Quote Challenge Day 3

Yesterday, the quotes I posted focused on pressing on in love, in spite of the pain. Today I’m going to focus on beauty: both finding and making it. 

This is something I’ve been trying to build into who I am… Trying to make a habit of looking for the beautiful things in life, especially in the ordinary days and unexpected places. It really is a beautiful life, if you take the time to look. 

This may take it a bit to the extreme, but it’s another thing I strive for… Making even the little, everyday things beautiful. It doesn’t take long, but what s difference it can make in one’s mood and ultimately one’s life.

This is something I want to get better at. I notice beautiful things in people often, but I don’t always say it. Which is sad, because I know how much it encourages me when people do that for me. 

This is how to make things beautiful!

This is thought provoking… Reminds me of a book I read called “A Million Little Ways” (Or something like that.) that talked about being creative with your life as a way to bring glory to God. He is very creative, so it brings Him glory as His people create. 
Tada! I posted quotes for three days in a row. I kind of posted more than three a day, but oh well. It’s too hard to choose!

 That was fun, thank you for challenging me, Emily!

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Wedding Photos!

We’ve been married for over two months already, but here are a few of our wedding portraits! We are enjoying marriage very much so far and are grateful to God for the way He works in our lives. 🙂

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Disappointment

That’s kind of a scary title right before a wedding, huh? Don’t worry, it hasn’t been called off. 😉

A few months ago, though, our pastor talked about how all our experiences shape us and how, as we love God, He works all things out for good. Together with what we had discussed in marriage class the day before that sermon–namely, a few of our largest disappointments– I started thinking about how that has worked out in our lives.

Both Peter and I have had rather severe disappointments in our lives– his back “went bad” around 18, thus drastically changing the course of his life, making it impossible for him to do what he had wanted to do–He had planned on a physically active lifestyle that would have taken him out of Florida.

I was in a relationship that I thought was headed for marriage–(I was rather delusional at the time… looking back I see how crazy it was to think that), but that ended abruptly and traumatically. (long story.)

Neither of us understood why we had to go through those very hard and disappointing experiences.

As I was thinking about all these things, I realized that had we both gotten what we wanted–had we not experienced those severe disappointments– He would’ve been in a different state, and I would’ve probably still been in a delusional relationship. We would not be getting married in 11 days, nor would we have the character built during those rough times.

This not only causes me to thank God greatly for His allowance of those disappointments–it also gives me confidence that He will indeed continue to work beautifully both in and through and in spite of future difficulties and set backs.

He is indeed wonderful and wise in all His ways… we cannot fully understand His ways, but we certainly can marvel and praise Him.

And I do.

He has protected me and provided wonderfully. I am a blessed woman…very much looking forward to being married in just a few days. 🙂

An Annoucement!

Not really sure if anyone reads this blog anymore or not, but for those who still may–I am engaged!!! 😀 (to the same young man (whose name is Peter) mentioned previously)

He asked my dad if he could ask me, and then a few days later, on Christmas at a pretty garden/park, he asked me to marry him– and I said yes! We are both still a little in disbelief, as we both had reached a place where we kind of thought we might not get married… however, God had other ideas, and here we are. 🙂 It’s been a blessing to us and those around us to see how God has worked in bringing us to this place… my mom and his mom had both been praying about it, unbeknownst to us, and apparently some other people had been too. It seemed to happen rather fast, but we’ve been going to the same church for eight years, so it’s really more like “about time!”, haha. I’m already busy with wedding plans and ideas… we are planning to get married in less than four months, so there’s a lot to get done and I’ll probably continue mostly ignoring this blog. I may have more time to devote to blogging after we are married, however… we shall see. 🙂

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Peter and Carissa engaged

(not the best picture, we were both rather tired… but you get the idea. :))

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So, I’ve been learning a lot, or at least struggling a lot. But mainly I’ve been realizing how hard I try and how stressed and worried I can get, and how tightly I hold on to things.

I’ve just been talking to my sister, working through some things out loud and hearing her stories of how God has taught her, and how she’s grown and learned to rest, learned what grace means. And I’ve heard it all before, I know it in my head, but yet too often I forget. It’s just the little things, you know–waiting for a text, or getting lost, or an out of control sibling–and I’m all stressed and worried. It’s hard to remember to trust God during those times, to let go and realize it’s all about Him anyway, and no matter how things look down here, no matter how crazy it gets, He is still there, still good.

Even when I don’t feel it.

Because often I don’t; I get caught up in whatever it is and I feel like He’s far away or maybe He’s not really real, or maybe He is but He doesn’t really care. For me.

But He does. Even if I don’t feel like it. How do I know? The Bible tells me so.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

I’ve been through a lot, and I’ve been using that as a sort of excuse of why I’ve been like this… but in thinking back, really, God proved Himself so faithful that I have no excuse for not trusting Him. Yeah, it was hard, and there were a lot of things that were confusing, but all throughout I saw His hand.

So… I guess this is basically a post of sharing where I’m at right now, and asking for prayer. I can’t say I’ve got this figured out, and I’m not going to say I’m working on it, ’cause I’ve been saying that all along and that’s exactly the trouble. I’ve been trying to force myself into shape by myself, and it doesn’t work like that. I’ve got to relax, and do what the verses says–cast it on Him.

Another Excuse Post (But this one has News)

I’ve been neglecting this blog horribly. 😛 But I do have some good reasons… My life has been rather crazy for quite some time now–this year has been intense. There’s been a ton going on–My mom was out of town visiting her father for a while, and then when she came back I went up to New York for a week (and had a lovely, relaxing, fun time), and when I came back she and I organized the entire kitchen, and then on the fourth of July her dad, my grandpa died, so she left the next day, and then Hannah left not too long after that for Central America, and I had two weeks of working daily and trying to manage the home. Yeah. Craziness.

And it wasn’t over then, either.

Becaaauuussse…. shortly after my mom came back, a young man from my church, the music leader actually, started showing definite interest in me. (I’d been suspecting it for quite some time) That is, he actually texted me for significant lengths of time. And usually he barely replied at all. So that was weird.

About a week after this odd behavior (haha), he told me he liked me and I said I liked him too (imagine that) and… well, it’s been quite the ride since then. That was a little over a month ago now, and since then we’ve had a great many long talks and we still haven’t found anything to argue about. We’ve tried pretty hard but it’s just not working. We found out that we actually get a long quite well–for some reason it took us about 8 years to find this out (we’ve been going to the same church all this time) but hey, at least we figured it out. Seriously, though, God’s timing was, as usual, just right.

He just finished school we when started talking, took his certification exam, and then a few days later got a full time job offer at a big hospital about an hour from where we live. Pretty awesome opportunity… it ended up working out that he could do the job and come back on weekends to lead music at church (and spend time with me, ahem), so he accepted the job and started last Monday. It’s been an adjustment for both of us, but it has been good. Though I must say I am really excited to see him tonight. 😀

We’re excited to see how God continues to lead. 🙂 Prayer appreciated… this is big stuff and we want to glorify God in it.

And maybe eventually we will get a decent enough picture to post. We both seem to have a knack for making weird faces, talking, and or closing our eyes. haha. 😛

This is a Blog Post

(This is a draft I wrote back before I had posted on here… Thought I might as well post it just to give you a glimpse of what my life has been like.)

In which I say things. Because it’s been waaaaayyy too long. I blame my iPhone. And life. And other stuff.

Actually it’s my fault. I’m a big girl now.

So, what has happened since February 26th?

I’ve been to El Salvador and Honduras and back. I’ve turned 24. I’ve finished a journal. I’ve made new friends. I’ve done things I’ve never done before, like passing out 2 ENGLISH gospels of John IN AMERICA. Scary stuff, people. (somehow Spanish ones in CA are easier to give away.) And going to a picnic with Muslims. I’ve cooked lots of food like soup and muffins and chili and zucchini pie. I’ve been sick a few times. I’ve learned more Spanish and played guitar here and there. I’ve been doing Bright Lights. I’ve been to ECHO with my friend Rebeka who came down to visit me for a week. My mom got in another car accident and I’ve been helping her out at home. I’ve been struggling with faith and contentment with my stage in life and with not knowing What I Am Doing With My Life. (Don’t know why but 24 sounds ancient and like I ought to have things Figured Out. I know it really isn’t, but still.) I’ve been praying but not as much as I’d like. I’ve been helping at church with slides and Other Things. I’ve read a few books. I’ve cleaned a lot.

That probably sounds a lot more exciting and glamorous than it is… Or maybe I just have an exciting life and am used to it, haha. At any rate that is a glimpse of what has been going on in my life.

To the Daughters

Last time I wrote to the dads. Now I think it is time to talk to the daughters.

I know that for some of you, reading the last post I wrote was hard. Some of you cried a bit. Maybe more than a bit. And some of you didn’t, but you felt that heart twinge. Some of you have become hard, maybe, and “don’t care anymore”. Some of you, maybe, realized how blessed you are.

To all of you, there are a few things you need to know; especially after reading that last post.

The first thing I’d like to remind you of is that God is your Father if you are in Christ.

“I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.”

2 Corinthians 6:18

Earthly fathers, no matter how wonderful, won’t be perfect. They won’t know what you need always, they won’t understand youalways, they won’t do the right thing always, they won’t always love you right, they won’t always know what to do, won’t always be able protect you.

Some dad hurt is inevitable. Don’t look at me, or some other girl, and think, if only I had her dad, everything would be great. ’tisn’t true.

But God is the perfect Father. He fills in those places that our earthly fathers don’t–and so much more.

And I get it–sometimes it’s hard to see. Sometimes we just want our dads to be all that. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like God is a good Father. But, ladies, we must not always rely on our feelings. We must trust God. We must ask Him to help us trust. He will, you know.

Remember that God is your Father.

I know it’s tempting, but you cannot blame your own sin on your father’s lack of attention or the pain he has caused. We are each responsible for our own sin before God–he for his, you for yours. For those whose dads have not been there, or have wounded you deeply–you are at a disadvantage, in a way, and it would be pointless to deny it. And yet, those of you who know Christ have a huge advantage, one that can overcome even the worst situations. It still hurts, absolutely, and that pain will probably never totally leave. But in Christ we have the power to be free from and resist sin. And if you have sinned (and who hasn’t?), confess it as yours. Don’t blame him.

Don’t excuse your sin based on your dad’s actions. Remember the power you have in Christ.

Some of you–all of you?–have hurts from your dad. Some of you have horribly deep hurts, ones I really can’t imagine fully. However, blessed as I am, I do understand a small corner of what it is like. I have been hurt as well–often unintentionally, but it is hard nonetheless.

And I have learned that forgiveness is not just words. And it is NOT easy. Some things–small, very small comparatively–have taken hours of prayer and constant choice for months to forgive, and even still there are times when it’s a choice.

But it is a choice you must make; or be destroyed inside.

Do not harbor bitterness.

Realize that God took your father’s sin so seriously that Jesus had to die to pay for it.

It is not your job to make your father pay. Holding on to the wrongs done to you will only hurt you more. You–we–must let go, must let God take care of them. And ask Him to bring healing. He will.

Forgive your father.

This next one may be a little hard to swallow, because we want to be loved how we want to be loved. Some of you may have great dads who do all sorts of things for you and take good care of you, and yet they don’t praise you and speak lovingly to you. And you really, really wish they would. I understand that.

But it is SO important that we recognize their love in whatever form it comes. Don’t wait for it to be perfectly exactly how you want it to be. Because guess what? It may never happen. And even if it did, you may be so bitter by then that you won’t even care. So be on the look out for ways your father loves you, even the tiniest things–and be grateful.

Accept and value your dad’s attempts at loving you.

And, finally, probably the hardest one. Especially for those of you who have been wounded terribly.

Love him anyway.

I know. I know. *sighs* The only way I would dare say such a thing to some of you is because Jesus does it–and if He is in you, it IS possible. And if you allow Him to work it in your heart, you will be blessed and he will be blessed and the world will be, too, even if they don’t know it.

For some of you, the only way you can love him is to pray for him. And that’s okay. But do it. You never can tell what God may do.

For the rest of you–find out what HE likes, the way HE receives love, and do that. Show him you love him and value him and need him.

Love and respect your father anyway.

And… that’s it.

Other than to say–well, there isn’t really anything to say. But my heart hurts for you, and I wish I could hug you and make it all better.

All I can do, though, is point you to your heavenly Father. And… *smiles* that is Something.

To the Dads

Esther has grown up quite a bit since this picture–she’s two now. But she still loves being with her Papa.

Now she is talking and talking and talking. There’s a funny thing she does, though. When Papa gets home, and she’s with him, she keeps repeating a little phrase. Over and over, she says, “Papa! Talk to you!”

She rarely says it to anyone else. I am amazed at how her little girl need to talk to her papa is showing up in that little phrase. Sure, she doesn’t really have anything “important” to say yet–she just rattles on about dogs or horses or whatever. But he listens, and she talks, and all’s right with her little world. If for some reason he gets distracted, she once again says, “Papa! Talk to you!”

I want to talk to you dads, and those who will be dads someday. I don’t think you get it, quite. I don’t think you understand HOW IMPORTANT YOU ARE. How much what you do or don’t do affects your daughters.

I’m not talking about big things right now. I’m not talking about things like, “don’t beat them” or “don’t abandon them” or “don’t abuse them” or “supply all their physical needs”. Those are important, of course, and there are tragic amounts (even one would be tragic.) of dads that don’t even do those. But for those who do those–that isn’t all we need.

It’s the little things. Only a few things, really.

I have talked to girls who are crying, inside or outside.

Do you know why they are crying? Not because of boys, not really. Yeah, they have boy hurts. Lots of them. But that’s not the real, underlying hurt.

The real hurt is the Daddy hurt. The, “Carissa, my dad has NEVER told me I’m beautiful” hurt. Sure, many other guys have told her that. But not her dad. And it is just NOT the same. And that wound runs deep.

I know. It doesn’t make sense. Why should a few words make such a difference? Isn’t she being overly dramatic?

I don’t know why it makes such a difference, but it does. Unless you really want your girl to go searching for some random young fellow to tell her that she’s beautiful (and then abuse that beauty), you probably should think about this.

If you’ve never told your daughter that she is beautiful and pretty, please do. And please really mean it. Don’t compare her to some fake super model. See her beauty for what it is, “flaws” and all, and appreciate it. I’m talking about her face. Her eyes. And her inner beauty.

Maybe you do tell your daughter she’s beautiful, and maybe she doesn’t seem to care. Let me tell you right now: SHE DOES. She does care. So much more than you know. Don’t stop.

Dads, please tell your girls they are beautiful.

And then there’s hugs. Our culture is so messed up that sometimes dads are afraid to hug their girls once their bodies are womanly. Please, don’t be. I know it can be awkward, especially if you were raised in a family that wasn’t “huggy”. But we need dad hugs. We just do. If you don’t want to do full hugs, at least side hugs. At least put your arm around her shoulders. SOMETHING. Even non-huggy girls need some kind of appropriate fatherly physical affection. Even if they don’t seem to care. They do. They really, really do.

Please hug your girls.

Protection. Girls need kind, caring protection. We want it. I know, I know. We’ve been saying for a long time that we don’t need it, don’t want it, can handle ourselves.

But it isn’t true. They may seem to hate you for it, and they may even say they do. But they don’t. Even when I have been most upset about my father’s protection, underneath I have been so grateful. There is something so special about knowing that your dad will stand up for you, will do what he can to make sure you are safe. There’s something about knowing that he won’t let guys mess with you. It helps. We need it. We need to be protected and fought for and wanted. You have no idea…

Please protect your girls.

And, finally, please be safe to talk to. Your girls still want to talk to you, even if they aren’t as bold as 2 year old Esther with her, “Papa! Talk to you!”. 😉

But sometimes you scare us. Sometimes we think our hearts aren’t safe with you. Sometimes we think that you won’t care. Sometimes we think you’ll think we’re silly. Sometimes we think you won’t try to understand, that you’ll just start in with a “cure” or with condemnation. Sometimes we are wrong. But sometimes we think those things because of our past experiences. I don’t know your circumstances, but I want to encourage you to do whatever you can to open the lines of communication. Let your girls know that you love them and want to hear what is going on in their lives. Listen even if it doesn’t seem important. The important stuff, the things we really want to say, will come with time. After you listen to the random stuff.

Please listen to and talk to your girls.

And… that’s really it. (Besides praying for them and leading them in God’s ways.)

It’s not really complicated. Just hard, sometimes. But SO worth it. Those things that I just said may make all the difference for your daughter. And they might make all the difference for you.