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.

God Specifically Said to Me…

“Encourage women with your story.”

For years- and I mean years- I knew that there was something God wanted me to do.

But He wouldn’t tell me what.

And then one Sunday morning about 4 years ago, out of the blue, I was sitting in church and God spoke to my heart. He said, I want you to encourage women with your story.” The words were so loud I actually looked around the room to see if anyone else heard them.

Nope. Just me.

At first I was excited to finally know my task. But 5 seconds later I was in mortal dread. What?!?? My story? My deepest, darkest secret?!?!  Nooooooooooo!!!!!

 

Anything but that God.

I can’t.

Bam. Anxiety attack.

 

Needless to say, I didn’t hear much of the sermon that day. My mind was racing. My heart was beating out of my chest. And I was at church by myself. Nobody to whisper to, “Hey! God just spoke to me.”

I felt alone. Like I had for the previous 15 years.

See, I held my secret – the I had an abortion secret- in for 10 years without telling a single soul.  I internalized the trauma and became very sick- mentally, emotionally, and physically. I was having anxiety and panic attacks. I developed ulcers and food allergies. I was in immense pain. I was severely depressed. I thought about cutting myself everyday to release some of the pain. And I wanted to die.

And I didn’t realize all these symptoms were from the stress of trying to be perfect enough so nobody would find out about my secret.

Through counseling (with an amazing woman – Thank you, Sybil!) I was able to learn to manage and eventually control my anxiety.  This took years!  I’m talking like 6 or 7 of them.  But, what I didn’t realize at the time was that God was molding me and shaping me into a new calling.  He was getting me ready for what He wanted me to do – encourage women with my story.  

Being that I have an absolutely terrible memory, I am digging out all my old journals.  I will be using them to remind me of the hard times (and I’m feeling the anxiety rising as I do this) so I can share, encourage, and love on you with my story.  

The raw, real truth of it.  

Hang on friends.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride.  But, one thing I know for sure – the bumps are what smooth us out in the end. Kinda like rocks on a shore line.  Smooth, shiny, and beautiful.  But they didn’t get like that in a day.  It takes years of tumbling.  

 

Here’s a prayer I found in a journal that I had written for myself in November of 2015:

 

 

 

God,

I commit this calling to you. I don’t have any idea how, what, where, when this will come to fruition. I feel uncertain and wonky. I feel my anxiety growing inside me. I lay down my burdens, anxieties, and fears at your feet. I will let you take care of the details. I will honor you as my Father by allowing you to be in control.

Deep Dark Secrets

There has been so much talk about abortion lately. So many people are quick to exert their opinion and to ask questions like, who would ever, how could somebody choose, or why in the world?

This post is only for people who have or have had a deep dark secret, have skeletons in their closet, or have had an abortion. If you’re not one of those people then this is not for you.

If you have a deep, dark secret (like having an abortion, perhaps) I bet you’ve kept it a secret for a reason.

Shame. Guilt. Don’t want to deal with the judgement of people finding out…

Here’s what I have to say about that:

The ONLY opinion of you that matters is from God. And He knows about the deepest, darkest places of your soul. And He loves you more than you could ever dream of being loved.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to [the brim] of all the fullness of God,”
Ephesians 3:17-19 (NIV), words in [ ] are mine.

God forgives all of the darkest places when we come to Him and ask. That’s all it takes. Asking.

And if you’ve found yourself in a deep, dark hole because of your shame or guilt I want to encourage you. There is ALWAYS a way out. There is ALWAYS hope. There is ALWAYS love. Even down there in the deepest, darkest pit. Find a pinhole of light and begin moving toward it. Even if it feels like it’s a million miles away. And even if it feels as if you have to cross the entire world to get to it. Take one step toward the light today. And if that’s all you can do today, great! You can take another step towards the light tomorrow. Before long, the light will seem so bright you will wonder how you traveled so quickly!

I hear some of you saying, “Carrie! How do YOU know what it feels like to be judged because of what you’ve done or not done or what’s been done to you?”

Well, because I have lived this truth. See, I am one of those that has had an abortion. I let my decision pull me down into the deepest, darkest pit I couldn’t even imagine. And I didn’t tell a soul. For 10 years I let this dark pit grow until it consumed me.  And I wanted to die.  

I’ve lived with the shame and regret and guilt of my decision for almost 20 years now. And what I’ve learned is that forgiving yourself is the hardest part. And I’ve also learned it’s so worth the decision.

I now live in freedom from my past. It no longer holds me in bondage. All because of the love and forgiveness of God.  And God has asked me to encourage women with my story. So, I boldly (only with God’s help) step out and tell you my deepest, darkest secret.

If you’re out there hiding in the darkness because of fear I encourage you to reach to God. Ask Him to help you walk towards His healing, loving, peaceful light. And if you need someone to talk to, I’m happy to listen as well.

There is always a way out.  There is always hope.  There is always love.

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!

Wanna De-Stress New Year’s Resolutions?

Several years ago I read an article about how pretty much nobody sticks with New Year’s resolutions. Some people can stick with them for a few months, but most people have lost motivation before February even arrives.

Does this sound familiar? Yeah, me too. I used to set these goals and have high hopes of “this time I’m really going to do this!”

Well, after doing this and failing most of my adult years I learned about a new way to set New Year’s resolutions.

Word of the Year

For several years, I have chosen a word of the year. This is something to focus on during the entire year.

For example, my first word of the year was peace. I painted a small canvas to put on my desk with the word peace, so I would see it daily and remember what I’m focusing on. In addition, I set reminders on my phone to periodically think about and practice peace along with creating a Pinterest board with Bible verses, sayings, and pictures of peace.

Other years, my words have been things like: joy, love, humble servant…

After having this practice for several years, I am pretty sure I will keep doing this for many more years to come.

Do you have a different way of doing New Year’s Resolutions?  Do you choose a word?  Share your ideas!

My Story in Songs

Before I was a health coach, before Ignite Life, and before courage, God spoke to my heart.  He told me, “I want you to encourage women with your story.”

My first reaction was NOOOOOO!!!! Anything but that!

But, I have had the experience of saying no to God and know what happens.  And I didn’t want to experience that again.  So, over the past four or five years God has been preparing me to tell my story.  He’s given me opportunities to tell small groups of people and a few friends and family.  And now he’s asking me to go public with my story.  Sigh.

And if you know anything about me you probably know part of my story:  the depression, anxiety, food allergies, etc.  But you might not know the rest of the story.

So, while I wait for him to guide me in exactly how He wants me to do that I’ll offer a few sneak peaks.

Music is huge in my life.  It moves my soul like nothing else, and it is a form of worship for me.  During the last ten or so years there have been some songs that I clung to during different periods of time that I think help you see where I was mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  These songs also give you a glimpse of the goals I had during those times too.  Take a listen and see if any of these songs resonate with where you are in your journey.  I’m including a few lyrics that specifically spoke to me during those times.

“Take Me to the King” by Tamela Mann

“Truth is I’m tired, options are few, I’m trying to pray, but where are you?  I’m all churched out, hurt and abused, I can’t fake, what’s left to do?  Take me to the king, I don’t have much to bring, my heart’s torn into pieces, it’s my offering.”

 

“Awesome” by Charles Jenkins & Fellowship Chicago

“My God is awesome.  He can move mountains.  Keep me in the valley, hide me from the rain.  My God is awesome, heals me when I’m broken, strength where I’ve been weakened, praise His holy name.”

“Marvelous Light” by Ellie Holcomb

“With years of keeping secrets safe, wondering if I could change, ’cause when you’re hiding all along, your heart can turn into a stone, and that’s not the way I want to go”

“If We’re Honest” by Francesca Battistelli

“Truth is harder than a lie, the dark seems safer than the light, and everyone has a heart that loves to hide, I’m a mess and so are you, we’ve built walls nobody can get through…”

“Shoulders” by For King and Country

“I look up to the mountains, Does my strength come from the mountains?  No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven and earth, and the mountains”

“It is Well” by Bethel Music

“Far be it from me to not believe, even when my eyes can’t see, and this mountain that’s in front of me, will be thrown into the midst of the sea.  It is well with my soul.”

And I continue to have songs that resonate with me more different weeks or seasons.  What song or songs do you cling to?  What songs give you hope, peace, comfort, support on your journey?

The Comfort Zone

Do you ever find yourself going in the same stall in the bathroom just because you’re used to that one?

Or, do you always park near the same place because it’s what you’ve always done?

I found myself doing these exact things and really thought about my comfort zone.  Perhaps a different stall might be even better, or cleaner, or have purple toilet paper!

My comfort zone is a place where I have experienced certain things and outcomes and know exactly what to expect. It’s comfortable there.

What I also began to realize was my comfort zone kept me in a place that I wasn’t supposed to be, but it was what I knew. I called it my comfortable hell.

I was miserable. I knew God wanted something else for me. And yet, I also knew what would happen if I stayed because I was comfortable there.

God wants us to find comfort in Him, not in our circumstances.

“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” Isaiah 40:1 (NIV)

Are you in a place, a relationship, a job, a home, a city, a Starbucks rut…. whatever?!?! that God is calling you out of? Is He asking you to step out and trust Him? Then your comfort might just be what is holding you back.

One thing I have learned is that if you seek God with all your heart and follow his will you won’t be residing in a comfort zone for very long. And once you get to a comfortable place, He’ll ask you to change something again!

See, God wants us to consistently and constantly trust in Him. And if we are relying on ourselves and our comfort zone then He doesn’t usually get honored and get credit for what’s going on in our lives. Comfort is a place we can handle on our own. Instead, if we step into a place God calls us where we are unequipped, nervous, or not ready then we have to rely on God. We have to trust Him.

That is His favorite place to shine! He loves to be the strength in our weakness, the comfort in our storms, and the peace in our dark valleys!

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s Power my rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

So, if God is asking you to step out of your comfort zone and trust Him, know that your choice will be rewarded greatly!

And in the meantime go ahead and try out a different bathroom stall! 😜