A note from the blog team: We reached out and invited our retreat attendees to share a piece of their stories as a way of exploring what it means live out our identities as sisters. Throughout the year, we look forward to sharing these sister-to-sister interviews in the hopes that you will recognize a bit of your story in theirs—and that you will be encouraged in the living out of your own authentic calling as a valued member of the Open Door Sisterhood.
In this third installment of the series, we are delighted to introduce to you Crystal Miller and Kristin Stockfisch, who met for the first time by phone for this interview. As they relayed to us their conversation, what shone out most brightly was their sincere celebration of each other. Their words offer encouragement not only to the other but also to the Sisterhood at large. (Funny how that works!)
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Kristin: Most of my writing days start the same. After rising before the sun, I clutch tea in a cooled car, having made plans with my husband to feed little mouths, and keep company with an unfamiliar—almost eerie—silence on the way to the coffee shop.
Crystal’s search for creative spaces looks much like mine. As moms of multiple littles, we must fight for the hours to express our hearts. We two attended the Open Door Sisterhood Retreat two years apart while we were both growing our families. It is a sweet season we find ourselves in. Void of glamour, sticky with grace.
I’ve not yet actually met Crystal, but we did speak by phone, and I can tell you one thing immediately: she is a fan of you. Whoever you are, whatever you’re doing, no matter how long she has known you. She believes in you, desires the best for you and will speak life effortlessly into you. That’s what she did for me. On the first phone call. Four minutes in.
There is much to be said about a woman who survived the Columbine shooting and chose to make tragedy the inroad to express hope to a dark and fearful world. These are things Crystal said that, weeks later, I am still mulling over and am encouraged:
- To deepen her prayer life, Crystal did something tangible. (What is better than tangible in the arena of prayer?) She cleared out a section of her walk-in closet to be her holy, sacred, prayer space. There, she can pray the real things and cry out to God.
- Crystal’s grandmother comes over every day to watch her two youngest children so Crystal can have unhurried, undistracted time with her daughter on the way to school. As a bonus, Crystal gets a quiet, uninterrupted car ride home, which she uses to worship, pray, be silent—whatever her soul needs.
- A hot shower at the end of the day brings Crystal more joy than almost anything else. I cannot tell you how much I get this.
- Crystal is writing a book to help children and educators know how to address school violence. She knows it won’t be a popular children’s book, but she knows it is necessary—what God has given her as a ministry. She is laying aside what may be popular for what God has given her to save others.
- Because of the trauma she’s experienced, Crystal has been fearful to stay home by herself. But recently she decided to take God at His word. She memorized chunks of Psalm 91 and bravely proclaimed His words over herself and her household. She faced a deep-rooted fear armed only with the sword of the Spirit. This is why I over-love her.
Crystal: Most days there are so many diapers to change, snacks to make, children’s books to read and toys to play with, that it is easy to forget about the world outside of the home. In many ways, that’s ok, it’s the season we are in. But at times it can feel isolating and lonely. For me, at times, I can feel a lack of purpose. That is why I am so grateful for a sisterhood: a place to be seen, heard, and loved. A place to be encouraged to dig in wherever God has us. A place that inspires deeper levels of intimacy with Jesus. A place of belonging, for we belong to one another.
The first time Kristin and I spoke on the phone we became fast friends, knit together not only by a common experience, but by our shared love of Jesus. We both desire to plunge quickly from the surface to the depths, to know and be known. I found myself instantly drawn to Kristin’s gentleness, as well as her wisdom and sincerity. She has an eloquence that clearly comes from time spent in the presence of her King. As she shared what the Lord was teaching her, I found myself challenged and inspired. I found myself wishing we lived closer to one another so we could sit face to face and spend time together. And often.
One of the things that captivates me about Kristin, and there are many, is her ability to ask the most creative and thought-provoking questions. She presented a series of questions, that had us discussing for a couple of hours, and we probably could have kept going for a few more. Her responses were like an arrow pointing right back to Jesus, and caused me to love Him and to love her even more!
- Kristin was inspired at the Open Door Retreat to start practicing the gift of soul-care. As a former athlete and overall high achiever, she has begun carving out time and space to sit at the feet of Jesus. There in stillness, as she comes like a child and listens for Him to speak, it has nothing to do with her effort or ability, and everything to do with how He shows up and speaks and then moves in her.
- Kristin is a student and a lover of God’s Word. She knows the importance of surrounding herself with those who are like-minded: people who take God at His Word. Not only does she surround herself with those who speak life into her, she also seeks to champion the efforts of others, specifically women. She fights against a scarcity mentality, recognizing that even if two women have the same message, the Lord has equipped each of them to share it uniquely, leaving an abundance of space for all to exercise their gifts. Therefore, she uses her own platform to elevate others.
- She has learned to find joy in the simple pleasures, such as a good piece of toast with Justin’s Maple Almond Butter. Such self-care is something we can all afford to do a little more of!
- While Kristin is a gifted writer and communicator, the thing she most wants to focus on is being a present mom to her girls. She aims to put her computer aside and pick up her phone less, knowing her time with her girls is short. By doing so, she seeks to enjoy the endeavors God has already given her, while giving attention to what is right in front of her.
- Kristin is learning to find freedom in physical limitations. After years of injuries as a college athlete, she has come to terms with her own weaknesses, so God can be her strength. Just another reason to be inspired by my sister.
Kristin Stockfisch lives for quiet mornings, hot tea, journals and beaches. She is better in her faith because of the time she spends with college students. Kristin (somehow) gets to do life in Santa Barbara, CA with her husband, Austin, and their two daughters, Ryen and Remi. She writes to herself all day on Evernote and more occasionally on her blog at KristinStockfisch.com.
Crystal Woodman Miller lives in Morrison, Colorado with her husband Pete and three children Lucca, Malachi and Josephine. Crystal survived the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999. She is the author of Marked for Life: Choosing Hope and Discovering Purpose After Earth-Shattering Tragedy (NavPress). She is an international speaker on issues of faith and hope in the midst of suffering. She is most passionate about teaching God’s Word and carrying life through the hope of the Gospel to a broken world. Find her online at crystalwoodmanmiller.com.