Newsletter – Volume 42


Newsletter – Volume 42

April 15, 2024

This Week

Confessions From the Back of the Pen
Meet Kristalyn...

Kristi Barnes is kinda a local superstar, but she would vehemently argue that point. She just loves promoting the good things that are happening in Hutto Texas AND facilitating them. She takes a very servant-oriented approach to her role and doesn’t really care who gets the credit, so long as the good things keep getting done. I love that about her approach. But the part of her story that excites me most – and why I am featuring her here – is how she used a season of personal hardship to rediscover her love of art and developed that latent gift as a means for healing and personal renewal. And that is what Black Sheep Messengers do, they figure it out on the run. Here’s part of her story.

When I first started working for the city, I came in as the part-time Assistant Downtown Coordinator. In 2016, I was invited to take a full-time position with expanded responsibilities. This is where I discovered my passion for connecting people to the amazing resources and programs of the community. This role put me in a place where I could coordinate activities with many different facets of our community – Koke Fest, small business, the library, the amphitheater, the downtown community, the farmer’s market, parks and rec. Every day looked different for me. And I loved it! Now I am transitioning to a new role as Community and Culture Officer. This will continue to tap my leadership aspirations. I will get to work on improving how the city interacts with various under-resourced segments of community life – including non-profits, volunteer initiatives, and neighborhood associations.

Very exciting stuff!

However, with all this public activity, I need to admit that there was another side of my life that was not working so well. In the winter of 2020, I went through a particularly dark season. As it was for many, the pandemic took its toll on my soul. Add to that the dissolution of my marriage, I knew I needed to find a way to process myself. This is when yoga, running, meditation, and especially art, became a more prominent part of my life. My mom is an artist. She taught High School Art in Liberty Hill for years, but I never did anything more than dabble. Honestly, I always saw it as something beyond me. But my heartache needed to find a way out, and art became the means for me to express it.

It is hard to find the words to capture exactly what happened in me, but I finally gave myself permission to experiment. And once I got started it just kept coming out of me – the colors, the textures, the images. It was a way for me to do something productive with the pain. I think that is what makes art so vulnerable and revealing. Sometimes I will walk into a coffee shop where some of my paintings are hanging, and I remember what I was feeling when I did it. It almost seems odd to see someone casually sipping a cup of coffee, underneath a work that was produced in such a dark time. But it also kinda normalizes the experience for me, because that’s life – right? It’s connecting all the pieces of our story, the good, the bad, and the ugly – and learning to live with and in it all.

Word of the Week


Noun: the experience of fellowship or friendship

Life is difficult. In fact, often the path is harder than we anticipate. But having a companion on the path makes it so much more manageable. Last month, Carol and I spent several days at Lake Tahoe, and it was an absolutely beautiful trip. The weather was perfect and the surroundings spectacular. There is something about natural beauty that refreshes the soul. I loved every minute of it.  Looking back however, my favorite memories involved the people we were with and the conversations I had.  There is something about slowing the pace, asking the deeper questions, and hearing the hopes and dreams of others that brings a level of satisfaction that very few other things can/will.  It was such a great reminder of the importance of having companions who walk the path of life with you.  We all have people around us that need something like that, and we do too!  Why not schedule a long walk with someone that matters to you in the week ahead?

A Project I’ve Been Considering


Emphasis: How can we redeem the hardship of this season to honor God and be of help to others?

For the last few months I have been meeting with an executive coach and we have been working on creating a strategic move to optimize this next season of my life. The first priority has been to clear some room on my calendar for the next round of cancer treatments. But in the midst of that I also want to be mindful of the ways God might want to use this whole experience for the sake of his kingdom. A couple things have begun to become clear. I believe I am supposed to help facilitate a community of cancer warriors, where we can support, encourage, and pray for each other. This will include some of the things I am already doing – Pocket Prayers, podcasts, and videos for YouTube, plus a couple of new initiatives and a possible book in the future. If you would like to be part of this community, or know someone who might be helped by it, the best first stop is to join the FB group “Keep on Healing with Piet Van Waarde”.

Bladder Treatment


A couple weeks back I mentioned that my next step dealing with the bladder cancer was an immunotherapy called BCG. Unfortunately, because of some ongoing challenges with the stent in my ureter I was no longer eligible for that treatment. So, the new protocol includes a chemo type “wash” of the bladder wall. This is also administered vascularly once/week (for 5 weeks), and this past week was my first treatment. It involved a 3.5 hour process, where one solution had to be held for 90 minutes and the other for 2 hours. Let’s just say it was not my favorite experience. But I learned a few things that might be worth knowing, should you know someone going through something similar.

  1. Don’t drink anything for at least 3 hours before the procedure
  2. Bring headphones to help pass the time
  3. Get some exercise beforehand
  4. Be prepped to rest/nap afterwards


The side effects for me were weariness and queasiness. Not too bad. And a heart-felt thanks for all the prayers and well-wishes sent!

What We Need Right Now

Ask Jenni

Over the last few weeks, a number of people have asked how they can be of help to us in this next season. Candidly, it is hard to know exactly how to answer that question. Our stock answer has been to encourage people to follow whatever prompting God gives them. And already the prayers and messages we have received have been quite timely and helpful. We hope and pray people will continue doing so. But we also know that some would find it helpful to know the details on the more pragmatic side of the equation. My executive assistant has graciously agreed to serve as our communications person. She will know about the specifics of our most pertinent needs and should you feel called to be part of that time, please feel to reach out to her at or 303.916.9747.

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