You, Lord, are my shepher…

You, Lord, are my shepherd.
I will never be in need.
You let me rest in fields
of green grass.
You lead me to streams
of peaceful water,
and you refresh my life.
You are true to your name,
and you lead me
along the right paths.
I may walk through valleys
as dark as death,
but I won’t be afraid.
You are with me,
and your shepherd’s rod
makes me feel safe.
(Psalm 23:1-4, Contemporary English Version)

I had never really read from this particular version of Scripture before, but I liked how it worded this Psalm that I’ve heard so many times. A fellow staff member read it at one of my meetings yesterday and it resonated with me during a morning when I needed a little extra comfort in starting my day.

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Forgiveness (Part Two)

Forgiveness allows you to no longer be a victim of your past hurts. Willingness to forgive opens you up to the freedom to move on. Forgiveness is healthy: physically, emotionally, spiritually… People who are taught how to forgive become less angry, more hopeful, less depressed and anxious, less stressed and more confident. So how can you move toward forgiveness and overcoming hurt? How do you change your expectations to better accept that there are no guarantees in life and you cannot change the hurts and disappointments from the past?

  1. Acknowledge that you have been hurt… recognize the feeling. Realize that staying upset is because you are having difficulty releasing your expectations and desire to control outcomes. Realize that YOU are the person distressed about the problem… most likely not the person who has hurt you.
  2. Articulate the unmet expectation. Sometimes we don’t even know the expectations exist until they are not met. 
  3. Commit to changing your demands regarding what you cannot control. Change the way you respond to disappointment and hurt by making your expectations more fluid and adaptable.
  4. Take back your power by taking back how you feel: never lose sight of the good things of life. Acknowledge and be thankful for your blessings. Look at the beauty around you. Look at others who have forgiven and who love and how you can do the same.
  5. Be able to describe what happened that was hurtful and how it made you feel. Tell someone who you trust, someone who will be helpful in your process of forgiving. This helps you to let go of the hurt and feel as though you are not alone. It also opens you up for receiving encouragement and accountability to release the hurt and not dwell on your bitterness.
  6. Remember that forgiveness is for YOU and not THEM.

I just heard the song “Losing” by Tenth Avenue North, and it fits well with learning how to release the hurts we cannot control and stop feeling like we are the ones losing…

I can’t believe what she said
I can’t believe what he did
Oh, don’t they know it’s wrong
Don’t they know it’s wrong
Well maybe there’s something I missed
But how could they treat me like this
It’s wearing out my heart
The way they disregard

This is love or this is hate.
We all have a choice to make

Oh, Father won’t You forgive them
They don’t know what they’ve been doin’ (oh no)
Oh Father, give me grace to forgive them
Cause I feel like the one losin’

Well it’s only the dead that can live
But still I wrestle with this
To lose the pain that’s mine
Seventy times seven times
Cause Lord it doesn’t feel right
For me to turn a blind eye
Though I guess it’s not that much
When I think of what You’ve done.

This is love or this is hate.
We gotta a choice to make

Oh Father won’t You forgive them
They don’t know what they’ve been doin’ (oh no)
Oh Father, give me grace to forgive them
Cause I feel like the one losin’

Why do we think that our hate’s gonna break a hard heart
We’re rippin’ arms over wars that don’t need to be fought
Cause pride wont let us lay our weapons on the ground
We build our bridges up but it’s just to burn them down
We think our pain is own apologies and get them to stop
Well truth be told it doesn’t matter if they’re sorry or not
Cause freedom comes when we surrender to the sound
Of Your mercy and Your grace, Father, send Your angels down

I choose freedom… and in regard to forgiveness, that means often choosing to do the hard thing… I’ll keep working on it.

Forgiveness (Part One)

To forgive is the highest most beautiful form of love. In return you will receive untold peace and happiness (quote by Robert Muller).

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that prisoner was you (quote by Lewis Smedes).

Forgiveness is the economy of the heart, forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits (quote by Hannah Moore).

Doing an injury puts you below your enemy; Revenging one makes you but even with him; Forgetting it puts you above him (quote by Benjamin Franklin).

Forgiveness is hard. It feels unnatural. And yet, we cannot move forward from hurts without it. Forgiveness is something that I have often struggled with… and something that even now I’m trying to figure out how to do better. One of my classes this spring gave some helpful thoughts on the importance of and benefits of forgiveness. The topic has been on the forefront of my thoughts this past week as I have fought to release some feelings of bitterness. So, I thought I’d share what I have learned and and am processing for personal growth in this area…

The difficulty of forgiving is figuring out how to remain peaceful when someone hurts or disappoints you. It isn’t easy to recover to a state of peace when you are mistreated. At the heart of our wounds is some event or thing we really hoped for that simply did not occur… an expectation that was not fulfilled. When we hold on to these hurts, they build bitterness. And that bitterness becomes profound when we lack the ability to accept that those things did not turn out our way. Grievances are formed when we are unable to deal successfully with not getting what we want and the disappointment and hurt takes up too much space and energy in our mind.

What keeps a grievance alive?

  • Talking about it over and over and over and over…
  • Letting your thoughts ruminate about the hurt many times throughout the day…
  • Finding yourself growing tired with the amount of time you spend thinking about things/hurts from the past…

Thinking about a problem more than twice is thinking about it too much… and can make the event a stronghold in your life. Thinking of the hurt repeatedly causes you to become stuck and dangerously close to becoming a controlled victim of your past hurts and bitterness.

Things to remember when we have been hurt:

  • Most offenses are committed without the intention of hurting anyone. We can never really know someone else’s thoughts or exactly why they acted cruelly. We don’t even know the painful things that have happened to the offender that have played a role in their offending behavior.
  • Being hurt is common. If we look carefully, we can find at least ten people who have been hurt in very similar ways. The intensity of our hurt and bitterness can be fueled by the idea that no one else will understand.
  • To overcome hurt, we often have to release ideas like: life should be fair; people should be fair; people are supposed to always be kind; life is supposed to be easy; so-and-so should have treated me better.

Next post: how to possibly change your thinking about hurt and disappointment to help you forgive and more forward…

Role Collision

We all wear multiple hats… we play various roles in life. For me, those primary roles are (in no particular order): wife, student, friend, daughter, sister, adoption counselor, counseling intern, homemaker, volunteer, small group coach and church staff member. My identity as a growing follower of Jesus is an umbrella over all of those things, guiding the direction, decisions and motivation for each of my roles… but even that takes time and attention to maintain and grow.

Sometimes everything seems to work well together, each taking a general give and take, allowing one to be more important at times than another. And that’s reality… sometimes being a friend trumps being a worker – a friend might need a little extra time and attention during a crisis that should take precedence over the tasks of work… and sometimes it’s vice versa… The difficulty is when all of those roles seem to demand the same intensity of attention, time and effort. Often, that happens when I don’t allow myself to say “no.” And, sometimes there are just those seasons that are inevitable… everything simply seems to happen all at once… and that seems to be my current season. (For example: I started this blog almost two weeks ago and it’s taken me until today to get back to completing it since everything else on my plate had higher priority.)

So what do you do when everything collides? What do you do when all roles are demanding all the time? What do you do when time for self-care, peace and quiet and relaxation is difficult to come by? What do you do when the light at the end of the tunnel seems so far away?

Step One: STOP and take a DEEP breath. Nothing can compare to the power of prayer. Remember that God is able to do more than you can imagine (Ephesians 3:20) and offers a rest for your burdens that is unparalleled (Matthew 11:28). The time you take to focus on God’s goodness and mercy and strength and power is essential. You’ll never make it without Him. The days I ignore time in prayer and Scripture are the days I feel the most exhausted and defeated.

Step Two: Prioritize. Even though everything seems to be of utmost importance, there still can be some organization to help you keep your sanity. Establish or name deadlines… make your calendar and to-do list specific with plans and goals. It is times like this that organization and careful planning/scheduling is vital. Decide on the essentials and if anything can be dropped. The essentials are things that cannot be forgotten, the things that just have to be done. All the other stuff may need to be adjusted and possibly even let go. And, if you are spending regular time in prayer and Scripture, the Holy Spirit will help you discern these things. If you’ve already done that and you’re still overwhelmed with everything on your to-do list, find someone to help. Maybe that’s getting someone to help with specific tasks, maybe that’s getting someone to listen to your chaos and help give some perspective on your priorities, maybe that’s getting someone to commit to encouraging and praying for you in this season. Just don’t do it alone!

Step Three: Remember that it’s a season. This too shall pass. Even though the light at the end is small… there IS a light. Find what works for you in these crazy times and do more of it. For example, if regular yoga helps to ease the stress/tension, make it one of the essentials. If ending work at a certain time in the day keeps you from lashing out at your loved ones, make a point to keep that a priority.

Tomorrow’s a new day, with a new to-do list, and I’m sure something that will be unexpected… here’s to pressing on (Philippians 3:12-14)…

Fun Ideas…

So, I love understanding personalities…. and I love organization…. why not mix the two? This idea from Real Simple was great this morning!

Take their quiz to learn if you are right-brained or left-brained and get tips for what might work best for your organization style!

Just a fun, random tool for today… 🙂 I, by the way am left-brained, but I think the sides of my brain are sometimes at war with one another, the right-brained, artistic and creative side often fighting desperately to come out and win and make the left side calm down and relax a little!

Happy Cheat Day!

So… every Saturday is our cheat day… Tony and I don’t worry about carbs, calories, whatever. So, I thought to celebrate such a joyous occasion, I would try making homemade “foolproof” doughnuts for breakfast. Look how gorgeous they were!

Tony took the first bite and asked how I made such a great creamy filling… “What did you stuff in there?” Hmmmm…. looks like I magically stuffed dough in the center. The outside was nicely golden brown, looking quite delicious. However, the middle was still raw. Foolproof? Apparently not for me. So, we just ate and picked around the edges… it was the messiest, most interesting way to eat a doughnut. But, looks like we were still able to cut back on the calories, haha. Here’s what was left:

You can’t really tell they were still doughy in the middle from the pic, but they were. Maybe I could have just let Tony roll with the “filling” idea, telling him I injected cream cheese…. oh well.

Cheat day dinner? Looking forward to delicious pasta with friends we haven’t seen in months!

patience |ˈpāSHəns|: n…

patience |ˈpāSHəns|: noun
the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset

Just a friendly reminder…

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and PATIENCE, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light” (Colossians 1:10-12, NIV1984).

“A man’s wisdom gives him PATIENCE; it is to his glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11, NIV1984).

“Finishing is better than starting. PATIENCE is better than pride” (Ecclesiastes 7:8, NLT).

“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and PATIENCE. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (Colossians 3:12-13, NLT).

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners —of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his UNLIMITED PATIENCE as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 1:15-18, NIV1984)

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