September 11th, The day we all grew up.

This past Tuesday marked 11 years since September 11th ,2001. 11 years. That means I have lived as much of my life in a post 9/11 world as I did in my ignorance of such tragedy. One day at 11 years old I suddenly learned what terrorism was. I understood how it must have felt for Americans when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

 I realized that I was living history. I realized that I was scared, and that I was so small. I was truly aware for the first time that there were people in the world who were willing to die to keep me safe.

For me, and the millions of American children who sat in schools, and in homes, watching our futures change, this was the day we grew up.

We were no longer ignorant of the evil in the world. It could not be ignored.

 I think about 9/11 every time I look at a calender of the month of September. Every time I go through security in an airport, or a museum. Every time I watch an old movie with the skyline of New York. Signs for the Pentagon,  that used to be just road signs, remind me of that morning, and the dozens of mornings after. Each time I see a torn flag, or a building that is in ruins, my mind goes back to the never ending footage of Ground Zero.

I can never forget.

I don't ever want my children to have to know the way it felt to sit there and watch as our country was changed forever. But I don't ever want to forget. I do want them to know that there were untold thousands who died that day, and in the months that followed. I want them to know that firefighters, policemen, EMT's, soldiers, doctors, and everyday citizens who were not victims of the initial attacks who chose to serve, despite the risks. I want them to be proud of the way our nation stood together after the attack. I want them to make the choice to forgive those who harmed our nation, as I have. I want them to fully appreciate the freedoms that they have. I want them to be fully convinced that God was sovereign on that day, just as he is on the days of peace.

I never want to forget.




noun \ˈjȯi\

a : the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires :delightb : the expression or exhibition of such emotion : gaiety
: a state of happiness or felicity : bliss
: a source or cause of delight

Joy. To most people it is a word, and a fairly common one at that. But to me, and my family, Joy is a name. While it was not her legal name, nothing else suited my Granny, "Joy" Craynon half as well. She was joyful, and she inspired joy.  Joy is not a superficial happiness you see in people whose lives are perfect, and so they have no reason to be unhappy. It isn't a "grin and bear it" attitude either. Joy stems from the knowledge that although circumstances are hard, and imperfect, there is something more to delight in. It was impossible not to feel like you were the most important thing in her world when you walked in the room. Her whole face would light up, and her eyes would sparkle, and immediately you would get dozens of hugs, kisses, and probably something to eat even if you didn't know you were hungry.  Her kitchen was one of the safest, happiest places in the world. Not because of the endless supply of good food, or even the familiarity of it, and its hundreds of chicken figurines, but because of her. I want to be that to someone. That immovable force to be reckoned with. The smile that understands, and cares. The grandmother who listens to children like they are adults, and knows the best cure for bruised feelings is a hug and a moment to sit on her lap. 
No one can be summed up in words, so here is a picture of her and my sister to show you exactly what I mean. 

I hope that one day I can show love as unconditionally, and be as truly joyful as my Granny. 


Mission before misters: a musing for my sisters

Funny how God can use something that you wrote months ago to help give perspective now. Thought I'd share again, in case someone else needs the reminder too.

He is NOT the right guy
if it isn't Gods time.
That's why I'm dropping lines
to tell messing around good bye.
Won't sit with a mountain of heartbreak and fears
And allow my cascading tears
to wash the joy from my single years.
So my someone while I wait for "you"
I have other things I have been called to.
Been commissioned to tell the world what is true
Image bearer, light bringer
Even if there's never a ring on my finger.
Yet despite my calling my wishes still linger
So I bury my dreams father, deep in your hand
It's where my future is, whatever you've planned.
I have always been kept by the only one who can
Created for purposes bigger then just finding a man.
He's making me more like my Jesus every moment
Not a copycat faith, this is mine. I own it.
I share in the greatest love story of all time,
but some how I am so focused on "when do I get mine?"
I look to the future without eternity in mind
His Love lets us see, sin is what's blind.
Why do I live like a relation ship will fix
A world that's as busted as a house made out of sticks?
tall dark and handsome
This Broken world can't ransom
Contentment does not lie
Deep within sparkling eyes
But in the warm embrace of a father
Who is always there if I'd just bother
To open up the pages
that I've kept shut for ages
But by not reading those commands
Am I no longer guilty, do I have clean hands?
Line after line point to one man for me
Jesus Christ who died as he hung on a tree.
Now I am not giving up on a family someday
But while I am waiting I can do more than just pray.
Fill my life with learning and serving,
Get my flickering faith back to burning.
I am so aware of every flaw in every guy I meet
But never one time facing the sin I should defeat
Because if he's the kind of guy that God has told me to accept
then I should be the type of girl that kind of guy respects
Struck anew by my constant need for Christ
With out him I won't even get contently waiting right.
Need his power to fulfill his own good plan
Need his strength, not a man,
to obey what he commands.


Purple is my favorite color...

I love purple. Not only because it is so pretty, but because it stands for something, and someone that I believe in. Purple is the color that symbolizes Cystic Fibrosis awareness. I know that in today's world, there are so many cure's being looked for, that it can be easy to just write this one off as one more cause that is great for someone else to support. But for me it is so much more than that. There are names, faces, not just of people, but of people I love. Why am I writing this now? Well for starters it is Cystic Fibrosis Awareness month. And next week I am participating in a fundraiser walk. But this post also coincides with my Mother's Day series. Yes, I know I got behind on those, and so this one is a little out of order.

But I want you to meet my motivation for this walk.
It seems weird to write this to you guys, so I am just going to write to her, and let you guys in on it =)

Lindsey, In the last year and a half I have seen you grow and change so much. From the moment I saw you hold your little girl, something about you was different. All the fears about what being a mom would be like seemed not to matter, and I guess I can understand why when I see Rylee's face. She is beautiful, and you are doing a beautiful job with her. Every hug, smile and laugh on her face is proof of your love and care for her. She is growing up in such a caring environment, and is so in love with her mommy! I love watching your little family as she grows.
In the last year you also changed in your view of life with Cystic Fibrosis. I saw your determination to fight CF grow, and it is still growing. I am so proud of the way you are committing to raise money, and awareness for research. But more than that, I am proud of your decisions to take care of you. Every time you do your therapies, even though you are tired, or it just doesn't seem worth it, you are keeping your promise to Rylee. I know it may seem backwards at times, but by doing what is best for you, you are doing the best for her too. Keep it up!
I love you so much Linds, and I am glad that I get to be your cousin, and even better your friend.

My cousins were diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when they were 5 and 7 after years of battling "asthma". The diagnosis was a relief in some ways, because it was an answer to what was wrong. However simply knowing what you have is not a comfort when there is no cure.
For those of you who don't know what Cystic Fibrosis is, or how it effects peoples daily lives, here are a couple links where you can learn more, or ask me in person.

If you are interested in supporting our team this week by donating, we would really appreciate it. It sounds cheesy, but literally every dollar makes a difference. Here is the link. http://www.cff.org/Great_Strides/ColleenCraynon8044

Thanks for lending me your time =)


(grand) Mother's day

Part 2 in my Mothers day series

In honor of my mommy's birthday I would like you to meet HER mommy. Some years ago (*coughiwon'tsayhowmanycough*) today this wonderful woman welcomed my mommy into the world.

Nancy Lee Caufield Marshall.
For those of you that were lucky enough to have met her, I can pretty much stop there and you would still understand why I want to be like her. But not everyone had the privilege of meeting her, so I will let you know a few things about the wonderful woman who was my Mamma.
Born in 1925 in Pleasant View, Virginia, it comes as no surprise that my grandmother exemplified true southern charm. She had a gentle, quiet manner, and a "no-need-to-rush" outlook on life. While I am completely to opposite of "quiet", it is her peace that I admire so much. She was calm in the face of many difficult trials, including her husband's illness, and later her own. It was incredibly rare for her to be angry, even when grandchildren tested her patience, or it became hard for her to communicate. Not that it never happened, but I can probably count on my hands the number of times I heard her raise her voice at anyone in the almost 21 years that I knew her.
There was a grace and dignity about her, perhaps because she was a southern lady, or maybe because she was a true lady. It may seem like a silly, little girly, thing to say, but my grandmother was a real lady. She represents a lot of things that our generation rejects. Modesty, moderation, and femininity. And I hope that I can be like her.
Mamma wore dresses, makeup, and had long beautiful hair. She was never showy, or overdone. Nor did she dress the way she did because society pressed her to. She took pride in her appearance, and in being put together. She may not have been looking for a lot of attention, but I can't imagine her not turning every head when she walked in a room looking like this:

I can't talk about the kind of woman my grandmother was, without mentioning the kind of man she married. My grandparents may not have been the most emotionally expressive people, but they clearly loved each other very much. Yes, they did take on "traditional" or "archaic" roles in their marriage, which society may rebel against, but I say "why mess with success?" My grandfather was the main provider, making sure that he worked hard, and saved wisely to take care of my grandmother, and ensuring she was provided for even after he passed away. Mamma was a school teacher (hmm, maybe I will be like her!), but she also made their house a home. She was a phenomenal cook (yet another way I want to be like her), and when Grampa got sick she learned to cook new foods so he could eat them. They worked with each other, complementing each others strengths, supporting their weaknesses. Better together than apart.No, they did not have a perfect marriage, but that doesn't exist. They had a lasting marriage. Not just a marriage that they endured, but a marriage that worked. He drove her to the grocery store, and she laughed at his ridiculous jokes.With  46 years of marriage, to their credit, I can honestly say I want that.  I want to be like her. Patient, loving, feminine.

Thanks for stopping by, I am glad you got to "meet" my Mamma!

Next up is my other grand mother, so stop back soon!


She is still a Craynon!

In honor of mother's day coming up next month, I decided to do a sort of mini-series as it were, and introduce you to some of my favorite moms. Mom's that I want to be like when I grow up.

So, without further ado, I would like to introduce you to my sister.

Johanna Craynon O'Hara (see how I snuck that Craynon in there really subtly?) is my oldest sister. I have 2 and I must say that it is awesome.
In my mind my sister is still a Craynon. And always will be. YES I know she has been married for 5+ years. YES I realize she has 2 kids (and one one the way =) ), and that she will be an O'Hara longer than she was a Craynon. But I like to claim this relationship. I want to introduce her as a Craynon. I want people to know she is still mine. We don't really look much alike, so the name is a linking thing. I have no problem with her being married, I dont resent that, it seems normal. Maybe I should make her husband  change his name to Craynon too, so that I can claim them both!

Why do I want to claim them? Aside from the fact that my niece and nephew are some of the cutest kids, I have some real reasons too =).

 From as early as I can remember Johanna has been a constant and vigilant protector to all of her younger siblings, and now her kids. Although her "help" was sometimes counter productive (see the soap on the toothbrush incidents),and to my 4 year old self highly unwelcome, it was always because she thought it was what was best. Johanna was always the 2nd mom that we never knew we needed.
 The childhood desire to protect and guard us may have been a little excessive, since we did have a mom, and a very good one at that!(Don't worry, you will meet her soon!)No one needs to worry about falling over railings at the mall, or even plummeting into the Grand Canyon, as long as Johanna is there to remind you that there is an edge ;-). But more than being physically protective, I have seen her stand up for us "littler kids" in situations where she sought to protect us from emotional pain, even at cost to herself.

For those of you who may be concerned that she uses soap on her own children's teeth, no worries, she grew out of that. And as she matured she learned to be a little more...discerning in what was best ;-). Now she willingly seeks advice, and council  when she needs to decide what is best. She makes suggestions and gives advice. She prays, and submits to her husband. She seeks to honor him, and God in the way she cares for their children.
Johanna is one of the most transparent people I know. Maybe thats because she is a Craynon, and we wear our emotions on our sleeves. I think that is only part of it though. God has blessed Johanna with a gift of words, and a humble heart that allows her to use her words to honestly express herself. Her blog http://worthdoinghalfway.wordpress.com/ is a wonderful example of this.(Shameless plug ;-))
Now I am not insinuating that she is perfect or that we always got along. Like I said, we are sisters. But as I have grown older, I have a much greater appreciation for her wisdom. I have seen her walk through times of confusion, and times of real loss and pain, and I can honestly say I want to grow to be like her, as she grows to be like Jesus.

And, just for fun, here is a picture of all 3 of us girls. Sadly, as much as Johanna tried, she could not protect us from the 90's ;-)


Let your speech be full of grace, seasoned with salt

You better think before you act
Can't rewind and take it back
Pause before you speak
Hold your tongue between your teeth
Answer a fool and you're just the same
Don't get caught up in playing his games.
Wisdom can be silent
So I've heard, should prolly try it
Quick to speak and think that I know
But with every word ignorance shows
Listening ears and a listening heart
Try to hear from God but then I start
Musing and berating
Constant speaking never waiting~ scc 1/4/12


Border state

Fried Cornbread and fried chicken
As natural to me as rush hour traffic
With frequent "y'all s"
slipped into conversation.
Give me sunset on the monuments
Or coal laden mountains in the heart of our nation.
Forests and shopping malls
Framing the view, broadening my horizons.
Home and safety can be found in city blocks
Or a world where doors are never locked.
A southerner to those who choose to define
The difference in culture by the mason-Dixon line.
Though I feel home when down south, my northern accent gets a laugh
 caught between two worlds
But then again I'm half and half
City, suburb, southerner
Check all of the above
Labels over generalize
like a one size fits all glove
So I will try to summarize
The essence of my life
Country, and city meeting: Suburbanized.
I grew up with some of everything
But people grow to more than the sum of everything
--Colleen Craynon 2/13/12


Valentines day

Strange to say, but I am happy to be single this Valentines Day.
 No, I don't hate guys, nor am I determined to be an old maid. I really do want to get married, and I'd rather not wait 15 years either. But this year, I know I am supposed to be single.
How do I know? Well simply because I am single. I know that seems silly but hear me out. If I was living for my self, not following God, there is absolutely no reason I would stay single.
 But here I am. Your classic "loser" 21 years old, and staying home on Valentines Day. BUT I am so aware of Gods grace in that. He is writing my love story. He determines the who, what and yes the when. It is a struggle when the story doesn't start where I want it to, but if it did I would be missing out on something much better. So in a funny way, my current singleness is a reminder of God's grace in my life. He could have allowed me to pursue my desires, but he is keeping me. Saving me. He created me and destined me for a purpose. An awesome future waits for me, but an awesome now is here too! My future is secure in Christ, because I KNOW that he loves me. Even if I am single forever, or for 10 years, or even only 10 months, God has something beautiful planned for me. And yes, one day I hope to be that sickeningly sweet couple who make Valentines Day the silly, fun holiday that it is.

However I must say, these strawberries aren't hurting my contentment either ;-)


Cast your anxieties on the Lord...

Do you ever have this crazy nagging feeling inside that makes you want to write down anything and everything you think or feel? No? Oh.... Yeah me neither. That would be...weird.
Actually yes. I do. Somehow I feel like giving form to the words will help. Sometimes it does. When I see my thoughts and emotions in black and white they are less overwhelming. They are confined to the space of the page, no longer eating up all of my mind. But as much as writing helps, I forget the real way to rid my mind of fears. Prayer.
1 Peter 5:7 reminds us to cast our cares on the Lord. Because he CARES for us. Not simply because he is in control, or because he is the only one who is powerful enough to help. But because he cares. Wow. The one who has arranged the minute details of my life CARES when I feel alone. Cares when I am afraid and confused. And he listens, and carries me when my load is too heavy for me. Which is always. My endless supply of paper may help clear my mind, but ultimatly is powerless. Powerless to change my circumstance. Powerless to comfort me. Powerless to remove my anxieties. My God is powerful and loving. He bears my burdens and gives peace. If only I would take the time to humble myself to ask. To pray.

Prayer is the lisping of the believing infant, the shout of the fighting believer, the requiem of the dying saint falling asleep in Jesus. It is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honour of a Christian.

—C.H. Spurgeon


Say Hello to happiness!

And probably a new workout plan. You can also count on kissing skinny jeans goodbye because...dun-dun-da-dun.... It's time to meet my new Christmas present!!

Yes. My brother decided it was a good idea to let me play with fire!!!!
This recipe makes 4, 6oz Crème Brulèe:

6 egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 teaspoons granulated sugar

preheat oven to 300 degrees
in a bowl whisk together egg yolks and 1/4 sugar until the sugar is dissolved and mixture is thick. Add cream and vanilla, and whisk until blended.
The recipe I used said to strain the mixture and skim off any bubbles, but I didn't have very many, so I skipped that step.
Divide the mixture evenly into 4 6oz Ramekins, and place the ramekins in a pan. Pour water into the pan so that it covers the lower half of the ramekins.
Bake for 50-55 minutes, until the custard has set on the edges, but is still loose in the center.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool. Move the Ramekins to the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours.
place the ramekins back in the pan, and sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar on each.
Then you EITHER broil no more than 5inches from the top of the oven, until the sugar melts, OR use your super fabulous, I can't believe I am allowed to play with fire, and I now feel like a real chef, torch. I am still working on the art of how one melts sugar evenly, without burning little spots on the top of your masterpieces, but I am sure my family won't mind me practicing!

AND voila!

I found that even after 2 1/2 hours in the fridge, they were not totally set, so next time I will let them set longer, especially since they are an easy make ahead dessert, and naturally Gluten Free =)
This recipe is also Twice as Nice, because with the leftover egg whites you can make one of my other favorite desserts! Come back soon for the recipe for meringue cookies, light, easy and also Gluten Free!

What do you do with your left over egg whites?


Pages Of Imperfection

Wrote this a while ago for a class, it kind of explains my writing process. 

         Her head jerks up, a shimmer of a bubbling thought is growing inside her mind. Hurriedly she rushes through the remainder of the task at hand and races up the stairs to her room. By now the thought is growing steadily, gaining momentum. she flops down on her bed, adjusts the pillows just so. 
          She brushes back the hair from her face, tying it back out of her eyes, digs through the nightstand cubby looking for the polka dotted case containing her reading glasses.They somehow make her feel like she knows what she is doing, they give her a sense of clarity, and not just because the page is in sharper focus. Perhaps it is because they make her seem older, and as though she is wiser, wiser than she truly is. There is, along with this sense of maturity a sense of urgency in her actions, as if there were a deadline looming though none exists. It is the frantic scramble of someone who has something on the inside that needs to get out. The shimmering idea, now fully grown bounces around in her head, fighting for all of her attention. It cries out to her, begging to be set free; to be given life and air and ink.
         Her thoughts sometimes flow into rhymes or poems, or narratives on the lives of others(real or imagined), and perhaps on occasion words to a tune she’s been humming all week. She may express pain over the loss of a loved one, or the excitement felt about the birth of a niece, happiness, and regrets can be found in these pages, as well as feeble attempts to describe the incomprehensible joy of forgiveness of sins. “Yes,” she thinks “there is nothing, good nor bad, that doesn’t seem to be better when laid out in black and white.” So, she settles down between her blue cased pillows, and gives her thoughts wing.
          Quickly she grabs a thin yellow notebook from the top of a stack of identical notebooks that has slowly grown on her shelf over the years. She couldn’t say why yellow exactly, just something about them drew her in, and made her want to write, to fill the empty lined pages with her thoughts. She flips through the filled pages, pages crinkled with the tears of sorrow and loss, past fears of failure, and pages filled with the ecstasy of hope born again. She glances over a sheet that she’s read a thousand times, the story so familiar it could have been real. The thought continues it’s nagging, urging her on till she finds a clean sheet. Gripping her black ball point pen she slowly forms her first careful word. The rush begins, and she scarcely knows what she is doing.
          She writes on, perhaps a dozen lines, or a dozen pages the words slow, and eventually stop. The thought no longer vies for her whole attention, its goading has stopped, and it simply lays there out in the open, vulnerable and unsullied by the reality of the technical aspects of writing. She lies back on the pillows and sighs. This is a sigh of relief and trepidation, for the words now safely out of her mind, are still restrained to the confines of the yellow notebook.
          From within the sticker clad covers each page still calls to her. Leaving her wishing to take them up once more, prune, refine, and, dare she hope perfect them. When she stops and thinks she wonders why she lets them sit in this unfinished state, freed from her cluttered mind, yet disorganized all the same. When she does find the time she views, with the harshest critics eye her fledgling ventures into the literary realm. Months, even years old works are re-worded, re-written, re-written again. Fingers hurting, and daylight long gone she glances at her clock and closes the notebook. She flicks off her light, and settles in with dreams of a day when she can truly feel that it is completed.



Most people have felt the sharp sting of loss. In many cases it's sudden, abrupt, and the pain cuts through you, numbing you to all other feelings. I have felt it time and time again. It is the worst thing in the world to lose someone you love. At age 14 I would have sworn I needed time to prepare, to say goodbye, and then it would be OK. To know it was my last time seeing that person. To get a chance to hold their hand. To say I'd see them again. To be fully aware when it was time to let them go.

Today? I can honestly say it makes no difference. The knife still stabs through your heart. But instead of a happy memory of the last time you saw them, you have the days of wondering if this would be it. The years of not knowing if they'd make it to the next holiday. The dull ache of watching their memory fade and shatter. Sometimes you feel your heart is being slowly dulled to caring, but a slight glimmer of recognition, or a smile at the face of a great-grandchild is enough to remind you that you still care.

For my whole childhood my grandparents lived less than a block from my house, and 6 years ago we moved so that my aging grandmother could live with us. I got a first hand look at the slow and steady progression of aging and dementia. And this summer, she peacefully passed away. It was not sudden. No shocking news, simply the end of a life well lived. 85 years, yet it still seems too short.
I never thought that I would miss the hard things, having to help her with simple tasks, but I would gladly do it all over to have my grandmother back. She was a wonderful woman, the most generous lady I have ever met. Her gentle spirit comforted and nurtured us. Her love of flowers, books, sweets, and stuffed animals made a trip to Mamma's house any child's dream.

Not sure why I felt like writing this today. Some days it just hits you I guess. The reality that they are gone. That you have to wait for heaven to see them again. That they won't be at your college graduation, or your wedding. Never hold your children. All of my grandparents were amazing people. And I miss them all at different times. Its the memories that get me most often.

And then I realize that I have so many wonderful memories. To miss someone you have to know them. To lose something, it had to be yours to start. And they were mine. Wonderful, fun, loving, and memorable. But only mine on loan. Placed in life as grace, not something I deserved, not something I "ought" to get back, but a gift, a blessing. And I am so so blessed to have had them in my life. But I must say, I am looking forward to Heaven, where I won't have to miss them anymore.