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.

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.

What Kind of Words are You Speaking?

I just finished listening to Brene Brown’s book, Braving the Wilderness.  Wow.  Game changer.

Through the whole thing I’ve been challenged, overwhelmed, saddened, and encouraged.

I want to give you a few quotes from her book and I’d love to hear your reactions to these!  I’d love to hear if they challenge you, overwhelm you, make you sad, or encourage you!

“Don’t study this moment.  Be in it.”  -Brene Brown

I love this quote!  And it challenges me.  The context is she is a researcher.  She’s always trying to figure things out and gather information and apply it to whatever question she’s working on.  And she found herself doing this in her own personal time too; in conversations with friends and family.  She realized she was studying the moment and trying to figure out what was going to be the next best response instead of just listening.

Ummmm…. yeah.  That’s me.  Sigh.  So, I have been challenged to really live into the moment.  Listen fully.  Not just hearing so I can say what I want to say next.  I am practicing being in the moment.

“We’re hard wired to believe what we see.” -Brene Brown

Judge a book by it’s cover kind of thing?  She discusses quite a bit about stereotypes.  You know the way our culture assumes things because of a label put on people – on everybody.  We all have labels – self-given, other-given, and culture-given.  But what if we CHOSE to believe the best about people?  instead of assuming they are what we see?

You know how our minds can cultivate the worst possible scenario? Ok, my husband said he would be home an hour ago.  He’s probably dead in a ditch or has been abducted by aliens….  Brene suggests what if we choose to believe the best about someone or a situation instead?  How would that change our reaction and how would that change our stress levels?

Whoa!  Game changer!  This quote also challenges me.  To believe the best about others and to really lean into my faith too!  Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (NIV)  I am choosing faith in God first and foremost and faith in humanity next!

“Bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.” -Brene Brown

Ok. Sorry for the bad word.  I don’t like it anymore than you do, but I really wrestled with her point here – trying to figure out the difference between bull…t and lies.  So, many times people just talk and talk and talk when they really don’t have a clue what they’re talking about.  That is the bull….t she is referring to.  This kind of talk isn’t productive and doesn’t bring people closer together.  And lies certainly don’t do that either.

What if instead of pretending we know all about whatever the topic is, we say something like, “I don’t really know much about that.  Why don’t you tell me about it and why it is so important to you.”

Doesn’t that feel good to read?  It felt good to me.  And that kind of statement challenges us to swallow some pride and admit we don’t know everything.  We must be real, honest, authentic, and most of all true to ourselves.  Because at the end of the day, we know exactly what words we spoke and if they were true, lies, or bull…t!

Have you read this book?  If not, I highly recommend it!  And I’d love to hear your opinions of the quotes above!

What Are You Waiting For?

While traveling this past weekend in one of my favorite places – Asheville, NC – I saw this bumper sticker that said,

Don’t Postpone Joy

And I thought, YES!  I love that!

And I love that because there were many years that I postponed my own joy and thought I’ll be happy when…

I’m not teaching anymore, when I get over my depression, when I get off this medication, when this rain stops, when summer gets here, when I have 10 more counseling sessions….

God wants us to enjoy life every single day.

In our American busy, busy culture we often think, ‘Well, I’ll be happy when….’

  • I get a new job.
  • I  move.
  • My husband does…
  • It’s sunny.
  • I feel better.

What is your fill in the blank?

2018-06-25 14.12.16

Why not choose joy now?  In this moment.  No matter what is going on in your life.

You might be going through the deepest, darkest valley EVER!  And joy is nowhere to be seen.  And everything is tough.  And there’s no money.  And life sucks.

But…

why not choose joy now?

Joy is a choice.

 

So, maybe you’re thinking, “How in the world do I do that?”

Here’s 5 tips to help you choose joy now:

1. Start a Gratitude Practice

If you have followed my posts for any length of time you have probably seen me mention gratitude before.  (I talk about it a lot because it is sooooo important.)  Being grateful for what we have opens our life up to more of that!  What we appreciate appreciates.  Ann Voskamp wrote a book and devotional titled, One Thousand Gifts.  It’s an amazing journey into gratitude.  I highly recommend it!

 

2. Dive Into God’s Word

The Bible has so many powerful stories and accounts of people who were persecuted and chose joy anyways (Paul, David….).  They are true inspirations.  I am not in jail and don’t have an entire country’s army chasing after me.  Things are not as bad for me as they were for them and they were able to choose joy.

Psalm 5:11

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.  Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

 

3. Meditate

Meditation creates time and space for stillness in the midst of our crazy, busy lives.  It can be 2 minutes or 20 minutes or more.  Meditation helps to calm the crazy in our minds.  If you have a mind that runs like a train – like I do – then slowing that train down and breathing can bring a sense of peace and calm and joy.  We don’t have to be busy 24 hours a day to make God happy.  He wants us to create quiet time to be with him each and every day.  A meditation practice can help you do just that.

 

4. Do Yoga

Yoga has been a modality that has literally saved my life.  It also creates time and space for gentle movement and stillness (which is very hard for me!  Anyone else out there?!?!)  The breath work in yoga has not only helped my physical health but also my mental health and allowed me to slow down enough to be grateful for this very moment.  When I am grateful it is much easier for me to choose joy.

 

5. Make Healthy Food Choices

This might sound crazy but the food you eat can actually affect your mental health.  It is common knowledge that if we eat crappy food we will feel crappy physically.  Well, that also goes for mentally.  You either feed your body health or you feed your body dis-ease.  It’s much easier to choose joy when you feel good physically.  Feed your body organic whole foods and watch your joy level increase! Whoop!

 

Are you ready to choose joy?!?!  Comment below and let us know you’re choosing joy today!

Suicide

“How can somebody be so selfish?”

“What in the world were they thinking?”

“Why would somebody do that?!?!”

“When does life get that bad, really?”

 

These are all questions and comments I’ve heard over the past week, or really anytime anyone in the public’s eye dies from suicide.

Let me ask you – Have you ever been in a place in life where there seemed no way out?  Have you ever contemplated suicide?  Has life gotten so bad that you didn’t want to live anymore?

My answer to all those questions is YES.  I have been in a place where there seemed no way out, I have contemplated suicide, and I didn’t want to live anymore.

And I got help.

 

See, I was suffering from a mental illness – depression, anxiety, and PTSD.  And if you’ve never suffered with a mental illness before you might not understand why someone would take their own life.  But I do understand.  I don’t think it’s right and the best way out, but I do understand.

The way out is tough work.  It’s very hard, strenuous on all areas of life, and often requires major adjustments in work, relationships, and the way you do life.  And if you don’t have guidance from a professional this hard work seems impossible.

I had gotten to a place where life off the couch was so intimidating.  I couldn’t deal with the emotions and thoughts in my own head, much less trying to deal with someone else’s thoughts and opinions too.  I developed severe social anxiety (which I still battle to this day).  I also had daily anxiety attacks and multiple panic attacks.  My brain was totally freaking out.  And I was so afraid to unload the dishwasher or cook because that would require me to touch a knife.  And all I wanted to do was take that knife right across my wrists to relieve the pressure of the physical and emotional pain I was in.

With the help of my amazingly talented counselor, Sybil, I was able to slowly come out of the deep dark hole I was in and able to function in life again.  But this took time.  A lot of time.  Effort, tears, and HARD, HARD work.  About 10 years worth.  And, I did it.  But not by myself.

So, I say to you:  Don’t judge what you haven’t known.  Until you wear those shoes you have no idea.  And you never know what someone is dealing with behind closed doors.

AND I also say to you:  If you are in a place where there seems to be no way out please get help!   Call this number now:  1-800-273-8255

or go to https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

There is always a way out.  Talk to someone you know and trust, or get help from a professional.  You are loved.  You are not alone.  You can do this.

 

Hebrews 12:1

“Therefore, since we have been surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every weight and the sin that so easily entangles us.  And let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”