Trauma Defined


Trauma: a very difficult or unpleasant experience

that causes someone to have mental or

emotional problems usually for a long time


I love definitions; they take you deeper into a word. They bring words to life with animated meaning. But Merriam Webster has proven to be woefully inadequate in defining “trauma”. And I unwittingly discovered the deep affliction of trauma firsthand – the day my brother nearly died.

It was a brilliantly beautiful Friday morning. Clear blue skies framed Pikes Peak, and the sun was warming the day to a perfect Fall ambience. Our spirits were high as Tomy and I set out on our weekly bike ride together. As we pedaled away the miles we shared our hearts, caught up on family happenings, and we laughed. I remember the laughs most of all. We encouraged one another. We spoke of anticipations and fears. And we rode. Mile upon mile.

But then…

The road changed. A crevice appeared and speed kept my brother from avoiding it. One second he was leading me down the hill and the next he was falling. Violently falling. And that’s where my own words fail to paint a coherent picture of the horror that followed. The words fall fragmented into my memory.




So much blood.

Screaming for help.


Monstrous fear.

Desperate prayers.


I thought he was dead. Then I thought he would die in my arms. I was fearful he wouldn’t make it even as they triaged him in the E.R. I made phone calls. I prayed. Prayed. Prayed. Oh, how I prayed. And then I waited with my family for any news that would confirm or deny our greatest fears.

I wouldn’t fully understand until weeks later that during those first horrifying moments of the crash, trauma had infiltrated my heart, mind and body. My physiology was unabashedly altered. As trauma infected my every thought with guilt and fear and flashbacks, I was swept away with overwhelming panic attacks and unrelenting tears. My body shook with tremors, anxiety choked the air out of my lungs, headaches persisted. Sleep was arrested with sheer terror as nightmares replayed every minute of the crash in slow motion. It felt as if my life were stolen and held captive by a murderous foe; and I felt helpless to change it.

That first night as terror gripped my heart and mind, I prayed a very simple prayer. “Jesus, I know you were there. Can you show me where you were?” I repeated the words over and over until my gracious God revealed His omnipresence to me. He was there holding my brother as he fell. He was there by my side as I ran to him. He was there holding Tomy’s lifeless body, breathing life back into him. He was there guiding the woman who blocked traffic with her car. He was there with another woman as she dialed 911. He was there directing the paramedics as they assessed the scene. He was there helping the paramedics lift Tomy into the ambulance. He was there in the ambulance as the driver navigated her way to the hospital . He was there in the E.R. as we arrived. He was there with every doctor making every decision. He was there in the CT scan. He was there guiding the nurse’s hands as he stitched Tomy’s wounds. He was there with each family member sitting in the waiting room. He was there holding me. He was there.

As the days became weeks I found myself in counseling. Trauma yoga. Trauma counseling. And although I discovered a renewed intimacy with Jesus through prayer, the trauma drained me of energy, of joy, of life.

So what is trauma really like?

Trauma is a vicious disease that steals your thoughts and replaces them with loops of your terrifying moments; it steals your breath and replaces it with acrid fears; it steals your calm and replaces it with sheer panic; it steals your smile and replaces it with tears; it steals your sleep and replaces it with terror. It becomes difficult to delineate sleep from waking moments because you’re living a continuous nightmare. This is the life of trauma, which for me, morphed into posttraumatic stress. It is cruel and debilitating.

Healing has come…slow but sure. It’s come through counseling sessions with compassionate people trained to walk me through the painful memories. It’s coming through trauma yoga with tenderhearted women who speak truth over me. It’s come through a supportive, loving husband who holds me through my tears and panic and assures me of his constancy. It’s come through praying friends and encouraging notes. It’s come through heart-to-heart conversations with my brother who, although healing physically from four skull fractures, has no memory of the crash that almost took his life. It’s come through living broken and believing it’s okay to be broken. It’s come through believing there’s grace in the brokenness. It’s come through letting Jesus put me back together – different but beautiful.

Beautifully broken.

Beautifully renewed.

Ultimately, a big part of my healing came through facing my biggest fear – getting back on my bike. It took five months for me to find the courage to ride again. It would take another eight months for me to ride without tears…with the beginnings of renewed confidence. People saw me riding and thought I was better. What they didn’t see was the anxiety leading up to every ride, or the tears I tried to hide as I rode, or the flashbacks that always followed a ride. It took tremendous strength and courage every single time I got back on my bike. But we did it together…Tomy and I. We rode together and talked through the pain.

On September 30, 2017 – one year to the day of Tomy’s crash – we rode in the Tour of the Moon bike ride in Grand Junction. It’s a 41 mile ride through the Colorado National Monument. The day dawned with tremendous anxiety, but it ended with tremendous victory. It was a day in which we rode to celebrate courage and healing. It was a day we rode to celebrate life.

Posttraumatic stress is a journey, and it’s okay with me now. It is part of my journey, but it is not my destination. I will continue to struggle. I will continue to heal. I will continue to ride.

9/30/17 Tour the Moon…one year later.


9/30/17 At the finish line of Tour the Moon….one year later.

9/30/16 In the ER shortly after the crash.

9/30/16 Four skull fractures, a head wound with stitches and significant road rash.


Painful Grace


What makes a man, a total stranger, look another man in the eye and condemn him with venomous words? Why does grace for one incite rage in the other? How does a man come to believe his hate will do anything but destroy?


Grace is intended to be a life-saving balm to our decaying souls. For those who gulp from its overflowing waters, grace revives. But for those who refuse grace, for those who insist on earning life, grace is a fire that ignites their fury. Those who cannot accept grace freely rage against any who dare to embrace it. Grace, for some,  is too painful to fathom.


“I hope your soul burns in hell!”

Words meant to destroy grace…words meant to kill hope…words meant to suffocate joy. Words from a total stranger to a man who had been set free from his guilt and shame…a man who knew first-hand the tender effects of mercy…a man whose life was saved by grace. Surely, the demons cheered as the stranger’s vicious words coiled around the other man’s heart. And yet…I pray he felt the presence of a Man who hung on a cross in order to birth grace reach down and cover his heart with truth. A truth that says, “My grace is enough. You were saved by a gift of grace. You are made right by grace. My grace is abundant. My grace chose you, and My grace will sustain you.”


Javert, the police inspector in Le Miserable, was such a man. He could not tolerate the grace given to Jean Valjean, a prisoner who broke parole. Ultimately, Javert is faced with his own need of grace; but tragically, instead of allowing grace to transform his life, he let death end it. How could a man prefer death over grace? Sadly, this classic tale of grace received and grace refused is lived out every day. There are some men who simply cannot admit their own need of grace, and they desire to destroy any who have done so. They attempt to kill with their words. They attempt to kill with their judgements. Ironically they are, most often, the ones who die of their own poison.


“The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” ~ James 3:6


Why do we feel justified in speaking such vicious words? Why do we judge so harshly the sins of others and downplay our own filthy unrighteousness? Our words have the power to give life or to set a soul on fire. Your words have power; use them wisely.


“Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” ~ Ephesians 4:29

An Easter Confession


It was too loud she said. The music. Even in the back where she sat with her family, she claimed it was much too loud. Her heart was blinded to the message of life by her unmet musical preferences. Instead of the lyrical voices of victory, her ears heard noise. Her mind shut out the resurrection story that injects hope into our imperfections. Her heart was spurned, although not unmoved. Because she thought the music was too loud.  

And then her tongue caught fire. In a chance meeting mid-service, she had the (unfortunate) opportunity to lash out at the girl with the big voice full of grace who had led us in worship. Her words were meant to cut. Her stare meant to intimidate. She aimed and fired at the girl with a voice so powerful you could feel the Spirit hover over her. The girl with the voice turned and found her way back on stage with a grace this woman knew nothing of. She would lead again – empowered by the Spirit of the risen King – and not hold back the truth she was there to proclaim.

But that wasn’t enough for the jaded woman. At the end of our worship (did she miss hers?) she made a point to fill the ears of other musicians with her disdain. Her one and only complaint…it was too loud. They listened…with patience. They responded…with grace. She expected…what?

The man with the gift of teaching brought a powerful message – bringing the stories of old to life – and it ended with a question. How will you respond? For many, the response was humble worship. Deep gratitude. Life giving praise. For the woman unable to endure the music, it was a sharp tongue. A harsh complaint. A misplaced focus.

For me…the response was organic. I had a compulsion to let them know – the musicians – that the worship was phenomenal. Their voices, their instruments, their very words prepared my heart for a tenacious message of victory. I shared my adulation with each of the gifted musicians, but I wondered if the woman’s grievances kept them from hearing. Did the grievous voice of one have the power to drown out the praise of many?

An overwhelming sense of justice arose as a fire in my chest as I found my way out of the masses. I wanted to correct her. I wanted to contradict her. I wanted to negate her foolish words. I had become judge. Judge. And there it was. I allowed her “too loud voice” to spurn my own heart. I had aimed and fired in my own mind. I had become as she…too distracted by the “sound” to respond appropriately.

Jesus forgive me.

And that is why He came. To forgive the sinful. And the pious. And the incompetent judge. He came to transform and renew and inspire.

He is risen. He is risen indeed.


Attempted Exorcism at Chick-fil-A


I’m not even joking!

It was a beautiful day for lunch on the patio at Chick-fil-A. The kids and I stopped for a quick lunch between appointments, and we grabbed an outside table by some friends. We were having a fun time catching up when I noticed a large group of kids settling into tables on the other side of us. They were very polite, even asking to borrow an extra chair we weren’t using, and so I paid little attention to them. But within minutes a woman yelling caught my attention. I looked over to see her in the face of a young girl…somewhere around the age of 12-14. At first I thought it was a mom correcting her daughter for rude behavior, but it quickly became clear the woman was not her mom. She was a total stranger. And yet she was irate.

The whole parking lot could hear the woman accusing this girl of being a bully (the irony was almost tangible). As she shouted at the girl she said the girl was filled with demons because only demons are mean. And the girl was demon possessed because only demons act the way this girl did. (I wanted to point out how this woman’s behavior refuted that very point.) The girl never uttered a word, but she must have rolled her eyes because that’s when the woman got serious. “IN THE NAME OF JESUS I CAST YOU OUT DEMON! ONLY DEMONS ROLL THEIR EYES!” (All I could think is every teenager on the planet must be demon possessed then.)

I desperately wanted to intervene. I even stood at one point, but I looked at my two kids and then at the irate woman and thought better of it. The woman never became physical with the girl, but I was uncertain I could maintain the same self control if I were to come face-to-face with her exorcising self. As we left, I looked around for the young girl because I wanted to talk to her, but she was nowhere to be found. My heart was deeply grieved for this woman’s damaging words. I wanted a chance to speak grace and love to the young girl, but I never got it.

As I laid down with a raging headache this afternoon, my heart was so troubled I couldn’t find rest. The whole scene kept replaying itself. I was upset with myself for not intervening. I wondered why no one else had intervened. I prayed for that young girl. I prayed for that lost, mean woman. I prayed for my own daughter and hoped someone would intervene for her if I weren’t around. And I thought about what ‘d like to say that young girl. This is for her.

A Letter to a Young Girl

You didn’t deserve what that woman said to you today. Whether her accusations were true or not, you didn’t deserve to be humiliated that way. NO ONE has the right to speak to you that way. It doesn’t matter what you did or didn’t do, no one has the right to belittle you and call you names.

Even godly people do ungodly things, not because they are filled with demons but because they are human. All of us are capable of being cruel and selfish and mean. That doesn’t mean we have to cower and beg forgiveness from a harsh God who is waiting to punish us…as that woman suggested. Jesus forgave our sins the moment He died on the cross. All we have to do is accept His amazing gift.

I don’t know whether you were falsely accused or whether you did, in fact, bully another kid. But it doesn’t matter. We all make poor choices from time to time. Jesus doesn’t look at your sin and shake His head in disappointment. He looks at YOU, and He walks past your heap of sin to put His arms around you and say, “I love you, girl. Let’s sort this out together.”

I don’t know your name, but I know what the Creator calls you. He looks at you, young girl, and He says this…

“You are my precious child. My beloved. The apple of my eye. You are dearly loved and deeply wanted. You are my beautiful daughter. My chosen one. My favorite work of art.”

Sweet, young girl, know this…

That unkind woman was wrong about you. You are a gift. Don’t let her accusations trouble your tender young heart. Don’t let her words take root in your innocent young mind. Don’t let her behavior cast a shadow on your beliefs about Jesus. He loves you and would never berate you…even on your worst day…as that woman did.

I’m sorry that happened to you. I’m sorry I didn’t intervene. I’m sorry I didn’t find you and give you a hug and look into your hurt eyes and say, “She’s wrong.” I’m praying for you, young girl. I’m praying one day you will rise up with tender courage and stake your claim as a child of God. You are His…regardless of what anyone else tells you. YOU. ARE. HIS.

An 18 Month Battle



It started with a flooded basement. A swing set. An angry neighbor. A nasty email. Accusations. Threats.

It lasted for a year and a half. Eighteen months that we never saw coming.

And today…I woke with stress. I prayed in earnest. Friends reached out…covered us in prayers…lifted our spirits.

God brought an end to the battle. God delivered us. We prayed big, and He delivered bigger. We celebrated with tears and shouts of joy and praises.

And at the end of the day…our joy remains…our thankful hearts swell…our weary souls long for deep rest…our minds ponder…

What just happened? What did we just come through? Is it really over? Did God really do that? For us?

And this is what I realized…

  • Even when the floodwaters broke through, God commanded His angels to form a protective barrier around my boy.
  • When damages far exceeded our means to repair them, God brought forth thousands of dollars He had earmarked a decade earlier for this very purpose.
  • As our neighbor’s heart turned angry and bitter toward us, God granted us favor in the hearts of those in power.
  • Each time our enemy rose up against us, God told us to bow low so He could defend us.
  • God trained up a mighty warrior and gave him to us as a friend 15 years before he would be called to speak on our behalf.
  • Closer friendships with our other neighbors would be the fruit of one relationship gone bad.
  • Grace means not bad mouthing someone even when you’re justified in doing so.
  • Prayer swallows up pettiness every time.
  • When God fights for us, our enemy will step down.
  • Ultimately, God can remove the fight from our enemy’s hearts and cause them to live at peace with us.

The words are simple and ineloquent in the aftermath of battle, but the transformation of our battered hearts is profound. Our knees are tougher from months of kneeling in prayer. Our voices are quieter from countless nights of crying out to God. Our souls appear tougher but are actually softer from persevering through ongoing angst. And our trust, well, it’s bigger and louder and more resolved than it ever knew it could be.

Great Plans


I woke up feeling empty. Spent. Weary.

The hard of my life began to overwhelm. The voices in my head filled me with dread as I faced another day of mundane predictability. My heart longed for passion and something more. Something other. Other than…pain, broken relationships, distant friends, illness, fear of the future, a sense of failure.

Through a torrent of tears, I searched God’s love letter to me and came across these words…

“My soul is weary with sorrow, strengthen me according to your word.” (Psalm 119:28)

And the word that came to me…

Great plans I have for you, Cristina.

My soul inhaled a deep breath of relief. Peace began to seep in through the cracks of my brokenness. His sweet grace came to me and banished the anxiety of my heart. And I fell into Him. Into His rest.


Essential Oil Deodorant that WORKS!


I’ve heard from lots of friends who’ve tried homemade deodorants that ended up not working, so I was weary of investing in all the ingredients without a tried and true recipe. Thankfully, my friend Stephanie shared her recipe…and even gave me some of the deodorant she had made. I tried it for 6 weeks and decided I LOVE IT! So I want to share the recipe with those of you who have been looking for a good one.

It’s important to realize this is not an antiperspirant. You will still sweat, which is a good thing. But unlike most of the natural (and expensive) deodorants from the store, you will not stink! And I did find that I sweat less with this deodorant.

I purchased all of the ingredients on Amazon…except for the Arrowroot powder, which you can get at the grocery store…and the essential oils, which I get from DoTerra (I am a member and will share my wholesale price with anyone who is interested)…and the lime juice came from the grocery store.



.375 oz Kokum Butter

.375 oz Illipe Butter

.25 oz Mango Butter

.875 oz Shea Butter

1 oz Coconut Butter

1 oz beeswax pellets

1 Tbsp Baking Soda

2 Tbsp Arrowroot Powder

1/8 tsp lime juice

10 drops Lavender oil

10 drops Lemongrass oil

10 drops Frankincense oil

Measure out and melt all butters and beeswax over medium heat stirring constantly. When it is all liquid, turn off heat. Add oils and stir. Add baking soda and arrowroot powder and stir. Add lime juice and stir. Pour into deodorant containers and let cool.


You can substitute any oils you like for scent. I made some with Cedarwood for my husband.


I thought this would take a long time to make, but from start to finish – making two batches for 4 deodorant bottles – it took less than 20 minutes. If you have leftover that won’t fit into your containers, simply pour it into a glass jar. You can melt it down again when you make your next batch!