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.

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)

(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.



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, 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. ©

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.

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



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.  



Designed: A Guest Blog

Please do not copy this photo - all rights (reservedly) reserved through The Durham Family

Please do not copy this photo - all rights (reservedly) reserved through The Durham Family

Well, this month's Guest Blogger is very special to me.  You can rest assured you're in for something wonderful when you read her words.  She will tell you where to find her other work in the post, but I like that I can find her by my side whenever I need her.  Carly Durham is a woman of rare quality and substance and I admire and adore her.  You can look for a large dedication to her in my upcoming book - and an even larger one in my heart of hearts.  Love you, Car.  Readers:  READ ON.

Writing a guest blog for a woman who I consider to be nailing it when it comes to being a woman who can do it all (which she herself admits, she does not and we do not have to do it all- be it all, she just wants to encourage us to do what we do overflowing with passion and love) surprisingly brought up some shoved away insecurities.  I guest blog from time to time for random internet blog buddies and write occasionally over at but a post for Life-As-She-Does-It felt daunting. And then she had to go and get the witty Katy Livingston to go first, leaving me the follow up post. I stand little chance. It’s like signing up for a meal train to bring my store-bought chicken or grilled cheese sandwiches the night after your foodie friend has listed she is making lambs with chimi-churi sauce and homemade buttered-pecan ice-cream. The "look-ahead" is a real technique to make sure you are not setting up your people for disappointment. Now here I offer you my boxed mac n’cheese with added hotdogs weenies after you just ate homemade beef bourguignon.  Go ahead a lower your expectations my people. 

While I no longer fear that I will be childless, my lack of fertility is a theme that runs deep in my life.  Insecurity attached to infertility molds my thoughts and shapes my worldview.
What does it say about me? About God? About who I am suppose to be?
Honestly, I give it way to much power. Why do I let it take root so deeply?
Here is where we are at: We have never stopped trying. Really, how can I stop? After 5 years of charting, peeing, calculating, I know this stuff down cold and am constantly aware of where I am at in my cycle. Woman was created to bear children. Go forth and multiply. Labor and Birth.
What does that say about me that I do not join my fellow woman in this path?
In a moment of doubt and insecurity, I sought counsel and comfort in a friend after a month of disappointment and grief.

"It's not so much that I ache for pregnancy so much anymore, I just feel flawed to my very core.  My body….. It's just I……… How come I don't do what I was designed to do! I hate my ovaries. UGH!"

Speaking TRUTH over me, she replied:

"I hear you what you are saying, on a whole, as a woman, what you feel women were designed to do. BUT YOU. YOU.  You were fearfully and wonderfully made and designed. There is great purpose in that."


Can I hold on to that promise? Can I uproot the belief that I am failing in my "role" as a woman and rather plant the conviction that I was designed? That I was indeed fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:13).

And further, when I question this truth, what am I saying about God?

Then I really dig in a little more, when I question this truth, what am I saying about my uniquely designed son?

I firmly believe he is fearfully and wonderfully made with this incredible extra chromosome. I would not for one-second question his design. Every inch! Every chromosome! (ohhh goodness- have you heard that he is the cutest baby in the world - because word is spreading fast!!!)


Thankfully, God, He is not afraid of the dark places my doubts and insecurities take me sometimes and He finds me there. 

He would also be pretty cool about it if you wanted him to go ahead and shine some light on your dark places of doubt and disbelief if you want to ask him. Because while we cannot all rock turbans on hair and giant rings on our fingers like She does, we all have been designed to rock our own unique self.  Sometimes we start to doubt that.

Life-As-She-Does-It friends, you are women so unique. If you stumbled here to read about a legit recipe to prepare with hopes to razzle-dazzle your people for a meal train, or you have come seeking encouragement on how to make the magnificent mundane, know that life as You do it has great purpose and significance. Perhaps you are fashioned to be the mom that wears yoga pants every day and puts on make-up once a year for your husbands work Christmas party but you read books to your kids in the best character voices and make a slammin-good lasagna. Or maybe you are the woman who does not leave the house without her lashes on and lips drawn, who started her own business and is not looking to start a family as she is diving into the calling God put on her heart. Either way. Every way.

Own it. You are a created woman. You've nailed it.

The Pursuit of a Domestic Pursuit: A Guest Blog

Photo Source  HERE

Photo Source HERE

Hi, All!  I have a treat for you guys and cannot WAIT to share it!  I have a guest blogger today by the name of Katy Livingston, and let me just tell you - she has a GIFT, Ya'll!  She is a talented writer (visit her blog!), and a devoted mom and wife.  She is, in my opinion, a GREAT balancer, which is rare these days.  She may say otherwise, though, as we women tend to do.  But I'll let her tell you more: TAKE IT AWAY, KATY!

Hey all, I'm Katy, and I usually blog over here at  A HUGE thanks to Sheila for inviting me to this corner of the interweb!  I have never “guest blogged” so to speak, so Sheila is taking a huge risk here. If you haven't met She, one of her biggest gifts is that people like me can't say “no” to her. I am filled with equal parts admiration and fear of her.  It's a beautiful thing. So full disclosure before we get started:


On being almost 30 Without Finding a Domestic Pursuit

If you know me, you know this: I have the best parents in the world. My life growing up was pretty much cake (even though the recent release of Jurassic World has freshly opened the wound from when the original Jurassic Park came out in theaters and my parents wouldn't let me see it because it was PG-13 and I was probably 8. It's 5 years, guys! No one even follows those rules!)

Despite the awesomeness of having folks who loved us and even seemed to genuinely enjoy spending time with us, I recently discovered that I missed out on one key aspect of adulthood: a domestic hobby. My mother succeeded in all aspects except passing down a really cool skill that I can utilize now and bring with me into my golden years. I look around and see other ladies who have creative hobbies, and I feel left out.  While I am totally at peace with the whole Stay-at-Home Mom gig, I just haven't even found my thing.  I have friends who may use extra time alone to craft because it's “cathartic.” If I have some extra time to myself, I think, “I guess I could shave my legs or something...”

So far, my domestic hobbies are as follows:

 having babies

 making lists

 finding dessert recipes on Pinterest for my husband to bake

 blog stalking

 going to Kroger (I know this is weird. But seriously, grocery shopping is the best!)

Now, lest you think I have spent no time brainstorming other options:

  I considered learning to sew. I even made a sewing board on Pinterest, but as it turns out, I just like making boards, because it's the same as writing a list. My sweet friend tried to teach me how to thread the needle of a sewing machine, and I was just sitting there, sweating, trying to remember what she was saying.  Why are there 4 steps just to put thread in there?! There has to be a better way.  Add this to the fact that my Mother-in-law is literally a professional quilter, and I don't want to bother trying to live up to that level.

  Gardening: Maybe. This one is still a consideration. I can't see myself enjoying crawling around on the ground and getting dirt all over my hands, but I guess that shouldn't bother me since I spend most of my days in the cesspool that is kid germs.  Also, it's blazing hot outside.

  Knitting/Crocheting: I don't know the difference between the two. I love the idea of sitting in a rocking chair and having a little project in my lap. But the counting. The counting.  I can see myself losing count and ruining scarves that I won't ever have the opportunity to wear because of the blazing heat.

  Cooking: I generally prefer eating. Cooking is fine, but I don't love it. I also don't seem to have a knack for it.  Plus, I don't usually try any recipe with over 5 real ingredients, 5 steps, and like 4 dishes to clean.  I do love the Food Network, though.

  Photography: This is the last photo I've  taken:

Please do not copy this photo - all rights (reservedly) reserved through Katy Livingston

Please do not copy this photo - all rights (reservedly) reserved through Katy Livingston

#ExhibitA #nofilter

  Crossfit: because... I just can't, y'all. Also, I don't want to “Eat clean and train dirty.” I mostly just want to train a little bit dirty and not really eat clean at all. I don't need that kind of peer pressure in my life.

Here is where I have hit the dead end. But I would be lying if I said I didn't have one pursuit at all. I sort of do: reading.  As a kid, I used to read in the car on the 4-minute drive home from elementary school. In middle school, I used to read a lot of novels about people with terminal illnesses, and my mom was worried I would need therapy or something. I forgot how to read for fun during high school and college. My friends who worked at a bookstore would give me book recommendations that never failed to stir up something in me and bring me back to the joy of a new book. Then somewhere along the way, I let myself fall into the mom trap of surviving the day and falling onto the couch for some mind-numbing tv before bed every. single. day.

But guess what? I just joined a book club. And I just started reading a real book, and I love it. I feel like a new woman. And I'm going to try to not be too awkward when I meet some new ladies to eat snacks and chat about said book. And I won't feel badly that I don't have a thing right now that allows me to make someone a gourmet meal or sew cute baby gifts or have a beautifully landscaped yard or homegrown vegetables or a sick body. I'll just enjoy those few minutes I have been spending every night immersed in a beautiful, new world by the glow of my Kindle light while my husband drifts off to sleep next to me.

Because that's enough for me right now.