BY THE BOOK

LASDI©

LASDI©

I am not known for being a Rule-Follower.  The Hubster is a Rule-Follower.  One of my closest friends is a Rule-Follower.  In fact, several people I know are Rule-Followers.  They are the type that HAVE to follow the rules or else they get all freaked out or their throats close up.  I've seen upper lip sweat occur at the very thought of breaking a rule.  Everything for them has to be 'by the book'.  For each person, it's a different book, with different chapters.  

I'll give you an example:  If Adrian (the aforementioned Hubster) is making pasta (a rarity in our home, as it were) and the instructions on the box say "bring six cups of water to a boil", he will measure out exactly six cups of water, because that is the rule, whereas I would simply fill the pot about halfway or so and move on.  He goes 'by the book'.

So then, who is the author of this 'book'?  Who decides what the acceptable rules are across-the-board?  I don't mean the lawmakers, though there are still some old rules on the books that say "Humming on public streets is prohibited on Sundays" or "Bowling is forbidden", both of which are still documented as actual laws!  I wonder what my Rule-Follower friends and relatives will do when they find out they've not only broken those rules, but broken the law!   

There are the rules of the law, or the laws of morality, and the every-day-back-of-a-box-of-pasta kind of rules.  But who gets to say what is going 'by the book' in this life, and what is not?  Who is the author?

Though I am not exactly a renegade, I do believe in a more bendable point-of-view.  I'm a bit more colorful in my thoughts and behavior about getting things done, though I find the black-and-white way of looking at things quite fascinating, and necessary to the life/people balance.  There is room for both or else we would all be exactly the same.  Can you imagine how boring THAT book would be?

I guess that means we author our behavior ourselves, whether it's exactly 'by the book' or perhaps not.  And though the Book I try live by (written by the Author of my life) is not one that everyone shares a belief in, I have a confidence that we, as individuals, do share the belief that there are seasons in life that bring us emotions we must deal with; sometimes there are wonderful seasons, and sometimes there are dark or stormy seasons.  And those seasons are almost never black-and-white, and there are no rules to follow, or how-to's when we deal with them.  There is no 'by the book' process to our emotions.

This is one life we've been given.  We have one life to live, whether we live it within the measurements of every single rule, or a tad bit outside the boundaries of the rules, how we do it creates the legacy we live and leave behind.

Though I certainly don't have all the answers, I do strive to make my legacy something that will make an impact. 

I have lived a life with the wonderful seasons and the dark and stormy seasons, and my 'by the book' is finding light in the dark in order to survive, while not taking this life for granted or letting it slip by me in sorrow or self-pity.  My 'by the book' is my own - one that I authored.  It is called 'A Life Of Flavor', presented by Life As She Does It (me, She Gar-C!).  It is a book of finding joy in life's hard times.

In the long run, whether we think in black-and-white or in color, how we deal with the peaks and the valleys is what creates our distinct flavor of who we are and how we live our lives.  Do you find joy when the hard times come upon you?  When a loved one gets sick, or a job is lost, do you try to see the light through the darkness?  It's never too late to try.  Never.  

Whatever is your distinct 'by the book' - BUY THE BOOK!  

Click on the photo below to purchase Life As She Does It presents: A Life of Flavor! (published by LUCID BOOKS)

 

 

HOT-BLOODED

LASDI2016©

LASDI2016©

Boiling.  Face.On.FIRE.  Five-second-long daydreams of punching someone square in the face.  Screaming like a wild banshee within my mind with no sound coming out of my mouth.  Chest pains.  Real chest pains.

These - and more - are all emotions I have felt within the last few days.  Some would say I have anger issues after reading that.  I would say I am human.  Granted, being of Italian descent means people assume a few things about me:  that I talk with my hands, I am a good cook, and I am hot-blooded.  I am not one to subscribe to stereo-types, but all of those things happen to be true, by the way!

But I am not hot-blooded in the way you know it to be - at least not anymore.  I am hot-blooded in a way that makes me take those moments that make my blood boil, reflect on them, and use them to set fire to my very soul whenever I can.

Let me explain.  

One of the incidents this week was just from standing in the grocery store check out line, which, by the way, is where I seem to spend most of my life.  I was behind someone that needed a price check, of course, and who also decided they didn't want a particular product but sent the bagger to snag the same product with a different brand name - all while we all waited behind her.  After me in line there were about four more people.  The cashier was a young girl, and though smiling through the entire thing, at first seemed a bit incompetent from my perspective.  "Bless her heart", I thought, in my condescending and sympathetic way.  After several minutes had passed and one or two people behind me had been cattled to a different register (not me, of course, because I was in the worst position in the game of grocery check out chess), I noticed some grumbling behind me.  I heard a person speak (rather loudly) to themselves,  but in the cashier's direction, "Maybe they should get someone in here that knows what they're doing."  There it was.  I started to feel that little sizzle around the edge of the pot; not toward the cashier, but rather toward the person I heard behind me in line.  As I was nonchalantly minding my own business, and showing off how people in this world SHOULD behave (insert self-deprecating sarcasm here), I overheard the cashier thank the (annoying) patron in front of me for her patience, and that she had just received the news that her mother was in the emergency room with a fever and she was waiting to hear if she would be all right.

"How RUDE of the person behind me", I found myself thinking.  "If only they would put themselves in HER position and ask themselves what could possibly be going on in someone's life in certain situations, like I'm doing now, all the world's problems could be solved!!"

Immediately after that thought, I heard the same voice behind me say, "Good LORD.  Can we get moving here?!?"  Could she not see and hear for herself that this poor cashier was doing the best she COULD??  The sizzle came to a slow-rolling boil.  But I hung in, still not looking behind me and still thinking this person should watch me at work and behave in a similar manner.  How uncivilized.

One final insult flung was the last straw.  "Helllooooooo.  You should go back to training and learn to check people out faster."  That was all she wrote.  My blood was BOILING.  I snapped my head around and without a thought, but with a certain je ne sais quoi and in a most-pretentious manner, I offered: "WHY DON'T YOU GO ON AHEAD OF ME SINCE YOU SEEM TO BE IN SUCH A HURRY!!  THERE IS NO NEED TO BE RUDE!!"  All in the name of defending this poor, poor cashier with a sick mother, of course.  

And then I looked at the person throwing the insults.  And I saw it: the tear-stained face; the red, swollen eyes; the puffy, shiny nose.  And I shrank.  What had HER day been like so far?  She moved right past me and went ahead as I had suggested, and I found myself watching and staring at her.  She put her items on the belt, and I noticed the ratty, used tissue she wouldn't let go of still in her hand as she did.  She took out her wallet and as she counted out all the coins, penny-by-penny, almost to the last of what she owed, she began to cry.  She apologized to the cashier firmly, and said a quick thank you to me for letting her go ahead.  She was exasperated and in a changed manner said, "I am SO SORRY.  It has been a day of great loss for me.  It has actually been a YEAR of great loss for me.  And I'm sorry to say I have to go out to the car to get the rest of the money.  Would you mind suspending the order and I'll be right back?  I am really very sorry."  

I'm an idiot.  I was SO READY to pounce on this person in the name of considering what others are going through, only to become a hypocrite while doing so.  As she walked out, I saw her head to her car in the parking lot where there was an elderly lady sitting in the heat with the window down on the passenger side.  I saw her say something as she walked up, and the woman in the car offered up her purse through the window.  Though I still had no idea what the loss was she had spoken of, and could only make thousands of assumptions, my heart began to ACHE.  My boiling blood turned on me, and I found myself ashamed.

I moved quickly.  I told the cashier to un-suspend the order and add it to my groceries.  She said, "Are you sure??"  There are few times I am so sure of anything.  I told her to say nothing when the woman came back and waited back in line to pay and to wait to tell her until I was out the door.  I told her I'd be praying for her mom, and walked right past the (former) rude lady as she walked back in to pay.  

I couldn't help myself - I glanced out of my peripheral just in time to see her look out my way, confused, and then slowly begin to walk her groceries out.

When adversity comes, I am not always the most graceful or gracious; in fact, in that particular moment when I found myself thinking I was so shiny and did a great service, I had to remind myself of why I was led to do it in the first place.  I wasn't so great.  I was hot-blooded and thoughtless.  When I look back, there are definitely times in my life where I wish I would have behaved differently or responded better, as with this opportunity of redemption I had been given.

In these times of great and growing stress, what makes you hot-blooded?  Do you let it destroy you and take over, or do you find a moment of redemption that heals you and sets fire to your soul to do better, and BE better?  Only you, in those moments, can decide.

 

Do you have a story to share?  We can help you publish your book!  Click here: LUCID BOOKS

YOUR MOUNTAIN IS WAITING - A GUEST BLOG

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY CARISSA VANN MUSIC 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY CARISSA VANN MUSIC 

I absolutely LOVE having Guest Bloggers on the [Life] As She Does It Blog.  There are so many voices that should be heard, and so many gifts and talents I want to lift up, edify, and share with my She-Peeps!  Carissa Vann is among those ridiculously talented humans I have asked to help me do that.  This woman is one of the kindest, truest-and-genuinely-authentic, and loveliest people you would ever hope to meet or have in your life somehow.  She is working two-fold by following her dream of being a singer / songwriter, and also helping the community at the very same time.  I gave her full carte blanche on what to write about, and boy, did she pull through!!  You can find more of Carissa at Carissa Vann Music.  Look for some other ways to learn more about what she's doing after her post.  Thank you for being you, Girl.  And thank you for sharing this piece of encouragement.  Take it away, Carissa!!

I’m beyond honored to guest write for Life As She Does It. Thank you, Sheila, for allowing me to pour out my heart here on your blog. God has used Sheila as an instrumental person in my spiritual journey; one who has seen me in some weak moments and loved and supported me through them and for that I am forever thankful. She’s a servant, loves people fiercely and is incredibly talented and I’m so excited to watch God use her as she takes steps of obedience for Him. I love you, dearly, She-She!

I’ve got a sign in my house above my piano that says:

“Your Mountain Is Waiting, So Get On Your Way.”

I bought it not only because it was from the Magnolia Market in Waco, TX, but because the Lord literally spoke to me while I stood in the store staring at those words; surrounded by people scurrying around shoulder to shoulder and my kids touching everything in sight (despite our discussion beforehand to “keep your hands to yourself”).

I felt like the only one in the room. It was like a movie scene. You know the one where the noises stop, the surrounding images become a blur and it’s suddenly quiet?  Yeah, that’s the one.

As silly as that image is, for a moment I felt empowered by the Lord. What I heard was the Lord saying:

“Carissa, I’ve equipped you – now go.”

 So to be honest, I also questioned the Lord in that moment, because at that time I was stuck in the valley; a dark place of struggle and trials that to my frail mind, seemingly had no purpose or end.

I bought the sign anyway and it’s been gracing my walls with it’s loveliness ever since.  

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY CARISSA VANN MUSIC

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY CARISSA VANN MUSIC

Fast forward a few months and I’m holding hands with a dear friend as I’m distraught, terrified, frustrated, and confused and while tears are streaming down my face…she prays over me. I was fighting an age-old battle of defeat.  I felt defeated by the circumstances surrounding me and the pain from the past. I didn’t believe God had good stored up for me.

Ever since high school, I have felt a calling and desire to point others to His throne through worship and music and in that moment I wanted to quit. I wanted to throw in the towel and pursue something else in life because surely that would be easier than this, right? Let’s just leave that stuff to the professionals, OK? …Wrong.

God doesn’t magically set us on top of mountains where the view is clear. To get to the top, He takes us through the valley, up the steep climb and through the thick brush where He restores us, cleans us up, strengthens us, reminds us we are nothing without Him and makes us more like Him. It’s where we are sanctified. It’s where our legs and bodies begin to fail us and we have no other choice but to trust and depend on Him. Will it be hard? Heck yes. Will we fall? If you’re brave enough, you will fall. Will we lose some things in the process? Possibly.

The way up can be treacherous and daunting, but the view from the top is so beautiful.

The first thing I learned I had to do was to take off my backpack full of “securities” and… let go. Let go of the fear, control, shame, guilt and sin that weighed me down and live life remembering that… I. am. free.

Matthew 11:28-30

“ Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

I am free because…

He bore my sin

And carried my shame

He won my peace at Calvary

And I am justified by His blood

I’m saved by the life of Jesus Christ

(lyrics copyright: Carissa Vann)

 Don’t miss His redemption story. It’s your story.

I am changed because of this truth. But the word changed is past tense. Yes, I am changed, but that’s not the end. That knowledge doesn’t let me off the hook, either. I am free and out of excellence and reverence to Him - I have to live it out.

Jesus died to save us but He also rose from the grave and gave us the Holy Spirit to work in us and keep pushing us to be more like Him. He’s alive and He’s still working. Because of that, I’m continuing to change and be refined – I’m changing still.

If we ever get to a point where we feel like we’ve “arrived” – we’ve missed something. Until that glorious day when we see Jesus face to face and He restores all that’s been broken by sin, we’ll keep walking through the peaks and valleys of this life. Once we reach the top of one mountain, the only way to the next peak is to go back through the valley. Embrace the messy middle ground and let God work. Trust Him. Seek Him. This valley is equipping you for the next one.

Romans 5:3-5

“…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

As I sat time after time in front of my piano literally opening the pages of my journal and personal time with the Lord and giving those words melodies - I feared sharing it with anyone other than my husband and had no plans to put myself out there for the world to see like I have.

Sometimes in our lives, God gives us these moments of undeserved grace where our eyes get opened, the veil that clouds our view of Him gets removed, and we get this glimpse of Him that is indescribable. I looked up one day while playing my piano and I saw the words:

“Your Mountain Is Waiting, So Get On Your Way”

and I read

“Carissa, I’ve equipped you – now go.”

I realized in that moment that these songs weren’t mine. These words weren’t mine. These melodies weren’t mine. They are His. This voice isn’t mine – it’s His. So basically this album is me with my hands open and empty. Whatever you want with this, Lord, it’s all yours.

Sometimes we just have to be willing and submissive to His plan - not ours or what we think we can do and accomplish.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (The Message)

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart;

    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.

Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;

    he’s the one who will keep you on track.

Don’t assume that you know it all.

    Run to God! Run from evil!

Your body will glow with health,

    your very bones will vibrate with life!

Honor God with everything you own;

    give him the first and the best.”

Is this all easy? Not always.  Am I scared to do this? You bet! Do I still struggle with doubt? Yep, everyday!

One thing the valley’s in my life thus far have taught me is that I’m not alone. God didn’t leave us here on this earth to walk it alone. He sent Jesus to step into this mess with us. He knows the pain, suffering, and struggles of this life because He personally walked it and experienced it himself and to a degree we will never know. I’m not alone and that’s where I find confidence to keep going.

 Who knows what the Lord will do with all of this, but for now I just have to keep taking steps of obedience. 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY CARISSA VANN MUSIC (make up by a partner of LIfe As She Does It, Beauty by Chelsea)

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY CARISSA VANN MUSIC
(make up by a partner of LIfe As She Does It, Beauty by Chelsea)

I’m currently working on my first EP to be released later this year. They are songs and hymns from some of my valley’s; a corridor into my soul and how the Lord has been working in me and through the people around me. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share these songs with you and support and encourage our community in the process. Find out more by following me on Facebook at Carissa Vann Music for updates on this project and more.

 

WHEN THE KUCHEN HITS THE FAN

SHE2016

SHE2016

I was thumbing through my favorite spice magazine.  Okay.  Let's get this out of the way - some people read gossip mags, some like the cerebral-sciency type of mags.  If you're like The Hubster, perhaps you like fishing magazines.  Personally, I find it extremely provocative to carefully peruse the free quarterly magazine sent to our home that houses all the gorgeous spices and seasonings, and all the published recipes sent in by "others" like me.  

So I was thumbing through my favorite spice magazine, and I came across a picture that stopped me in my tracks.  It was a warm photo showing layers of sliced apple, caramelized and formed into some sort of delicacy unlike any I had ever seen.  I did one of those things we do to get an even closer look - you know, like when you fold the magazine in half and then hold it right up to your face, or tilt it from side-to-side as if to see around the item in the picture?  I looked to the left of the photo and saw the title of the recipe: "Grandma's Apple Kuchen".  (pronounced koo-ken)

I knew this recipe was meant for me and I knew I had to conquer it.  I wasn't sure why, but I just knew.  I made my shopping list right away.  There were a few obstacles to overcome in order to make this happen.  Hey, nothing good comes easy, right?  It called for a very specific-sized glass pan I didn't have, nor had I ever heard of, and a few ingredients that were not easily found in a regular grocery store.

As fate would have it, I was in my local Goodwill spot and heard something calling my name.  "I'm over here, She!"  There, with what seemed to be a rainbow with confetti streaming down over it, was the odd-sized glass pan.  $2.99??  I think I can handle that.  Check.  I perused Amazon to find the specific ingredients needed and found them.  CHECK!!  Sunday Supper was looking like the perfect time to make Grandma's Kuchen.  In my mind, I could see the proud faces of my family and hear all the accolades I would be receiving.  Oh yea.  Meant to be.  This was going to be PERFECT.

I carefully did exactly as the recipe said.  I painstakingly sliced the apples so that they were uniform and lovely.  I whisked with fury, and stirred with passion.  I slowly placed each apple slice in layers to be ever-so-exact.  And into the oven it went.  And THE AROMA!!  The smell of the vanilla, the cinnamon, the apples!!  I cleaned the mess that is usually left on the path behind you when you work so hard to achieve greatness.  The kitchen.  But I wasn't bitter.  Oh, no.  Not with what was waiting on the other side of that oven door.

The timer went off.  The potholders came out.  The oven door was opened.  And there, Ladies and Gentlemen, was THE KUCHEN.

I took it out of the oven with tears in my eyes.  I breathed in the hard work I had seen come to fruition, and set it down on my granite counter.  I stepped to the doorway and proudly announced, "The kuchen ...... is cooling."  And the smiles of anticipation spread across the faces of The ManChild and The Hubster.  I was in the clear.  My artwork was complete.  Now all we need do was eat it.

I walked back over to it to rest on my laurels.  Of course I did.  I couldn't help but stare at this incredible beauty as it cooled and brought us all closer to being one with its tasty morsels.  And then, BOOM!

You may find what I'm about to say hard to believe.  But every word is true.  Out of nowhere, the kuchen exploded.  I mean EX.  PLO.  DED.  Glass hit my arms, my neck, my face, luckily missing my eyes.  Kuchen hit the walls, the floor, the ceiling.  The sound of it was deafening.  Cameron and Adrian came running into the kitchen, only to see me standing there, eyes wide with shock and arms out in the air to my sides, as if I were attempting to fly.  "WHAT HAPPENED?!?"  I just stared at them.  "WHAT HAPPENED, She?!?"  And the tears began to flow.  "Are you okay??  What happened?"  I looked up at them, giant tears streaming now, and screamed at the top of my lungs (get ready for it)" "MY KUCHEN EXPLODED!!"  

I wish you could have seen the pity-slash-comical-slash-confused looks on their faces.  The "awwwwwwww"s coming out of their mouths, rolling from deep inside their souls for me as they both put their arms around me to console my broken spirit were so sincere.  All that hard work.  All that mountain climbing to get to the top, only to slide back down.  Everything I had worked SO HARD FOR.  Ruined.

Or was it?  Those two went into action.  They cautiously cleaned me up, and led me to the couch with a tall glass of wine.  They cleaned up the kitchen.  They loved on me.  They offered me kuchen condolences all night.  And I was reminded that life was good, even and especially in the moments we think it isn't.

I changed that recipe to morph it into my own and chose simple ingredients and more practical tools to do so.  I make it often and think of that day every single time I do.  I know it grew me and helped me stretch and climb.  I know it taught me that there is almost always a mess left behind you when you work hard, not to rest on my laurels, and to understand that in all toil there is profit.  I know it helped me see what's really important.  All that because the kuchen hit the fan.

Sometimes the most beautiful things can explode in your face, even if you think you've conquered something after a long, arduous process, and it turns out incredible ...... you feel proud and think you're in the clear.  And then, BOOM.  What was once lovely artwork is in pieces everywhere, reminding you how truly delicate life can be.

Be careful and practical as you stretch and climb, but climb just the same.  Know that when something goes wrong  after you've worked so hard, it is only to show you what's really important so that you don't lose sight of it.  And NEVER put a hot kuchen in a glass pan on a granite counter. 

SHE'S CONDOLENCE KUCHEN

Kuchen:
1 1/4 cups  flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 stick butter, cold and cut up
2 egg yolks
2 tsp milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 medium-sized green apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin
 
Streusel:
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbs flour
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbs butter, cold and cut
 
Combine all streusel ingredients into small mixing bowl and blend with your fingers until the mixture resembles small crumbs. Set aside.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and butter. Use your fingers to blend all the kuchen ingredients to large-crumb consistency. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks then add the vanilla extract and milk. Pour milk mixture into the crumbled dry ingredients and mix until it is just blended. Press this dough into the bottom and up the sides of a prepared baking dish.

Arrange the apple slices in three lengthwise rows on top of the crust. Sprinkle the streusel mixture over the apples. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the apples look glazed and caramelized.

EAT SLOWLY.

www.lucidbooks.net/affiliate

 

1 LIFE 1 MISSION - A GUEST BLOG

Links International - All Rights Reserved ©

Links International - All Rights Reserved ©

What a special day for Life As She Does It!!  Not only do I have my first male Guest Blogger, he is someone I largely admire and consider a hero of sorts.  In a world that is so profoundly broken as a whole, it can sometimes feel discouraging to even try to help where we are called or needed.  Not this guy.  Jason Bollinger, along with his wife, Holly, are saving the world one trip, one person, one step at a time,  And that's how it's done, isn't it?  One foot in front of the other??  You can find more of Jason's moving words, adventures, and mission stories over at 1Life1Mission.com, or any of 1L1M's social media.  Read on to find out more about the ways Jason is doing it and how we can do it, too - CHANGE THE WORLD!!  Take it away, J-Bo!!

I’m so honored to be the first “HE” on the LASDI blog. My wife, Holly, and I are big fans of SHE, and we are blessed to have a front row seat into all the different ways SHE makes the world a better place. She is the real deal, and our lives are fuller because of SHE and Adrian (HE). 

We work with a mission organization called Links International. A lot of our time is spent traveling to the developing world bringing Good News to the poor. We also spend time working with churches, businesses, and families who are interested in connecting with mission opportunities. Our network provides Gospel-based solutions and resources for poverty’s most devastating affects. 

SHE wears us out all the time telling us we are changing the world. The encouragement is actually awesome, but the reality is that we’re just scratching the surface doing what we can. We go to the needs. We work hard on solutions. We empower people to break free from poverty. We get a front row seat to lives being changed by Good News. 

Our hope is that changed lives become transformed communities and transformed communities become transformed regions and transformed regions...well you get the idea. Big impact usually happens from something small. 

We haven’t always worked in International mission. For 18 years we were in full-time church ministry, but we experienced a turning point in 2010 surrounding the adoption of our girls. We went for what we thought was one daughter under 2 years old and came home with two daughters aged 6 and 8. In a traumatic experience of everything going wrong...almost...God miraculously delivered our girls into our family. We ended up spending just shy of three months in Ukraine. A month of that time included spending time in the orphanage every day.

HollyBollingerPhoto.com©

That was our first time in a foreign country other than England. It was our first time to spend an extended time with what the Bible calls “the least of these.” It was our first time to get to know missionaries who were sacrificing a comfortable life at home to serve those in need. We didn’t realize it at the time, but we were deeply impacted by those things. While we were there, it was just life. We were focused on our adoption. We weren’t planning a radical transformation of how we would live the rest of our lives. 

I heard Bono say after his first trip to Africa that he wouldn’t be able to unsee what he had seen. Not only that, he would have to do something about it. After we got home, we experienced that to be true. We still loved the church and serving the church, but we couldn’t unsee what we had seen. Not only that, we started to see it in places we had never seen it before. 

The first step was just seeing it. Mission trips are great for this. Before we saw it, we overlooked severe needs and fatherless kids in our own community. They were there all along, but we missed it. We didn’t see it. Or maybe the truth is we didn’t want to see it. 

It was definitely easier and more convenient to not see it, but not seeing it is the barrier to mission. We can’t change a world that we pretend doesn’t exist. When we travel to places that suffer from extreme poverty, “need” suddenly has a name, a face, a sweet hug and a beautiful smile. I don’t think we’re motivated toward Mission until we experience that reality.  

Links International - All Rights Reserved ©

Links International - All Rights Reserved ©

I like the idea of changing the world, don’t you? I plan on continuing to do all I can to work toward that end. However, I know many think they can’t or don’t have time. Many think they’re not qualified or gifted enough. Some are just overwhelmed thinking about where to start. 

The truth is changing the world may actually be easier than you think. You can be good news to bad news around you. You can bring light to something dark. You can bring hope to something hopeless. Maybe even today. You can change someone’s world. You probably don’t even have to go somewhere you don’t already go. You can make a difference. A meal. An encouraging word. A prayer. A listening ear. A hug. An invitation. Don’t underestimate the significance of what you can do.

Once you see it, you’ll see more. You will even crave more. You might start to set your sights on other needs, bigger needs. You might find yourself rescuing orphans. You might find yourself creating jobs in Africa. You might find yourself doing healthcare training in Nicaragua. You never know. I think we can do it. I think we can change the world. I think you can change the world.

Blessings,
Jason Bollinger

We are available to help you connect with your missional potential. We would love to talk to you about things you’re interested in and places you can plug in. You can contact us at office@linksintlusa.org.

BollingerLove

PRICELESS

SHE2016©

SHE2016©

Have you ever thought about the birth process, and how priceless it is?  A lot of people think of the blood, sweat, and tears as gory and the thought may even make them nauseous, and I totally get that.  But the process itself – gory or not – well, it’s what got us all here, right?
 

I am, of course, writing this because very recently I became (dare I say it?) a GRANDMOTHER.  It’s not the precious little bundle of joy that makes me cringe when I hear that name.  It’s the name itself.  I have always pictured a sweet little old blue-haired lady with a cane and thick glasses who says things like, “Wait for Granny, Dears!  You know my dentures fall out when I try to keep up with you whipper-snappers!”  And let me tell you, Folks, if you don’t know already:  That is NOT me.  Well, sometimes I have blue hair, but it is often in streaks and under some kind of turbi, hat, or ‘do-rag, and accompanied by a new Jesus tattoo and cute-but-crazy-accessories.  GRANNY SHE IS NOT FOR ME.  Nope.  My name is She.  So The Daughts decided SheShe would be appropriate and quite suiting.  And I agree with her. 
 

But I digress.  Back to birthing.  I sat in a different place altogether when Sage Ellie was born a little under a month ago as opposed to when my own children were born: not only a place where I could see the brilliance of a baby being born, but a different perspective.  My baby was having a baby.  And she had fought a long, hard battle of the game called life to get where she landed, and I knew she was going to make a wonderful mommy.  
 

But what about me as a mommy; as a parent to my own children?  Had I done enough?  Did I show enough love?  Did I discipline enough?  Was there a balance?  Had I given it my best shot?  I knew I had made my fair share of mistakes, but were they mistakes that could not be undone or even forgiven?  Would they scar my children enough to sully the joy of being a parent themselves?  Believe it or not, as she labored, I saw my life with them flash before my eyes and was truly pondering those thoughts and at least a thousand more.
 

And then came a different moment.  The moment The Daughts handed me comfort and hope that I had done well thus far: she gave me a hand-written letter from-her-to-me.  The nurse had asked us all to step out – “all” meaning The Son-In-Law, The Hubster (now referred to as PoPo by The Grand Daughts), and me.  Just before piling out of the room for a few minutes, she handed one to each of us.  It helped me to muster up an ounce of faith even before I looked at it. We sat in silence in the waiting area, privately reading the words she had thoughtfully penned.  
 

As I read through my tears, in the back of my memory bank, thoughts of hand-made helicopter-sized hair bows in her fine, wavy locks as a two-year-old came to mind.  I thought of laying her little head down in my lap when she was five after her bath to floss her teeth for her and how absolutely sweet and lavender-like she smelled.  I thought of the time she had chicken pox and I put mittens on her hands so she wouldn’t scratch.  The thoughts of singing together each and every Thanksgiving in front of friends and family and hearing her sweet, natural harmonies pierced my heart with joy.  Standing outside the kindergarten door the entire day where she couldn’t see me but I could see her to make sure she was all right on the first day of school reached out to me.  I remembered her telling me she wanted Jesus in her heart.
 

But coupled with those thoughts were the times I cried myself to sleep because we had screamed at each other for an entire afternoon.  I felt a strong hurt at remembering the time I lost my temper to a sincere breaking point, and thought if I could go back how differently I would handle that moment.  I was brought back to a time of desperation because I could not connect with my teenage daughter, no matter how hard I tried, and thinking what a failure I was as a parent.  It shattered me, as I was almost positive it had her, as well.
 

And then this (don’t worry, Readers.  I checked with her first to make sure she didn’t mind if I share):
 

“Mom, you have always been there for me and through the years have become my best friend.  I’m so excited to make you a SheShe today!  
 

You have taught me to love without ceasing and without fear.  My whole life you have been preparing me for motherhood by the example you have set for my life.  I just didn’t know it until I started thinking about the mom I wanted to be to Sage.  
 

Thank you for loving me like you do.  I cannot wait to watch your relationship with Sage grow through the years.  I am so thankful to know that I will lean on you as I set my own examples for Sage.  <3
 

I love you, Mom, and I’m so thankful for you.
 

XOXO – Chelsea”
 

That, to me……was PRICELESS.
 

So perhaps at the end of the day, you are second-guessing if your best is even good enough.  Or maybe you feel like a failure at something and that shatters you.  In this one life we have been given, nestled amongst the good will always be the bad.  Without those times, we will not grow; we will not learn to love without ceasing and without fear.  So we MUST value those times as well and know that life is good, even when it isn’t.  If we have truly given it our best and have had even an ounce of faith, the reward will be the way you see it returned to you…..and that – IS PRICELESS.  

 

BIG: A GUEST BLOG

Photo credit HERE

Photo credit HERE

I like to have guest bloggers because I love to empower others.  I've been using that word A LOT lately, but it's because it is extremely appropriate, especially when it comes to gifts and talents.  I especially like to empower other women in particular.  I have asked some wildly talented women to guest blog here on Life As She Does It, and that doesn't stop here.  Karrah Penate is someone who wrenched my spirit with a social media post she created one day about bullies.  It was so wonderfully written I found myself with tears in my eyes and so many feelings in my heart.  Little did I know I was making a reservation then for her to show you all that talent now!  Take it away, Karrah!

I am beyond thankful to Sheila for even considering me as a “guest blogger”.  I never really considered myself a “blogger” and I am so thankful for her tender heart to see that in me.  Sheila’s request for me to blog has had my heart on a roll.  She asked me to write one blog and I’ve actually written three in the last couple weeks.   Leave it to She to get the ball rolling! She really does do it all!  Thanks Sheila.  

Take a moment and think of the word BIG.  

When was the last time you took that word as a compliment?  Unless it was in reference to the size of your house or your bank account I bet it’s tough.  

In high school I was known as “the white girl with the big butt”.   Funny?  Yes.  Warm fuzzies? No.  Maybe if my last name was Kardashian things would be a little different. 

While pregnant with my daughter, I gained a lot of weight fast.  Probably because the only food that would stay down was fried chicken and french fries.   Yes, I was big.  But even pregnant when someone said that to me did I get warm fuzzies?  Uh no.  I mean I was growing a human being inside of me so it shouldn’t bother me that I was huge and everyone thought so, right?   Eh.... 

When was the last time someone noticed you had gained weight and you were praised for it?  
“Wow, you look great! Have you gained weight?  Your face looks much fuller and you’re even starting to get a little double chin there.  Way to go!” 

Um. No.  

Growing up I was a size 0/2 and so little (except for my rear-end of course, that has never changed).  I used to be able to eat whatever I wanted.  Cupcakes and cookies never talked back to me.  Exercise?  Me? Not a chance.   I was a straight “A” student who almost got a “B” in P.E., so you could say I was about as athletic as a cow.  It wasn’t until I reached that magical age of 25 did I begin to notice I couldn’t eat whatever I wanted anymore.   

As stated before, pregnancy changed my body ALL the more.  I have never had the battle of weight until the last couple years.  I have done (and still do) shakes, calorie counting, work out plans, and pinned about every different type of encouraging meme about weight I could find.   These things all help, of course, but I’m still not where I would like to be.  I’m not the type that can go without eating.  I like food.  The struggle really is real, people.  

Maybe it’s just me but I thrive off what people say about me.  If no one notices I’ve been eating good and working out I feel down on myself.  When someone says I look “tiny” those warm fuzzies start to bubble and I can’t help but smile and feel proud.  Only to go look in the mirror and find every flaw I possess.   The battle is not necessarily with the scale but in my mind and in my heart.  

We constantly hear the words, “self image”, “self worth”, and “self esteem”.   You are constantly told you should have a healthy “self image”, respectable “self worth”, and high “self esteem”.   And that’s okay right?  I mean we should be healthy and not eat junk.  We should try to present ourselves to others in an attractive, pleasing way, right?  Sure.  However, do you know what this all deals with?  SELF.   I become so fixated on my self image and receiving compliments to promote my self worth and self esteem that it becomes a constant up and down battle of my mind.  I start comparing myself to others and begin to feel bitter towards those 30 year olds that can eat whatever they want and still be thin as a rail, that it actually darkens my heart and hinders my relationships with others and above all, God.  I become so self- centered that I miss the big picture:  it is not all about me. 

Psalm 73 says it best, 
“Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside.  I was so foolish and ignorant- I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.  Yet, I still belong to you; you hold my right hand.  You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.”   (vs. 23,24)
The great thing about being a child of God is that “YET”.  When you have a repentant heart and turn yourself to God He will change your perspective.  Asaph (the author of this Psalm) realized his selfishness and turned to God.  When you let go of your self and put your hand in His, He will “guide you with His counsel”.  So if you have goals to be healthy- great! God can help you with that.  He can help you not be consumed by it.  He can help you focus on the big picture- “a glorious destiny” that He has planned.  Now isn’t that freeing?  

You don’t need to rely on a compliment to feel like you belong or to feel like you have reached your destiny.  God is the one who you belong to and He is the one you walk with that leads you to your GLORIOUS destiny.  

 

 

IN A PINCH

SHE2016©

SHE2016©

There are bad pinches and there are good pinches.  It is much like salt.  Too much of it can ruin a dish.  But I happen to know that just a pinch of salt can make the flavor of something pop.

A pinch doesn’t always make one feel warm and fuzzy, though.  

As a little girl, there were two different kinds of pinches I remember: the kind that was wonderful, like the kind my grandfather would gently give me right on the tip of my nose after he would kiss me hello.  And then there was the one that would leave a sting on the back of my arm or hi-nee from my parent when I would misbehave in public.

Some pinches can hit ya right in the feels.  Like the moments that pinch your heart.  

I can remember the very second each of my children were born.  I can remember how my heart felt like it would explode because I was overwhelmed with joy as they took their first breath of life (and screamed their bloody heads off).  I could literally feel a lovely wrench in my chest.  It is the kind of pinch I will never forget and always hold with me.

Then there was the moment someone I loved passed away.  The pinch I felt in my heart was there, but much different from that of the joy I knew from life being given.  I distinctly remember standing where I was for what seemed like forever, thinking how much I was going to miss them; how I thought the terrible, achy pinch in my heart would never go away.  And I must say, though it has eased up some, the scar from that particular pinch is still there.

I’ve been in many a precarious position in my life.  Sometimes I put myself there, and sometimes it was merely the circumstances.  But either way, I wound up in a pinch.  

When I was a teenager, I made the conscious decision to go into a store with someone I knew was going to shoplift.  I didn’t take anything.  Well actually, I was GOING TO.  But at the last second I chickened out.  I was questioned when she got caught because I was with her.  Luckily the cameras showed I had not taken anything but simply because I was with her I found myself in quite a pinch!  (For the benefit of the reader needing an ending to that particular story, I did NOT end up in the slammer.)

Back when I was a young, single mom of two small children, my tire blew out on the highway. I had never changed a tire before, let alone on a busy road.  (I sure did learn FAST!!)  Even though that was something out of my control, I was most DEFINITELY in a pinch!  (No worries, Folks.  As you can see that one turned out all right, for I am writing this many years later.)

I used to always wonder what a pinch-hitter was when I heard the term used in baseball, until someone explained to me it was a substitute batter – someone to replace the batter when the team is in a pinch.  

I married my Pinch Hitter.  He is definitely my substitute batter when I find myself in a pinch.  Example:  the other day I had a catering gig that called for – wait for it……SIX-HUNDRED cake ball truffles.  Now these beauts cannot be stacked on top of one another or their gorgeous candy coatings and lovely decorations will crack and break.  I was going to have to make several trips back and forth in order to get the beloved cake ball truffles to their destination with no harm to befall them!  But my Pinch Hitter got me out of the pinch in the coolest way possible.

It’s too hard for my non-engineer-way-of-thinking brain to explain, but essentially, he took some cardboard and wine bottles we use for projects (not the hardest part of my job, emptying those bottles......wink!) from the garage, and did this:

SHE2016©

SHE2016©

Hence, it took one trip, and all the truffles were unscathed.

Think about the pinches – the bad ones and the good ones.  Some of them hurt and can leave a sting or even a scar.  Some of them are wonderful and make you remember the joy life can bring.  Think of the pinch hitters in your life that have helped you make it through something unscathed.  Or perhaps you were that pinch hitter a time or two.  Either way, with every pinch comes growth in our lives – like the pinch of salt that can make the flavor of something pop.