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.
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.
“ 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.
“…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.
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.