About Carissa

I am a follower of Jesus Christ and a wife to my wonderful husband. I enjoy knitting, photography, writing, baking, basketball, children, sword fighting, archery and more. I enjoy thinking and sharing about deep things, but I also delight in seeing the funny side of life. I have 7 younger siblings, am homeschooled (even though I technically graduated several years ago, I still consider myself homeschooled... it never really ends.), and go to Grace Bible Church. I blog at carissaserrell.com

Names, and a Name.

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
Loving favor rather than silver and gold. Proverbs 22:1

You’ve probably seen that verse quoted somewhere, tied in one way or another to naming a baby, probably in an effort to get parents to name them something nice and not-too-weird. Well, I agree–it’s nice to have a “good name”. I do pity children whose parents named them things like “William Williams” or “Candy” or *Brock Lee” or “Kyd” or “Bartholomew” or… well, you get the idea.

But I have a hunch there’s a lot more to this whole “good name” thing than that.

Back then (whenever that was…) your name was more than the letters that made up the sounds that made up your name. There’s two main aspects of this thought…

First, in the Bible, the names that were given were very significant. Parents didn’t just pick names based on whether or not they liked them–they were fitting to the situation, to the child, to the prophecies that the child would fulfill, and so on. There are many examples of this…

Genesis 16:11
And the Angel of the LORD said to her: “Behold, you are with child, And you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, Because the LORD has heard your affliction.

Genesis 25:25
And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau.

Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

They were even sometimes changed as circumstances changed, such as in the case of Naomi (sweet) who wanted to be called Mara (bitter) after things went badly for her.

The second aspect is the main point of this post. Your “name” was your reputation. If you were a honest, hard-working, pleasant citizen, you would have a good reputation and thus a “good name.” And, obviously, the opposite was true as well.

Your name was who you were.

Now I can say this all I want, but you’re probably wondering if I actually know what I’m talking about. So… where do we go in cases like this? To Webster’s 1828, of course! 😀

4. Reputation; character; that which is commonly said of a person; as a good name; a bad name.

5. Renown; fame; honor; celebrity; eminence; praise; distinction.
What men of name resort to him?

6. Remembrance; memory.
The Lord shall blot out his name from under heaven. Deut. 29.

7. Appearance only; sound only; not reality; as a friend in name. Rev. 3.

8. Authority; behalf; part; as in the name of the people. When a man speaks or acts in the name of another, he does it by their authority or in their behalf, as their representative.

9. Assumed character of another.

10. In Scripture, the name of God signifies His titles, His attributes, His will or purpose, His honor and glory, His word, His grace, His wisdom, power and goodness, His worship or service, or God Himself.

So, in light of this, all the stuff about “the name of Jesus” suddenly becomes even more powerful and makes even more sense.

Just the mere words without the character of Christ behind it doesn’t do anything. His name itself is not a magic word. It’s His character–who He is–that makes the difference. The enemy is not afraid of a few vowels and consonants stuck together–He’s deathly afraid of the reputation, the character, the… essence of Who Christ IS.

{RD} Things I Wish I Hadn’t Said

When I was younger, I said a lot of things that I now regret. Not because they were mean, or wrong, or bad.

Because they were right–very right–and I didn’t mean them.

I knew what to say. I knew how to sound like a good Christian girl. I could easily impress the adults. (I’ve always been rather surprised at how easy adults are to fool. :P)

And now that I DO mean them, I feel hypocritical sometimes– simply because of years of saying them without feeling or meaning them deeply. I wanted to mean them, to be sure. But I didn’t. And now I feel like others will think I am just saying them… that they won’t know that I really truly mean it now. Because if… I’m still saying the same things… it doesn’t seem like anything has changed. But so much has.

And it isn’t me, it’s Him. And I want people to see, to know what He does…

A little girl at our home group study thing asked us to pray that she would really mean it when she said she loved Jesus… that she wouldn’t just say it. Oh, that I had asked for that kind of prayer!

Serious Freewriting

There’s something rather thrilling about starting a brand new blog post… not quite as exciting as a new notebook, but still something. It’s Sunday. That means have even more things than usual to think about and write about and talk about. Though normally it takes me longer to talk about them than to write about them…

Holiness. I’ve been thinking about it lately–God’s holiness, to be precise. I don’t–get it. Not yet. But I think that’s the point. He is so very horribly awesomely… other. Set apart. Different from us. Perfect. Flawless. It’s… scary, quite frankly. I was thinking about it the other day–about actually getting to know Him more and then one day SEEING Him. Him! The One who… is holy holy holy. Who made all this up. Who died for me. Without that last I should be purely terrified of Him. With it, I am still afraid. Not knees knocking fear, not yet. But awed, amazed, stunned… and yes, scared. I do not understand Him. I do not know all of what He is like. He is not a tame lion…

And yet the beautiful, wondrous mystery is that I CAN know Him. That even today I have learned more of Him. But I shall never finish learning Him… there is always always more. And I am so glad of that. If I could explain and diagram and learn all of Him… what a pathetic god that would be. I am very relieved that our God is not a cardboard god. He is not a statue. He is not man-made.

He can stand up to our questions and our reasoning. Not that He is obliged to explain Himself, or that we can really get Him– but we can ask, with no fear of Him disappointing us. Habakkuk asked–almost impertinently–for God to explain Himself. And God did. By the end, Habakkuk was… awestruck. He got it. He understood that even when things down here aren’t good, God is still good. He is still worthy to be praised.

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.

19 The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.

Habakkuk 3: 17-19

I’ve also been realizing a horrible tendency within myself to, instead of glorifying God because He is glorious and worthy, sort of… cover up for Him. Keep up appearances. Make it out to be like He really is–not so bad as it seems He is from circumstances. I know it’s complete foolishness… and yet I have found that attitude within myself. It is… horrifying, really. That I would… take from Him in that way. That I would not see and display HIS real, everlasting glory… that I would act as though I must sort of make it up for Him instead of revealing what has always been there more clearly to people who don’t yet see it. God, keep your glory always before me!

I have been thinking about unity a great deal lately. Especially within the church. It is burdening me more and more to see and hear about Christians separated by such silly things as dress and music style and minor doctrinal issues and styles of church services. The body of Christ is capable of so much more!! And this sort of division is so horribly unproductive and unglorifying to God and so–the opposite of what God meant when He said we are the BODY of Christ.

When we all separate ourselves into our nice little cliques, we often become dreadfully imbalanced in one way or another– we’ve got the “Doctrine is everything!!” people in one corner, getting more and more dry and less and less excited about GOD–and then we’ve got the “Feeling is everything!!” people over in another corner, getting more and more hyper and less and less grounded in the Bible.

We’ve got the “Modesty IS important!!” people over here, getting more and more legalistic and judgmental and less and less gracious and beautiful–and on the other side, we’ve got the “The heart is what matters, actually!!” people over here, getting more and more lax in their standards of modesty, and less and less concerned about what sort of message they are portraying to a watching world.

Of course, when you mix all those people up, you often get fireworks. Why? Oh it’s quite simple–they don’t love each other or God enough. That’s what most everything boils down to. So I am praying–God, love through me. Teach me to love.

And I am praying that the body of Christ will become that unified, spotless, loving, effective bride that Christ is coming back for.

A Short Freewrite

(written June 2nd)

Freewriting. My thoughts are a lot different than they used to be, it seems. I used to think up funny things quite easily, and random thoughts were a lot easier to come by. Now my thoughts are more serious and straight. I think about things like justice and truth and praising God and what God requires of me and what it really means to glorify God. That isn’t all there is, of course. There’s also the fear and the tiredness and discouragement and the constant fight against lies from within and without. And there’s the cute baby sister and the little brothers who always want to do something and the medium sisters who like to talk about books and the tall little brother who is quiet but likes to joke around and philosophize and there’s the big little sister who is there, quiet or talking. I don’t know. Sometimes I like the change and sometimes I wonder where Carissa went. I’m twenty two and I actually feel like it sometimes. Which is very odd, since I never felt twenty or twenty one… I still don’t really believe I’m that old, but I feel like I am. At least my hair’s not gray… 😀 I’m not really discouraged or down… just quiet. I’ve got some of the too-still stillness, I think. But not too bad… I’ve still got hope. If a day comes when I don’t have hope, something will be desperately wrong… I am very hopeful, to the point of annoying myself. There’s fruit ninja noises in the background along with little brother comments and some banging around in the kitchen.

I Feel At Home…

She sat across the table from me, eyes slightly misty. Looking around from face to face, she softly says words that sink in deep.

“I feel at home. It’s the first time I’ve felt like this for a very… very long time.”

She’s a young mom; a neighbor of ours for a few months. Two darling children, a husband with a job that moves them around a lot. A rough growing up.

She knows and loves God.

Our house is rather a mess–children running around and the remains of crafts on the table. Dishes in the sink, shoes strewn about.

But it doesn’t matter. She feels at home.

That is what hospitality is really about. It isn’t about fancy dishes or perfectly food or a gorgeous, spotless house. It’s about love. About sitting around the table, talking and laughing and crying. About… being at home.

Death and Life

We started out alive. Very much alive. We were in direct, perfect communion with God. We had no division or misunderstanding or selfishness in our relationships with each other. We were physically healthy. We were mentally sound. We were emotionally fulfilled and whole.

And then

we

died.

God told us we would, if we did That; but we paid Him no heed.

Thought we knew best.

We tried so hard, we did. We tried to pretend we were still alive.

We hid. Hid from the One with the Answer, from the One who sees all.

And we’re still dead and we still pretend.

Outside we look alive.

Inside we are naught but a corpse.

Rotting, shriveled, dry.

We plaster on a smile and we laugh and we talk loud and we DO. Frantically, we try to convince ourselves–or at least everyone else–that we aren’t really dead inside.

But we are.

And we all know it, no matter how hard we try to make it look otherwise, no matter how many people tell us we are beautiful and good, no matter how loud we laugh, no matter how much doing we pile on top of our deadness in an attempt to look alive.

Ugly, small, not-right.

This is us.

Correction: this is us without and before Christ…Before the Christ-life comes in and fills that hollow, dried up, dead spirit of ours. Before He comes and breaths His life into our breathless spirit. Before His Life-Blood begins flowing in our spiritual veins.

But oh, when it happens–what a glorious thing!

We who were once

dead,

who were once

far off–

are alive in Christ,

brought

very near

by His precious life-blood.

Why, then, do we–who are alive in Christ–sometimes still feel dead? Why do we sometimes still see ourselves as ugly, shriveled, hopeless?

In a word:

lies.

You see, Before, the lie was:

You aren’t really dead;

somehow, someway, you can beat it.

You can

cover it up.

Hide, run

and hide.

Don’t let Him see.

Just put on some more makeup,

maybe buy some more expensive clothes.

Make sure you do everything

right.

Keep doing all those good things; maybe

that

will make you feel better.

Once we see through that lie and accept the Christ-life, however, the lie takes another twist. He whispers the other side of his deceitful tale into your delicate new ears:

You aren’t

really

alive.

You’re still just as dead as you ever were.

Look at you!

Insignificant, putrid, hollow old you.

Who do you think

you are,

claiming to be new, holy, cleansed, alive?

You’re wrong.

He doesn’t

really

care for you.

Maybe the other people–look how beautiful they are.

Not you.

Look at what you’ve done, who you are.

No…you’re still

dead.

BUT IT IS A LIE.

Just as plain and simple as that.

It’s a lie.

Lies are nothing, nothing but the twisted fragments of nightmarish thoughts from the Enemy of your soul.

The one who tricked us into believing The Lie that brought death to our souls in the first place. The one who desperately tried to keep your soul dead. And the one who, now that your spirit lives because of Christ in you, wants nothing more than to keep you believing that you are still dead.

Don’t listen.

Trust.

I know you don’t see,

yet.

You don’t see what God saw when He had the idea for you. What He knows you’ll become at the end of the story. You don’t see, quite, the glow He had–has–in His eyes when He looked at you. You didn’t see His joy when your long-dead spirit finally accepted His life and became new.

But you have to trust.

Trust that He knows what He’s doing. Trust that He who has promised is faithful, and that He also will do it. Trust that He makes everything beautiful in its time.

Trust that His life is in you, and that

you

aren’t

dead inside

any more.

No. You are alive, very alive.

Because The One who is

The Life

is in

you.