Surrender does not mean I will now neglect my responsibilities. It just means that the attitude behind the activity is different. It's calmer, confident, peaceful, and joyful. Not because I am so good at doing it, but because I know who is ultimately driving it all.
So let me ask you this question: have you been trying to hard to balance all that's on your plate that you too need to stop and take the time to surrender?
Delight OVER duty.
The most humbling lesson and truth I'm currently learning from Famous In Heaven & At Home. It was a hard night. One night this week I got food poisoning so I was up from 11pm-1am and then Luca woke up at 1...enter growth spurt and fussiness which meant soothing him to sleep took till 3am when I gave up and put him in the swing (he's been a good crib sleeper). Nevertheless, those 4 hours in the middle of the night I had a choice. I could choose the mindset of duty: nursing as duty, being a mom as duty OR I could delight in those responsibilities and activities. It was my choice, I decided to spend time in prayer while nursing and use it as an opportunity to dine with God. It wasn't easy because I was tired but I did notice my attitude of duty, frustration, and complaining wash away as I held my son and chatted with my creator. Will you allow delight or duty to drive your responsibilities today?
A Bit About ME!
Hey friend! My name is Caren and I am so glad you stopped by! This blog is a bit of my corner on the internet where I share honest thoughts about my faith journey, fitness journey, doctor wife journey, and motherhood journey. ALL of it! The good bad and ugly! I pray that something I share encourages you today!