so i’m late posting this…

have you ever looked back over the life you’ve lived so far and thought, “How in the heck did I get here?” even though i am only a ripe 22 years old, that very question is storming through my mind on a almost daily basis these days. and for good reason. i’ve lived an amount of life that truly can’t be compared to most 22 year olds. i think Anne said something along those lines after our girls night friday. whether it is my family drama, losing a dear friend to a hard battle with cancer, seeing many church leaders fall, somewhere along this whirlwind of life i became an adult with much life experience. i have been looking back on where i’ve been, where i am and where i hope to go from here. and i want to share that with you. so with that set up… a bio for you in which i hope is not cheesy but instead, informative for my friends near and dear and those who i’ve yet to meet.

i was born on November 19, 1984 in Charles City, Iowa. Charles City is a small town an hour or so from the Iowa/Minnesota border. it is apparently, “America’s Hometown” but i really don’t know if what’s true since i moved to Minnesota when i was only 5. our time as a family in Minnesota is one of those that almost seems unreal. almost like i didn’t really live that life. i say that because it was so “Leave it to Beaver” but could also resemble “Married with Children” when one would look back on it.

we had this really great house that was blue with dark blue shutters, a basketball hoop, a huge backyard, garden, a park across the street with a soccer field they used to flood for a skating rink, amazing neighbors and i actually went to a John F. Kennedy Elementary School. when i was about 7, i began ice skating and got to competition-skill-level but never pursued it further because honestly, i never liked it. when i think back, i could have gone on and been an Olympic Champion. if only i had more determination back then. haha.

Minnesota days had some dark times that very much shaped who i am today. (1) my mom had an incredible bout with clinical depression that spanned the ages of 8 to about 12 years old for me causing me to raise myself during some of my most formative years (2) i had a strict Catholic upbringing until about 8 when we stopped attending church completely (3) my dad began traveling heavily (4) i began to seek comfort in food (5) and it was in Minnesota that my pornagraphy addiction was first born with a very innocent curiosity.

crystal-and-her-teeter-totter.jpg gross-geese-stale-bread.jpg
my visit back to MN almost three summers ago.

On August 8, 1996 i moved to Shawnee, KS. And my life would never be the same. when i left Minnesota it was a refreshing 75 degrees outside. when i arrived in Shawnee… a steamy 105 degrees. i thought i was going to die. since i still remember that… you can tell that it was a very big deal to me. my first year of school here (6th Grade) was one full of awkwardness, hanging out with the “weird” kids, being one of the “weird kids”, wearing the same brown, suede shoes as one of my teachers (i remember that day incredibly well because everyone made sure i knew) and then wearing a lot of black. my mom was fearful i was going to be lesbain because i wore so much boy clothing. but alas, i am not which she knows far too well now. in late middle school and all of high school, i found my nitch with singing, music and journalism.

high school me (long hair)

my home-life became one of tension and frustration. my parents were constantly threatening divorce in front of me (still married now), one of brothers was never around and began living with a girl who became pregnant (she is now my sister-in-law, a commited Christian and mother of my two nephews), my other brother was battling drugs and alcohol (which is still a struggle for him) and my dad–continued traveling and being emotional unavailable (still). so… basically just me and mom, who at the time was still battling the after-effects of her depression. which is one of the reasons why we are so close now and is one of my spiritual rocks nowadays. i escaped what went on at home then through my battle with pornagraphy. it was a sin i could keep hidden that in high school excallated to internet and movies. incredibley accessible and convenient. i learned to lie like a champ to get out of being caught – even at school and church. yes, church.

On October 31, 1999 i began attending Westside Family Church with my mom on the grand opening day at the old Shawnee campus location. an independant baptist church. i went because my mom wanted to go. she grew up baptist but for this former Catholic girl… what a weird expeirence. and wow… this is where i should have written, “and my life would never be the same”. we loved the worship and like so many before and after us, we fell in love with Dave’s teaching-style. soon after attending Westside, my high school crush invited me to his youth group (at Westside of all places). he was in the band and i was “in love” so i went. the first night i went was on a message of salvation and baptism by the youth pastor at the time, Jim Heaton. crazy. never heard anything like that before – well – in a way that made any kind of sense and it was all very “interesting” i would say.

Super Summer Camp – Salina, KS

Summer 2000, with my mom’s ever-present pushing and “support” – i went to summer camp with the youth group. Andy Addis, our camp pastor, lead us in the prayer of salvation and it was then that i was genuinely saved. Jim baptized me and i’ve been a member of Westside ever since. it’s incredible what God can do with an innocent school-girl crush, huh? Still heavily involved in my secret porn addiction i carried that with me back home for at least a year after my salvation. but soon found accountability. And although it is still a struggle to this day, my 7 year battle with porn was broken. I didn’t admit that addiction with anyone else until I met Anne in 2000-something because we had a similar background.

in 2004, i cut 10 inches of my hair off

I walked through the termination of my beloved youth pastor in 2001 and began searching for a church that i thought i wanted. one of those “searches for the perfect church”. i quickly learned there is no such thing and heard God tell me to stick it out at Westside. that the church would need me and i’ve heard that same message from Him several times over. and i am living one of the reasons again today. When I graduated high school i went to community college for one-year but then decided to seek fulltime employment with the church because an opportunity came my way. i never would have thought that 3 years later i would be doing fulltime communications work for Westside or that i would be in the type of leadership role God’s blessed me with. i didn’t expect to walk through one of our youth pastors fall to sexual sin. i most definitely didn’t expect to walk through the fall of Dave and administrator due to the same type of thing just 2 years later. i am still battling that because it’s still fresh for me but… we’re moving forward.

WHO LOVED SUNDAY’S WORSHIP DAY? Didn’t you feel a release and renewal? I did.
I was in vocal team all day and my poor feet still hurt becaue of my evil shoes.

i am excited to see where God takes Westside and myself from here. there’s no way i can make any predictions because it has been quite evident in my life that nothing is as it seems and nothing is predictable. but everything does move in the way God would have it and there’s really no better way. the good, the bad and ugly has shaped me and challenged me into who i am today. a woman and as a Christian. i’m just along for the ride and i hope i have many more things to experience.

wow, this post took forever to write and hope it was somewhat enjoyable to read. it was one of those unexpected posts that kind of took on a mind of its own. very weird going “there” in my head and getting some of my life story out in words. thank you for letting me do so. even though i’ve experienced quite a bit of life and the “world” – i don’t want to believe that i’m not naive. because i am. and i think that is an endearing quality i hope i never lose. i want to remain trusting and fresh-faced, but the more experience i gain and the more i see, the harder that becomes.

where in your faith ARE YOU currently being challenged?


  1. Gina

    Hi Crystal,

    Thanks for sharing. I’m sure that was hard to write. That’s what I so love about you and your blog…your willingness to be so honest and open. You’ve got a good heart and love for the Lord. You are going to be just fine. 🙂

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