If you met Christen you would see a radiant wife and mother, but behind the sweet smile is a fierce woman of courage, strength, and determination.
Raised in California, Christen was one of six children. She didn’t have a picture-perfect childhood. Her biological father was murdered when she was just a baby. From an early age Christen felt that she had to be tough in order to feel a sense of control.
When she was 14 years old her bother convinced her to try wrestling. The coach at the time was opposed to the idea of a female wrestler and while she was allowed to join the team it was not well received. Christen was treated like garbage by other team members. One time they literally threw her in a dumpster. They would steal her wrestling gear and call her names.
“They hated me” Christen explained. “They tried beating me up in practice. They told me to join a girl’s sport like volleyball. Still, I ended up wrestling varsity and proved everyone wrong.”
When Christen learned that there was a girl’s high school national competition she was intrigued. She didn’t realize that other girls were wrestling and even competing together! So she went for it and placed 5th in the nation, earning All-American status her Junior and Senior years.
In 2007 she was recruited to the number one college for women’s wrestling, The University of the Cumberlands. She wrestled for Cumberland’s from 2007-2011. While earning her Bachelor’s degree, she won several prestigious tournaments. She was a 4 time Collegiate All-American, placing 2nd, 6th, 3rd, and 2nd.
As a Sophomore in college, she made the Junior World Championship team and Senior National team in the same year. That was when her wrestling career ‘really took off.’ While wrestling for her University, she also won 3 National titles through USA Wrestling, winning BodyBar Junior Nationals and University Nationals. She earned a spot on three world teams (Junior Worlds, University Worlds, and Beach Worlds), and Junior and Senior Pan-American Championship teams.
She was afforded the opportunity to travel and compete in several countries including Canada, Mexico, Germany, Morocco, Belarus, India, and Turkey. Traveling around the world doing what she loved was an amazing experience, but one of the most significant moments of that season in her life was when Christen met her husband David.
David was a wrestler as well, and although his conservative Christian homeschool background was different from her upbringing the two of them became fast friends. They started running together to cut weight and held each other accountable to keep fit. They ended up dating for several years before tying the knot in 2011.
At this point, Christen was at the height of her athletic career. She was ranked number 2 on the Senior National team and was consistently top three on the senior level.
However, as the 2012 Olympics were approaching, she encountered some serious injuries. Although she qualified for the Olympic Trials, she had to compete through her injuries. Unfortunately, she did not place at the Olympic trials. Unbeknownst to Christen, this was the end of her wrestling career. She took time off to recover from her injuries, but when she tried to return to competition, she had already fallen out of the rankings and was without any sponsors. Leaving wrestling this way was devastating for her.
“I went from being top three to losing both matches in Olympic trials. Even though I had a feeling in my heart that that would be my last tournament I still had a mindset that I was going to the Olympics and I was trying to force it. Training was my life! I hit a breaking point because all of a sudden I had no idea what I was going to do with my life.
At the time I was a new Christian and I felt God was drawing me closer to Him. I would play worship music and get lost with God and allow him to heal my heart. I had taken an art class in high school and so I got out a paint set and I started painting and drawing as I spent time with God.
That was when I went from wrestling being my idol and finding my worth being in my accomplishment and for the first time I allowed God to be my rock and not myself. I had always felt like I was looking out for myself. I was obsessed with being great until I ended up letting go and letting God be enough for me. My accomplishments and productivity didn’t matter anymore. I discovered my love for art and I started doing art in church and people encouraged me.
I still love doing art during worship. I always bring a sketch book to church with me. It helps me remember the message. Art has become my outlet.”
Over the next several years David and Christen would move and work various jobs. Christen even joined the military.
They waited four years before trying to have children and once they got to a place where they struggled with infertility for nearly two years. Eventually they decided to become foster parents . They still have a heart for foster children and adoption, but they placed all that on hold when they became pregnant in 2017!
Christen and David were elated. They knew it was not a coincidence that this pregnancy came promptly after Christen had experienced major healing and restoration from her past. This pregnancy was a miracle.
The only thing Christen was nervous about was the thought of having a girl.
“I was terrified of having a daughter and not being able to relate. I had worked so hard in wrestling, in the military, and in the workplace to break down the barriers I faced as a woman. I had always been a tomboy and didn’t want to have a daughter. Yet, as I was praying about halfway through the pregnancy God completely changed my heart. I knew we were having a girl before the ultrasound even revealed it and God gave us the perfect name for her: Scarlette Ruth. Scarlette to represent beauty and the blood of Jesus, and Ruth for strength.”
Scarlette lights up their life every single day. Christen recently even made the jump to being a stay at home mom and she is a natural when it comes to motherhood. For so long Christen used her strength as a way to guard and protect herself. Now Christen has found a new kind of strength, the kind that works best in weakness and surrendering to love.
Scarlette is still just a little baby starting to show her personality. Christen sometimes wonders what she will be like when she is older. Will she want to be in a rough sport like her mom or will she do something like ballet? Christen admits that the world of ballet would be totally foreign to her but if that is what Scarlette wanted she would support her. Although, Christen adds with a grin, “ if she is going to do ballet she is going be a beast at it”. Considering who her parents are, I am pretty sure she is going conquer anything she puts her mind too.