Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Are You Listening?

Often when I begin to write from my life in this blog, I find myself faced with this same feeling - inadequacy.  

God told me a long time ago, that for me to be used in the places of my life to help others, I had to be a human sacrifice. I had to put myself out there in an effort to give others permission to do the same.  Exposing myself is hard, especially on days like today, when I already feel vulnerable.  

I know I must share what is behind the curtain instead of giving advice as an expert who has it all together.  I am not a broken women, but I am a real human being who has gotten a few bruises and scrapes as I’ve walked through the years.  I have seen victory and joy as I’ve conquered obstacles in front of me, but I am still in process.  I am still working through the junk that I face and as I gain the skills to be a healthy individual, I not only have to apply it to my life today, but also to the skeletons in my closet.  Those things have got to go! 

When I shared my iceberg awareness a few weeks ago, I didn’t yet know what that was.  Since that post, I have started to watch it take shape as I move through the emotions that battle within me.  The iceberg is in fact, the broken child inside of me.  She is begging to be heard and even though it scares me to listen.  I have chosen to give her my attention.  “Getting Noticed” by Lindsay Teague Moreno alerted me to a researcher, storyteller and author - Brené Brown and her book, “Rising Strong.”  Reading this book has given validation to a lot of the emotions and realities I have been processing lately.  

Her encouragement to get curious about your emotion has allowed me to delve into the dark of this place I have avoided for 30 plus years.  I now know why certain upcoming change in my life has evoked such powerful emotion.  The emotion doesn’t match the situation because my broken child is screaming at me with wounds from the past.  Im now swimming in the deep end and examining all the questions and lies that she is screaming - 

“You aren’t good enough” 
“If you don’t make everyone happy, you won’t be loved.” 
“You aren’t worth being loved.” 
“You will never overcome this.” 
“What could you possibly offer anyone else.” 
“You will never be good enough”  

There is this fear that if I go there, I will get stuck in these emotions and even though my head knows the truth, the feelings will never go away.  What’s frustrating is often when I share these emotions with others I get blank stares in response as if no one else understands these deficits.  I get pity as if “poor Carrie is just so damaged.”  But in “Rising Strong” and in her TED talks, Brené shares that that list of lies that my emotions run too when I am hurt, are the core emotions felt by most people.  Not only am I not alone, I am in the majority.  So why are so few people talking about it?  Why does my voice seem to be calling out to the crickets?  

Either people aren’t even aware of their inner voice and the connection their ignored pain has with their failures in life or they are shoving it down hoping it will go away, afraid to even give validation to the common ground we share.  

I have realized that many of my unfulfilled dreams have been a result of my inability to jump out into the unknown because of the paralyzing fear of the lies above.  Well, enough of that!  The time has come to face the giant within and take it down.  God has not given me a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:17) and as I come against the lies I have allowed my emotions to echo, the truth will set them free (John 8:32).  

So now its your turn.  Can you begin to get curious about your emotion?  Do you need to awaken them?  Can you begin that process?  Healing is something God has offered all of us. His love is bigger than our greatest pain.  He will not fail you.  Can you take a step in that direction?  Comment below or message me via Facebook or Instagram and let me know your story.  I'd love to hear it! 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Are You Really Thankful?

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and let's all face it, between the controversy over its origin, the full-force Christmas décor already surrounding us, and the replacement of Black Friday with Thanksgiving Day shopping, you have to ask if its still a holiday, or if its just an excuse to indulge in gluttony? 

Thanksgiving shouldn't just be an annual holiday that has been nearly forgotten. Instead, it should be a state of mind. We have a lot to be grateful for!  Unfortunately, most Americans (you know like 99% of us) get distracted by our wish lists and to-do lists and never take the time to recognize our obnoxious abundance.

A few weeks ago we were blessed to have a special guest visit our church.  Stanley Gitari came from Kenya to let us know what his ministry is doing with the children in his village.  While he is a native to Maua, Kenya, he went to college in the US and has experienced our culture.  He can attest to the statistic that if you live in America, you are in the top 10% of the world.  Our homeless can go to a shelter and take a shower that will assuredly be pumping out clean water and most likely its also hot.   I would never want to live what our homeless do, but to think that they are living higher than 90% of the world is astonishing.

The things we take for granted, are things that are luxuries for so many other!  That is why I love this video by a church in Charlotte, because it allows us to see even what we have at the most basic level, is a gift! 

Two weekends ago I was in Monterey, at the Organic Outreach Conference.  This amazing event equips Christian leaders with tools to help love the world around us because God is love!  As I wrote down copious notes at the conference, I was more than inspired! There was one thing that hit me between the eyes as I listened to the various speakers and that was the statistics surrounding the state of the American church today. 

You see all Christians are called to share the love of God with the world (Matthew 28:18-20) and statistics show that a majority of Christians strongly agree (55%) with the fact that we all have a personal responsibility to share our faith, and 43% of people said they felt comfortable doing so, yet in contrast, 61% of those same people said they haven't shared Jesus with anyone in the last six months.  Why?  Why aren't we sharing the love of Jesus?  The reality is we just don't care. 

We have lost our compassion for the world around us.  Another study quoted showed that while 21% of Christians claim to pray to win the lottery only 20% said they prayed for friends of other faiths or no-faiths.  Really? I'd say we've lost some perspective.  According to one speaker, Adam T Barr, Christianity is the fastest growing religion in the world, just not in America.  We are fat, dumb and happy and quite frankly, its unacceptable. 

Consumerism is our God and we will continue to bow at the alter of our own needs as a culture.  So what is the solution? I'm not suggesting you sell all you have and animate impoverished lives to understand the plight of the world.  We live the latte life and I don't see that changing anytime soon. 

Gratitude.  Gratitude is the answer.  As a Christian, I have received the greatest gift.  I believe that I need Jesus and I believe he is God.  I accepted his free gift that gives grace to all I've done wrong.  The sacrifice of his life, as the act of love needed to forgive all I've done, is the greatest gift.  It means that my life is more than the 90 years I live on earth.  I will spend eternity with him and I must live for that and not the few years in comparison, I have on this planet.  I know God has the best planned for me (Jeremiah 29:11) and while I can't always see it, I can be grateful in that knowledge because I have no idea what God has planned to do with even the worst of circumstances, but I know he won't let it go to waste.  My part is to be grateful. 

As we say goodbye to loved ones, I am grateful for the years I had.
As I suffer with sickness, I am grateful for my normal health. 
As I turn on lights in my house, I am grateful that I have electricity. 
As I take a shower or open a bottle of water, I am grateful for clean water or hot water. 
As I put on my shoes, I am grateful to have them.
As I hug my husband, I am grateful for the force he is in my life, both to encourage me and challenge me to be a better woman. 

This list goes on, and on and on. 

I am grateful for my years of infertility because of the compassion its given me for women who face that plight. 
I am grateful for a mom who would go hungry so my sister and I could eat because I was given the best example of how to mother my kids - sacrificially. 
I am grateful for the moments that sucked and had me raising a white flag because they strengthened me. 

This list goes on and on and on. 

Don't just let gratitude reside in a prescribed day of the year (or even month) but sew it into your life.  Make it a response you have to whatever comes your way.  Let it transform you so that you have compassion for those around you and love them like it's your job...because - it is!!!! 

Happy Thanksgiving!  Today and every day after...

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

4 Steps to A Better You

My goal in life is to help people be the best versions of themselves, instead of being limited by the mental filters often adopted through circumstances, opinions of others and traumas faced.  Why is this my goal for others?  Because it started as a personal goal, and I realized I am not alone.  

Those lies we get trained to believe and walk out keep us down and keep us from being the people God intended when he made us.  Self-discovery at its core works best when we discover who God made us to be - usually a better version than we can even envision.    Its easy to see the failures and push the play button on a loop message that makes us feel defeated. 

I don't have to let my struggle with anger, self-doubt and anxiety keep me prisoner to self-prescribed limitations, and neither do you (insert your struggles here).   It begins to look like a mountain I can't climb, but that is not the truth.  God has already defeated the enemy and conquered it all on the cross (Romans 8:37).  He created me with purpose and wants me to see myself the way he does.  

Today, I was listening to Jihan Solomon Thomas in a video on essential oils.  She was sharing her life and some of her motivational methods.  She shared something she does to keep herself going and I want to share it with you! 

I can take no credit for this.  But I LOVE IT!!!!

Here we go. 

1. Get a Journal - whatever you like: binders, composition book, leather, spiral-bound (you get the picture).

2.  Divide it Up With Your Life Categories - finances, career, motherhood, fatherhood, emotions, hobbies etc.  Each of us will have different categories because we are different (and that a beautiful thing!) 

3.  Write "I AM" statements - write what you want to be. Declare the life you want, and the goals that get lost in the self-doubt fog.

Examples among my categories, I would write: 
I am debt free 
I am mortgage free.  
I am a responder and in control.  
I am a loving mom full of grace and joy.  
I am in control of my emotions and am able to speak from a place of calm.  
I AM healthy and fit and am excited about what I see in the mirror.

These thoughts encourage me to fight the doubt I face when I feel overwhelmed by anxiety and subsequent anger.  I can keep my goals ahead of me and not allow the delays to hold me back.

Do some research on how the brain works.  You can create pathways that promote positivity or conversely continue to stay stuck in the junk that keeps you in a negative mental space. 

I've seen lists like this before based on scripture like this one from Soul Shepherding.  Things like the list below can help me to see myself the way God does: 

I AM a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
I AM a child of God. (Galatians 3:26)
I AM forgiven. (Ephesians 1:7)
I AM chosen. (Ephesians 1:11)

Regardless of your inspiration or what is on your list, its time to write one! 

4. Read your "I AM" statements - This is the gold.  Writing it and envisioning it is an amazing step, but then you have to convince yourself they are possible - that happens with repetition.  Read back your statements.  Get out of your own way and make room for God to work and allow yourself to see what is truly there.  

Let's get out of our rut, and stop believing the crap we've borrowed from the negative spinners along the way.  What would your categories be?  What would be on your list? What would your "I AM" statements be?  I'd love to hear from you.  Let's get this "I AM" train a moving!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What is Lurking Below the Surface?

Have you ever felt like something that comes so easy for virtually everyone else, seems nearly impossible for yourself?  I find myself feeling that way with rapid frequency in our ever-changing technological world.  But staying up with the changes in social media or marketing isn’t the only area I have and do feel this divide.  

Recently, I read a book that was actually the perfect antidote to the issue of being behind the internet world, and I found it a big help as I wander into cyberspace, but the biggest impact this book made on me was actually something a great deal deeper.  

You know how icebergs deceptively lurk below the water’s surface?  What you see before you is nothing in comparison with its size below the open waters.  I often think that is a fitting description of humans.  As much as we know about who we are and how we tick, there is always so much more to glean.  Being a student of yourself will always lead you on an amazing journey.  

As I read the pages of the aforementioned book, I sensed I was entering into my own personal iceberg territory.  Something was there, that I was just seeing the tip of but so much more was inside waiting to be discovered.  

The truth I saw in the pages of that book was the fact that I am not good at being me.  

I am not void of a personality, opinions or even personal taste, so that sentence may sound surprising and even absurd.  But its true.   When most kids were being kids and figuring out the core of who they were, I was dealing with real-life, or maybe adult-life experiences that interrupted that process.  I will say as I’ve grown into adulthood, I have been able to regain some of those lost experiences, but I do at times still feel behind in the discovery process. 

That wasn’t all of it, though, what I really saw in the book was that I am not comfortable with all of who I am.  There are things about me that I have tried to hide.  Seems pretty hypocritical for the girl who preaches being yourself, but truthfully, until reading the words on those pages, I never saw it.  

That is why the journey to you is so important.  It may be scary because you don’t know what you will find. If we keep seeking God and being set on knowing him, we can’t help but get to know ourselves. Not just any self, the self God made us to be -the one that can only truly connect with him.  In order to get to know him, we must first come to terms with the ways life has blocked us from being who we were truly meant to be.  

The truth is I have nothing to be ashamed of, but because I never knew the depths of this issue, I never worked on it.  Now, I can!  I can get to the root of why I am ashamed of who God made me to be and allow him to bring healing to any remaining places of pain.  Isn’t that wonderful?!  

I am safe in this process when God is leading the way.  He has plans for me (he has plans for you too)!  Its time I got out of my own way.   How about you?  Maybe you have a completely different struggle or issue but are you still a student of yourself?  Are you allowing God to touch that process and allow you to be free from the junk life has deposited in your soul?  I don’t know what the road holds, but I know its worth it! 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Broken Child

When I was in high school, I went on a tour of Israel with a group of adults, led by my dad, as the Army post Chaplain.  The trip was truly remarkable! Beyond the Biblical sites we visited, our trip included some time at the Holocaust Museum. There are so many profound moments I can recall from that one place, but the one I will share with you today involves a statue on the property.  

It is the statue of Yanush Korzack surrounded by a mound of children, in honor of his work with kids.  As I stood before it and took it in, I heard God say, “Carrie, that is you.”  I felt in that moment that God gave me my mission in life to rescue children.  Honestly, it wasn’t something I fully understood in that moment, but have come to unpack its truth throughout my journey. 

Many years later, I was at a local camp during a women’s retreat leading a workshop over the weekend on, “Healing from the Pain in your Past.”  After the workshop, I stood and spoke with a few women as they were unpacking the pain in their hearts.  In that moment, I heard from God again - this time he said, “Some of the children you rescue will be little girls inside grown women.”  

What an amazing revelation?!  Have you ever seen someone share about a trauma in their childhood?  It doesn't matter their current age, its like they have transformed right before your eyes as the pain they carry has transported them to that exact moment years ago.  You can almost see that child before you.  

People are amazing to me, yes, we can stereotype and categorize and use those things to find commonalities and guess at how we will respond in certain situations and yet, being human means we are all unique, we can deviate from our norm at any time without known explanation.  

Two people can go through the exact same crisis - one will be crushed, another will use it as fuel to climb the next peak in life.  No matter what we see on the outside, we never really know the narrative that plays out in someone's heart and head. 

This profound truth struck me again tonight as I watched the latest episode of, “This Is Us.”  We can go on with life, find success and see our dreams revealed and yet no matter what, that child inside of us still lives.  Parts of us remain broken, unless we are intentional to fix it.   We can keep going and growing even with the brokenness remaining inside.  It resurfaces from time to time depending on the triggers we encounter, but it doesn’t go away.  

That is one the biggest lies we believe about our past - if we ignore it, it will go away.  It doesn’t!  

We have to be rescued or choose to rescue ourselves.  That is why I am passionate about helping people explore those broken pieces and allow God to lead them on a journey to put them back together.  We don’t have to live with the broken child, or broken adolescent inside of us our whole lives.  Sure, it will always be our story and affect the way we live but it doesn’t have to disable our thoughts, feelings and actions.  Living with the internal pain, despite the outward success, is unnecessary.  There is freedom.  

What does the little child inside of you need?  How can you be brave and examine what you most fear to face?  That, my friend, is the first step, but one we all must take if we want to live in freedom.