December 31, 2010


"instead of telling our young people to plan ahead, we should tell them to plan to be surprised." "dan in real life"

new year's day. a day of black-eyed peas, turnip greens, and hogjaw. a day without fast food, chocolate, or coke. a day of stepping on the scale to survey the damage. a day of a revised budget. a day of a brand new schedule. a day of renewed energy, new promises, and a thousand plans. a day of resolutions that will be forgotten or ignored in only a matter of weeks.

i've only kept one new year's resolution in my life. it was the new year's eve of my sophomore year of high school when my dear friend chris uttered the following words: "charissa, i dare you to go an entire year without chocolate." at this point in my life i was an avid chocoholic averaging one or two candy bars a day, but as my stubborn nature would not allow me to refuse a dare, i said, "you're on." after a year and three days, terrible withdrawal, and nightly dreams about chocolate, i met my resolution. and what did i learn after demonstrating such discipline and self control? new year's resolutions are terrible ideas.

more and more in my life, i'm realizing that besides controlling my chocolate intake, little else is under my control. despite my best efforts at planning, the course of my life is constantly taking more different directions than i could have ever engineered. and i am constantly being reminded that i don't make the rules, write the script, or know the answers. there are forks in the road. the plans change. and sometimes you're simply left asking, "why?"

this new year is starting out differently than any new year i've ever had. tomorrow at 11:00 i won't be eating lunch with my family or hanging out with friends. i'll be at the funeral of a friend who died on monday at the mere age of 24. after fighting a disease for a year and a half in which the end looked hopeful, a sudden yet gradual turn of events took his life. i cannot count the number of prayers i prayed for him in that amount of time, nor can i count the number of tears i've cried in the past few days. but i know that his death is a reminder that life is short and out of our control. no matter how well we design the course, we simply don't steer the ship.

we young people are constantly under the pressure of planning. of choosing the right college. and finishing college in exactly 4 years. of choosing the right spouse. and just in the right amount of time. of choosing the right career. and finding the perfect big city in which to live. we're asked to be certain in a world full of uncertainty. to feel secure when only one wrong step breeds insecurity. and to simply answer the questions in front of us instead of questioning the answers.

therefore, this year my new year's resolution is to resolve...absolutely nothing. to not even begin to create a list of items that will only be discarded. to make no absolute plans. to make no false promises. to not guarantee the success of anything. but instead to seek and trust a higher plan.

instead of making GOD laugh by telling HIM my plans, i'm choosing to laugh at the surprises HE throws my way. instead of praying for a little tool set to create my ideal, little path, i'm asking for GOD to use HIS power tools to evidently reveal the path. and instead of limiting GOD'S power and impact in my life, i'm setting HIM free to do HIS best.

my 2011 belongs to GOD as every previous year up to this point should have. it's going to be out of control--my control. it's going to be about the fearless and reckless pursuit of a plan created by the only ONE who has the vision and foresight to see where the path actually leads. to involve daily prayer for the will of the ONE who truly knows what's best. and to fully let go and fall wherever the WIND may blow.

and while i should feel totally insecure and uneasy about resolving absolutely nothing, i feel completely peaceful and totally resolved. in a world full of uncertainty and at a time of such infinite possibility, i can only be sure of one thing: the LORD has a will, and i have a need to follow that will, to humbly be still, to rest in it, nest in it, fully be blessed in it, following my FATHER'S will.

December 25, 2010

last christmas

one of my favorite things about being home during the holidays is having a song service with my church on the wednesday night before christmas. worship consists only of singing praises for a straight hour. any man that wants to gets the opportunity to go up and lead the song of his choice. naturally, i have my personal favorites of the congregation. there's the old man who leads "how great THOU art" every time without fail. there's the little old man who shouts various song numbers as he walks to the front so that you have absolutely no idea what you're about to sing as the song starts. and then there's him.

him, with the tall stature and the kindest heart. my friend's dad with the wit and humor of steve martin in father of the bride. a grandfather who loves to show off his baby grandson whenever he visits. him, who used to be tall and strong and now is tall and so very thin. and every time i come home i can see that the cancer's done more damage.

on wednesday night as he made his way up to the podium, i wondered if this might be the last christmas. the last time i ever get to enjoy hearing this man sing right before my favorite holiday. the last time i get to truly enjoy his presence and his influence in my life. as all of these thoughts were singing in my head, he asked us to turn to the song, and he began to lead. "anywhere with JESUS."

i started to sing the first line, "anywhere with JESUS i can safely go. anywhere HE leads me in this world below." and that's when the strange and chilling realization hit me. we were singing the same song but with 2 different meanings. anywhere to me meant taking JESUS with me. backpacking through europe or working in zambia. finding a husband and having a family. getting a job and one far-away day turning 30. traveling to unknown places and experiencing unknown things. reaching new goals and taking new steps in life. but anywhere to him meant JESUS taking him. going only one place. experiencing only one thing. there was only one goal. only one new step in life. the biggest step. death.

my eyes filled with tears and i couldn't make it through the rest of the song. the rest of the song that said, "anywhere with JESUS i can go to sleep, when the dark’ning shadows round about me creep, knowing i shall waken nevermore to roam. anywhere with JESUS will be home, sweet home." there i was, in my youth and health, meaning that i'd take JESUS with me wherever i chose to roam, but there he was meaning that he'd cease to roam in order to be with JESUS.

and i can't help but question: can i sing those words the way he meant them? will i really follow JESUS anywhere? even if it means to death? to the big adventure? am i ready for the final goal? the final step? the biggest step? it was by seeing this man's fearless anticipation of the great adventure that awaits him that gave me the courage to live every day as if i'm facing my last christmas.

December 23, 2010

the 12 days of charissamas

in the seventh grade my best friend blake gave christmas a beautiful, new name... charissamas. through the years, i have acquired a nice little pile of "merry charissamas" cards which i recently found in a keepsake box and will treasure forever. and in the spirit of this unofficial holiday, i have been known to dress up as a charissamas tree which involves wearing a tree skirt as a skirt, wearing boots for their stumpy effect, wearing a tree topper on my head, and wrapping my whole body in charissamas lights. but i realized that aside from dressing as a tree and practically lighting myself on fire, i have done little to further the efforts of making my holiday official. therefore, in the spirit of charissamas and this holiday season, i give to you a revised list of a certain 12 days and what i've decided to do with them...

the 12 days of charissamas:

1) on the first day, give 1 compliment. to everyone you encounter. focus on the positive. don't be a regina george by saying something that you don't sincerely mean. but watch people's reactions as you tell them that they look really good in blue or that they really did a great job on that project or that they smell like petunias. watch their faces break out into smiles and their shoulders rise a little higher as you change the whole course of their day with a few kind words of affirmation.

2) on the second day, thank GOD for 20 things. make a list of the 20 things that you are most grateful for, and hang it on your wall. if some of those things are people, let them know. write thank you notes. write long letters. spend today expressing all the thanks you've been storing up. show your appreciation through spending time with someone or in letting someone know just how fantastic he or she is and how you just wouldn't be quite the same if he or she weren't in your life.

3) on the third day, make 3 overdue apologies. we all have that list of people that we have either intentionally or unintentionally hurt who are hoping that we one day get the courage to make things right. that day is today. seek out 3 people whom you might have mistreated. muster up all the courage you can. and don't let the sun set before you've done all you can to calm the storm.

4) on the fourth day, find 400 reasons to laugh. this is critical for burning all the calories that you're about to consume. laugh until it is absolutely impossible to breathe. spend time with children and old people as much as possible. watch funny movies. read funny books. and if you can't find anything else that's funny, learn to laugh at yourself. people go from laughing at you to laughing with you as soon as you start laughing, too.

5) on the fifth day, give 5 million smiles. walk everywhere pretending to be a walmart greeter. become buddy the elf, and make smiling your favorite. you will decrease today's wrinkle formations and prevent some cancer. smile at cute children. smile at questionable old men. smile at squirrels and birds. smile at the rudest person you know. and sugar the world with your sweetness.

6) on the sixth day, make 6 batches of cookies.
or 600 oreo balls. or 6 of something, but it has to be homemade. whether your skill be baking or underwater basket weaving, make something in multiples of 6 and give it to other people. and if what you make turns out ugly, give it to your mom as she will have to love it because she's your mom.

7) on the seventh day, forgive 7 people. make a list of the people who have intentionally or unintentionally hurt you, and forgive them without a second thought. stop pondering the reasons or overanalyzing the cause of the situation. drop your pain like a hot pocket, and forgive 70 times 7 times. because when you choose to forgive, you set a prisoner free only to realize that the prisoner was yourself.

8) on the eighth day, find the answers to 8 questions you've always wondered. use google. call your mom. read a book. but seek and discover the answer to any question that's been on your mind. ask other people hard questions. find out things you never knew. learn random facts just because you can, and most importantly discover truth about yourself.

9) on the ninth day, share 9 secrets.
the catch is that they all have to be secrets about yourself. tell someone your most embarrassing moment. or your biggest fear. tell a story you've never told. or tell someone how you feel. share your hopes. and share your struggles. open up. let go. let people know that they can relate to you. lose your pride, and share the gift you have the most of...yourself.

10) on the tenth day, record 10 memories. write down the top 10 moments of your year that you never want to forget. include a mixture of the happiest moments that made you soar and the saddest moments that made you grow. write down when, where, why, and how they happened and also share the feelings those moments created. keep the record in a journal or just a notebook so that you can return to it and remember.

11) on the eleventh day, make 11 new year's resolutions. disregard 10 of them. you're going to anyway. focus on the 1 resolution that is actually attainable and hone in on it. you're probably not going to lose 60 pounds or exercise every day, but you probably will be able to remember to wear your retainer every night. keep it simple. don't overshoot and get discouraged. dream big. but be a realist.

12) on the twelfth day, choose 12 themes. for the months of the new year. let january be a month of encouragement. or february be a month of discovering a new hobby. or march be a month of pet peeve toleration. decide on a theme and plan to use that month to concentrate and improve in that area. take a whole month to send people cards or just encouraging words. take a whole month to study for that big test in your future. or take a month to organize and declutter your life. be original and find specific areas to focus on to become even better.

the beauty of the 12 days of charissamas is that they can take place on any 12 days of the year, and my personal celebration will be starting this year on the real christmas day.

special note: many of my blog posts are inspired by the amazing friends whom GOD has blessed me with. so if a conversation with a certain friend inspired the creation of a post, i'm going to start giving credit at the bottom of the post. so...

special thanks to: spencer carroll

December 12, 2010

twas the night before therapy

the following is a poem i wrote in honor of speech therapy and the wonderful faculty at harding university. i read it at our annual christmas party this year and wanted to share it here with you. here is...

"twas the night before therapy"

twas the night before therapy, when the clinic was locked, not a creature was stirring, not even sara shock. the GAs had checked the therapy closet with care, but to their great surprise there was nothing there! the students were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of therapy materials danced in their heads. with ms. lowry in her ‘kerchief and dr. tullos in his cap, with mrs. fisher and mrs. traughber both taking naps, out in the parking lot there arose such a clatter,
martha vendetti sprang from her office to see what was the matter. away to the lobby she flew like a flash, and she busted through the front door with one, quick dash. the parking lot was vacant, with no one in sight. not a soul but vendetti was at the reynolds that night. when, what to her wondering eyes should appear, a red sebring and a driver full of cheer. a woman so knowledgeable that you better believe her, she knew in a moment it must be dr. weaver. more rapid than eagles the faculty they came, and she whistled, and shouted, and called them by name, “now, lowry! now, fisher! now, baker! now, chance! on, tullos! on, traughber! on, shock! let’s dance! go into the reynolds! now on down the hall! now dash away! dash away! dash away, all!” into the clinic they all began to fly, with bags of tests and materials there by their sides. and into the closet and the therapy rooms they flew. the mighty CSD faculty had serious work to do. they delivered all of the arizonas and the goldman-fristoes, but going into the wrong rooms received some “nay, nay, pacos.” they had the CELF-4 and the OWLS in their hands; jenga, monopoly junior, and several candy lands; otoscopes and audiometers and lots of fun dip; a brand new mighty mouth with bright, pink lips. a bundle of toys dr. weaver had on her back, and she looked like the fairy godmother as she opened her pack. her eyes, how they sparkled! her dimples, how merry! her demeanor, so regal! her lips, like a cherry! as she walked through the clinic, it started to glow, her elegant white hair the very essence of snow. they all filled the closet with games and toys so that therapy would be more pleasant for all the little girls and boys. ready to conquer the world one speech impediment at a time, the closet was now stocked with weber photo cards and rhymes. lateral lisps and troubled /r/s would be no match for all the materials there in the therapy hatch. but in the blink of an eye, the clock started to strike four, and in only a number of hours, clients would be at the door. and before therapy started, the faculty needed sleep, without giving away to the students evidence of their nightly creep. so without a word the faculty all rushed home, and to the lobby of the reynolds, dean weaver did roam. mrs. vendetti ran to the parking lot as dr. weaver flew to her car, and she shot out of there that night just like a shooting star. but mrs. vendetti heard her exclaim, ere she drove out of sight… “happy therapy to all, and to all a good night!”

December 10, 2010

for such a time as this

"life isn't about finding yourself. life is about creating yourself." george bernard shaw

this semester i've received many lessons in learning how to listen. i've done so by listening to countless numbers of my friends share their life stories with me and give me brief glimpses of their paths to here. friends that i've known for what seems like forever revealing stories that i've never taken the time to learn.

one was physically abused by her father till the age of 10. one had to endure the ostracism of being single and pregnant at 19. one was a preacher's son who rebelled under the pressure and expectations of those watching him. one was cheated on by a boyfriend. one was cheated on by a husband. one was raised in an environment where he was simply never told about GOD. one contemplated suicide. one waits as his parents contemplate divorce. one in her 30s still holds on to the dream of a husband and children. one is still trying to let go of the dreams of days past.

listening to these stories has revealed to me that we all share one thing in common: our imperfect paths. the truth is that we all have a past and need the blood of CHRIST to erase it. even the most put-together people are broken. maybe we're not born with baggage, but after time, no matter how carefully we try to avoid it, we all collect our own, unique baggage. and the luggage we carry cannot help but affect the journey we take. the path that GOD calls us to walk is winding and twisted, and no matter how beautiful and perfect the path on which we started was, eventually we find ourselves in a dark forest, tripping on roots and becoming entangled in thorns. sometimes the path seems worn and the road seems long, and sometimes we feel unlovable, useless, and ineffective.

but GOD has the unique ability to use our pasts, mistakes, and misfortunes for us. if rahab hadn't decided to hide foreign spies in her house. if ruth didn't lose her first husband and happen to stumble upon a field belonging to boaz. if david hadn't decided to take a walk on his roof. if tamar hadn't played a little trick on judah. without jeconiah, jehosophat, and uzziah... there'd be no JESUS.

it is empowering to embrace our present situations. our current circumstances. to attend and to be aware of each moment. and it is empowering to embrace our pasts. not to let them hinder us, but to let them help us. to embrace our life stories so far. to understand that every bad thing that's ever happened to us, every bad decision we've ever made, every wrong turn we've taken on our paths has led us to here and now. and to understand that we were made for such a time as this. to be exactly who we are, baggage and all.

maybe the life you dreamed of living is not the life you're creating. maybe you thought you'd be married by now. or maybe you're learning why everyone told you not to marry the person whom you did. maybe you're struggling to get your degree. or maybe you received a degree and have a job you dread doing. maybe you're a divorced mom. maybe you're a widowed dad. maybe you're a young adult afraid of growing up. maybe you've finally got your struggles under control. or maybe you struggle daily to break free of your web of sin.

if you're single, you have the enviable position of devoting your life completely to the LORD with no distractions. if you're married, you have the opportunity of blessing another person's life daily. if you're a college student, you are receiving a gift that many will never receive. if you hate your job, you have the ability to choose to make it the best job ever. if you have maintained a temporary hold on your struggles, you have the opportunity to be an example and inspiration to all who share that struggle. if you can't break free of your sin, you have the opportunity to share your humanity and to seek help from other people.

whatever your circumstances are, use them. embrace them. take the good. make it better. get rid of the bad. don't be bitter. use everything that has ever happened to you and is currently happening to you to create yourself. live as if you were made for this moment. because who knows if your singularity, the loss of your husband, your poor high school choices, the loss of your job, your long struggle in sin, your victory in JESUS did not make you exactly who you are for such a time as this?

"and who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?" esther 4:14

November 11, 2010

stand in the rain

"peace does not come from finding a lake with no storms. it comes from having JESUS in the boat." john ortberg

"life's not about waiting for the storms to pass... it's about learning to dance in the rain." vivian greene

one of my favorite games of childhood was "the oregon trail." yes, you know the one, and don't even pretend like you didn't spend countless hours in front of the computer playing it. if you really never did get to play it then you missed out on one of the most educational and insightful experiences of life, and i would suggest you get it now and find out what you've been missing.

sometimes life is like "the oregon trail." just when you fix the broken axle of your wagon wheel, little johnny gets cholera and baby maria gets bitten by a snake. sue ellen breaks a leg while jim bob gets a bad case of the dysentery. the path you had planned to take gets flooded, and your favorite ox drowns in the process of fording. sometimes you're hunting for a bison, but all you can find are little rabbits and dinky squirrels. and for all the heartache and sorrow that you have to endure, you get a single verse and chorus of "poor wayfaring stranger" played while raiders come and invade your wagon, stealing all the goods you just bought from the general store.

for the past few weeks i feel like i've been on my own personal oregon trail. i've felt the weight of many burdens that i've been trying to carry in my wagon. there have been constant struggles and road blocks that have completely changed my direction. people whom i respected as people of character and truly valued have proven to be dinky squirrels instead of bison. other people whom i had been quick to judge or to whom i hadn't given a fair chance have proven to be diamonds in the rough. some friends have forded the river and fought tirelessly to salvage relationships. another friend fights daily for his own life. sickness, countless projects, and car troubles have made their presence known all at the same time. struggles, hardships, and tears have been sent straight from satan to deplete us entirely of all energy and happiness. and we travel our trails with heavy loads of care.

but it's times like these when i'm extra thankful to have JESUS in my boat. or my wagon. or my life. to give me strength, courage, and joy when i feel like i'm drowning in the storm. i'm realizing that life is always going to be a little stormy, and it really is all a matter of keeping JESUS in that boat and learning to dance in the rain, which is even better with a great pair of rain boots. the great thing about storms is that no matter how big they are, they pass, and the winds and waves will always know HIS voice. GOD'S faithfulness is as inevitable as change. and HIS mercy is new every morning and never ceasing. and it is with the knowledge that GOD walks with us that we can confidently continue on our own personal, turbulent trails because as robert frost said, “in three words i can sum up everything i've learned about life. it goes on.”

"be still, my soul, the LORD is on thy side. bear patiently the cross of grief or pain. leave to thy GOD to order and provide. in every change HE faithful will remain. be still, my soul, thy best, thy heavenly FRIEND through thorny ways leads to a joyful end." "be still my soul" (my favorite hymn)

November 1, 2010

worth it

"if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well. if it is worth having, it is worth waiting for. if it is worth attaining, it is worth fighting for. if it is worth experiencing, it is worth putting aside time for." susan jeffries

cost and worth are two very different things. cost derives a negative connotation along with a sense of dreadful obligation. when you ask how much something costs you shudder upon waiting for the answer, hoping that it's in your price range. but worth is an entirely different concept. whereas cost is objective, worth is subjective, being defined and appreciated differently by different people. one man's trash becomes another man's treasure simply with a change of perspective. something might cost much more than it will ever be worth while something else might be worth infinitely more than it could ever cost.

this week i dropped everything i had going on, drove to alabama, and surprised all of my friends and family to simply let them know that they were worth it. i showed up in my mom's classroom where she responded with complete shock and her 3rd graders responded with cheers and applause. i then surprised some of my closest friends by just appearing suddenly where i knew they would be. the reactions were great, but their realizations of my love and appreciation for them were priceless. seeing the simple realization that they were worth my time was worth driving any number of miles.

and that's when i realized that people simply want to be worth it. they want to have the liberty of being an inconvenience. of coming along at the worst possible time. of causing discomfort. of being the exception. of being chased. and being pursued. of being a priority instead of just an option. or even being bumped up to the number one spot of the list of the million other things you have to do. of being just plain difficult. but of being deserving of forgiveness. of being saved. of being redeemed. of being appreciated. of being loved not in spite of their flaws but because of them.

a mom needs to be shown that she's worth visiting and told when she goes from being a mother to being a best friend. a daddy needs to be reminded that he's the first man his little girl ever loved and the first man his little boy ever respected. a sibling needs to know that you'll always to be there to punch his or her bullies in the face. a guy needs to know that he's worth infinite numbers of baked goods and back scratches. a girl needs to know that she's simply worth the effort whether it's taking her to dinner at p.f. changs or just the daily, cheesy text message.

and then people need to be reminded. i like to pretend that all of the people in my life have daily amnesia and forget how much i think about them and care about them every night when they fall asleep. so that means that each new day starts a whole new round of showing my attention, affection, and appreciation. it's exhausting loving so many people, but it's a wonderful way to fall asleep every night.

sometimes other people don't return the favor, though, and we feel small and insignificant in their lives. whether it's a friend who's too caught up in his or her other responsibilities or friendships to make time for you or someone who really just doesn't even care, it can be easy to stop feeling worth it. to feel like an obligation instead of a choice. a void filler instead of a place holder. a last resort instead of a top priority. a cost instead of a worth.

it's times like those that i remind myself of the ONE who deemed me worth it. who gave the very definition of worth. who didn't even check the price tag before making the purchase. who paid the price without a second thought. who not only gave HIS life but also surrendered a life of sinful pleasures and self indulgence. who took on our greatest fear of being left totally alone and bore the weight of infinite sin. who was made to feel worthless, rejected, and hated all so i would feel worthy, wanted, and redeemed. who loves me regardless of whether or not i return the favor. who will never love me more for what i do and will never love me less for what i fail to do. who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. who thinks i'm special. incredible. worth it.

and i'm here to tell you, you're worth it, too.

"you see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, CHRIST died for the ungodly. very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. but GOD demonstrates HIS own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, CHRIST died for us." romans 5:6-8

October 17, 2010

the playlist of love

"no, this is how it works: you peer inside yourself. you take the things you like and try to love the things you took. and then you take that love you made and stick it into some, someone else's heart, pumping someone else's blood. and walking arm in arm, you hope it don't get harmed, but even if it does you'll just do it all again." regina spektor, "on the radio"
there's a song for every situation in life. and there's a song for every emotion you feel. in my experience of living so far, every person i've met has used music to deal with situations and to cope with feelings. many of my friends have shared their therapeutic music with me. and as you might assume, the majority of those friends were girls, and the majority of those songs had to do with love. it's amazing how we experience all these different emotions regarding relationships only to go back for more when a new relationship begins. so i've written a little lyrical accompaniment treating love and relationships like a playlist. please enjoy the exaggerated, fictional, and humorous playlist of love, while pretending to experience all the emotions of a relationship from the perspective of a girl:

i'm "just a small town girl living in a lonely world," and i'm wondering, "can anybody find me somebody to love?" and "then suddenly i see" that "it's raining men, hallelujah!" and then, out of the corner of my eye..."what a man, what a man, what a mighty good man!" and so i'm asking, "can you feel the love tonight?" because "you make me feel like a natural woman." tell me, "how far do i have to go to get to you?" because "i would walk 500 miles," and really i'd "go to the end of the earth for you to make you feel my love." "i would do anything for love."

"i wanna hold your hand" because "all you need is love." "so kiss me" because "every time we touch i get this feeling." "honey, i'm still free. take a chance on me" because "i've got that boom, boom, pow," and "my hips don't lie." really, "i don't care who you are as long as you love me." and "i can't help falling in love with you."

"why can't i breathe whenever i think about you?" "each morning i wake up, before i put on my makeup, i say a little prayer for you." and "these words are my own, from my heart flow, i love you, i love you, i love you." so "1, 2, 3, 4, tell me that you love me more!" "tell me it's real" because "all my life i've prayed for someone like you." "say it again for me because i love the way it feels when you tell me you're in love." "we belong together," so "don't forget about us."

"i will follow you, follow you wherever you may go." wait, "you think i'm crazy? maybe i'm crazy" because "your love, your love, your love is my drug." and "your love's got me looking so crazy right now," but it's just a "crazy, little thing called love." so calm down.

but things are getting weird, and "i always have to steal my kisses from you" because "you're hot, then you're cold. you're yes, then you're no." "why don't you say the things that you said to me yesterday?" "if i were a boy i think i could understand how it feels to love a girl," and i wonder, "will you still love me tomorrow?"

and i got the answer because "i just heard the voice, heard the voice of someone else." ohhh, girl, "i'm sorry that you seem to be confused. he belongs to me. that boy is mine." "you were just friends, at least that's what you said?" "why'd ya have to go and make things so complicated?" "why does love always feel like a battlefield?" because "love is a battlefield."

well, "goodbye, my almost lover." and "goodbye, earl." and "baby, bye, bye, bye." yes, "you look so dumb right now standing outside my house trying to apologize." and "at worst, i feel bad for awhile, but then i just smile. yeah, i just smile." "mmm, whatcha say? that you only meant well? well, of course you did!" "it's just too little too late." "it's too late to apologize." so "leave, get out."

"r-e-s-p-e-c-t, find out what it means to me" because "you must not know about me. i could have another you in a minute." "i'm not going through emotions, waiting and a hoping you'd call me. i'm not missing you." and "you can call all you want, but there's no one home. and you're not gonna reach my telephone." because "if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it."

"i saw the sign, and it opened up my eyes. and i'm happy now living without you." in fact, i think that really "i hate everything about you." and "it's just too bad you've already had the best days of your life."

you know what? "my heart will go on," and "i will survive!" and "now i'm stronger than yesterday." some days i believe that "i will love again, though my heart is breaking," but most days i think that "i don't need a man." because really when you think about it, "i'm every woman. it's all in me." so i'm pretty sure "i'll never fall in love again."

"all i can do is keep breathing," and really, "since you been gone i can breathe for the first time." and "now that you're gone, i can roll onto something good." but "the silence isn't so bad till i look at my hands and feel sad because the spaces between my fingers are right where yours fit perfectly." so "i'm gonna find another you." that's right, "i'm moving on," and "you'll think of me."

"well, you put on quite a show. you really had me going." but "i can't make you love me if you don't." and "i think it's about forgiveness, even if you don't love me anymore." sure, i "can't take back those hours. but i won't regret cause you can grow flowers from where dirt used to be."

so i'm "just a small town girl living in a lonely world," and i'm wondering, "can anybody find me somebody to love?"

October 4, 2010

if the shoe fits

for those of you who have been asking: yes, this is a charissa original. ;) enjoy.

girls are like shoes. they come in different shapes and sizes. in different colors and personalities. they bring comfort. they bring pain. they help you walk better than you did before. or they slow you down. they make you look good. but you also know when it's time for a new pair. but after walking with those shoes that feel like the perfect fit, you wonder how you ever went barefoot before.

a guy goes into a shoe store. and you as a shoe hope that you stand out. that you are extra shiny that day. that you look your best. but as the guy patrols the aisles, you know that no matter how great of a shoe you are, whether you are chosen or not is up to him.

and then he starts walking down your aisle. you stand up a little straighter and try to look even better. and you watch as he begins to notice other shoes. he glances at one pair but then looks away. he contemplates another but keeps moving. and right as he approaches your box, he stops. is he looking at you or the shoes beside you? oh, he is definitely looking at you! you know because it's got all the other shoes talking.

the sales clerk comes by and asks if he needs any help, and he simply replies, "no, i just really like these shoes." he picks you up. he holds you. out of all the other pairs of shoes, he chooses you. and you can see the wheels turning in his head through his eyes.

he decides to give it a try, and you start walking with him. you wonder whether he thinks you're a perfect fit. or maybe he needs more space. or maybe he'd like you to be closer. maybe you're a running shoe but he needs a walking shoe. or maybe you're a boot, but he wants to run a marathon.

maybe you just don't fit. or maybe he prefers a different style. maybe he sees how much you cost and decides to settle for a cheaper pair. or maybe he's not ready to make a purchase at all. maybe the timing is off. maybe you are a winter boot, and it's the middle of summer. maybe he decides that if he's still interested in awhile, he'll come back and claim you. maybe he just has cold feet, but for whatever reason, he puts you back in your box and places your box back on the shelf.

but as the seasons change and the air gets colder, the guy's feet really start to feel cold, and he starts thinking about those winter boots. he starts wondering: what would life be like if i had bought those boots? those boots looked pretty good, and i bet i would look pretty good with those boots. those boots fit really well, and after the other shoes i've seen, those might be the best in the store. i wonder if they are still available.

so he drives to the shoe store for the sole purpose of purchasing those boots. he parks his car and starts walking, almost skipping, soon running to claim those shoes. he finally knows what he wants, those perfect-fitting boots that he had just held in his very hands just a short time ago. he walks into the shoe store and goes right to the aisle, to the very spot where the shoes...were. someone else got the boots. in a brief moment of hope, he thinks that maybe they were placed on the wrong shelf. he searches the whole store looking frantically for them, but they are gone.

it's winter now, and there are 20 different pairs of boots. they are all pretty functional and capable of keeping his feet warm, but they are not the boots. and as he purchases a pair of boots that look good but just don't fit quite as well, he knows he will never have the boots he wanted again.

the moral of this post? if the shoe fits, wear it.

August 16, 2010

a letter to my high-school self

the following letter was inspired by another blog i read called '20 something letters' by cassie boorn ( it's a collection of letters written by women writing to their younger selves about the different things they wish they had known and the different things they will learn. it inspired me to write a letter to my high-school self, and i hope you enjoy it.

dear high-school charissa,

at this point in your life, you resemble eliza thornberry. after only 2 years at a new school you will be called into the crazy world of high school. you will feel nervous and scared. that's ok. you end up surviving. 3 of your new friends will move away, leaving you totally alone. but you will make the cheerleading squad, which makes you feel somewhat better, and you will think it is the greatest thing in the world for about a week. you will make a 'b' in geometry and will think it's the worst thing ever, but you totally get over it. once you lose the braces and glasses, you look kinda cute. you will be invited to the prom as a freshman. this will be a big deal. but you will choose to use sunless tanner. this will be a grave mistake. sit by blake in english. he will turn out to be your best friend. oh, how i wish you knew that once you start liking yourself, everyone else will, too.

congratulations, you survive your bottom locker days and make it to sophomore year. you trade the cheerleading squad for the debate team. it completely changes who you will become. you operate much better as a nerd. at 15 you start taking voice lessons. keep taking them, you become an allstate musician. you also start taking spanish. stick with it. one day you know how to speak it. but it's not all perfect. you will get an urgent call. you will hold your grandfather's hand as he passes away. he will tell you you're beautiful. you should listen. after you watch him leave this earth, you will never doubt that there's a heaven again. you take driver's ed. you almost cause your instructor to suffer a heart attack as you stop in the middle of an intersection. keep driving because you do in fact get your license. but you name your little white corsica "the beast." what are you thinking?

you're a junior, sweet girl. and every year seems to get better. but after 4 years at your school, you will still feel like an outsider. at 16, a pizza hut delivery man will hit and total your car. you will never eat at pizza hut again. you will suddenly become terrified to drive. drives will become filled with prayer. keep driving and keep praying, GOD is teaching you to rely on HIM. and you eventually get over that fear. not much later, a doctor will remove your tonsils and adenoids. it will hurt. don't panic! girl, we both know how much you love to talk, and you will talk again. that surgery changes your life. you are dared to go a year without chocolate, and you totally do it! i wish you knew that you can do anything. you finally get that cell phone you've been waiting for. and you finally get to wear that makeup you've wanted, but in a short time you will realize you're far prettier without it. you travel the country debating people from all over the nation. you make boys cry! but i wish you would learn to tame those arguing skills and use them a little less on your parents. you will start falling for a boy. keep falling. it won't last forever, and you'll be ok with that. but years later, that boy will help remind you that wonderful boys do exist and that you will find one.

senior year is a blur. it's a rollercoaster. it's the hardest year of your life in many ways. maybe i shouldn't tell you that. in school, you will always come up just short. you will get 2nd place in almost everything. people will try to stifle you, to give you limits, to put you in your place. and there is nothing you can do about it. the odds are against you, but don't fear. satan will throw constant curveballs at you, but against his wishes your faith will only grow. you will find your identity in CHRIST and not in the praise of other people. you will look to HIM for your validation. and years later, you will be thankful for the struggles and the tears and will not want to change a thing.

i'd like to tell you that you will eventually figure it all out. that you will totally fit in. that you won't feel like an outsider. but that day never comes. you always feel different, never quite fit in, and always feel 2nd best. but you realize that it's just a season of your life. one of refinement. one of developing your character. and your inner beauty. one of preparing you for what's to come. hard lessons that will make you wonder if the rest of your life will be the same way. but is a totally different story. :)

love always,
22-year-old charissa

August 6, 2010

all the single ladies

"keep dancing with GOD, and at the right time HE will allow the right guy to step in." a dear friend

this ones for the girls. for all the single ladies. for every girl who may be currently questioning her singularity.

it's about a lie. a lie that satan has created. and a lie that we continually tell ourselves. and here it is plain and simple: your life revolves around finding the one person you're meant to be with, and you are incomplete until you find him.

gentlemen, i realize that even though i've put that this post is for girls, you are still going to read it out of pure curiosity. so to that i say if you dare to read further, take from it what you can and enjoy the insight into the mind of a girl.

i have the best example of marriage that i could ever ask for. my parents got married at 20 and 21, and will be celebrating their 33rd anniversary at the end of this month. they are still as crazy, if not crazier, about each other as the day they got married. in 22 years, i have never heard my parents raise their voices at each other, and i still catch them holding hands when we go to the movies.

after seeing such love, i naturally have been seeking for even a hint of what my parents have. ever since i found out that my mom got married at 20 i just naturally thought that i would, too. i think most girls envision getting married at the age their moms did. so that was kind of my plan: survive high school, go to college, travel europe, meet mr. right, get the sweet bling, get a diploma (but who really cares about that when you have the bling), and get the license. but i left college without a husband or a ring or even a ring pop. and today i thank GOD that i did because i realize that i was in such a hurry because of satan's sweet lie. i always thought that if this ever was the scenario i would feel complete and utter panic. but i have never felt such excitement and peace, mainly because GOD'S timing is perfect and there is peace in HIS plan.

every day i see girls in a rush for the left hand bling. we search crazily trying to find our jerry maguire who will make us complete. we tell ourselves that the main event of our life will be the day when our eyes meet his and that life is not worth living until they do. we tell ourselves that we will be happy once our last name changes and that then we can really start living. the purpose of our life changes from sharing the JOY of our salvation to finding 'the one' in a limited amount of time.

we forget that the only ONE to make us complete has been with us all along. we forget the day that our eyes met HIS. we forget that we already have a MAN in our life, and that HE will always be all we need regardless of what happens. we lose sight of our PURPOSE and the true SOURCE of happiness. we mistake the ONE with whom we will really share forever.

in our race to the altar, we drop certain things that are preventing us from getting that wedding ring. the thought of 'being in love' truly blinds us and taints our judgment. we forget our values, drop our morals, and shed the must-have qualities in a husband that we've been praying about for years for what we believe is love. sometimes we find ourselves in a relationship with the exact opposite of that list that we started writing so long ago. we would rather be married than married to the right person, and we feel such pressure from the lie that we forget the list.

i know this to be true because i've been there, feeding myself the lie that i cannot reach my full potential until i find 'my other half.' but in my search for mr. right i have learned this one thing: it's hard to give up something for nothing for the hope of something greater, but it's better than having a nothing that you think is something.

i have saved myself for one man for one lifetime. i have prayed for that boy for as long as i can remember, and i believe that he will eventually come into my life. but in the process of waiting i have learned the following things: 1) marriage is not the purpose of my life. 2) i will not grow old with cats. 3) maybe with a cute dog, but not a cat. 4) GOD'S timing is everything. 5) if it isn't godly, it's not worth keeping. 6) there is no hurry. it's an illusion. 7) i have the rest of my life to spend with someone and very little time to determine the someone. 8) i am not willing to settle for someone other than the man GOD wants to step in. 9) my life is incredible in its current state. 10) i love the excitement of not knowing and can't wait to see what's in store.

in conclusion, my life became complete on april 25, 1999, and i've been walking hand in hand with my MAN for almost 12 years now. i'm just as excited about HIM as the day we met. HE still looks at me with those loving eyes, making me feel cherished, protected, and adored. and i still get butterflies when i talk about HIM. when people see us walking together i say, "i can't believe HE picked me." HE puts up with all of my little imperfections, and after almost 12 years of searching, i know i will never find an imperfection in HIM. HE'S building this amazing house for us to live in, and although i haven't seen it yet, i hear it's incredible. we talk all the time, and HE always answers my calls. HE never leaves me wondering for too long. and HE never makes me doubt myself or puts me down. HE carefully tells me when i'm wrong and always strives to make me better. HE always has a plan and knows exactly what HE'S doing. sometimes i don't understand the plan, but i know as long as HE'S driving i don't have to worry. HE pursues me as HE has from the start and grieves at the thought of losing me. my life was transformed the day i looked into HIS eyes, and i know it's a love that will truly last forever.

"delight yourself in the LORD and HE will give you the desires of your heart." psalm 37:4

July 23, 2010

the rest is still unwritten

"it's a dangerous business, frodo, going out your door. you step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to." bilbo baggins

tomorrow is a big day. it's the day i take a big step out the door and into my own apartment. it's the day i start getting ready for this little thing called grad school which is just going to change, oh, the whole rest of my life. it's a day that i thought would never come, mainly because i've been putting it off due to the sweet pact i made with peter pan to never grow up back at the age of 5. the thing is i'm going to grad school at the same school where i went for undergrad. in the same town where i've lived for the past 4 years. with many of my same friends still living there. and all the things i know so well. but i've got a gut feeling that in a place that reeks of familiarity, a new chapter is starting, and nothing is going to be the same.

when i studied in italy i learned all about perspective. how something can be completely different by seeing it from a different angle. it's amazing how you can have a totally different experience in the town where you've always lived just by moving to a different street. how you approach life in a totally new way going from being single to having to think about another person. how a person suddenly grows up when he holds his child for the first time. how your experiences mold you and shape you and refine you like gold in fire to become the person you need to be just for a certain moment. how everything that's ever happened to you or that you've ever done or ever dreamed comes together to create...yourself.

GOD is constantly giving us new beginnings. second chances. clean breaks. fresh starts. new relationships. or new opportunities with old ones. HE is giving us new perspectives. new views. new angles. new ways to empathize with each other. and to understand where the other person is coming from. to be less judgmental. to be more real. to have life and have it more abundantly. to eliminate doubts. to conquer fears. to step out the front door.

i believe we all like to have a comfortable amount of control. to feel like we have some grip on our lives and our paths. some of us live by our planners. others of us set deadlines and goals. and even our spontaneity is to a certain extent planned.

but GOD is constantly mixing it up. changing our plans. not doing what we asked HIM to do. or doing exactly what we asked HIM to, which can sometimes seem even worse. all because HIS plan is so much bigger than we could imagine, and who are we to steal HIS thunder?

i am also convinced that satan would love to prevent us from taking even one step out the door. to make us feel that because our plan didn't work, there is no plan. because you didn't get into the school you wanted. or get that job you wanted. or get married. or become that person you always thought you would be. that somehow that makes you inferior and incapable of being effective. i believe he wants us to be so caught up in what we're not that we are paralyzed from embracing what we are...and better yet, what we will be.

at this point in my life, i have absolutely no idea what's about to happen next...and surprisingly, i'm completely thrilled about it. i am definitely a planner and love the entire aspect of control. but not all of my wisely developed schemes have turned out the way that i thought they would. and i've noticed a common trend that maybe, just maybe, GOD knows a whole lot more than i do and knows me a whole lot better than i know myself.

i'm 22. i have a wonderful family and incredible friends. i've been blessed to have traveled all over this country and europe. i'm not quite ready to get married just yet. i have big, sometimes unrealistic, hopes and dreams. i believe in GOD, and i get a huge thrill from recycling. i'm going to school to become a speech-language pathologist which i didn't really know anything about until my first year of college and which i constantly have to define for other people as the word "pathologist" is utterly mind-boggling. i know my new address and my wonderful roommate and this strange town i'm returning to, from which most people quite willingly flee. but i also know that this next chapter is going to be brand new and that i will be offered an entirely new perspective. i have lots of questions and doubts about my future and would love it if GOD could just give me a play-by-play diagram of what's about to happen (maybe even like wallet-sized so i could keep it in my purse). but despite my fears about what might be and despite my best efforts of maintaining complete control, i'm throwing my hands up...and i'm walking out the door.

"cast all your anxiety on HIM because HE cares for you." 1 peter 5:7