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)

Dinner Surprise

The plan for dinner tonight: grilled mini meat loafs and spaghetti squash (told you I love it – we probably have it at least once a week now).

The meat loaf:

  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • onions, peppers and mushrooms (approx. 1/2 cup total; I decided to sauté them to make them a little more savory and take off some of the crunch
  • salt and pepper
  • few tbsp fresh herbs (basil and parsley from our backyard)
  • 1 egg

I left out the breadcrumbs/panko since we are working on the whole slow-carb eating. Of course, you could mix in whatever veggies you like, probably even some squash or carrots to help add a little flavor. I made 3 fat patties with all the ingredients and then Tony grilled them until cooked through. They were just a touch dry (probably due to the lean-ness), so I topped them with a little leftover marinara sauce we had in the fridge.

The spaghetti squash… well… another little mishap happened. I was trying to see what it took to make it a little less  crisp, so I roasted it in the oven a little longer. I had a fairly large-sized squash, so I thought the extra cooking time would be needed. I cut it in half, drizzled with olive oil and then baked it (cut side down) on a foiled pan on 400 degrees for 1.5 hours. It smelled good, looked good…. and was definitely soft. I used a sauté pan to sauté a few more onions and then added the squash (pulled out of the “shell” with a fork). It wasn’t quite in its normal stringy-ness… then I added a dash of white wine, salt and pepper and some roasted red pepper (approx. 1/4 cup). It was mushy. I had some of the Italian Herb and Cheese Reduced Fat Cooking Creme (leftover from homemade pizza) that I added (approx. 1/4 cup). It ended up being more the consistency of and a decent substitution for mashed potatoes… an even more appropriate side for meat loaf. I’d eat it again, but I think I prefer the more traditional “crisp” spaghetti squash recipes.

Summer Break

I’ve just reached my summer break! I have some time off from school to relax and…. organize! My goal is to go room by room in the house and clean out and organize. I’ve already got the back of my car full of stuff to take to Goodwill and just as much has been thrown in the trash. I’ve only made it to two rooms, haha. But, they were the worst closets of the house, by far. One room is my office/guest room. My sister-in-law was staying with us for the first half of the summer, so I had moved my desk out to help give her more space and me space to work without us being on top of one another. So, since she has moved out and I have some free time, I went through everything in the closet and re-set up my desk/office space in that room. Especially since I have no real office space for either of my part-time jobs now… my house is my official work address. The difficult part is that I have a ton of books that I want to keep as resources for myself as a counselor or for future clients. So, they are all stored in boxes for the moment… piled up oh so nicely in my newly organized closet. It doesn’t quite match all the pretty pics online of organized closets with the perfect shelving and cubbies and baskets, but hey, I know everything that’s in there and was able to make-do with what I had. And, at least there is space now for a guest to hang up some clothes.

The blue room is where I had moved my desk, but it was cramping space for working out. And, what a great, calming color of a room to do what I dislike most (sweating), haha! It’s now re-arranged and looks better and the closet is a HUGE transformation. I’m one of those people who saves every box and gift bag and bow… just in case it’s needed in the future for something I want to give. Especially for Christmas! Why buy all that stuff when you can already have and re-use it? But, it does become quite bulky. So, I consolidated all the wrapping paper and made a box for tissue paper and a box for bows and a big bag of bags… and the boxes were all broken down to take up much less space. Sorry for no before  picture, but I was way to eager to get started cleaning to stop for a photo op. Just imagine all sizes of boxes and bags and junk thrown everywhere.

And yes, I’ve been so proud of my work that I have gone back and looked at the rooms/closets multiple times since completing the tasks. I just like to sit and enjoy all my hard work! Up for today: the hall closet and guest bathroom…

My brother-in-law is still living with us through early August sometime. I told him that this is the best time to be living with me! I did his laundry over the weekend and even made him an omelet for breakfast on Saturday after Tony and I had already finished breakfast. Maybe I’m weird, but this is the stuff I love to do – cook, clean and organize.

MyRecipes.com

There are a few dishes that Tony and I love that we make over and over. But for the most part, we are always trying something new. One of the things that makes it easy to keep fresh, new ideas in mind, is myrecipes.com – they have multiple newsletters that you can sign up for to have daily emails of recipes. Especially as it gets closer to the holidays, I love the cookie countdown emails! All the recipes come from Southern Living, Cooking Light, Real Simple… and they are all pretty great. There are reviews for all the recipes that are helpful to know if there are any tweaks that would be good. Today’s email on simple, 5-ingredient appetizers. I think I’ll keep these on hand for upcoming dinner parties…

 

 

 

For a light afternoon snack today, I was very excited to make some zucchini chips after we got home from the grocery. I sliced them so nicely, and seasoned them with my favorite italian spiced salt and pepper… just a dash of garlic… they were really going to be perfect! However, as I sat here writing this post, I got a whiff of something burning from the kitchen…

Yep, they were goners…. so disappointing… The problem? I have made them before and tried to do them again this time from memory… I mean, they aren’t that difficult, right? Well, I got the temp wrong – you are supposed to bake them at a LOW temp for a fairly long time (40-60 min)… NOT a HIGH temp… there were two salvageable pieces that I ate. I guess that will have to hold me over until dinner…

Cooked Carrots

On the menu for tonight: grilled salmon/tilapia, broccoli and sautéed carrots. Cooked carrots can be a hit or miss for me, but in an effort to create some more variety in healthy side dishes, I thought I’d give it another try tonight. With an hour drive home, I had plenty of time to concoct a recipe:

  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves minced garlic (more or less depending on your love or disdain of garlic)
  • carrots, sliced at an angle (I used approximately 3/4 bag of mini carrots)
  • onion, thinly sliced (I had 3/4 of a small vidalia onion already in the fridge)
  • 2 Tbsp sage honey (one of our favorite treasures we brought back home from our last trip to Napa)
  • about 1/4 cup beer
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

Melt the butter in a pan with garlic. Sauté onions and carrots until slightly browned. Add salt and pepper and then add in honey; cook for a couple of minutes. Add beer and reduce heat to low. Simmer until liquid is cooked off. Add pecans for the final 5 minutes or so, just before plating for your meal.

 

I think they turned out really well… just the right mix of sweet and savory. They were soft with just a touch of crunch. Tony’s 18-year-old brother who’s staying with us for the summer even said they were good. They have a bit of dairy and carbs (butter and beer) with some natural sugar (sage honey) and fat (pecans), but they have to be better for you than a loaded potato… And, with how light the rest of our dinner was, the small splurges were worth it.

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