Category Archives: Personal Updates

A recommendation letter for dating me

To whom it may concern:

Should you choose to ask Carissa to go on a date with you, it is important that you are aware of some key benefits and hazards to dating her.

  • She will listen intently to your stories, anecdotes, and feelings. However, she is terrible at telling her own stories. Pretend to be interested anyway.
  • She will always reach for the check, but you will probably end up paying. Be careful how you handle this situation, as you do not want to risk setting off a feminist rant.
  • She will try very hard to refrain from talking during movies. She is still working on this habit, but she tries valiantly.
  • She will graciously allow you to win at any athletic activity you do on your date while playfully talking trash. Unless you take her to the batting cages, in which case she will kick your $#%!^&$ a$$.
  • She will only curse if she is very nervous. This will subside over time.

I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.


Her Previous Dates

P.S. Be careful of her dad. He’s a live wire.



2015 in Review

In a few hours, I’m heading out the door to a New Year’s Eve dance. And a few hours after that, the year 2015 will come to an end. At this time of the year, it’s fun to look back on the resolutions we’ve set for ourselves, but it can be discouraging to realize that once again, we aren’t the idealized versions of ourselves that we were so sure we’d be 365 days earlier. That’s one reason why I started a Reverse Bucket List last year and have been slowly filling it up.

This year was imperfect for everyone, myself included. But I was pleasantly surprised this year to find that, unknowingly, I had completed many of the resolutions I set for myself on December 31, 2014. Here are a few examples, not for the sake of bragging, but for the sake of giving myself, and maybe you, a little bit of a break:

Resolution: I’d like to give more meaningful gifts.

Gift-giving isn’t my love language. I’m not a good gift-giver, and I feel guilty when I receive gifts. But this year, I realized that gifts are a meaningful way to make someone feel special.


I accomplished this goal by making many cards with my own calligraphy, and also giving my framed calligraphy as gifts.

Resolution: Be content, even if I’m single all damn year, and resolve my emotional dependence on boys. 

(That’s really how I wrote the resolution. My 2014 self apologizes.)

And I was single all damn year. I wasn’t always content being alone at the beginning of the year, but as the year has progressed, I’ve realized that I am absolutely capable of being single and thriving. Choosing to go to counseling really helped me work toward this goal and understand why I have always sought attention and gratification.

Resolution: I’d like to live more simply.

I didn’t realize how much simplicity and minimalism would impact my life this year. I read a book that changed everything: 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.

calligraphy 2.PNG

Since reading this book, I have been driven to own only what I need. I especially accomplished this goal by cleaning out the closet full of junk that I had left in my parents’ house, and by bringing about 5 boxes and bags of items from my apartment to Goodwill.

Resolution: I’d like to not waste money… if I manage my money better, I can use it to help others more.

This was the year that I established a budgeting system and stuck to it! After trying my hand at spreadsheets (and being really bad at it), I started using to keep track of my accounts, and I have finished all of the past six months I’ve used the site under budget. Just gimme an envelope and call me Dave Ramsey!

And as a result of knowing exactly where my money went and budgeting space to give, I have been able to give generously to my church and those around me who were in need out of my meager little abundance. As I raised support for my trip to Las Vegas, I also saw the Lord provide through others and was truly blessed by them. (Thank you again.)

Resolution: Dance a whole lot.

And I did! I rang in the New Year 2015 with a dance event, and I’ll do the same this year. I danced in DC, Virginia, and Salt Lake this year; I learned from John Lindo, I danced with Markus Smith, and I taught regular lessons! I think this resolution will be a recurring one… 🙂

I am truly proud of many of my successes this year. I encourage you to think about how you achieved your resolutions, or to list the things you did this year that you’re proud of before you kick yourself for all your messes this year.

Above all, to God be the glory. He provided the finances, the contentment and peace, the physical health, and so many blessings this year.

For the next year, I have two resolutions:

Resolution 1: Pray hard. I learned a lot about the power of prayer this year on a ministry trip to Las Vegas, evangelizing in Manti, UT, and preparing and leading a trip to Pittsburgh. This year, I want to put it in action. Prayer changes things, and I want to join the battle.


Resolution 2: Host well. In the past year, I have experienced the blessings of being a good host, as well as the connections forged when others host. I want to cook a lot for other people (hm, or order takeout) and develop deeper relationships in the comfort of home.


Happy New Year, my friends. It’s been a good (and sometimes messy) year.

This is a preface.

I haven’t had time to sit down and write a blog post in months and months. Writing grad school papers and grading students’ papers and reading books and other word-related obligations have kept me from any time spent writing that didn’t make me money or good grades. But now that it’s summer, I think we need to spend some time catching up. I haven’t exercised the practice of writing in quite a while.

This is a preface. I have a journal recording what I’ve been thinking this year so far, and I’m going to be translating some of those entries into blog posts. I also have new thoughts to put to words, and I want to write them down this summer. I hope a fraction of them are worthwhile.

Thanks for reading. You’ll be hearing from me again soon.

Reverse Bucket List

Bucket lists are depressing and difficult. To attempt to list every exciting, life-changing task I would like to complete between now and the conclusion of my life seems overwhelming! So instead, I’m starting a new list of awesome things that belong on a bucket list that I have already completed.

I’ve had a lot of unique, beautiful adventures, and I want to make sure I document all of them. I love seeing that the most important moments I’ve documented are just that–moments. Experiences. Not stuff. This project helps me see all the excitement and abundance that is to be had, even without a bucket list or the budget to go skydiving.

Continue reading Reverse Bucket List

It’s all part of the ride.

Alternately titled: Oh right, I still have a blog.

I got an email from the domain host saying, “Hey, you still want your blog name, right?” And that’s when I realized I haven’t written on my blog for 6 months. My apologies to the thousands of you who check daily to see what fascinating new content I’ve posted here. (If that’s you, I say this with love: get a life.)

Anyway, since I last wrote a blog post, I completed a semester of graduate school. It was fantastic, and very challenging. I pulled a lot of all-nighters… those come with the package.

Other things that have happened since I last wrote a blog post: I turned twenty-one, traveled to Atlanta on a mission trip, won a swing dancing competition (it wasn’t as big of a deal as it sounds), listened to a lot of mind-rotting pop music, went to a Broadway play, had a boyfriend, broke up with aforementioned boyfriend, bought a Crock Pot, read a lot of books, and dressed up like a Christmas elf at least 5 times. Oh, and 40 students called me Miss Johnson this semester.

This life is an adventure, y’all. (Oh, and I say “y’all” now.) Learning is exciting (most especially when you’re learning about subjects you care about), people are fascinating, and stuff gets challenging. You mess up, you receive grace, you show grace, and you keep on loving people.  It’s all a part of the ride.

So, that’s where I’m at. Holding on for dear life, pretending I’m having a blast at all times (and actually having a blast most of the time). My blog is still here (though I can’t promise any more frequent posts), and I’m still having adventures. Onward and upward.

Love from Carissa.

Choosing joy.

[I began writing this post in February and left it in my drafts. But I’m revisiting it and sharing it with you now! Lucky you.]

This year — 2014 — was supposed to be an amazing year. I know because I decided last year in December. 2013 ended rather poorly, but I was filled with motivation as we rolled over into the next year. I was convinced that every moment of my final semester of college was going to be flawless and thrilling, and that nothing was going to hold me back from living my life to the fullest!

Boom. Then life kicked in.

Continue reading Choosing joy.

10 Good Things on January 10.

(What in the world, how is it January 10th already?! The new year just started!)

1. I have the opportunity to work in a brand-new, history-making library during the week that it opens. I work for and work with some of the most caring, brilliant people on Liberty’s campus.

2. I have friends who inspire me and encourage me and pray for me.

3. Steven Curtis Chapman’s song “Love Take Me Over.” It’s been my jam this week.

4. Dinner leftovers.

5. I am doing what I love this semester – learning about literature, working in customer service, editing a book, fighting for the lives of the unborn, and enjoying fellowship and Jesus.

6. I was given the chance to live by my mother, so now I can fight to give other people that right.

7. My bicycle gets me where I need to be fast and efficiently – even in the rain!

8. The joy of the Lord is my strength – even when I’m tired.

9. I will be a college graduate in a few months. (Lord willing.)

10. The freedom of growing up and learning more about myself.

Thank you, Jesus.

18 Good Things on Dec. 18

1. My idea to put my candle next to the heater vent in my room… Double-duty as a candle warmer!

2. Sugar snap peas, because I could eat these beautiful little vegetables forever.

3. Doctor Who (even when it’s not good at all, as I just watched Angels take Manhattan today).

4. The fact that I can make whole accessories with just some yarn and a hook.

5. Sleeping in a clean room.

6. Not having to pull my hair back when I drink from a water fountain, and shedding 2 inches of hair at maximum.

7. When literary classics are short enough to read them quickly and check them off my list.

8. A job and an internship and a school, all of which I love.

9. Being an elf sometimes (like tomorrow, my dad and I have a gig at my mom’s adult special education class’s Christmas party).

10. The thrift store that gave my dad and me hundreds of dollars worth of coats and warm items – which we were ready to pay for – to bring to the homeless shelter on Friday.

11. Legs that can help me run 4.5 miles after essentially not exercising all semester.

12. Forgetting my phone when I leave the house and not worrying about missing anyone.

13. Free fudge coupons. Because free fudge.

14. Listening to songs that remind me of him and making it all the way through them without turning them off.

15. Adoptions of babies that were almost aborted.

16. Best friends who get baptized and make me want to live more like Jesus.

17. Noticing how much I’m growing up.

18. A whole new year that’s about to start!

Let’s go.

“A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.” -Coco Chanel

I’m 20 years old. I have a fresh haircut, a fresh single status, and a fresh year to take control of my life. I have no ring on my finger and nobody telling me what I should do. This opportunity may never come around again, so I’m going for it.

In 2014, I’m going to graduate college. (Assuming it doesn’t kill me.) Then I’m going to go conquer the world. Because who’s stopping me?

I’m going to start with the little things – exercise, daily quiet time, eating only one bowl of ice cream a day – and do it all with my eyes more focused on Jesus and less focused on myself every day. He will fill me to overflowing so that I can love others like He loves me. I’m going to be successful and productive not to my own credit, but for His kingdom. I’m going to let Him use me in His timing and for His glory. This is gonna be good. Buckle your seatbelts.

Let’s go.

On November.

In three weeks, the fall semester will be over. In five weeks, the year 2013 will be over, and we will embark on another semester and another calendar year. Looking back, I can only pray that if this next year is filled with as much pain as this past month has had, it also comes with the abundance of joys.

You see, as suddenly as I fell deeply in love with a man ten months ago, I tumbled headlong out of it this month, lost and confused and really, really hurt from the fall. My sense of purpose was gone and with it, my motivation and my joy.

Continue reading On November.