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.



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.  



What She Wore, Crabs, & More

Photo Source:  HERE

Photo Source: HERE

Look, I know the title of this post makes me sound a lot like Dr. Seuss, but there is a method to my madness.

There are so many successful blogs out there, and I really want to be one of them.  So in doing my research on what makes some of them so successful, I discovered that several of them include a “What I Wore” post every-so-often.  Well, Ladies (and if the title didn’t turn you away from reading on, Fellas, then I respectfully include you, too), since that is not exactly my style – to brag on my style – I thought, “Perhaps I can demonstrate my own take on it, She-STYLE.”  (See what I did just there?)

You see, every Fourth of July, The Hubster (Adrian) and I have our Annual Camping on the Beach Date Night.  (I capitalize it to emphasize its importance).  This year, he decided it was time to christen me to the crabbing world. 

Now I don’t know about you, but Date Night of any kind is an exciting thought – even if you know you’re gonna catch crabs.  So every year for camping, being the Bohemian-Glitter-Girl that I am, I try to dress up without dressing up.  I want my man to think I’m purty after all; but I also don’t want to wear a ball-gown to the murky waters of Surfside, Texas. 

In all the afore-mentioned blog posts, these girls have definitely got their sassy pants (or dresses, or whatever) on.  Trendy, pricey, and GORGEOUS.  Thing is, my take is a little different.  For instance, let me walk you through last year’s ensemble:

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used.

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used.

Hat: 99 Cent Store, $1, Glasses: Target (pronounced “tarjay”, of course) Dollar Clearance Bins, $1, Earrings: Beauty by Chelsea, thank you very much (in other words, The Daughts gave them to me), Shirt: Tough Mudder Team Carpe Diem, Free (I EARNED that sucker!!), Capri Mom-Jeans: Goodwill, $4.99, Shoes: Penny Wise Resale, $2

Yea.  Not too trendy OR pricey.  (But guess what?  The Hubster DID say I looked GORGEOUS.  Even in my high-waisted mom-jean capris.  He made the conscious effort to say so.  Rare, I know.) 

This year's ensemble and where it came from would equally bore you, but the date details wouldn’t.  (No.  Not THOSE details, Dirty-Birdies) So we use our small means to make for a big night…who CARES about that part?  The tent goes in the back of the truck and we literally lay on cardboard and blankets.  We drink wine out of plastic wine glasses that get sand in them and make our mouths a little gritty.  We watch the free fireworks at night over the sand and water.  And boy-oh-BOY did we go CRABBING!  We caught a bountiful booty of blues…and then we partook in the trophy that was sweet crabby meat!  Did it REALLY matter what I wore?  To take this moment in our very SHORT lives to breathe each other in?  To take this moment in our very BUSY lives to remember how small we are next to the great, big ocean God created, but how meaningful our living legacy and the one we leave behind can be in the very moment we remember that?

What you have or how much you spend does not make the man (or woman), I tell ya.  What you do with what you’ve been given sure does.  Do you let bitter people steal your joy?  Or are you, perhaps, one of those joy-thieves referred to? Are you making the most of every, single, precious moment?  Or are you recklessly wasting time sweating the small stuff? 

Are you dressing for success when you wake up without even thinking about clothing, or in your most-expensive clothes are you setting yourself and others up for failure?

Are you basking in crabs, or are you one of them?

Me?  When others are talking about What SHE Wore, I hope they are inclined to say, “Her heart.”