It Is Finished…

August of 2010 I was driving back after a very long week “vacation” that was actually a fun and tiring week of taking a bunch of “my” kids to the beach. On the way back the driver, who was also one of my co-workers and I were talking about school. He was in school, and I was gladly not. But, in the exact moment he asked if I would ever go back to school, I said something along the lines of no, but knew that God instantly was telling me yes, I was in fact going to go back.

Not long later someone else asked if I would ever consider going back to school. I said no, I had no reason to go back, I mean, after all, I had been working as a Director in my field for the last three years, what would a degree do to help that situation? But, in that moment I knew God told me I was going back.

Throughout the course of the next week or so God and I had the conversation several times, each time I said I had no need for school, and each time, He told me I was going to go back.

I cried.

I began looking into schools and programs, but firmly decided that it was likely to not work out because I was absolutely not going to take the GRE, and I had no interest in getting a masters degree in the same area I had an undergrad degree in… I needed something that sparked my interest if I was truly going to pull this off.

So, I searched… and searched.. and searched..

All the degrees looked the same, boring.

I finally decided I was probably going to settle on an MBA, because it seemed to fit with my communications degree.. But, I was bored at the idea of getting an MBA, my predominant thought over and over as I continued my search:

“everyone who has a communications degree gets an MBA, I don’t want to be like everyone else…”

Somehow, I stumbled upon a duel masters degree program that combined an MBA with various other degrees, and it did not require a GRE test to get into nor did it include a dissertation.

I felt like I was cheating the system, but I also felt like two masters degrees were better than one (no matter how you look at it). So, I chose the program that combined an MS in Leadership with the MBA because it looked the most interesting. Plus, it was the two degrees that would combine with my communications degree to be the most ambiguous education that offered the widest range of job opportunities.

And then, all the financials went through and two weeks later I was starting my first class.

A week after that, exactly what God told me would happen happened, and the week of my two-year anniversary at my workplace I found out that I was going to need a new job by the two-year anniversary of when I was verbally told by a former boss that I would be given two years. So, not only was I starting a two and a half year program, I was also looking for a new job.

Yet, somehow, through it all I was completely secure because I knew that God had informed me two years prior that this would happen, and it did, so I was not at all surprised.

I applied for more than 70 jobs in less than a month, and prayed that the Lord would give me exactly one option so that I would not freak out, but have clarity on where He wanted me to go. I got one call back, one interview, and one job offer. So, I packed everything I owned once again and moved to the DC area to live with four girls I did not know in a fabulous house.

The first 10 months in DC sucked. All I did every day was go to work, go to the gym, then sit on the couch for 5+ hours doing homework. If it were not for one of my fabulous roommates I would have ate cereal for 10 straight months for dinner… The only thing I did that changed this routine was going to church on Sundays. And, man did I love that church. It was the least involved in a church I had ever been, and it was the most in love with a church and its mission I had ever been. But, the worst part was that I had no time to be involved, and that weighed pretty heavy on my heart.

Thankfully God knew what He was doing, and around month 9 He sent me a friend from where I used to live. And, while we were not super close, but merely in the same group of friends, she quickly became one of my very best friends. I would never have thought before that we would get so close, but in literally a couple short months she had secured herself as not only a trustworthy friend, but someone who I could depend on for being challenged, gaining perspective, laughter, silence, adventure, inside jokes, and someone who figured out my heart and shared it. Pretty quickly our Sunday’s consisted of church, food, movies, reading, and me doing homework.

Always homework.

After about a year in a half I realized that I actually loved DC. I loved my life, my friends, the atmosphere fit me. Except I had to get a new job, so I began looking and praying a lot for God to open doors and make it exactly clear… And, that He would not ask me to leave DC.

Three months later He opened a door wide open, and I asked Him to close it.

We spent 12 straight hours talking.. Ok, really I spent 8 hours talking.. or rather yelling, then he spent the next four hours overcoming my fear and anxiety and just gave me peace. It was singlehandedly the most intense 12 hours of my life.

And, throughout the process of all of it.. there was always more homework and another class to make it through… It was so overwhelming that I stopped counting classes and weeks in the classes, and just focused on getting things done.

I injured myself pretty badly just before I moved, which created an interesting stress on me because I absolutely had to ask those around to help me. I felt like God was telling me, “I will move you to Michigan.” So, I packed very carefully so I would not injure myself more, and I did more homework, and I cried, almost every day for a month…

Then I moved, started a new life somewhat near where I had grown up. I began working, and working, and working… And then, I would go home and do homework, and more homework, and more homework… Then for kicks and giggles I did consulting work on the side, as if I was not busy enough. And, somewhere in there I got a Great Dane puppy, and he took up pretty much the rest of my time. (How does someone with a family go back to school?!)

That was my life for seven months.

For an extrovert like myself, it was an incredibly difficult growing experience. I have no actual idea how I pulled it off, and I have no idea how I did not meltdown more than I did. I have never experienced so much alone time, and surprisingly never reached depression due to it… But, I also have never been in a position where I have spent so much of my time praying. Pretty much if I was not actively using my brain capacity for something, I was praying over something else.

All I kept thinking was, I just have to make it through these last couple classes and I will be golden. I worked and did homework like a crazy person with the perspective that I could endure it long enough to get through the last of the classes and everything else would all become easier and just sort of fall into place. I would have time for a social life, and I would be able to make a new fabulous group of friends, and I would soon have no more homework due.

The key trait that allows me to pull so much of the stuff I do off is, I work hard, and I work long in order to accomplish the task. Working long and working hard was the really the only reason I made it through the last two and a half years… That, and a lot of praying, a lot of crying, and a lot of support from family and friends.

So, today, I posted my last discussion board response, after having turned in my last paper yesterday, and I am done.

It is finished.

I am fairly uncertain and a little nervous about how God is going to use the education, traits, skills, and prayer time that have taken place over the last few years for the next few…

Should prove to be a crazy adventure for sure.

Choosing Vulnerable…

Back in February, I was talking with one of the most amazing people I have ever met, and we were somewhere in the middle of a late night conversation talking about relationships. I was talking through my thought process on a few things, some of my fears, insecurities, and she was listening and giving me the perfect insights into my world.

One of the things she mentioned was that she wanted to challenge me to be vulnerable in a few of the situations. Appropriately so, but instead of trying yet again to control anything, just choose to show all sides of who I am, and not just the areas that are comfortable or that I am secure in.

To say I disliked the thought would be an understatement, and to say the concept did not scare me is laughable. But, I bounced the idea off of a few of my other best friends, and I realized after quite a bit of laughter and straightforward comments, that it was probably a very good idea for me, and my dislike of it was probably an indication of just how good for me it would be.

So, I did… And continue to choose to be vulnerable.

Appropriately so for the person, situation, and relationship I have with whoever I am talking to. And, what I have discovered is a weird mix of fear and security.

I have also found myself in an increasingly frequent number of large group situations where I clearly feel the choice in front of me to be vulnerable, and possibly insecure or choose to shut off a portion of my emotions and convey confidence and my ability to handle what is going on.

Each time I have chosen to be vulnerable.

Each time my heart has freaked out.

I have even allowed myself to cry when my heart was so overwhelmed with how I was feeling… Each time it had to do with Jesus or someone doing an extreme act of kindness. If you know me, you know how huge that simple concept is.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have actively chosen to be vulnerable and allow various people to see my heart. There have certainly been instances where the outcome was not at all what I would have hoped for, and sometimes it was just incredibly painful… Yet, in other instances, I walked away feeling completely safe, secure, and like I was taken care of.

Over the last month or so, I have left conversations with the person I was talking to, and I felt like they saw me. As though they truly saw my heart and cared about how it was doing, and what God was doing in it. I walked away feeling as though they could be trusted, that they would call out things in me I needed to hear, and like I was secure in my vulnerability with them. What a special gift to feel that way, to feel protected and safe even though I had chosen to bare my heart’s contents.

This week, I spoke to a group of senior high teens, and I had prepared an entire message, and while I gave about half of it… I skipped huge portions that I had planned on sharing, and I sat and focused on another part that I had planned on merely skimming through. I felt like God just parked me halfway through and made me sit there and describe what He has done in my life in this one point, and how dramatically it has altered me and who I am.  Thankfully, I feel as though the teens connected, mostly because they did not move, stir, talk, shift or really do anything but make direct eye contact with me the entire 20 minutes I spoke.. I have no idea what connected them to what I was saying, but what I do know is when I was done my heart was totally wrecked and I needed a moment (or few) to compose myself. I have no idea how I made it through without crying because my heart literally hurt, and I was completely overwhelmed with how much God has changed me, and how humbled I am that He moves in my heart so much…

But, mostly I am thankful that I know what it feels like when God is moving my heart. It is a distinct feeling that I only get when He is working in me, it is incredibly painful, but I so love those moments when I feel His presence descend on my heart.

I also was asked (and maybe somewhat coerced) into singing this week.. Which, would be the first time I have sung in front of others in more than a decade. To say I was nervous and insecure would be a gross understatement. Thankfully, the guy who asked me to help him lead worship was very encouraging, and helped relieve some of my nervousness by making fun of the fact that I was so obviously uncomfortable.. Something that he was fairly certain he had never seen from me before… While I am not not at all secure in my singing ability, what I do know is that I worshipped, and I did not mess up horribly at any point.

So, it has been quite the last month or so.. A little on the scary side, and a lot on the uncertainty in being vulnerable side, but entirely worth the risk and the growth that is taking place… It is just not easy.

“Sustain me according to Your word, that I may live;
And do not let me be ashamed of my hope.”

– Psalm 119:116

Boston Thoughts…

Monday was a normal day, stresses, sleep depravity, work, meetings, e-mails.. totally normal… Or at least I thought it was.

If I am being totally honest, I wasn’t even aware that the Boston Marathon was going on that morning. I knew it was soon-ish, but it was not at all on my radar for the day.

And then, randomly in the car I heard a radio DJ mention keeping the listeners posted on the bombings taking place in the Boston Marathon. I did not catch any more of the story, but when I arrived to my destination, and found myself with a few minutes to kill, and I was able to look up the full story on my phone.

As far as I knew/know I did not know anyone running in the marathon this year, although I do know people who have run it in the past, and I also know people who live in Boston…

My first two thoughts while reading the story went in order, and something like this:

No! This is terrible!

How many of these people don’t know Jesus?!

And, I pretty much stayed parked right there, cycling back and forth between those two thoughts.

That tends to be where most terrible or heartbreaking things that happen send my mind and thoughts…

No! This is terrible!

How many of these people don’t know Jesus?!

My heart is heavy thinking about the people who caused this to happen, no matter who they are or what reasons they made up, and the fact that they don’t know Jesus, their hearts are full of hate, lies, and they are completely deceived by the Evil One.

Then, my heart hurts for the people who are the victims of this, and then my heart hurts even more for their families. Such a senseless act causes so much pain and fear.

How do you make sense of this type of thing when you don’t know Jesus? Simply trying to rationalize by saying that there is evil in the world just doesn’t make the pain go away; it doesn’t give purpose, it doesn’t help forgive, it doesn’t help heal, and it certainly doesn’t help you move on.. Pain and fear, that is all there is to hold onto.

This world is hard enough with knowing Jesus, but not having him at all in these types of moments?.. I honestly cannot fathom how that feels, especially in moment or days like today. So. Awful.

Then, to top off the icing of pain and hurting in my heart, I am constantly reminded that my generation hates or has been immensely wounded by the church, and most of my generation is currently not engaged in a relationship with Christ. Ugh, that weighs so heavily on my heart it is ridiculous. So many people, so many of my peers don’t know Christ and are going to hell, and daily I deal with or get distracted by stupid things.

Pain. That is what my heart experiences as I sit and allow myself to walk through these thoughts and feelings.

I know that oftentimes, I can come across as abrasive, forward, passionate, dominate, or as though my drive to accomplish tasks are more important than anything else. But, let me assure you, especially now that my job creates even more space in my life for those that don’t know Christ, my heart breaks regularly over the lost. More days than I’d like to admit, I use the distraction of tasks to help keep my heart from making me cry over the people I know (or in some cases don’t know at all) who don’t understand who Christ is.

You have no idea how deeply it impacts my heart.

You have no idea how much days like Monday solidify my determination to do my job and do it well.

I do not care who or why this awful thing in Boston happened, what I care about is that someone somewhere was deceived enough by the Evil One to carry it out, and that according to the Bible, these types of things are going to get worse. Ugh, my heart bleeds over the thought of more people dying without knowing Jesus is their savior.

Touching My Heart…

IMG_2193In so many ways God is more real and intimately connected into every aspect of my life than He has ever been before. Partially I think that is due to the fact that because I live alone, I spend most of my time at home thinking and mulling things over in a continuous state of talking to my Savior. But, in other ways, I feel as though I have entirely allowed life to distract me from truly connecting and spending the time I need to be just silent and listen to my Lord. It is a bit weird to say it that way considering the previous sentence, however, that is the only way I can think to explain it. Life has gotten in the way of me spending quality time with my Lord.

Tonight, for the first time in a long time, my heart was just compelled to Christ. It was somewhat surprisingly sparked by changing my computer background to that of the ocean. Water of any kind has a way of compelling my heart to my Lord, unlike anything else in this world. For whatever reason, tonight the picture just drew in my heart instantaneously, and I am now sitting with an incredibly distinct and familiar feeling in my heart that I both love and hate at the same time. You see, the feeling is similar to bleeding, I can feel where exactly in my chest the ache originates from, but it also radiates out and then bleeds into my stomach. I love this feeling because I only experience it when God is doing business with my heart, but I hate it too because it actually feels like my heart is bleeding (not my physical heart at all just to be clear).

This feeling of having a bleeding heart is one I became familiar with and eventually recognized as God working in my heart in December 2008, just before I headed back to the airport to fly back to America from Ghana. The feeling lasted for an entire month, and was incredibly spiritually painful and awesome all at the same time. While I would never ever ask to return to it, nor repeat the pain I felt, I gladly sit here tonight in the familiar pain of God touching my heart.

In 2008 it was compassion that He exploded into my life, I desired God unlike I had ever before, and last time, I needed to be still and know that God was God…

I have no idea what God is going to do this time, but I have a feeling some of the same feelings are going to come back.

I am a little hoping it will not be as painful as last time, but more than that, I am hoping He moves my heart.. wherever and for whatever reason He chooses.

But, tonight my heart just hurts. I have no words and no reason why, it just bleeds and makes me cry.

Rude Awakening…

IMG_1409For basically as long as I can remember I have always been the “I can do it” kinda girl. So much so that until drivers training in high school, everything my older brother did, I also did… I read at 4, learned cursive at 6, etc.. His ability to drive before me was my first rude awakening that I could not do anything I set my mind to.

At various points throughout college, I would reach these rude awakening moments.. Often times, they were followed by either a phone call home to quit being an adult, or more often a long roller blading session with my best friend late at night.

But, every time, I came around to realizing that while I can do a lot of things, I actually cannot do everything that I want. Which, goes entirely against my well-known mantra, “I’m Krista Back, I do what I want.” Yet each time, it is as though this is a new revelation for me… possibly because I grow and become stronger, learn more, and fall into a false sense of belief and pattern that I can indeed do it on my own.

It actually has been years though since I have encountered something that I literally could not do or handle.. I have not truly reached my end in a long time… As in, years.

As with most things in life though, there are positives and negatives to my personality and perspective.

On one side, there are situations where confidence and my ability to fly by the seat of my pants is the difference between succeeding and pulling something off or complete failure. However, on the other hand, if I am being totally honest, it also is what often prevents me from realizing my limitations at a healthy point along the way.. Or from leaning on the support of others.

In the last few weeks, I have had one of these rude awakenings again. As much as I hate to admit it, I literally cannot pull off or handle what I am trying to do without support. Both emotional support, prayer support, and simple friend support. I have been scolded by many friends lately (and rightly so), for my lack of reaching out… Dang.

Sharing things going on and allowing others to be there for me is not really my favorite because I secretly feel like I am burdening those I share with… And, I hate feeling like I am a burden, I want to carry my own weight… Even though I realize that this type of perspective is actually an incredibly unhealthy view of the whole situation. Not to mention that fact is, I never feel like I am being burdened when someone else shares with me… So I’m not entirely sure why I feel like I am a burden.

If I am calling a spade a spade, being vulnerable is actually something I am not the biggest fan of.. at all really. It takes a lot of conscious decision-making for me to be vulnerable and stay there. Thankfully, there are so many people in my life who know how to make me feel safe enough that being vulnerable and open comes naturally. I thank God for them often.

I have been thinking about it lately, and I actually have no idea why acting like an island unto my own is my natural way of approaching difficult tasks… I mean, I pray a lot throughout everything, but what is the point in asking for help from God when I am unwilling to use the community and support network he has placed around me? Talk about frustrating from my perspective and His I am sure! Plus, let’s be honest here, I could use all the prayer support I can get, so not sharing is preventing me from getting specific prayer coverage from those who love and care about me and what God is doing through or in me.

Ironically, at church we are talking about Community, and how important it is to our spiritual health and the things that can be accomplished with a fully functioning community… Awesome, but not easy for me.

So, my lovely little rude awakening this week is how much I need to stop trying to do or handle things by the amount of work I put in or sheer force.. Not an easy road for me for some odd reason.



This last weekend I took Easter off (yes, I work at a church and decided I needed a break and took vacation) and headed down to Tennessee and the Smokey Mountains to seclude myself in a cabin with several of my best friends. We spent our days hiking trails, crossing rivers, exploring waterfalls, and eating. While our adventures caused all of us to be a little sore and tired by the end of the weekend, it never stops amazing me how much being out in nature and hearing water rushing touches and refreshes my soul.

One of my favorite things about this weekend is that it was the continuation of the annual vacation with two of my favorite people in the whole world, and included new people in our tradition this year!… I can easily say I cherish this vacation every year. There is just something about being purposeful year after year about carving out time to be around people who know you, know your heart, and love you despite the shortcomings.


There were several times throughout this trip where I felt as though I could literally feel the stress peeling off. Even the stressful points of the weekend (thank you stupid amounts of traffic adding an hour in a half to the trip down) were not nearly as bad because I knew I didn’t have to react or respond any particular way. Nothing was expected of me except to just be me.


Even down to the simplest of things, such as crossing a river. Over and over again we crossed rivers.. Some of the rivers required us to jump, others to balance on logs, and then a few meant getting from rock to rock. Many times I mentally processed through, “I think I can make this alone…” or “I’m not sure I’ll make it across dry, but I have to try..” and then, the guys would somehow always be there extending their hand to help us across. It was such an interesting thing to me that in the midst of figuring out if I could make the trek across dry, deciding if I needed the hand, and then realizing I appreciated knowing that I didn’t have to prove anything and I had the help there to make sure I got across dry.

I did not have to be capable of crossing on my own.


Instead, I could accept the help and know it didn’t make me anything other than exactly who I am.

As simple as it sounds, I realized this weekend that so many times I am naturally focused on accomplishing things, which means, I have to be seen as capable. In order to be seen as able, I often intentionally portray confidence, certainty, and assuredness (is that even a word?). I mean, do not get me wrong, most of the time those are accurate portrayals of how I feel, but in many situations I amp them up for the benefit of those around me because they need to feed off of the confidence of someone else.

What a dramatically different feeling to do something as simple as accept a hand over and over, not because I was seen as incapable of getting across the rivers, but because they knew I would simply feel better with help. The entire thing was entirely simple. But, even more impactful was the fact that I knew they did not view me or going out of their way to help as annoying, frustrating or ridiculous.

I was safe.

In every sense of the word I was safe. The entire weekend I was safe. I could talk, remain silent, laugh, joke, ask questions, walk, sit, sleep, explore, and in all moments I was safe. I did not have to guard emotions or actions, I did not have to decide if it was a good idea to say something; I was simply safe in the midst of some of my best friends. What a profoundly simple reboot… Mixed all of that with the outdoors, being active, and the sound of water, it was pretty much the most perfect thing ever at exactly the right time.

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