Wednesday, February 25, 2015

New Website!

Hello friends and readers,

I am happy to announce that I have a new blog! I have been working on it behind the scenes for a couple of months now, and my first post ( is up and running.

I have changed both the name and design, and will not be using this Blogspot site anymore. If you have subscribed to posts per email here, please re-enter your information on the new website to stay updated.

Looking forward to having you join me at ''Deep Cries Out'' -

- Kristyn

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Hi friends,

Sorry for the silence on this blog lately. Life has been busy with a 5-month old, and preparing for a trip to Canada! We can't wait to be home for Christmas (we leave tomorrow! :) )

But I haven't forgotten about writing. In fact, I've been doing some work behind the scenes. Writer Jeff Goins offers an online course called ''Tribe Writers'' that I have been participating in, and I have also been trying to keep up with his ''Intentional Blogging Challenge.'' This has involved some thinking about the Why behind my writing, and some re-structuring of the How.

On that note, there will be a surprise coming for you in the New Year! Stay tuned to learn more about it in the weeks to come.

Until then, I wish you and your families a very merry Christmas, a blessed time of reflection and celebration of the Gift of Christ's presence.

''Frohe Weihnachten!''

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Halloween Manifesto

I have a confession to make.  

I'm nervous about Halloween.

Not tonight, or even October 31 next year.

I'm nervous about having to answer my son's questions about Halloween a few years from now. 

Right now he's tiny and cute and innocent and literally knows nothing about the world. But as he grows up, he's going to be faced with a lot of things - good and bad. And it will be my responsibility, as his mom, to help shape his worldview and form his faith. To teach him which category this day fits into, or if it is maybe not as black and white as that.

Which is why I'm writing this post.

I have no idea where I'm going with it but I decided to start it anyways, mostly for my own good. Like a good piece of Jazz music, it will likely be left unresolved, but I decided it's the process that counts.

I have friends and family all over the spectrum - those who, every year on October 31st, carve pumpkins, dress up their kids and go door to door asking for candy; others who dim the lights, lock their doors, and remain silent; and still others who choose 'alternative celebrations.'

But this post isn't for them.

Nor is it for you. Well, perhaps you can get something out of it or contribute to the discussion...but this time it's for me. I have titled this ''A Halloween Manifesto'', which basically means a declaration, a formulation, of my own thoughts and beliefs. I'm writing as a Christian, a believer, a Jesus-follower. I can't say what other people should or should not do, nor can I judge unbelieving friends and neighbors (like I once heard, why should I expect people who do not know God to act like those who do?). I do, though, welcome your input and would love to hear your experiences and perspectives.

Okay, here it goes...

Here in Germany, Halloween isn't quite as big of a deal as it is in North America, but it's becoming more of a 'thing.' In our small village we don't get trick or treaters, but I met a girl today from our neighborhood who is planning on going to a Halloween party tonight and is dressing up as a zombie.

Personally, I have different Halloween memories from my childhood. There are pictures of me dressed up as a nurse, preparing to go trick or treating with other neighborhood kids. Another time I remember going to a church-hosted party with costumes, candy and games. (Actually it isn't so much the party that I remember, but the fact that on the way there, we ran out of gas and my dad had to hitch hike back to town to fill up a container while my brother and I waited in the car with my mom. Must have left more of an impression on me than the church event!)

And tonight, what will I be doing? Either going to bed early after I put my baby down to sleep, or maybe watching a movie with my hubby (and arguing over whether the popcorn should be sweet or salty =D)

Trying to find out the origins of Halloween is nearly impossible. There are those who claim that it is a pagan, dark celebration, other sources that say in olden times it was celebrated as the transition from summer/harvest to winter, and still others who assert that the roots are actually Christian, having something to do with ''All Saints Day'' on November 1st.

Personally, the origins aren't what make or break it for me, since the same questions and debates could and do surround Christmas and Easter. What matters to me isn't how it started, but how I respond to it NOW. 

I must admit, there are aspects of Halloween that are an obvious ''no-no'' for me since I cannot reconcile them with what I know of Jesus and His word:
  • Black and darkness - when Jesus said that He, and we as well, are the LIGHT of the world
  • Death and tombstones - when Jesus once and for all defeated death by His own sacrifice and offers abundant LIFE instead
  • Scariness and evil - when Jesus offers His Shalom PEACE and God is intrinsically GOOD
  • Witches and ghost - when the Bible clearly says to not have anything to do with witchcraft, and the only Ghost we should be filled with is the HOLY Ghost
  • Pranks and ''trick or treat'' - when the Bible teaches HONESTY and condemns fools
Now, I have nothing against dressing up. I myself dressed up as princess on my wedding day (that's at least how I felt =D )

And I don't think it's a problem to knock on your neighbor's door. (Maybe we should do that more often.)

Candy and chocolates tastes yummy.

Pumpkins are fun and cute.

So what's the big deal?

There's a passage in Ephesians 5 that has helped form my perspective on Halloween. It says:

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

Certain facets of Halloween are, I believe, ''fruitless'' (or even destructive) and dark. I don't think they are worth celebrating, and I want to live as a child of light.

But in this same chapter, a couple verses later, it states:

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

Understanding what the Lord's will is - that's what it comes down to, doesn't it? But I have to admit that's not so simple. 

Does ''making the most of every opportunity'' also mean making the most of Halloween? Of course! 

But the question is - HOW?

Should I decorate my porch and give out sweets wrapped in Bible verses to eager children as a way to share my faith?

Or should I intentionally avoid the whole thing, using the opportunity to explain to neighbors why I don't participate in such activities?

Or maybe a few years from now I will invite my son's friends to an alternative event - fun without the dark side, if you want to think of it that way.

I don't know.

Maybe this is one issue that, as the Apostle Paul wrote, is ''possible but not beneficial'' (1 Corinthians 10:23). 

Maybe there is no right or wrong.

But either way, it requires a decision. If I say yes, it shouldn't be because I simply go with the flow and do what everybody else is doing. And if I say no, it shouldn't be because I'm afraid of the ''dark'' side of it affecting me (greater is He who is in me!).

Today, many people are wishing one another a ''Happy Halloween.'' Do you find it a day worth  celebrating? Why or why not?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Open Wide!

We have all likely seen (or been) that parent who, in an attempt to get their fussy, distracted baby to eat something, tried sneakily coaxing their little one, ''Open up wide, the airplane's coming in for a landing!''

Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. Babies kinda have a mind of their own.

(cute kid!)

The thing is, for babies (and for all of us), it's difficult to receive anything when your mouth is closed.

I wish my 3-month old would catch onto that concept. Sometimes when he is hungry and frustrated, it is literally impossible to nurse him because although his mouth is open, he is crying too hard to suck. I feel bad, knowing that I have what he wants and what he needs is available to him, but he is too caught up in his own irritation to receive it.

Those of us who are parents know that there is a difference between a baby crying to communicate with us, and a cry of anger.

My child knows that I can satisfy his hunger, but he doesn't yet realize that I do it out of love and that he doesn't need to demand it from me. He gets impatient pretty quickly, which makes him unable to enjoy what he actually needs.

But can I really blame him? Don't I often do the same thing?

In Psalm 81:10 God extends an invitation: ''Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.'' He is the Giver of good gifts Who is ready to extend grace. Why do I feel like I need to force it from Him?

At times my mouth is wide open, but not to receive. Instead, my mouth is filled with complaining or self-pity. Instead of resting by my heavenly Father, trusting Him to provide me with what I need, I'm busy fighting for my ''rights'', thinking I somehow have to convince Him to give.

A baby who still nurses can be demanding. A weaned child, on the other hand, knows that they will receive what they need and is simply satisfied in being.

''But I have calmed and quieted myself,
    I am like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child I am content.''
Psalm 131:2 

Would you say you are ''weaned'' - content, trusting, patient, delighting in His presence? Or do you find yourself striving, pleading with angry cries for what you want? Remember, we are welcome to approach God with confidence, ''so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need'' (Hebrews 4:16). He wants to give.

Today, friend, let's ''open up wide'', knowing that our Father ''knows what we need before we ask him'' (Matthew 6:8).

Praying you experience His provision in the way you need it today!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

When Praise is a Sacrifice

Today, October 15th, is a day of remembrance.

Two days ago, Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving with friends, family and great food. But today is different.

It's a day I wouldn't have paid much attention to if it weren't for an event that happened in my life just over a year ago.

I never imagined having to count myself as 'one of them' - the group of women with soul connections on this day.

October 15th marks the 'Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day'

As mentioned on the official website, back in October 1988, American President Ronald Reagan proclaimed October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. He sensitively said, ''When a child loses a parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn't a word to describe them.''

And as one of those parents, I realize there also isn't a word to describe one's emotions when you lose a child.

Yes, I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy 3 months ago. But on August 6, 2013, I also buried a baby after suffering a miscarriage at 8 weeks.

Since then, 5 friends of mine have unfortunately had to do the same.

How does one reconcile thanksgiving and trial? Love and loss? Praise and pain?

Hebrews 13:15 talks about offering God a 'sacrifice of praise.' Oh, how you and I know that praise isn't always easy. How many days is it a decision we have to make instead of a natural response flowing from our hearts?

Tim Hughes' song, ''When the Tears Fall'', is a powerful summary of the struggles and questions I was left with after my miscarriage. But it's also an intense reminder of hope, an invitation to look up.

I've had questions without answers
I've known sorrow, I have known pain
But there's one thing that I cling to
You are faithful, Jesus You're true
When hope is lost
I call You Saviour
When pain surrounds
I call You Healer
When silence falls
You'll be the song within my heart

I'm not trying to minimize anyone's pain by saying that we should just 'get over' such experiences, that we're not allowed to ask questions, or that we need to suck it up and be 'spiritual'. No, mourning IS spiritual (a whole book of the Bible is all about lamenting!)

But for me it is significant that this day of loss and remembrance falls two days after Thanksgiving. Because I can still be thankful, and praise God even when it's hard.

Praise Him for the fact that I'm not alone, since He is familiar with suffering.
Praise Him for hope.
Praise Him for life.
Praise Him for Shalom - that all-encompassing, deep, healing, life-giving peace and comfort.

Maybe you haven't lost a child, but maybe praise is still a sacrifice for you.  Maybe it's sickness, disappointment, stress, doubt.

But may I encourage you to offer a praise sacrifice even in your suffering?

And friend, if you've lost a little one, let us remember together. Know that Jesus sees your tears and is ready to offer beauty for ashes.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

No Record of Wrongs

My son was wailing, and it was my fault.

He was over-tired, since I had passed him around to people eager to hold a sweet baby instead of getting him to sleep. I had pushed back his nursing time, then on top of that, I accidentally dropped something on his foot, which made him burst into painful tears all over again.

What an awful feeling as a mom.

But then, a few minutes later after some cuddles to calm him down, I laid him on his change table and apologized (even though he's only 2 months old). And suddenly he looked up at me with his bright blue eyes and gave me the BIGGEST smile ever, as if to reassure me, 'It's okay, mom. I love you anyways.'

My heart absolutely melted.  

Laird SalkeldL
Laird Salkeld

And in that moment the Lord reminded me of the true definition of love: being slow to anger, quick to forgive, and keeping no record of wrongs.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8, The Message
Another lesson learned from my son.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Gift that keeps on Giving

I learned an amusing new German phrase the other day. The 'Deutsch' love their complicated compound words, and this new expression I heard basically means, 'everything.'

When a product promises a lot or when you refer to someone as a 'jack of all trades', you call it an 'eierlegende-wollmilchsau.'

That's egg-laying-wool-milk-pig.

It's the perfect animal! Good for food, drink, clothing. 

In other words, impossible. 

The all-giving animal doesn't exist. And neither does the all-giving person. You need to know if you're made for milk or meat!

As a mom, it's easy to feel like I am in constant demand. Nursing, changing diapers, rocking to sleep, as well as cooking and cleaning and taking care of the hubby and, and, is rewarding but definitely tiring. Though everything might be expected of me, I cannot give everything. I need to set boundaries so that I have the strength (and sanity!) to give what I can. Sometimes that means letting my baby cry for 10 minutes so I can actually take a shower and get ready for the day. Sometimes it means saying no to an invitation and instead planning an evening off for my husband and I to spend together. Somtimes it means asking for help from others who can do what I can't.

There's a reason that chickens lay eggs and that cows produce milk. When you know who you are and what you're made for, it's easier to say no to things that distract you from your real calling. If you are secure in your identity, you're not tempted to be an 'eierlegende-wollmilchsau' for people, because you know that your worth isn't based on what you do.

As Christians, we often talk about being 'on fire' for Jesus. That's nice, but we have to be careful that we don't 'burn out' for Him! Saying no IS an option.

Sure, in the Bible Paul writes that he made himself a slave to everyone and became all things to all people (1 Corinthians 9), but by that he didn't mean that he gave to an extent where it was unhealthy. Instead, he simply wanted to reach people where they were at. He, like many of us, wore many hats. Paul understood what it was like to be in demand.

And yet this same Paul shares an amazing promise: ''God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work...You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion'' (2 Corinthians 9:8,11).

Blessed: ALL things ALL times
...having ALL you need

...for EVERY good work EVERY way
...on EVERY occasion

Sounds like a lot of grace to me!

We're not called to give everything, but we're called to give something. And God promises to enable us to do the giving.

We need to be able to say no, but also be confident in what we say yes to, knowing our Heavenly Father is able to equip us and help us do it with excellence. God's resources are rich, His mercies manifold, and His supply ceaseless.

Since being a Mama, I've learned something interesting about the way God designed us women. The more I nurse my baby, the more milk my body produces. Genius, isn't it? The more I give, the more I receive and am able to give. If I were to stop giving, the resources would dwindle.

I believe the spiritual principle of giving is the same. When we're generous, God enriches us. When we give (of our time, talents, resources), we also receive.

''A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.''
Proverbs 11:25

Giving of ourselves can be a hard thing to do. People require things from us physically, emotionally, mentally, financially, spiritually. But WE are the gift that can keep on giving, because we give out of overflow, not out of lack. We are blessed to be a blessing.

''Freely you have received; freely give.'' 
Matthew 10:8

Let's not try to do it all, but whether we're called to lay eggs or produce wool, let's do it with joy, giving freely.

 ''Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.''
Luke 6:38

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