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Restoration: An Interview with Cristabelle Braden
How the artist's trauma led to triumph through faith, healing, and music

AN NRT EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW, Restoration: An Interview with Cristabelle Braden
Posted: November 01, 2023 | By: KevinMcNeese_NRT
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Stories of resilience and faith often take center stage in music and worship, and Cristabelle Braden's journey is no exception. Hailing from Allentown, Pennsylvania, this singer-songwriter and worship leader has risen from the depths of a traumatic brain injury to inspire us with her unyielding spirit. In a remarkable tale of determination and grace, she has defied medical expectations and attained a master's degree in theological studies. 
Today, she stands as a testament to God's unwavering faithfulness. While her life took a different path than initially envisioned, Cristabelle now finds herself on staff at a local church, leading the worship team and pursuing music ministry opportunities wherever her faith leads her. 
This exclusive interview delves into her incredible journey, marked by challenges, triumphs, and an unwavering trust in the Good Shepherd's guidance.

Tell us how your musical journey began after your traumatic brain injury.
I started writing music after surviving a traumatic brain injury. It’s been quite a long recovery journey, and music and worship have been a big part of it. At the time of the injury, doctors told my parents I would most likely never finish high school—and by God’s grace, I recently graduated with my master’s in theological studies. While I still have lasting effects and chronic health conditions from brain injuries, God has been faithful through it all. I used to tour full-time, and in my current season, I’m on staff at my local church, leading the worship team while pursuing music ministry opportunities wherever God leads. I’m continually grateful for the Lord’s leading in the ups and downs and looking forward to wherever the Good Shepherd leads next.
What message do you hope your music conveys to your listeners?
It’s easy to feel alone and isolated in our struggles. I take a lot of inspiration from Psalms of Lament. They often start with deep cries of hurt, shockingly honest statements, and questioning of God. Yet each one has a moment: “But God…” as the psalmist leads us into truths of God’s faithfulness. This reminds us how He is faithful even in the middle of our pain. 
My music must be profoundly authentic and honest about struggles while continually pointing to our hope in Christ. I hope listeners can resonate with the vulnerability of my deepest pain but are ultimately encouraged by scriptural truths woven through the lyrics.
Tell us about your new album, Restoration.
It’s a testimony of how God met me in the middle of brokenness and opened my heart to His faithfulness and love. I went through a difficult season of physical and mental health struggles, including multiple brain injuries and a relationship that was toxic and abusive. Restoration was written as the Lord pulled me out of the pit and led me into His light. As the words of Psalm 23 say so well, “He restores my soul.” It was at the end of myself when the Holy Spirit met me with surrender. This album is a testament to His faithfulness when I had nothing to give. 
Could you highlight a few of your favorite songs on the new album? Why are they meaningful to you?  
“Count it All Joy” is a song from deep within my heart, based on a scripture passage I always had trouble with, James 1:2-3. I never liked that verse. How am I supposed to consider my trials joy? It hurts. My anxiety is unrelenting. That makes no sense. This song is about surrendering my own understanding to the gentle guidance of the Spirit. And experiencing His joy through the process. Part of the lyric says, “If the only thing I’m looking for is circumstances changing/I might miss the miracle of my heart rearranging/So I’ll count it all joy.”
“Every Part of Me” is the crux of the album's theme: complete surrender. I wasn’t sure I would ever share this song because it was born out of a place of worship with Jesus and me at the piano. I felt so damaged after coming out of an abusive relationship, and in spontaneous worship, I began singing, “You don’t discard the broken parts…” The rest of the song flowed from there.
"Hope in the Storm" was inspired by my Bible study group for brain injury survivors. We met weekly on Zoom during the pandemic shutdown and talked about how Jesus meets us in our storms: the storms of life and inside our heads. He truly is our hope.
Could you provide an update on your brain injury ministry, Hope After Head Injury?
This ministry is so close to my heart. I started doing brain injury ministry because I felt so alone after my brain injury, and I don’t want anyone else to feel that way. We have a podcast called “Hope Survives | Brain Injury Podcast,” monthly Zoom support meetings, and a Brain Injury Bible Study group. You can find more at
What are you most passionate about seeing in your audience?
I’m passionate about lives transformed by the hope of Christ. I want my listeners to know they are seen, heard, and loved. 
What’s next for you musically?
I’ll continue leading worship, writing music, performing at concerts, and speaking at retreats and women’s events. We will see where God leads.
How can we be praying for you?
Thank you for asking. Please pray for continual growth in the love of Jesus. I dream of turning my brain injury ministry into a non-profit organization. We’re in the early stages of that process. Please pray the Lord provides and leads that ministry to clarify where we are to go.

Kevin McNeese started NRT in 2002 and has worked in the industry since 1999 in one form or another. He has been a fan of Christian music since 1991.

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