Today, Charisse speaks to us about God’s intentionality, words that stayed with her, walking through grief, and the really cool ways she stays engaged in her community.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I was very blessed with parents who made sure I knew how much I was loved. Both of my parents have gone home to heaven and I miss them terribly. I have an older brother and a younger brother. We grew up in a Catholic home. When I was in the sixth grade, my parents split up for almost a year. When they reconciled, they decided on a fresh start, and we began going to a non-denominational church. It was there that I received Christ as my Savior. Years earlier, God had planted the seed in my heart through our neighbor. She sat me down when I was 7 years old and opened her Bible and told me the redeeming story of grace and how God had sent His only Son to die for me. I didn’t quite comprehend it at the time, but years later her words came alive in my heart as I heard the message of salvation again.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: To be like Jesus. “To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. To guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:79, Psalm 119:46
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: God has truly been placing this word “focus” on my heart for the last few months, and it is something that I am asking Him to help me with this year. I want everything I do to be deliberately focused on God and bringing Him glory. Every single thing. Not just the areas we deem “spiritual” i.e.- reading my Bible, praying, church attendance, singing, etc. but also, household chores, conversations, shopping, eating, exercising, etc. I read a quote by Beth Moore that said this: “Seems to me anything we do with focus deliberately set on God is worship. Singing, praying, Bible reading but also walking, sitting, silence, laughing, cooking, feasting, recreating, dancing, ailing, dying– ever Godward, ever grateful.”
Profession/Mission: I received Christ as my Savior when I was 12 years old. I knelt in the back of our little church after a Girls Club meeting and prayed and asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins and save me, and He did just that. My mission is to spread the gospel of good news and hope and to encourage women of all ages that they are powerful through Christ and the love, grace, redemption, peace, comfort and hope that He gives us all.
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? Only Christ
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? I’m not sure I prefer the word “encounter”. To me, this word implies an unexpected meeting. I truly believe God was very intentional in every single second of my life leading up to my realization of how desperately I needed Him and His forgiveness, mercy and grace. He continually and intentionally placed people and moments strategically in my life to bring me to this realization. The first time I can remember such a moment was when I was in elementary, and a sweet neighbor sat me down and spoke to me about the love of Jesus. It was not something I fully understood at the time, but from that moment forward, countless people and experiences brought me back to the very words she spoke to me that day.
“I truly believe God was very intentional in every single second of my life leading up to my realization of how desperately I needed Him and His forgiveness, mercy and grace.”
How would you describe Jesus? Oh my goodness, this question. My immediate thought is love. A love too large to even put into words. I hearken back to the very words of John and agree wholeheartedly: “There are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written everyone, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” (John 21:25) What a beautiful way to sum it up.
How has your relationship with Him changed you? Again, so many ways that I couldn’t put it into words. I owe everything to Him and beg Him for the power to continually glorify Him in all I do. He is my Father and my Best Friend.
What has been the darkest time in your life, and how did you see God in it? I have had many dark moments in my life. The unexpected death of my mom. She had just been given a clean bill of health from her heart doctor the week before. She woke up one day, walked to the bathroom and fell over from a massive heart attack. The death of my sister-in-law, who was also my best friend. She died 6 days after giving birth to her 6th child at only 36 years old. The death of my dad who lived right down the street from me and who I got to spend every day with. Personal heartaches in ministry and family have hit me on more than one occasion and even the times that I didn’t feel like God was present, but very far away– He never gave up on me. Long nights crying in the darkness and wondering where He was, He never left me. He followed hard after me and brought me back home from despair by using people and literature and His word time and time again. His relentless love for me makes me weep.
“He followed hard after me and brought me back home from despair by using people and literature and His word time and time again. His relentless love for me makes me weep.”
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Prayer and Scripture. We cannot grow spiritually if we aren’t in God’s word daily. We NEED it. We cannot live without it. And we can’t grow spiritually without speaking to God and being still in His presence on a daily basis.
“And we can’t grow spiritually without speaking to God and being still in His presence on a daily basis.”
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. This is an amazing little read that I highly recommend. It reminds the reader that you can speak with God continually, all day long and practice His presence no matter what you are doing.
Top three essentials: Time with God. Prayer. Scripture.
How did God speak to you recently? He really urged my heart to go beyond my blog/social media ministry and focus on my ministry here at home. I am a pastor’s wife, and we have a monthly ladies meeting, but God urged me to start a weekly Bible Study. I’m such a planner and quite OCD about my time, and I was afraid I would end up feeling stretched with my normal responsibilities as a pastor’s wife along with my family, my grandchildren and my blog. But I knew God was nudging me, so I started the weekly study. It has been a tremendous blessing to me every single week.
Hobby: Aside from writing and my blog and Facebook page, 17th century pilgrim decorating, and antiques is something that I love. Also, stitching.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: God before anything else each morning. Holding His words (not your phone) and meditating on them. Talking with God before starting your day.
Favorite person in scripture? Besides Jesus, David. When I read his Psalms, I feel like I could have been the one to pen those exact thoughts and feelings.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? My heart yearns deeply for people to know Jesus and how He can change their lives. Somehow, I want them to see Jesus in me despite me. His love and mercy and forgiveness. His peace and comfort. His presence.
How do you engage with your community? I have four children and six grandchildren. My kids, or their spouses all work for the public school here in our small town. They also coach, so we attend many of the local sporting events. My husband is also a firefighter. The weekly study I started for the ladies in my church is also open to all ladies in the community.
Favorite holiday? Hands down, Christmas. Didn’t even have to think about that one! Haha!
A goal you have? To reach the world and specifically women with the gospel and to encourage them in their walk with God.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: Every December, each of my children have a Christmas party at their home the week before Christmas. I have four kids, so each one takes a day, and we all go to their home and eat and open gifts and play games and listen to Christmas music. Then, we all go to our Christmas Eve service and on Christmas morning, they all come to my house in their pajamas and have a breakfast of French Toast Casserole, Egg Casserole, yummy bacon and sausage and lots of coffee. We then sit around my fireplace and open Christmas presents together. It’s such a special time full of wonderful memories. My kids all love Christmas just as much as I do.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? Maybe I’m a little crazy, but I honestly have never even thought of asking God a question when I get to heaven. When I picture entering heaven, all I think I will want to do is to hug Jesus and weep in His arms.
Thing you want to raise awareness about: I have a special burden for young moms, homemakers and the life they are living at this very moment. Society has given homemakers a bad rap, and I would love to change that.
What does your morning routine consist of? Coffee, more coffee and God’s word.
What is on your nightstand? I don’t have a nightstand, haha! Since I decorate my home Pilgrim century, I have a joint stool next to my bed with a single candlestick.
Define Christianity in a sentence: Abundantly loved, forgiven by grace, redeemed through mercy– go and do thou likewise.
For more Charisse:
Facebook: Holding Hope
Until next time, keep witnessing!