To Love or Not to Love

Are you willing to potentially have a broken heart? Are you willing to be vulnerable? Are you willing to put your self on the line?

I heard this quote from a Brene Brown book. It struck me then and even more now.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

-C.S. Lewis

Sometimes in life we put ourselves out there. We risk being seen. We allow ourselves, our thoughts, our visions, our goals, our lives to be vulnerable. We risk it all.

For love.

This quote struck me intensely today because my heart is breaking over a situation. But this quote reminds me that giving love (a.k.a. time, energy, feeling, passion…) is taking a risk. Perhaps the biggest risk in life.

But if we choose to lock ourselves away, harden our hearts, and allow no one in then we’ll never experience what God intended for us. We might be stifling the greatest gift God has for our lives. And let me tell you I have hardened my heart before and it’s not a fun place to be.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:37-39:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.

So, the question, “To love or not to love?” has an answer. Right here. We are told to love God and love people. All people.

Is your heart breaking today? Perhaps, you too have allowed yourself to love and you’ve been hurt in the process. Take heart my friend.

God is with us, and He is for us! There is nothing in this world that can separate us from His love. That doesn’t mean that life won’t hurt. God is very clear that we will have trouble in this world. But take heart, “He has overcome the world.”

Isaiah 26:3

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you.

Are You Whole Body Healthy?

If we are conscious about our health, then we probably have lots of knowledge about healthy things: what to eat, exercise, stress, sleep, etc.

What we do with that knowledge is what matters.

God says,


1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.


 

When we think about being healthy we need to consider all three parts of the body.

First, let’s consider the physical body. There are many components here. Our weight, how toned our muscles are, our skin, how we feel inside our own skin, our internal organs and how they are functioning, our elimination system, how our immune system works, hormones and how they affect physical responses…

We could go on and on about the physical parts of our body as it relates to health. So, I’ll ask you- On a scale of 1-10 how healthy is your physical body?

Most likely, we all have room for improvement (I know I do!). So, what is ONE thing that you can do to move the needle 1% forward in your physical health?

Next, let’s look at our mental health. This component may be even more important than the physical body. What we think about ourselves, others, and the world can greatly impact how we act, react, and how our physical body functions.

If our minds have negative or toxic thoughts flowing through or stored up to replay at a moments notice then our mental health is affecting every aspect of our daily lives- whether you realize it or not. It also affects how your digestion functions as well as how your endocrine system works (your hormones). If you feel out of whack then most likely it’s time to check on what is going through your mind.

So, I’ll ask you again to rate yourself- on a scale of 1-10 how healthy is your mind? What is one thing you can let go of today in your mind or thoughts to help move you forward towards a healthier you?


2 Corinthians 10:5

We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.


Finally, let’s look at our spiritual health. Research shows that people who have spiritual belief in God have more fulfillment in life and are happier. When our spiritual health is doing well we usually feel better about ourselves, our lives, and have a more positive outlook on what is happening in our lives and around us (even if it’s hard stuff going on).

Spiritual health means how much we realize we need Jesus and the extent to which we believe Him and believe in Him. Check in with your relationship with Jesus. How are you communicating with Him? Does He communicate back? Are you investing time and resources to further your relationship and knowledge of Him? If yes, keep going! If no, are you seeking Him with all your heart?


Jeremiah 29:13

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.


This may be the most important part of our health altogether. So, one more time I’ll ask- On a scale of 1-10 how is your spiritual health? What is one thing you could do to up-level your relationship with Jesus?

Which part of your body- physical, mental, or spiritual- needs the most work? What will you do to set yourself up for success in creating your body to be a healthier temple for Christ to dwell?

Our life is as fleeting as the flap of a butterfly’s wings. How can we make the most of it?

Need tips or guidance? Just ask!

How Effectively Do You Use Time?

Our health is directly related to how we deal with stress. And time is one of those stresses that affects all of us. How effectively do you use your time? I know I am not always the best manager of my time.

So, I’ve been reading this book called The Deborah Anointing, by Michelle McClain-Walters (she also wrote The Anna Anointing and The Esther Anointing). In it she says,

“The quality of your life is determined by how effectively you use time.”

Notice she says, “time,” not “your time,” Hmmmm….

We feel most stressed when our calendars are so full and we feel like we have to get it all done NOW! So, how can we practically understand time and manage it better?

Ecclesiastes 3:1

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.

Michelle goes on to describe four spiritual seasons of time in our lives. We experience:

Spiritual winter – a time of death to self

Spiritual spring – a time to embrace the call

Spiritual summer – a time of revelation

Spiritual fall – a time of harvest and fulfillment

In the midst of our busy schedules it’s important to keep Christ as our focus. It is sooooooo easy to allow ourselves to focus on things of this world – money, status, reputations, ourselves… (God has been working on my heart on this very thing lately. Sigh.)

Our life here on earth was meant as a preparation period for our eternity. God created each of us perfectly and for His purposes. If what we’re doing isn’t glorifying God in some way, we might need to reconsider if we need that thing. What spiritual season are you currently in? And how can you honor and accept where you are?

Let’s look at 5 ways we can practically keep our focus on God and use our time wisely no matter what spiritual season you might be in.

1.Adequate time with God daily

This is the most important part of our day. Think about this: You have about 8-10 hours of time during the day that are most likely dedicated to someone else – work, kids, whatever. That leaves you with 14-16 hours of time for yourself. Hopefully about 8 of those hours are sleeping. And that gives you 6-8 hours to do whatever else you desire. What are you doing with that time? Cooking and eating, exercising, playing, chores… What can you do so that time with God is your number one, non-negotiable priority?

2. Make a list of our top 5 priorities

I encourage you to take a moment and write down the top 5 priorities in your life. These are the MOST important things. This list will help you prioritize what you say yes or no to. Then use this list. Don’t just make it and put it aside. Allow it to help you make decisions.

3. Take time to breathe

You might be thinking, Carrie, I breathe all day long. I know, I know. But, I’m talking about time to focus on your breath. Every time you breathe in oxygen God is breathing into you His breath of life. Take time for 10 deep, focused breaths a day (at least) and watch your stress melt away. There are many different breathing techniques for different things. If you need help with this please let me know! I’m happy to give you more details, information, or tips.

4. Say no

This might be one of the hardest things for us. Saying no – especially when they are good things! But, it also might be what needs to happen to clear some things out of your calendar to make room for your top 5 priorities. I invite for you to inquire of God first to see if it’s something He wants you to do or not. Is there anything you can say no to today? And I might add – that if you have kids show them how to say no to things too. You will help set them up for success in so many ways.

5. Make a plan and be flexible

It’s important to not be willy-nilly all the time or just live by the seat of our pants. We do need a plan. But it’s also important to be flexible with that plan. Life is uncertain and when we hold on to our plans like a tight fist then we are only causing more strain and stress on ourselves. (Take a moment and make a tight fist. See how that would feel in your entire body to carry that around all day every day.) Make a plan, and allow God to infuse, change, and direct you – even when His way seems way out of the way. His plans are always good!

So, what is one thing you can do today to be a better manager of time?

I’m Done Hiding… to all the sinners out there

I’m done hiding.  

Hello. My name is Carrie and I’ve had an abortion.  No, I wasn’t raped.  I was just a college girl who let things go too far.  

And I hold zero judgement on anyone who has or has not had an abortion.

Here’s why.

God forgives. Period.

No matter what your sin is: you lied, you stole, you had an abortion, whatever… God sees all sin as equal. And he forgives all of it. No questions asked. No stipulations. If you truly repent and ask for forgiveness it’s yours.

That means I’m equal with you.

We’re both sinners.

Hebrews 8:12

For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.

And I want to encourage you!  If you’re in a place overwhelmed by sin you are not alone.  The God who made the entire universe is right there with you.  In the dark, in the grime, in the loneliness. And the only reason I can tell you this for certain is because of my own personal experience. 

When trying to begin the process of dealing with my sin, I actually told God that I wanted to try and work through this and heal on my own.  I didn’t need His help.  And I felt him sit back, cross his arms, smile, and say okay.  Little did I know that I wouldn’t get very far without Him.   

In the coming months I’ll be sharing more about my story. Because God told me to.

Honestly, if it were up to me I would’ve carried this deep, dark secret to the grave. But God had other plans. And I know what the devil intended for my harm, God will use for good! And I’ve had the experience of saying no to God before. And I ain’t even going there again.  Haha!

So, here we go. The secret is out. Because God told me that the time is now.

Letter for a Rainy Day

I found this letter I had written myself for a “rainy day.” You know, one of those days that nothing seems to be going right, depression begins to set in, and you can’t seem to focus on God’s goodness- no matter how hard you try. Perhaps it’ll help you for a rainy day too!

Dear Carrie,

You must be in the middle of a horrendous rain storm. Hail, lightening, severe wind, stinging rain, and dark clouds surround you. Don’t give up! The storm will pass. Sunshine is on the way!

While in the midst of this storm there are a few things to remember:

  • The task ahead of you is never as great as the power within you.

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Philippians 4:13

  • Guard your heart, but don’t lock it up.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Proverbs 4:23

  • God will be faithful to complete what He has started with you. He hasn’t quit. Don’t you quit either!

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 1:6

  • Let go of control. God’s got this!
  • If something hasn’t gone right, try again!
  • Do you need to change your perspective? How is this storm good for you?

Even when we don’t understand what God is doing (and this horrible storm) we can still trust His promises.

Breathe!
Breathe!

Do something right now that will fill you up.

Smile, even though it hurts. You are loved and appreciated.

Old Hat, New Hat

“I think I’ll go get a new hat,” she said one day. “One that fits just right, is pretty, colorful, and everyone will just adore it!”

So, she set out in search of the perfect hat.

At the first store she found a purple one with bright yellow feathers. It made her feel like royalty. She wore it around the store for a few minutes, but it didn’t feel quite right. It didn’t feel like her. So, she moved on.

The next place drew her to try on a creme colored derby hat with a beautiful red ribbon around it. This one made her feel fun. But again, something didn’t feel right. And again, she moved on.

She thought for sure she would find one at her favorite hat store just another block down. She walked excitedly toward it.

When out of the blue, she ran into an old, dear friend. They chit-chatted a bit about family, life, the weather, and the upcoming bazaar at church. Her friend asked what she was doing in town today.

“I’m hunting a new hat,” she said. “One that fits just right, is pretty, colorful, and everyone will just adore it.”

“Oh,” said her friend somewhat confused. “You mean like the one you have on?”

“What? This old thing? I’ve had it for decades!”

“Well,” her friend said, “I think it suits you perfectly. It fits just right, is pretty, colorful, and everyone adores it!”

“Hmmm,” she thought. You just might be right.

How often do we feel like we are in a rut and decide we want something new, or want to change who we are, or change what we look like? And we might “try on” all sorts of new things: this diet or that diet, trendy clothes, a new job,or even a new town. When in fact, who we are in our core to begin with is what feels comfortable. It’s being true to ourselves and not conforming to the ways of the world. Not believing the lies that we’re not enough. Not believing the media that we have to look this way or act this way to be cool or be the best friend.

So often we try to run and hide from who we are. Because it’s scary to face the deep down. The hurts. The what if’s. The I wish I wouldnt’s. Know this:

God created you perfectly! Just as you are! No piece or part of you was a mistake.

And when we go and try to change that we’re telling God he made a mistake.

Sigh.

How many times have I been guilty of this very thing?!?! (too many)

So, how can we honor who God made us?

By believing we are enough. Just as we are. We are loved. We are cherished. And more than we could ever imagine. Believe.

Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong.

“Are the walls to lock you in or to keep others away?  And if the doors were to be opened would you leave or would you stay?”

These are the first words in the song, “Run Wild” by for KING & COUNTRY.  I love this song and it resonates with me deeply.

See, about 10 years ago I had locked myself in a prison of my own making.  I allowed depression, anxiety, perfectionism, and co-dependency to rule my life.  And my prison became a safe place.  I knew what to expect (panic attacks, social anxiety, stomach pain…).  And as horrible as these things were I didn’t quite know how to escape.  And if I did what would the pain be like on the other side?  Worse perhaps?  Fear kept me trapped.

So, in working with a counselor (for many, many years) she showed me that the door was open and always had been.  I didn’t have to be in bondage to my emotions, feelings, and OCD-ness.  Yet, stepping out of the comfort zone was extremely hard.  And it took me awhile to actually shed the chains of imprisonment.

And what took even longer was shedding the effects of my imprisonment.  My hardened heart, my requirement for control in all situations, my tendency for enjoying being a hermit…

And if I’m honest those things still arise on occasion.  If I can be aware of when these things might rear their ugly head, then I can take steps to prevent them from taking over.  But if they blindside me then I become a prisoner in that moment.

So, I’m learning to be free again.  And if I’m honest… this freedom is pretty awesome.  I want to encourage you that if you feel imprisoned, you too can be free!

And the only way I can enjoy this freedom is because I know without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus paid the price for my ugly sin.  He took on my shame, my imprisonment, my sin, and because He loves me so much I can live free.  And He tells us:

“You, my  brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh;  rather, serve one another humbly in love.”  Galatians 5:13 (NIV)

So, are you living free?  And what are you doing with your freedom?

Run wild.  Live free.  Love strong my friends.

Whoa Nelly!

Whoa Nelly:  whoa is the word to stop a horse.  Nelly is what farmers used to call all their female horses (because they didn’t name their work tools and a horse was a tool – according to urbandictionary.com).

In today’s time this phrase is also used to talk about anything out of control – you know a dog, a kid, breakfast time, life…. And it’s usually used after the fact.

Whoa Nelly!  2018 was cray!  That’s the term I’m using for last year.  Whoa Nelly!

In a nutshell, here’s what happened:

The year started off really nicely with a few ski trips with my husband to some new and some familiar places.  One of those new places was New Hampshire in February.  This is where the year began falling off course.  We decided to hike up Mt. Washington.  Tucker’s Ravine to be exact.  With 40 pounds of ski equipment on our backs.  And when we arrived at the hiking location my shoes instantly broke apart from dry rot.  But I didn’t have any other options so I hiked in broken boots.  Oh, and there was a blizzard that day.

I ended up with an injured neck, spine, and foot.  Not from the amazing ski down.  But from the hike up.  Fast forward a few months (I rested and took care of my neck and back, but not the foot) and I re-injured my foot.  I was put in a boot.

Then, my husband ended up in the hospital from an infection from being flogged by our rooster (I know, I know.  It sounds crazy.  And it was.).  He nearly lost his leg and was in the hospital for nine days.  During that time, in my boot, carrying our whole house to and from the hospital each day, my foot got worse.  I got put on crutches and when my husband was discharged they wheeled us both out in wheelchairs.  What a sight!!!

2018-04-30 16.53.16

My husband healed up pretty quickly – in about half the time the doctors expected.  Me on the other hand – my road to healing was not going to be easy.

I wasn’t able to teach or do yoga anymore, but was determined to heal quickly.  Within a month or so, I was back at the gym trying to gain strength.  I had even termed the summer, “My summer of buff.”  But that was short lived.  Because I injured my foot again.  Really?!?! Yes, really.  I was gaining strength and being really mindful and careful, but something wasn’t quite right.

I then began working with a physical therapist (thank you, Penny!!!).  What we found out was that when my foot healed the first time it healed incorrectly, so the re-injury was just a matter of when.  She did so many things and continues to help me so very much!

And today, in 2019, I am still having pain and it gets tired really quickly, but Penny and I are onto something with a plan of healing.

Whoa Nelly!

In addition, the stress of our injuries took my focus completely off my business.  And it really showed.  I allowed stress and fear to overtake my mind, and my business nearly went under.  I even had to take an additional part time job to help make ends meet.

And that was a whole other mind battle to face.  Why am I here?  Why can’t I be good enough to make my business work?  I’m committing my ways to you, God.  Why aren’t you following through on your end?  and so on and so forth.

Sigh…..

Plus, my husband was totally stressed in his job too.  We were just a household brewing stress by the gallons.

I ended up cancelling all the ski trips planned for 2019 because of my foot.  And skiing is my favorite thing ever!  Sigh, again.

So, to say that I was ready to let 2018 go is an understatement.

And now, just a few days after I let go, I have begun anew.  Isn’t it amazing how new beginnings can feel refreshing, energizing, and encouraging?  It’s like I’m a new person.  Why couldn’t I decide to do that in 2018?  That I don’t know, but what I do know is sometimes it takes a new year, an event, an injury, a God intervention…. to wake us up and pull us out of the muck and mire and into our God given destiny.

I am determined.  I am strong.  My mind is focused.  Watch out world, cause I’m free!  I’m leaving my Whoa Nelly behind.  My chains are being broken, and I have God-power behind me!

Take a Break

So, I recently taught a workshop titled, “Stress Less Healthy Holidays.”  It was really fun and the girls that attended were more helpful for me than they realized!

See, I had planned this whole workshop to help others take control of their holiday season.  To plan it out so that it didn’t feel overwhelming and dreadful.  And then, I didn’t do any planning for myself.  Even though I have been more conscious of what I allow (especially in my mind) this holiday season I still don’t feel as peaceful as I could.

And if I’m honest… I need a break.

You ever feel like that?

I’m working three jobs, remodeling a cabin, raising two puppies, taking care of my home (not very well I might add), being a sister, going to Bible study….. yeah.  Life is overly full sometimes.

And if you’re anything like me and your life is full to the max then I might suggest something that one of my workshop participants said:  “It’s okay to take a break.”

So, I am going to check out for a few weeks.  Take a break.  You won’t see a blog post or receive an email newsletter.  I am going to take this time to prepare my heart and mind to receive Christ in this Christmas season.  (And do a little planning for some really fun stuff in January!  Be on the lookout!)

Wanna join me in taking a break?  All you have to do is say yes.  🙂

True Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you and your family have abundance and notice God’s blessings especially this week!

So, at a time when we focus on our gifts and are thankful, let’s look at true gratitude and what that really means.

Robert Emmons defines gratitude as two things:  “First, it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received.”  Secondly, he says, “we recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves.…”

So, gratitude is receiving good things and recognizing those good things come from someone besides ourselves.  And if you’re a Christian, we recognize those gifts come from God – even if they come through another person.

Psalm 31:19 says, “How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.”  (NIV)

So, gratitude is recognizing the good things God has given us.  And I might add, even those things we don’t see as good in the moment.

For example: my depression.  In the midst of it was the worst thing I’d ever experienced.  In my eyes it was not good.  But coming to the other side of it, I can see all the good it did for me.  It allowed me to deal with my past, it gave me great compassion for others, and brought me to the place I am now – which is soooo much better than where I was.  And if you are a Christian you know that what the devil intends for evil in your life, the Lord will use for your good – if you allow Him.

So, gratitude is being grateful for ALL things.  Sigh.  That’s hard.  Especially hard in the hardest of things.  So, how do we cultivate gratitude in the midst of the hardness?  OR how do we continue to be grateful in the good times?

Here’s what has worked for me:

My counselor helped me begin to cultivate a gratitude practice.  In the middle of my really sticky messiness when I was so far from having a grateful heart, she invited me to begin writing down every single day 3 things that went well that day.  And I also wrote down one thing that I would do differently next time.  This went on for months and months.  And then she invited me to begin writing down 3 things I was grateful for every morning.  And at the end of the day writing down 3 amazing things that happened that day (and it might be as simple as I made it through the day and am still alive).  And currently, I practice gratitude as often throughout the day as I can.  I am constantly noticing the beautiful things God has placed around me and stopping to say thank you.

Gratitude is a journey.  It’s not a destination.  And the more we notice the blessings and say thank you the more God will pour out from his heavenly storehouse on us!

If you’re wanting to begin cultivating a gratitude practice but aren’t sure where to start or how it will look for you, I encourage you to check out Ann Voskamp’s book and devotional, One Thousand Gifts.  It was super beneficial for me in cultivating a gratitude practice.  It’ll help you get started and guide you along the way.