Falling apart.

“It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.” ― Suzanne Collins

Sometimes the moments that break us can be pinpointed on a map, sometimes they are moments strung together to create one giant spiral downwards.

With me, it’s similar to a string of fires that eventually explode. Fire in the living room? We’ll put it out. Fire in the bathroom? We’ll put it out.

Then the house explodes. And everything comes crashing down. The lies I’ve been telling myself become clear and everything I thought I knew, was wrong.

I trusted him. I told him everything. He knew me.

We laughed. OH MY GOSH, did we laugh. All the time. Hours on the phone, waiting by the phone, or staring at the phone.

I just wanted him to know me. To care about me. To validate me.

And he did. He knew about my family, my past, my interest, my work. He knew it all.

He called me pretty and funny and wonderful and all of the things that I’ve always wanted to feel, I felt with him.

I trusted him.

And I knew him. His family, his past, his future, I knew it all.

And he made me laugh. All the time.

If I wasn’t talking to him, I was thinking about him. Checking all of his social media, you know just to see if he posted or if he was doing something.

I was addicted to this person. That I had never met. Social media apps are all the rage for meeting people these days.

It didn’t start out like that, though. He just followed me back and then messaged me and we were friends for a long time. Then the word date got thrown out there and I was hooked. Like a fish on a line. I took the bait.

And he made me laugh. All the time.

After a couple months of talking everyday, I decided that I had to meet this man. This man that knew a side of me that not many people knew. I just had to know if he was as wonderful in person.

And he was.

And he made me laugh. All the time.

That first night with him was a little nerve wracking and funny and awkward and wonderful. And his friends were wonderful. It was all wonderful.

When he called to hang out the next day, I leaped. Heart eyes emoji, for sure.

I spent the whole day with him and his friends. Drowning in laughter, whiskey, and board games. The afternoon turned to evening and I knew I wasn’t leaving until the sun came up. But everything would be okay because I trusted him.

And he made me laugh. All the time.

I was always the smart girl. I never dated. I never wasted time on guys that didn’t matter. I was the girl who everyone looked up to for staying so pure and being so good. But I wasn’t good or pure…it was just that no one ever wanted me. I never had the opportunity to say no. I always wanted it, but no man ever showed interest.

But he did. And he knew me. He knew my heart, my dreams, my worries, my fears…He knew all of it.

I just knew that he cared about me. Circumstance has our lives thousands of miles apart but I thought surely…all of this effort cannot be without waste, right? Who would call and text everyday if they didn’t want something more. He knew my heart. He wouldn’t hurt a girl like me.

And he made me laugh. All the time.

But he didn’t want anything more.

He said the words that I knew were there but I chose not to think.

“You are incredible. You are smart, funny, and so gorgeous but I don’t want a girlfriend right now.”

And in the pitch black while I stared at him and he was staring at the ceiling, I sheepishly responded, “Oh, I know!”

Brushing it off as if I too only wanted a warm body and not a warm soul.

I spent the whole next day with him and his friends. Pretending that everything was fine and that we would still be friends and nothing would change.

Once home, I learned that it was in fact, all a trick. The texts slowed down and the phone calls never came. He got what he wanted (or part of it, I guess) and he would go on to the next body.

Cause that’s all I was to him, a body, not a human.

He was so wonderful in so many ways that I chose to not see the parts of him that I knew would never work with us.

And he made me laugh. All the time.

I was so blinded by his words that I didn’t see his true character.

I gave him something that I’ll never get back.

My trust.

I trusted him. I trusted who he was and I trusted his words. Every single syllable he ever spoke to me sticks to my memory like honey. I trusted that he wouldn’t hurt me because he knew me.

I thought if he knew who I was, he wouldn’t treat me like all the other girls that had come before me. I thought if he knew that I was different, that I would be worth more to him.

I trusted him so much.

I have so many questions but honestly he’s answered all of them in his actions. My phone doesn’t light up with his name anymore. I probably won’t ever his voice again.

His silence speaks louder than any answer ever could.

I trusted him.

I trusted people. I trusted men. I trusted words.

He broke me. He made me want him and hate him all at the same time. He turned me into one of those stupid, idiotic girls that you see in movies.

He made me believe he cared. I trusted him.

I can’t ever imagine letting someone in again. That feels so foreign. The thought of butterflies and excitement and laughing. Laughing feels so foreign. Because now all I do is question. How could someone want my soul? How could someone want me for more than a warm body? How will I ever know if someone is being genuine again?

I hate that he’s made me question everything I ever knew about relationships.

I hate him.

The reason I hate him the most is that I gave him power over me. If he called me right now, I would answer. If he came to see me, I would open the door. I hate that I gave him power over my validation. I hate the person he made me.

And most of all, I hate myself for letting him do it. I knew what I was doing and I was okay with all of it because I trusted him.

And he made me laugh. All the time.

He made me so damn happy. And I hate him for it.

I’m writing this so fresh that I don’t know if I’ll ever post it. If I’ll ever be whole enough to tell the world that I’m not the girl I used to be. That I fell and I fell hard. That I’m falling apart.

I hope that one day, a new Crissy will exist. A stronger one. And that she will post this and she will be free.

And I hope that maybe the tears will have stopped.

For now though, this wound is still fresh. No new skin has formed and the blood has just barely clotted.

I cry everyday. Everyday I’m reminded that I chose to share myself with someone who saw me as a paper towel. Someone who used me once and threw me away. I’m reminded that I believed him and his lies and I REALLY thought that he was a nice guy.

I so wanted a relationship and to be validated that I traded myself in for a cheaper model. A cheaper version of myself that would put up with someone who would treat them like that. I cheated myself. He cheated me.

His words, His voice, His warmth, it was all a counterfeit trade in for what I deserve.

I hope that when I post this I know that. I hope that the Crissy who posts this essay never forgets what she’s worth. I hope that she’s never talked to him again and I really hope that she’s stopped checking his social media profiles.

I’m not there yet. I stalk and I cry and I wallow. I’m a mess. I’m a shell of a person I once was. I’m so numb and empty. I used to be so different. I used to be so strong.

I don’t know if I’ll ever post this but for now it feels good to write it out.

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A very long time ago I wrote this. I wrote this fresh in my pain because I was so hurt and I didn’t know any other way to heal but I wanted to remember this pain. I wanted to remember what it felt like to be broken after I had become whole.

I’m posting this today because I’m so proud and happy to say that the Crissy who wrote this is no more. The broken, sad, and empty Crissy that wrote this is a girl that I remember but not a girl that I know anymore. I am so happy to tell her that I don’t check his profiles, I’ve never spoken to him again, and I’ve remembered my worth.

I’m also posting this today for those of you that are fresh in your pain. Maybe you feel like you won’t be whole again or maybe you feel like you’ve never stop crying or maybe you just feel empty, I want you to know that a day will come that you will be strong again.

And not only will you be over this but you will be BETTER than you ever thought you could be.

You will wake up one day and all of the sudden you won’t cry that day, you won’t even feel the urge to talk to them that day, and most of all – you will feel whole all on your own one day. You will truly understand what it means to stand on your own two feet and not feel like you’re going to fall over.

The shell of the girl I was has cracked open and fallen off. I am free of her. While I remember that girl, I am not her anymore. I needed her though. I needed that pain to exist in my life to push me to who I could be now. So in these moments of weakness, welcome that pain into your life. Let yourself feel it. Pain is okay. It’s necessary.

You need to face that pain head on so you can figure out to heal from it. You can do this. It’s possible.

It might take a couple months, it might take a year, whatever, but it will happen. You got this.

I’m so happy to say that a new Crissy does exist, she is posting this because she is strong and she is free.

Thanks,

Crissy

The truth of happiness.

A lot of people my age seem to be going through the same thing. We all want to do what we love and usually what we are doing (for work) is not that thing.

Maybe you’re stuck going to school for something you hate or going to school without any direction or maybe you’ve already graduated and you’re working in a job that has nothing to do with your field.

There are a million different reasons for why you’re in this place. It could be money, pressure from your parents, or fear.

I think we’ve been told from a very young age what being “good enough” looks like. What the American dream is supposed to look like and how we need to prepare for the future. That has resulted in a lot of people being discontent in their situation and dreaming of a bigger, more beautiful world.

We over romanticize travel and love and happiness.

Travel is incredible, my favorite thing to do actually, love binds us in a way that words can’t, and happiness is my favorite kind of feeling.

But doing and feeling those things will not fulfill your life.

They will not make all your dreams come true and they will not solve all your problems. When you get back from Thailand, you might still have anxiety. When you break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend, you might still feel ugly and fat, shoot you might feel that when you’re with them. When the fleeting feeling of happiness fades, your depression may sneak back in.

Don’t get me wrong, I truly do value and adore travel, love, and happiness. But it seems like our generation wants all of those things but we don’t want to work for any of them.

We want to be SO HAPPY but we won’t take an actual steps towards that. If your job sucks, get a new one. If your relationship is hurting you, leave. If you hate where you live, move.

Life is not as complicated as we want to make it. But it is much harder than we want to believe.

5 years ago, I went to Kenya and it changed my life. And not in the cheesy way that I think most people will interpret that sentence. I didn’t come home and sell all of my belongings, I didn’t stop going to Starbucks, and I don’t even think my behavior was that different.

5 years ago, going to Kenya changed my life because it set on me on the trajectory that I am today. 5 years ago, I was 20, wide-eyed, and naive. I had no idea what God was going to do with my life and honestly I didn’t care. I didn’t have a worry in the world. If God would have told me to start One Love His Love 5 years ago, it simply wouldn’t have happened.

I didn’t have the money, ambition, or strength to do so. But you know what He did tell me to do? He told me to go back in 2011. And then to live there in 2012. And then to start building the rehab center in 2013. And then to start the non-profit in 2014. And then to lead a team that same year. And now this year, I go again.

My heart is ready and expectant and happy.

But every step has not been happy.

When I lived in Kenya and got malaria and I was 8,000 miles away from home, I was not happy.

When my Kenyan dad passed away just months after we started fundraising for the rehab center, I was not happy.

When someone else had a similar name as ours and wouldn’t release us to start our non-profit, I was not happy.

When I (and Shalee) spent a lot of money starting something that we didn’t know would get approved, I was not happy.

When I messed up the forms for one of our team members, I was not happy. When some of our own team members got sick on the trip, I was not happy.

When I came home feeling like a failure of a leader, I was not happy.

Emotions I have felt over the past couple of years: stressed, heartbroken, worried, unworthy, unloved, and definitely unhappy.

But when you go after what you love, you simply will not feel happy all the time. Constant happiness is a lie that we tell ourselves to make us feel worse about our own lives.

We just believe that if we were doing what someone else was doing, that we would be happy. But that’s crap. Your happiness is your truth. And being happy isn’t a determinant of success.

You should feel stressed and worried and unworthy and heartbroken. You know why? Because that means you have something to lose.

This thing, it means something to you and it could break you, so no, you shouldn’t feel like a giant ball of happiness all the time. The things you want to succeed take hard work. They take hustle, they take your whole life, and they take love. Nonstop love.

Our nonprofit is still SO baby, we are only a year and half old. We can’t even really walk yet. We are still comfortable crawling. Everyday. Towards this goal, this dream of a rehab center and a future for so many others. I would have it no other way.

And I’m SO glad I didn’t know that my life would be here 5 years ago. I’m so glad that God pushed me a little bit further each year and that he continues to do so. If you feel unfulfilled in your life, change it. Make little steps towards your dreams. But you’re going to have to work for them and not every day will be happy.

That’s kind of the point. You might have to work full time at an office job and do your side hustle in your free time. If that side hustle, that dream, is really your thing – the extra hours will be worth it. Jon Acuff says “work on your side hustle until it’s your only hustle.”

Believe in this dream and work at it until it’s yours. No, you won’t be a national geographic photographer tomorrow and you won’t win a grammy the day after that but maybe start now.

Maybe start believing in those dreams and believe in yourself. Believe in them so much that you put everything towards them.

Fight for something that would wreck you if you lost it, that’s how you can be sure that you’ll fight for it.

So the truth of happiness? How do we get there? Well it will probably include a lot of unhappiness, sacrifice, and most of all love. Truly loving your dreams and the people in your life isn’t always happy. It’s really hard. It’s a choice. Everyday. But it will be worth it. 

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Love, Crissy

Back to Kenya & back to love.

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I’m trying to process the fact that it’s been a year since I was last in Kenya.

That this time last year, I had just come back from leading a team of 16 people.

But when I leave on Friday, I will be alone.

I am so excited, almost giddy nervous about what’s going to happen. I know that this year is going to be different because every single trip is.

God’s love is most evident in my life when I’m in Kenya. I know you shouldn’t say things like that and that I should be my best self even when I’m in America but that’s just not always true for me. That’s why I named the organization “One Love His Love” – because while I was there in 2014 by myself, I knew that’s what we were supposed to call it. That love is what drives us all, love is the cause of heartbreak and hope in the world and I wanted our organization to be one full of all the hope we could muster.

I like to hope that I represent God’s love well at home too but in Kenya…there is just something different.

I feel so at home there. I feel right when I’m there. And I’m past the honeymoon stage, I have been to Kenya 6 times & I lived there for 2 months. I know there are bad things and frustrating things and scary things in Kenya. But through it all, I seem to find myself most when I’m there. I serve better, I love better, and I learn so much more.

I’m crying writing this because this year has been so much. Some good and some bad but really just so much. I’ve learned so much about myself, about religion, and life. Maybe it was a quarter life crisis, maybe it was just a phase, maybe this, maybe that.

Whatever it was, I’m glad that it happened. This year taught me so much about myself and about other people. I learned how to love better because of the way that people loved me.

Kenya is not only going to be a working trip for me but also a resting one. I need to learn to rest and listen again. Listen to stories of addiction, of hope, and of love. I want to listen and learn and grow. All the time.

Unfortunately in America, I’m sometimes too busy to do that. Or maybe too prideful. I’m not sure.

I want to be the kind of person that invites people to tell their story. I want to always create a space for people to be free. I want to love so well that no one ever feels like their story or their heart is too much.

My hope for this trip is that I learn to love people better and that I continue to do that even when I’m home. My prayer is that my bleeding heart keeps bleeding. I don’t ever want to be bitter. I don’t ever want to run out of love. I know that may make me seem weak or something but I don’t care. I’d much rather be known for the way that I love people than anything else.

People who think differently from me, people who believe differently from me, and people who disagree with me. Gonna love ’em all till they can’t stand it anymore.

So that’s it. That’s my prayer. Love. And lots of it. I hope you’ll pray with me and for me on this trip. I think it’s gonna be a good.

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Love,

Crissy

What we learn when we listen.

I once heard someone say “we are never the villain in our own story, but we probably are in someone else’s.”

I have thought about those words a lot since I first read them. Lately in every conversation I’ve been trying to not see someone else as a villain or as a “them.” I’ve tried to be on their side and see from their point of view an react accordingly. So quickly we tend to turn a person into an idea. Maybe an idea that we’re against and fuel all of our anger towards that person.

But a person isn’t an idea, a person is a human with feelings and a story.

If we start to hear their story, their heart, and their passion – we will learn so much more about them. We are so quick to dismiss others based on one part of their character and I feel like we are missing out a huge chunk of humanity by doing that.

My life lately has brought some really incredible people into my life. The majority of them think differently from me and follow completely different life paths than what I’ve chosen. But it’s been the most beautiful thing.

Because at the base of all human interaction is this need to belong. This need to feel that maybe someone else just understands us and can empathize with who we are.

We don’t need to be the same race or religion to understand one another. We just need to be gracious enough to get there.

Grace has probably been my biggest teacher. When I feel okay enough to say, “I’m not right and I don’t understand but I love you and I want to” – the situation instantly takes a turn towards a more humble interaction. When we can learn to coat our conversations in grace and love, we begin to walk towards each other in a more beautiful way.

To quote my absolute favorite human alive, Glennon Melton – “Confusion is okay. It’s just there are different types of confusion. There is a gentle, open, soft confusion- and then there is a hard, closed, militant confusion. Gentle confusion says. “Wow. I can’t even imagine. I wonder….”Militant confusion says. “EW. I can’t even IMAGINE. I reject….” Gentle confusion is the beginning of growth and peace. Militant confusion is the end of both.”

I don’t have to tell my friends that I’m Christian, they know. They don’t have to tell me they’re not, I know. We know that while we don’t agree on the origins of life, we agree on the truth of the current state of it.

Life is hard. People across all religions, cultures, and walks of life know that. It’s a fact. Bad things happen, hearts get broken, and nothing is fair. Listening to another person’s story doesn’t mean that yours isn’t true. Your truth is yours and their truth is theirs.

Listening to another person’s story gives them the okay to walk in that truth more.

My favorite quote of all time comes from Marianne Willamson –

“As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others.”

Often when someone comes to us with harsh words and feelings, we feel the need to fight, to defend, and to dismiss. But if for a moment we chose to stop and listen to what they were saying, to re-evaluate, and to be humble, we can learn so much more from them. Especially if this is a situation that you don’t agree with their evaluation of you, how much more room you will have to grow.

Listening rips fear to shreds. Listening to another person and validating their truth shows them that they are worthy. It shows them that they don’t have to be afraid of what is or what might be but they can have faith in what is. You are giving them faith in their story and you are opening up a free space for them to be honest.

Life is so hard. So many bad things exist and we cannot fix them all. But imagine how much better our story would be if we learned to listen more? If we became so humble that our need to be right was overridden by our need to be loving?

What a beautiful story we could tell and what a loving world we could create.

Thanks for listening,

Crissy

Your Samaritan moment.

“We’ll be known for our opinions, but remembered for our love.” Bob Goff

Today I am proud of many people on many of my social media timelines. While I know that sharing an article takes minimal effort, I think it can have a ripple effect. It can open up the doors for other to be honest and give people a space to be free.

This blog is going to be about Caitlyn Jenner. And before you feel angry with me or disagree with me, I just want a few minutes of your time. Just a few.

Step away for just one moment. Step away from this idea that we all must cheer on what we’re against all the time. Many people know what you’re against with you even telling them. Soften your heart, come off the defensive, and hear me out. Just step away for one moment.

Look at the world around you. I want you to picture Caitlyn Jenner is standing right in front of you. She’s tired, she’s sore, she’s broken – she’s spent many years believing she wasn’t the person she was meant to be. She explains to you the years of secrecy, the pain, and the need to just want to feel normal. I imagine tears are present now or maybe just a twinge in her voice.

She doesn’t ask you to understand, she knows that her truth is hers and not yours. That’s fair for both of you. But she just asks for a hug. She asks that you stop looking at her as a label, whatever that might be to you – transgender, sinner, whatever – and simply look at her as a person. She’s taken a beating lately in the media and she’s not trying to upset anyone. She’s just trying to be herself.

She doesn’t even ask for your support. She just asks that you be kind. That you love her the way Christ loves you. He met you in your brokenness and in your pain and she asks that you do the same for her.

I know that it’s easy to separate a person from a label. That you would so much rather look at Caitlyn as some misguided person that you don’t agree with but maybe for one moment you could look at her as a human, maybe even as a friend? Maybe you could listen to her tell her to story instead of trying to make one up for her.

In scripture we read, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them” – He created us in His image. He didn’t say He created some people in the image of Himself and some in the image of something or someone else.

And I know what you may be thinking, that God made Bruce in His image, not Caitlyn. But that seems inaccurate to me. Because Caitlyn was always there. She was always a part of Bruce’s story. Her soul is what was made in the image of God. We don’t reflect God in our arms or our legs or by wearing a dress or by wearing pants. People of all colors are made in the image of God so by focusing on the physical character of God (of which we have no evidence – for example, what color is God’s hair? Does He even have hair?), we miss out on what that passage is really saying. We reflect God when we are loving, respectful, compassionate, and creative. Do those things change now that Bruce is Caitlyn?

And you can argue that Caitlyn chose to be transgender and therefore was made in the image of God but then chose a life of sin. But you can’t really know, can you? And does her choosing sin suddenly un-make her in the image of God? When you have sinned, are you now unloved by Christ? Do you deserve to be treated with hate & judgement by those who don’t see themselves as sinful? Because even if someone doesn’t see themselves as sinful, we all are.

You are allowed to disagree with the LGBTQ community. That’s fair. That’s your opinion and your right. But disagreeing with someone is just that, disagreement. It doesn’t have to be a war or even a fight. Disagreement could lead to knowledge. We can learn so much about one another when we stop and listen to them.

And also know that I am not asking you to understand and support and cheer Caitlyn on. I am asking you to just wait. Just step back for a second and think about how you can look more like Christ. What is more Christ like? Deeming someone unworthy of living? Or showing them grace in love?

In the New Testament we go on to read of God’s unconditional love. The love that He says is the most important. He sees love as so important that He commands us to love our God with all our heart and then love our neighbor as yourself.

God commands that we love people in the way that we love ourselves. That doesn’t mean people who agree with us or people who are Christian or people who make sense to us.

It means everyone.

The story of the Good Samaritan is what this reminds me of.

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Luke 10:25-37 (NIV)

The Samaritans were a despised people in Biblical times. They worshipped multiple gods and didn’t act in accordance with Jewish law. For Christ to use a Samaritan to represent mercy in this moment is monumental. He wanted His followers to see something. That you don’t have to agree with someone to show them love, mercy, and kindness. He wanted to show them that even if there was someone that you despised because of your disagreement, that is still not a precedence for anything but LOVE.

How beautiful that Jesus could have just displayed a moment where the Samaritan was “nice” to this beaten man. But it was so much more than that. The Samaritan took care of him, fed him, and loved him. He had mercy on him where there was nothing for him to gain in that moment.

The one who had mercy on him. Go and do likewise.

If you are a Christian, this is your Samaritan moment. This is your moment to truly reflect Christ in the most humble way. To show the world that hate doesn’t have to win, that LOVE WINS. That we can walk alongside someone and hug them and take care of them – regardless of whether or not we agree with him.

What a more beautiful picture of Christ we could be.

Christ died loving the people who hated Him. What a moment. To have soldiers claiming you mean nothing and using your last breaths to fight for them.

I hope that if I died tomorrow, my last breaths would be spent fighting for love.

Thanks for reading,

Crissy

Shameless Truthtelling.

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photo by: Chase Showen

As you probably already know, I run a non-profit. This Friday we’re having our annual benefit concert to raise money and awareness for the building of our rehab center in Kenya.

I remember very vividly what it was like to have my Kenyan dad propose the building of the center and I remember how terrified I was at the thought.

Like this is gonna be huge, take a lot of money, and I was just scared. Thank goodness one of my friends (and now co-director of the non-profit, Shalee) had like a million more pounds of faith than I did and we went forward with it.

But even then, I still didn’t understand how I could fit into all of this. Sure, I had battled addiction in my life but how do I begin to tell people about this story? This rehabilitation story?

It wasn’t until I visited a rehab center in Kenya that I truly began to understand the narrative that God wanted us to tell.

When we first met with the director of this other center, he introduced himself as an addict, even though he hadn’t had a sip of alcohol or taken drugs in over 5 years.

He explained, “Addicts are addicts forever. By calling ourselves that even though we aren’t currently drinking or doing drugs, we are reminded of who we were, because at our core, that’s still who we are.”

Addicts are some really humble people. Addicts understand how much they’ve messed up and the pain they’ve caused. Usually that self awareness is what causes them to continue to be addicts. Being one myself, I can attest to this. We feel BIG and HARD. Sometimes so big and so hard that we have to shut out the world by running to our addictions. It hurts too much to feel. So we’d rather be numb.

But as we all know, feeling nothing is actually NOT better than feeling something. It leaves you lonely, scared, and empty.

Addicts understand all of this. So that’s why even addicts that have been clean and sober for 20 years still remember what it was all like. Because every day is a reminder and a choice that life is better. Truth is better. Feeling is better.

They understand their addiction and when their eyes are clean and sober, they understand life. Talking to them is my favorite thing in the world. It reminds me of just how beautiful redemption is.

To me, a rehab center is a really beautiful picture of the redemption that Christ brought to us. I absolutely believe that Christ washed me clean and I became a new person in Him but being aware of my sin doesn’t negate His work in my life, it celebrates it.

“But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom”

I could only know that he paid my ransom if I was aware of my debt.

My debt reminds me of my Creator. It reminds me of my life.

The past year has had so many ups and downs. I’ve been pretty transparent on the blog and the internet about my life, my struggles, and my pain.

I’m not sure that was always the wisest decision because people are very quick to judge and decide things about you. But that’s okay with me, decide away. I gave up a very long time ago trying to think that I am in control of what other people do and think.

But through all of this, I’ve learned that no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I will never stop being shamelessly vulernable. I will always tell the truth and I will always be free of anything anywhere close to guilt or shame.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 (NIV)

For me, I am a slave to what people think of me. But that’s not really realistic. None of us can control what other people do, we can barely control ourselves sometimes (example: I don’t have an off button when it comes to eating pizza).

I think a lot of us care much more about what others think that what we will ever admit. We want to be the best version of ourselves on social media and we often hold others to that standard as well. On the flip side, we also take things that we see and we dwindle down a person to that one post. We forget everything else about who they are, and we decide everything about them based on one thing that they do or one trial that they endure.

But people are much more than that. We are all worth so much more.

I don’t even know how to understand this past year. I mean seriously, it was truly a whirlwind of the craziest things in my entire life. Some parts were REALLY great and some were REALLY bad. And I remember in the middle of it, thinking “this cannot be happening to me.”

I run a non-profit, HOW could I question my faith? That was the question that hurt the most and still hurts the most. It was such a painful reminder of how life works. I truly had to walk through that to understand who I am and how to run the non-profit better. I had to walk away from a church I loved with all my heart to heal in a new place with new faces.

I know this is painful and probably strange for most of you. But isn’t that what the body of Christ is about, we can’t all be arms or legs right? Some of us are shoulders or toes or belly buttons. We all make up something beautiful and we all form differently.

So if you saw me this past year and you were confused or didn’t understand, well that’s okay…I didn’t either. But to me it’s not always about understanding, it’s about being honest.

But what I do what you to understand is that I will never be too christian/too put together/too anything to not be honest. Honesty is at my core. Shameless truthtelling is simply who I am at this point.

I don’t care if it embarrasses me or causes judgement but a Christianity that has to “look good” is not Christianity to me.

Life is hard. We are all broken. If that’s true why can’t we all be reminders of that for one another? Why can’t I look at you and simply say “me too.”

I love Jesus. I love how He has redeemed me and healed me. I love that even through all the pain that I’ve gone through this last year and how I desperately wanted to walk away, He never left my side. There was always a constant reminder of His love in my life.

And at the end of the day, that’s what I want our rehab center to be for people. I want to meet them where they are at. Right there in the middle of their addiction, I want them to know that we are with them. Because that’s what Jesus did for all of us. I want to make a place for them to be desperately honest about their pain and I want to look them square in the eyes and say, “me too.”

I think today we could all use a few extra doses of grace and love. Use everything you’ve got to show grace and love to those around you. We all mask the pain that we’re going through but grace and love break down those walls and they make a free space for our pain.

I want to always create a space for our pain to be free. Your pain is allowed. Your truth is yours and it’s valid and it’s worthy. Tell it shamelessly and tell it often.

Thanks for listening, friends.

Crissy

Rest well, Grandma.

I think death is painful for many reasons but one of the biggest is it’s finality.

It puts a period where our human brains can only understand a comma. We don’t compute something ending forever.

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When we say goodbye to people, we don’t understand never seeing them again. When we hang up the phone, we don’t anticipate that their voice might never come across our ears once more. When we hug someone tightly, we don’t imagine never feeling their warmth around us again.

It’s Wednesday night/Thursday morning and I cannot sleep. My grandma took her final breaths on Sunday. My heart feels so unsure, so confused, so sad. It wasn’t her time and yet it was.

That’s the thing about death, it doesn’t wait for you to be ready. Because you’ll never be ready. You are never ready to let go of somebody.

1917444_1307611934109_6242854_nEveryone always says “I just wish I could hug them one more time.” But that hug wouldn’t do it, you know? Even if you saw them one more time, that would only comfort you in that moment. In the next moment, the pain would be there. Again. Fresh. Deep.

I once heard death described as feeling like a really bad dream that you have and when you wake up, there’s those few moments when you can’t differentiate between reality and dreaming…so you think that maybe this death was a dream, just a really bad dream. But when you come to, the pain of it all comes in again. And it stings all over again. Every day you have to wake up and live without this person that you weren’t supposed to live without.

You shouldn’t ever have to live without your people. They are yours, dangit. Death reminds you of all the moments stolen from you now that your people are gone. Moments that you’ll never get because death took them before you were ready.

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It really freaking sucks. Can we all agree? Death is the worst and it sucks. There is literally nothing that can make that hole in your heart feel better. It’s truly the most unfair thing.

I miss her so much.

I think that’s the other thing about death. There’s no way to prepare for it. No one ever tells you how to do that. No one ever tells you how to miss people you’ll never see again.

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I don’t even know how to tell you what to do. This blog isn’t going to have any advice. I’m not even sure what purpose it will serve. I just really miss my grandma and I don’t even know what to do about it. So I’m writing. That’s how I work through my pain.

She really was a fantastically wonderful woman.

I read through her Bible today. Her hand writing, her words, her prayers, her heart…it was all there just bursting open for me to read. Her sweet moments with her Savior, I got a little peek into what stirred her heart. I got to know her. Her underlines, her little scribbles, even little dates written in on specific verses.

I can’t hear her voice anymore but I can read her words.

Maybe that’s how we learn to get through life without our people. We just keep loving them and learning from them in any way we can.

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My grandma’s physical presence in my life is something that I will never get back. I will always miss it. But I don’t have to miss her heart, her strength, her spirit. All of those things live in my mom and her brothers and sisters, they live in my sister, and they live in me. Her legacy is ours now.

The pain that exists in this moment only tells of the wonderful person we had the honor of loving.

What an honor it was to love her and to be loved by her.

I can’t believe that I was deemed worthy of being her granddaughter.

I will never stop missing her and I don’t ever want to stop missing her. She changed my life. She made me a better person by caring for me, she showed me just how much someone could love. She always knew how to make me laugh and she never missed an opportunity to tell me how proud of me she was.

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But still my favorite story is one from the year before last. I attended a wedding in Tyler, where she was living, so I went to see her for a little bit before I headed back to Dallas. She asked me, “Crissy, you go to ALL these weddings, when I am going to come to your wedding?” and I replied, “Well, I have a wedding that I’m a bridesmaid for in November, maybe there will be some cute groomsmen or something.” I said this as a joke, I mean there were gonna be cute guys there but I just said it to change the subject.

Well 3 months later, I get a message the day of the wedding from my grandma. It reads, “Hey! I remember you’re supposed to meet someone special tonight, keep me updated.”

She remembered. I laughed for so long about that. Her and my mom were always trying to get me married. It used to make me insecure, like what the heck, I’m not good enough the way I am? But now I see it. She truly thought so highly of me and loved me so much that she didn’t understand how I could possibly be single. That’s really such a sweet compliment.

It’s so funny how something that was so silly to me then is so sweet to me now. All memories I have of her will now be dripping with mixtures of love and sadness because of their finality. They’ll become fuzzy and my heart will learn to heal. But I’ll never stop missing her. Earth will always feel emptier without her here.

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I don’t have any grandparents left. She was the last one. I wish I had done more to show her how much she meant to me. I wish I had said, “I love you” about a million more times. I wish I had hugged her and kissed her and sent her flowers and wine every day. I wish I would have been better. I wish I would have been more for her. I wish my stupid selfish human heart would have realized this so much sooner. I wish so many things.

But wishing won’t bring her back.

Life moves whether we want it to or not. I cannot change the past. I can only change how I act in the future. I can be better for her.

I can walk in love for her. I can walk in strength for her. I can walk in grace for her.

If the past 4 days have shown me anything, it’s how much my family and I are loved. It’s reminded just how freaking incredible people are. I have had no less than 200 people reach out to me via social media, texting, calling, etc. just to express their sincere sorrow, their love for my family and I, and in the truest way, all of them said, “Let me know what I can do for you, I am here for you.”

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In my deepest sorrow, in my deepest pain, I am reminded of the good that exists in the world. I am reminded that even in the darkest of valleys, light will always find it’s way.

Finally, I am reminded that I have the power to be the love that I want to exist. A twist on Ghandi’s quote, yes. Because I don’t just want change. I want love. For everyone. Everywhere. My grandma has reminded me of the power that love has on even the hardest of hearts. How it softens, how it soothes, and how it heals.

Love truly does conquer all.

Thank you, Grandma. Thank you for showing us that it really is okay to fight for everyone else, even if it makes your life harder. Thank you for showing us that love takes many forms. Thank you for showing us that showing up for your people is painful and hard but we should do it anyways. Thank you for showing us how to never give up. Thank you for showing us how to always see the good in people, even when nobody else sees it. Thank you for showing us what a lifetime of love looks like. Thank you for loving us, Grandma. You did so well. You loved your people in the most beautiful way. Thank you for teaching us how to be a family. You made us all what we are. Rest well, Grandma.

I love you.

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To my momma.

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This mother’s day is a really cool one.

I’ve officially been out of my parents house for a little over a year. Technically I was out of their house when I was in college but let’s be real, they paid all my bills.

So now, I’m a big poor adult with a car payment and rent and bills.

How did I get here? I don’t mean existentially.

I mean seriously, HOW did I become 25 years old and financially independent? When in the world did I become a grown up?

My mom.

This blog is for my mom.

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As long as I can remember, my mom has been in every part of my life (whether I liked it or not).

I still remember being at gymnastic practice when I was 4. I had mastered the balance beam. Well I had mastered jumping off the balance beam onto a foam mat. One of my proudest moments. My mom was there.

She was at every single piano lesson, gymnastic practice, and dance practice that I ever had.

The recitals, performances, and games were normal for parents to attend but my mom insisted on being there for every single moment. She never missed any moment of my life.

When my sister and I were 5 and 10, my mom was getting her bachelors degree while working full time as a teacher. During summer, she would take us to the waterpark, the movies, and to putt putt and she would study while we played. She was always there. For everything.

The first time I had my heart broken was in the spring of 8th grade. I tried out for the high school drill team and I didn’t make it. To say I was devastated is putting it lightly.

But my freshman year, my mom and I decided that we would do everything possible for me to make it. So I took gymnastic lessons (to get stronger), she got me a membership at curves (to lose weight), and she enrolled me in multiple dance classes as well as hiring a private dance teacher to critique me during tryouts.

And you bet your ass she was at every single lesson that year. One of the rooms had the smallest window ever but I knew that I every time I looked over, I would see her smiling face. She never read a book or listened to music, she watched every practice, the whole time.

That year, tryouts were terrifying for me. I worked so hard but I kept thinking “what if?” What if I don’t make it, again?

She just kept reminding me, “No matter what happens, it will be okay. You will either tryout again or you won’t. It will be okay.”

She bought me a new leotard, she did my hair, and she prayed over me. And I’m pretty sure she tried to watch me during tryouts even though they put paper over the windows. She’s persistent, what can I say?

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Well if you know me, you know that I made it that year. And I cried. A lot. Through high school she continued to be my biggest cheerleader. I was in like way to many clubs and organizations but she came to everything. She never missed a celebration.

My mom never missed a moment to show us how much she loved us. My sister played softball in high school and literally all my elementary memories are filled with Heather’s games, Heather’s parties, and Heather’s friends. We were always together. If one of us was doing something, we were always doing it.

My mom was so good about that. Making sure we always supported each other.

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I think it’s easy to see the bad in people. To get frustrated with the world and all the negative. But in an almost annoying way, my mom is so quick to remind me of the good. To remind me of the love that can exist. Simply because of who she is. Ask any of her students or colleagues, the woman is loved by so many.

All I have is stories of her strength and the way she loved me. Over and over again.

When I was 18, I was in a really bad car accident. I broke my collarbone and I had to have surgery to repair it. She slept in the same room with me for two weeks straight while I healed, so she could give me medicine every 4 hours. Every time I woke up, she was there – she helped me do everything. She sacrificed her comfort, her time, and everything else in her life just to make sure that I was okay. And in that moment I realized, that’s what she had been doing my entire life.

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The first time I went to Kenya, I found out a month before that I was going. I didn’t even ask my mom, I just told her (I know, smooth.) You know what she did? She made appointments that weekend for my shots & my passport. Since that time, every time I’ve gone to Kenya, she has come to the airport, picked me up from the airport, and made sure to call me about 20 times a day while I’m there.

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She has always fought for me and supported me in ways that I can’t even begin to imagine. She loves me in a way that no one ever will and no one ever can. She inspires me to be better, do better, and love better. She recently received her doctorate and words can’t explain how proud I am of her.

She has spent almost my entire life in school and to see her do this, to finish this huge accomplishment, it’s such a reminder of how thankful I am to have her as an example.

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If anyone believes the stereotype that women are “weak” or “too dainty.” I’d like to introduce you to my mother. Who raised two daughters while working full time, while getting her bachelor’s & masters degrees. And who now was working as a principle full time and got a doctorate in education. My mother who has never had anything handed to her but has fought for every moment of her life. My mother who was told many times that she “couldn’t do that” or “wouldn’t ever finish that” but in fact has done so much more and finished so much more than she probably ever thought possible.

Her favorite quote is “it’s never to late to be what you might have been” by George Elliot. She definitely embodies that in every sense of the word. There is nothing that she cannot do, I am sure of that. And because of her tenacity, her strength, and her courage, I know that there is nothing I cannot do either.

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Thank you for always loving Heather and I so fiercely, for always fighting for us, and for always supporting us. I am so thankful that you’re my mom. Happy Mother’s Day.

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xo,

Crissy

And grace, my fears relieved.

“Continue to share your heart with people even if it’s been broken.” – Amy Poehler

I have to be honest, apologetic even. I often forget who clicks on my facebook, checks my twitter, or watches my life on social media. I’m aware of who I interact with but I don’t always realize what everyone else sees.

Regardless of what is shown to us on social media – we only get a part of the story. And the part we get is often a dressed up, much prettier version of the actual story. So we’re never getting any real truth.

That’s why I don’t take social media so seriously. I use it as outlet for art sometimes, humor other times, and sometimes to stalk my favorite celebrities (you know you do it too). I very rarely take what other people post seriously because social media is easy. It’s easy to post a tweet in anger, a picture in distress, or a face book rant. Social media is quick, not always thought out, and very accessible.

This means that not everyone is ignorant or maybe intelligent (lol) as they seem on facebook, as happy as they as seem on instagram, or as depressed as they might be on twitter.

I’m saying all this because more people than I would like seem to care what’s going on in my life. And while I am honored to have your thoughts, very often it feels much more like gossip and much less like empathy. If you are the latter, forgive me. I’m posting this blog to be honest with the world today. As honest as I can be. Words are my thing. I’m a processor. It’s taken me months to realize that I needed to write this. So…bear with me.

First of all – these past 6 months have been an insane journey for me. In the most beautiful & heartbreaking way. I’ve been a Christian my entire life. I’ve gone up and down in what I believed and theology and I’ve questioned. But in October, I really started to question. I never questioned Jesus because for me, I trusted that part of Christianity. I knew Christ was real and I felt His compelling love in every moment of my life. But I began to struggle with the way that the church treats so many people.  The marginalized have always been near and dear to me. People who are forgotten – orphans, widows, people in poverty – those people are MY people. I love them. But then it went even further. The more the marginalized, the more my heart beat for them. In america this looks like women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community. I wanted to scoop every single person up and hug them like they’ve never been hugged before. I saw so many “Christians” treating these people with cruelty and I truly didn’t understand how people could love God but hate His creations?

It was a tough road…that lead to me questioning almost everything. It was foggy. It was confusing. And it was just..sad. Everything that I had always loved, trusted, and put my hope in…was really starting to feel like a ghost. Songs lost their meaning and I started to drift off during sermons. I wasn’t trying to find an excuse to walk away from Christianity, I wasn’t trying to find an excuse to “sin”, and I sure as heck wasn’t trying to find a “feel good faith.”

I was just trying to understand how loving people could be the cause of so much destruction. It was incredibly painful. I didn’t know what to do.

And in my questioning came other Christians. Some of them, my best friends – were truly the most loving & caring & supporting people I have ever known. My sister, Genna, Nicole, Morgan, & Heather – you guys deserve actual medals for the way that you loved me. I’m sure I was annoying but I have never felt so much grace, patience, and love, than I did through that time. 

But then there was the gossip & assumptions. Man that sucked. There is truly no other word. I wasn’t trying to walk away from Jesus EVER – I was trying to find Him. In every moment of that faith shift, I was just asking questions. But I was treated much worse.

Lately there’s been an article circulating about why “progressive/liberal Christianity” is twisting the gospel.

The gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ. That Christ himself came and died on the cross so that we might have ever lasting life. The gospel is the news of CHRIST’S LOVE for us.

If that’s true, then the liberals must be saying something different.

But THEY’RE NOT. Every “liberal” or progressive Christian I know would never doubt Christ’s love. They love Him & worship Him & they are trying to honor him like everyone else. They are not trying to give people a “feel good” Christianity. Most liberals I know are actually much more conservative than me, like WAYYYYYYY more traditional than I am. But they push for gender equality & gay people so they must be going straight to hell.

Do we understand the narrative that we’re telling here, Christians?

We are telling people that if they think differently than we do, that if they interpret parts of Scripture differently – that they are not worthy of respect, love, or grace.

Why would anyone who doesn’t believe in God…trust us? LOOK HOW WE TREAT OUR OWN PEOPLE. 

I included this part because I think people are doubting who I am because I started to research my faith and what I believed. I think people don’t think I’m worthy anymore. I think people don’t think I love Jesus anymore.

Quite the opposite actually. I worship my Savior more than before now. Yes, church is still scary and stressful for me but I’m working my way through those waters. I’m finding a safe place, a place that welcomes questions with grace and love. 

Yes, I questioned the God of the universe. I think God has questions under control. I researched, I read books, blogs, etc. I listened to sermons, podcasts, TEDtalks, everything. I talked to people on both sides of every argument. I soaked up everything I could to calm my fears. But you want to know what calmed my heart the most?

T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Sometimes you just need to take it old school. I still have questions and I might have those forever. That’s okay. Grace will lead me home.

I want you to know that I love Jesus. But I also understand that if you’re going through a faith shift or questioning, it’s okay if you don’t. It’s okay if you think this whole blog is stupid and that faith is stupid and why would anyone go to church.

I want you to know that I love Jesus. But I also understand if you don’t agree with me. If you are very conservative and you don’t think that my opinions matter. That’s okay too.

You know why? Because if I want people to have grace for me, I must have grace for them. 

The past 6 months were so scary for me. I was worried a lot. But I found myself in them too. I found my purpose, my truth, and my hope in those months. My story was written in those few months. 

I have so many friends from so many different walks of life now. Thanks to social media (vine shoutout), I have Jewish friends, athiest friends, Muslim friends, agnostic friends, conservative friends, liberal friends, LGBTQ friends, friends from literally all walks of life. And they all have beautiful stories to tell. I hope I never let what I believe get in the way of loving people different from me and I hope that you won’t either.

This is the longest blog I’ve ever posted. If you made it this far, good job. Haha. If you have any questions about me or my life, I’m a very open book – feel free to message me or meet me for coffee. Trust me when I say, that’s much better than assuming something on the internet.

Stalking is creepy & weird – let’s not do that anymore.

Loving is hard & beautiful – let’s do that a lot more.

This period taught me to love more fiercely than I ever have before. Regardless if you agree with me or not, I don’t care who you are…I love you and I’m going to keep telling you that until you believe it. 

Thanks for reading,

Crissy

Inches.

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I did a weight loss program where you got “5 pound stars” – so with every 5 pounds loss, you got a sticker to signify your weight loss. You got stickers and keychains for the big things too, you know 10% of weight lost, 25 pounds, etc. but it was very important to them that you celebrated every single part of your journey. Even the small ones.

I think it’s time we start doing that with our healing.

Often times our healing feels and looks like a marathon. You want time to pass but you also don’t understand how you will EVER be over this thing.

Each day is easier (sometimes) but goodness gracious, how many days will there be? And in those moments of looking back, we’ve barely inched. WE’VE BARELY HEALED.

What the heck, soul? Come on.

But I think it’s time we start celebrating every damn inch.

Because one day all those inches will add up to a whole freaking marathon. And look at you, YOU DID IT! You’ve moved a whole inch today. I AM SO PROUD OF YOU.

Every single moment of healing is monumental and important deserves to be celebrated. You deserve to be celebrated.

In that same weight loss program, they taught us that people who lose weight quickly are more likely to gain that weight back. People who lost slower understood the struggle of weight loss and therefore appreciated it so much more. They understood the true journey that had gotten to them to where they were.

Healing is brutal. But also beautiful. It’s messy. It’s scary. It’s just so many things. Healing means walking away from so much.

When you heal you have to walk away from the bad things that happened to you and the good that happened to you. You have all these memories and all these things tied up in this person or situation and you have to walk away from it all. But it’s so worth it.

The good memories will always be there but they won’t be the ties that bind you anymore.

When you heal you will finally understand freedom. You will finally be able to think about the good times without wanting that person back, you will finally be able to trust people again, and best of all – you will finally be able to love yourself again.

Healing is so wonderful. Scary as hell, ya’ll. But wonderful.

If you moved an inch or even a centimeter today, you deserve a medal. A gold one. That’s huge and beautiful and here’s a podium where we are all clapping for you.

Celebrate every damn inch.

Love,

Crissy