Yo Soy Kristy

Reflections On Faith From Liminal Spaces


Non-Being: Latina Reflections from Urbana15

Posted on January 17, 2016

As we enter into MLK weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about Black Lives Matter and the current civil disobedience taking place to fight for the dignity and humanity of Black people today. At Urbana15, Michelle Higgins, an activist in BLM, was given a platform to speak prophetically to the 16,000 people present, challenging them to enter in to the fight alongside our Black brothers and sisters made in the image of God. It was powerful and a significant moment in the history of InterVarsity and Urbana.

But I couldn’t help but feel like I wasn’t quite sure where I belonged in that night. For my Black colleagues and friends, it seemed to be a night of incredible healing and affirmation. While I was grateful for people I cared about, I also knew it wasn’t my story being affirmed. So as a friend of that community, I rejoiced and wept on their behalf as we are called to do as one household of faith.

At the same time, much of the talk given by Michelle Higgins was often focused on the White majority culture, inviting the White community to lay down their privilege and give up the need to “be in control”. I am a Christian and I do have privilege in many ways, but I’m not White. In fact, the Latino experience in the U.S probably more closely resembles that of the Black community in the area of police brutality. Michelle Alexander, in her book The New Jim Crow also makes mention of Latinos in her statistics about mass incarceration and discrimination. So while it was a strong charge that Michelle Higgins made that night, it didn’t necessarily feel like my charge. My community’s story is different than other Evangelicals who might need to stop hiding their head in the sand.

The experience overall reminded me of the stories my parents would tell of what segregation and the Civil Rights era felt like for them as Mexican Americans. My dad once told me he never quite knew which bus he was supposed to get on or what door he was supposed to walk through during that time in history. His complexion was dark, so he wasn’t seen as white. But he wasn’t seen as black either. He just simply wasn’t seen.

Latino theologian and priest Father Virgilio Elizondo wrote of his own story in his book The Future Is Mestizo. He wrote about the days of segregation and the way that shaped him and his community’s identity: “I remember well the problems we experienced just trying to go to the toilet. If we went into the one marked ‘colored’ we were chased out…because we were not technically Black. Yet, we were often chased out from the ones marked ‘White’ because we had dark skin. So we didn’t even have toilets to which we could go. Our being was actually our non-being”. (p. 18)

That night at Urbana, as I listened to Michelle Higgins speak, I resonated with her words about police brutality and discrimination. Because the Latino community experiences many of these same things, it wasn’t a huge leap to believe the experience of the Black community. But Michelle wasn’t talking about the Latino community that night. On the other side of this were the reactions of many White evangelicals after her talk, which varied. Some felt offended and threatened by her language of White supremacy being the “side piece” of the Evangelical church. I, though, just felt like an outsider looking in.

Ultimately, I am and have been committed to listening to my Black friends and collegues in order to understand and carry with them the burdens and pain they feel. I come alongside BLM not because of InterVarsity or any other ministry, but because I believe my Black friends and know that I have to do something about it too. I also see my Latino mentors and other leaders of color in the Christian community doing the same thing, bringing what voice and privilege they have to the dialogue and public conversation. I know this is the right thing to do.

But, if I’m honest, at the end of the day I do still wonder where we belong in this narrative unfolding right now. What will history record about the Latino voice in this new Civil Rights fight? Will we be non-beings? Are we non-beings now?

photo courtesy: National Archives


United Lament

Posted on October 28, 2015

Another video showed up in my news feed yesterday. Another black person. Another white police officer. Another argument between believers yelling over one other in this odd social media world.

“All lives matter!” a white man yells. Don’t you care about millions of unborn babies murdered legally every year? Don’t you care about believers around the world being persecuted? Black men and women aren’t unique. Why be so exclusive?

“Black lives matter!” a black woman yells back. Don’t you get it? Don’t you realize how horrible you sound denying this? No one is putting one vulnerable group above another. Do our collective lives matter as the black community? It does not feel like it. Not with videos like this. Not with Eric Garner. Not with Corey Jones.

And so now I wonder…at 3 am in the morning I wonder… God where are you in the midst of this? We look like crazy people to the world around us and not in the “salt and light” kind of way. We look anxious. We look scared. We look indignant. We look stupid.

Honestly, do we really think we look like you?

And I wonder…In the silence of my home with my sweet girls asleep next to me I wonder…Lord, do we have the ability to see your image in humanity as a whole? As progressives. As conservatives. As Syrian refugees. As migrant workers. As citizens. As gun-owners. As terribly poor. As undoubtedly rich. As people of color. As white middle-class Americans.

As for me, I am unashamedly a follower of Jesus. I am a granddaughter of immigrants. My grandfather initially came to the U.S. as an undocumented farm worker. I hate guns, having had one pointed at me. I have broken bread with some of the most loving Muslim men and women who have treated me like family. I have friends who identify as gay. All of these influence me as I engage with and talk about the controversial issues of today.

I am also a woman forever changed by the grace of God, moved to the core for the brokenness in our world. I too long for peace. In Israel and in Palestine. In my own Christian community. For my neighbors in the broadest sense.

So can we be in this together, those of us in the household of faith? Can we be in this around the greatest of commandments? Jesus made it simple for us. The world will know us by our love. Can we give it unconditionally and indiscriminately? Can we lavish it on our dearest relationships, our vilest enemy, and everyone in between?

Even in writing this, I feel so very foolish. But in my foolishness, I will still beg you. Can we please stop? Let’s lament together for the dead little bodies washed up on shores. For the cruel dismembering of vulnerable babies. For the mass incarceration of black men. For issues of police brutality. For the rampant violence in our schools and campuses. For the burned down church buildings across the South. For our persecuted family in the world. Can we be a united voice against all dehumanization and atrocity?

Oh Father may we be one as the trinity teaches us. Let us learn to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you. The world needs this. We need this.


Room: A Las Posadas Story

Posted on December 24, 2014

The smell of incense caught my attention, reminding me of all the Catholic masses I had attended as a girl. The fragrance invited me to enter in to this Posada as a sacred space as we moved together through the street, reliving the journey of Mary and Joseph in the middle of downtown LA.

I was struck by the chorus of the song we were singing…”Caminemos a Belén. Caminemos con Maria”. We walk to Bethlehem. We walk with Mary. What a sense of rejection this young woman must have experienced, seeking shelter as a vulnerable, pregnant wife. I felt compelled to stay in that moment, pouring my own hurts and rejections of the year into the story of Christmas.

It was a moment that made me realize that the Christmas story is really a narrative of varied emotions. There is rejection, pain, angelic joy, worship, and even grief mixed in to the first few chapters of Matthew and Luke. In the walk around Olvera street re-enacting the journey of the poor couple, pregnant with the divine, I stepped into this Christmas season offering my own journey as a way to connect more deeply with the story that has shaped all my stories since. While I was taught as a child that Christmas was about a celebration of the birth of Jesus, the more life I’ve lived, the more I’ve wondered what people do with all the brokenness they feel during the holiday. How do they handle disappointment and loss? Pain and heartache? Where do these fit in the season of Christmas?

But there as I walked the streets of Olvera, I remembered that the Christmas story is big enough and deep enough to hold all our journey. Jesus, King of the Jews, was born in a stable — on the margins of society as an infant and as light to a dark and hostile world.

There were angels proclaiming his incredible birth in the skies to unimportant shepherds. There were magi from afar seeking to find him to worship him. There was an anxious king who with murder and fear in his voice, ordered the death of innocent children. They were to become our first martyrs.

So whatever we bring this season to Christmas, I find comfort in knowing the story of Jesus’ birth has room for all of it. For the mothers whose cries rise up this season as “Rachel weeping for her children”, the story of Jesus runs deep enough to carry you. For those who live on the outskirts of their worlds, rejected and unseen, this beautiful story was first revealed to you.

So whatever we bring this season to Christmas, I find comfort in knowing the story of Jesus’ birth has room for all of it.

There is immense joy in the narrative of Jesus’ birth — the inauguration of the kingdom coming. But until the world is made right and all that is broken is made new, I’m so grateful that Jesus can hold within his own birth story all our own sadness and longing we experience this side of that coming Kingdom.

May we await the Savior holding together these truths.

girl writing

Sweet Girl

Posted on March 8, 2014

I wish I could tell you, sweet girl, just how worthwhile I think you are. All those scribbled stories hidden away in piles of shoe boxes in your closet- I know every word, every expression, every poem written in them. And I think they’re wonderful. You are gifted.

I wish I could tell you, sweet girl, how smart I think you are. I wish I could crawl up next to you in your bed as you escape into your books and announce to you, “That other world you’re looking for really does exist- the place where you are seen, known, and oh so deeply loved. You really are valuable.”

Yes, I wish I could tell you, sweet girl, all the ways I see that you’ve been fashioned for giving something sacred to the world through your words. Your own art.

So let me braid your full hair while you jump into your fictions of fairy tales and far off places. Let’s read your favorite book together and let me be the one to tell you that I think you are just as brave as the characters you’ve come to adore. You are just as full of faith as you fight for those you love. How I wish I could call that out in you.

But I can’t. I can’t go back to that sweet girl and see the world through her eyes again. I can’t be the voice of authority that speaks to her about her truest self. That moment passed. That sweet girl grew up wounded, lost, and unsure that she belonged anywhere.

But I am learning. I’m learning to coax that sweet girl back out into existence every time I sit down to give my stories back to the world. It is true that I am seen, known, and loved. It is true that I have something to offer the people and places so hungry for words of beauty and compassion. Hungry for others to tell them that they are seen too.

I am that sweet girl. And I’m learning to bring back her unique voice of courage, strength, and fierce love. I’m reclaiming her and giving her space to be who she was always meant to be in me.

Today I am participating in Story Sessions’ “The Girls We Once Were”. Would you join us?

image credit: Susana Fernandez


Weakness and Giftedness

Posted on February 10, 2014

I’ve been in a season of forgetfulness lately. It started about six months ago, which happened to coincide with a major transition in my life. Since then, It’s been really difficult for me to keep thoughts in my head or to remember anything of significance. I used to pride myself in my ability to remember word for word whole conversations I would have. Now I’m lucky to remember names and to recall titles of books I’m reading.

As I’ve been processing my new reality with mentors, it seems that all this might be related to this strange thing called grief, this feeling of living like my brain is submerged in water and like I can’t seem to get air. Most of the time I can accept that I don’t have a memory like I once did. Other times I feel intense fear connected to whether I’ll ever recover and feel normal again.


Missionary Tragedies: A Prayer

Posted on December 16, 2013

“God shapes his servants to embody the Word they proclaim. But other forces are also at work, shaping or misshaping God’s servants for their divinely appointed tasks. People are sometimes twisted out of the form God intended for them through the actions of misguided church and mission leaders, and this process can transform some of God’s fittest servants into misfits. Jakób Jocz was such a servant.”

I read this tragic story about the life of Jakób Jocz written by Stuart Dauermann this past month. In it, he shares the journey of missionary Jakób Jocz and how his calling from God to reach his own Jewish commmunity never came to fruition due to poor choices on the part of his mission agency and mission leaders responsible for his shepherding and placement. He called the life of Jakób a “missionary tragedy” as it left him as a “square peg” being forced into “round holes” of his mission agency. The quote below was the most sobering:

“Some might say mission agencies and church structures are means God uses to shape God’s servants for God’s purposes. That is certainly true. Others would say we must never forget the sovereignty of God, who works in mysterious ways to accomplish all things according to his will. That would be true as well. But it is just as true that there are times when institutional leaders use God’s servants for ends that have more to do with cultural arrogance and organizational agendas than the call of God.”



Posted on November 8, 2013

“We’re going to dress up as what?”


Those words from my husband made my heart start beating faster. The idea of walking into a room full of new people dressed in a shepherd costume made me start to panic.

“And this is the first I’m hearing of it? As we’re driving there right now?” My tone was accusatory. I had found a target for my anxiety. It was my husband sitting behind the wheel of our rental car. Perfect. He couldn’t escape!

“You got the same texts I did yesterday,” he replied.

What? I yanked out my phone. Sure enough, I had missed the messages that said our meeting that day was going to involve a halloween costume contest and our whole team was going to dress up as shepherds. Well. There went my full-proof plan of triangulating to deal with my stress.

All of this happened this past month as my husband and I traveled to California to visit our new team and other ministers in LA that are working with college students. It was going to be my first time to meet most of the people in that room for our all day gathering. I was nervous. I felt vulnerable. And then I found out I was going to be dressed as a shepherd. Double the nervousness. Double the vulnerable feelings. Double not wanting to appear like either of those emotions were dominating me. You now have a picture of the inner workings of me on the way to my shepherd costume meeting.



Posted on September 20, 2013

“My kid is driving me crazy.”

That was my confession to a friend as we circled the elementary school where we had both just dropped off our daughters. The two of them had started Kindergarten in a dual-language program, and I was having a hard time in the afternoons with Anna after she came home each day from school. My normally easy child was suddenly extrmeley rude and irritable on a regular basis, and different character issues where coming up that I hadn’t seen in her before. It was all really trying me, and I was losing to my own frustration.

As we prayed together for our kids, we talked about how grateful we were that God knew the depth of our nature and situation. I prayed specifically that God would give me eyes to see and understand Anna’s story better so that I would grow in empathy and compassion. Both were deeply lacking in me.

That evening, her school had open house where parents could meet teachers, learn about what their kids were doing, and hear about ways to be involved. I was eager to get a better picture of life for her.



Posted on July 7, 2013

“Maybe at the heart of all our traveling is the dream of someday, somehow, getting Home.” – Buechner

Next week, my husband Eric and I will close out a long season on staff with a ministry called Cru. When I started serving with them as a single woman right out of college, I had dreams of being a missionary to China. Then I met Eric who had a call from God to go to Central Asia so I quickly and joyfully changed my plans. A year after we married, we had the privilege of moving to that beautifully forgotten part of the world. It is still the place I love most that we’ve ever lived. A few short months after moving there, though, we were left clamoring to find a new home in another country as our visas were unexplainably denied. After seeing a few pictures on the internet of a new city in North Africa, we made the decision to move there with the hope of staying long-term. But just a year after that, we found ourselves on a plane heartbroken over the loss of a dream, wondering what God might have for us back in America.


The Prophets and Mission

Posted on July 6, 2013

“The prophets saw themselves as God’s gift to God’s people.” -Arthur Glasser

I’ve always thought the role of a prophet was a heartbreaking role. All I have to do is read the first three chapters of Ezekiel to see what a devastatingly sad lot in life he had.

I’ve been taking a class on missions, and as a woman who has been serving as a missionary since her early 20’s, the class has felt relevant to me. What’s been most significant has been to see God as a missionary God through the whole Old Testament as well as the New. Reading the entirety of Scripture through the lens of “Missio Dei” has helped give me eyes to see that the Lord has always been a God for all nations and people.

But one key question it surfaced for me was then what role did the prophets play in God’s mission? I always thought of the prophets as people that God sent to call the Israelites to repentance for idolatry and immorality. I’m learning that there was more to their purpose than just that.