Strong Women Wednesday – Carrie Reichartz
When I initially heard from God that He may want me to start writing and speaking, someone mentioned that I should meet Carrie. I knew of her through church but had never met her. So, one day I cornered her in the hallway and introduced myself. She is one of the most kind, genuine, and warm hearted people I have ever met. I am excited for you to hear her story today!
KE: Tell me about yourself
CR: My name is Carrie Reichartz. I’m a wife, mother of two teenagers, and a step mom. I am a licensed lawyer and recently closed my home day care in New Berlin, Wisconsin. As my volunteer work, I take frequent missionary trips and have since 2008. In Kenya we support schools, feeding centers, and are working on building a pregnancy crisis center. I volunteer doing that almost full-time hosting fundraisers of many types. I am now writing and speaking full-time. The goal of my work is to help inspire women and kids to grow spiritually and in generosity, to the point of action, through stories of poverty and abuse, ending in hope.
KE: How do you define strength and what does it look like in your life?
CR: Not giving up. Strength is defined as many things, but one way Merriam-Webster puts it is “the ability to resist being moved or broken by a force.” That’s what I think of when I think of strength – the power of not giving up. Even when it’s hard. Even when it looks like nothing is coming together. Believing God will pull through even though it doesn’t look possible. That is what strength means to me. The examples of that in my life are endless. I am currently writing a book on overcoming trauma – sexual abuse, rape, physical abuse, emotional abuse. Overcoming abusive relationships, divorce, financial stress, parenting teens, anxiety, anger, and the list could go on and on. In my Kenya mission work it is the ability to see poverty right up close and personal and still have hope for a better life for EVERYONE. Seeing the ability and power in the people that are just placed in a place different than our society. Something we could never imagine — yet having hope and courage and strength and faith bigger than I could ever imagine.
KE: As you know, strong faith is the focus of my ministry. But it can be hard to maintain a strong faith when life gets real messy. What do you do to keep your relationship with Jesus as strong as possible?
CR: To keep my faith and relationship with Jesus strong, I spend time with him regularly. Almost every day I spend time reading His Word. Praying. Listen to Christian music- usually through K-Love. I make attending Bible studies a priority. I go to church even when I don’t feel like it. I reach out to Christian friends when I need advice, not just the people that will tell me I’m right and tell me what I want to hear. But, when times are really tough, I remember that although I suffer here sometimes, Jesus suffered more than I ever will and he was perfect. Keeping that in mind helps me stay strong day to day.
KE: Managing a household is hard. Whether you work, stay home, are single, married or have 8 kids; women often feel like they are just surviving each day. What advice would you give to women to help them strengthen their family?
CR: Do a little something for yourself and your dreams everyday. For example — if you want to write a book – brainstorm a title. The next day write a sentence. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. By taking some action on your dreams it helps keep you more alive to help your family. Spend time together – not just driving to activities. Spend time in the Word together – attend some Christian concerts, attend some Christmas plays. Do a Bible study with your kids – just you and them. Though I would say the biggest thing that has strengthened our family is prayer. Instead of reacting to my kids with my thoughts and actions, I pray before reacting. Though difficult at first – it has gotten easier. My own peace of mind is calmed when I remember that God loves these kids more than I ever could and He will take care of them, even in my mistakes.
KE: What works for you when it comes to stress management ?
CR: Definitely reading the Bible. When I am stressed I go to the Word and just start reading. I especially like Ephesians 1 and 2 – they remind me of all the strength and power I possess because of God and all he has done for me. I am stronger than I know and He will take care of whatever is stressing me. I just need to remember to count on Him.
KE: Depending on your definition of strength, “strong body” can mean something different to everyone. What healthy habits do you incorporate into your daily schedule to help keep your body strong?
CR: Incorporating strong physical body habits is the hardest part of my life actually. I have found the best thing for me for strong body is running. The problem — I hate running. I have never liked it. Since grade school when I would forge a note to get out of running the mile. But when I count on Him – God will help me to get out of bed at 5:30 and get out there. I find because I don’t like it – it is imperative to do it first thing as I get out of bed. I have my clothes ready and just slip them on and get out the door ASAP.
KE: What do you feel is the difference between relying on your own strength and relying on God’s strength?
CR: Relying on my own strength leads me to anxiety, stress, short-tempered, and many other not so fun things. This is how I lived my life for many years. I didn’t know there was anything different. I tried my best to control my symptoms – read the right books, go to the right class, etc. And those helped a little bit, but it was still so stressful. Even trying to relieve stress was stressful. Then I realized that Jesus was it. I didn’t need the books, I didn’t need the seminars, I didn’t need anything else. If I went all in with Jesus – He would take care of the results. He would take away the stress because He was there with me helping me, it wasn’t me doing it alone – it was Him doing it through me. The Bible shows me His way of handling things and gives me comfort when I screw up or am struggling in anyway.
KE: Would you mind sharing something you have struggled with and telling us how you used God’s strength to get you through?
CR: Where would I start on where I struggle? I struggle with everything – parenting, anxiety, stress, people pleasing, perfectionism, over-controlling, fear, …. I could go on and on and on. My books are chocked full of example after example of areas I struggle. I would say the biggest way God gives me strength to overcome struggles is by changing MY perspective. Though I would much rather report to you He changes my husband, my kids, or workmates into being the people I know He would want them to be to make me happy – that is not at all my reality. God changes my attitude, my thoughts, my actions. That’s how He gives me strength to overcome. One example is a time I was in Kenya with my 13-year-old daughter and her friend. We are all staying in the same room for 2.5 weeks. They live like a mess with stuff all over. There is no place to get away and be alone for even a minute and my daughter of course has her typical 13 -year-old know it all self. I’m losing it. I’m complaining to her and to God why can’t you just be quiet? Why can’t you just do what I ask you to do? I’m in tears as we leave for the bus to our next school visit. When we arrive at the our next school visit. There the girls are teaching 100+ Kenya kids to count to 100 in English and teaching them a bunch of songs and other things. The thing that drives me nuts as her mother – her big mouth – God is using for her to make a difference in the world. Within hours of each other. Instead of God telling her – be quiet Brooklyn and listen to your mom, instead He shows me – Carrie she is just fine the way she is – look, I’ll show you. These situations gave me pause to think how God reacts more this way to our faults than the way I was reacting to the qualities earlier. He looks and focuses on how our qualities are put to good use, not on ways in which we mess up sometimes.
KE: If you could share one message with every woman who is willing to listen, what would it be?
CR: Jesus has got this girl – relax. Slow down. Enjoy your weaknesses – share them with others. God gave them to you to show you He is enough. You are not expected to be perfect – so stop trying.
KE: Where do you feel God is leading you next?
CR: I always wish I knew with more specifically where God is leading me next, but I believe God is leading me to speaking and writing. Sharing with people all my faults, all my traumas, and more importantly all that God has done to redeem each and every one of those traumas and even my faults.
KE: Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
CR: Keep moving forward with God and He will take care of the details! I would love to hear your stories. Contact me at KenyaGiveHope@yahoo.com. If you are interested in any of my books – check out www.KenyaGiveHope.com. You can also find me and message me at Facebook – “Carrie Reichartz”. Would love to hear from you!
Thanks for tuning in today and thanks Carrie for sharing your heart with us. If you know of a woman who would be interested in sharing her story, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In His Strength,