Forgiveness

I am in no way an expert or counselor on this subject.

But, I have been asked to forgive.   And here are some insights I’ve learned.

Forgiveness is not something we like to talk about, it might bring up guilt, or you may just feel apathetic towards it because it feels like too great a challenge.

About two and a half years ago, I listened to a sermon series from Bruce Wilkinson on forgiveness.  He has a book titled “The Freedom Factor” which lays out Bruce’s take on forgiveness from scripture.  It is pretty powerful, and the most important thing I learned was that I had the ability to forgive.  And you do too.

Many times we catch ourselves saying “I can’t forgive! It hurts too much!”  I believe healing is the process after forgiveness.  Once forgiveness takes place, healing can begin.

Forgiveness is a process, but one that you are able to do.  It may seem impossible, but that is faith.  The impossible happening.

Jesus tells us to forgive, and that the measure we use to forgive will be the measure used against us.  Two and a half years ago, I wasn’t kind to myself.  I was hard on myself: judging my motherhood, my marriage, my friendships.  The measuring stick I was using was impossible to meet. I wanted to live in forgiveness so much, but I just wasn’t sure it was possible.

Last week, my husband spoke a word, and I took it personally.  I told him it hurt my feelings, and he said that was not his intention and asked for forgiveness.  As I was fighting the feeling of stewing, a light bulb went on, yes I could forgive him!  How powerful when someone asks.

But what about when they don’t.  We can still forgive and trust God with the rest.  Whew. Yes, forgiveness is trust that God has indeed forgiven our every sin, loves us still, and wants to use us.  I’m forgiven to forgive.  Isn’t this the gospel?

Three things:

  1. You have the ability to forgive.
  2. Ask for help from friends and people you trust to pray.
  3. The more you forgive, the more you feel it, and the more you can rest in the TRUTH that you are forgiven.

God will do amazing things, He will forgive through you.

Perfect

“Now I’m perfect.” -Olaf

“Well almost.” -Anna shoving a carrot into Olaf’s face.

I relate so much with Olaf.  I want life to be perfect, summery, flowers and roses.  But it’s not always that way.  It’s not perfect.  We are far from perfect.

But I still strive for it.

Once we clean up one area well enough, we return to the same place.  The same cycle.  But maybe the cycle is so we look closer, deeper, find more meaning.

There are lots of areas of my life I’d love to forget.  Extremely hard times I’d love to lay down and have them vanish. Areas I could pretend they never happened.  In Christ, the condemnation is removed from those memories.  The guilt is gone, even if we still feel it sometimes.  The truth is we are new, but what if God wants to do more in that area, not only take the guilt but then use it.

Whew.  I’m uncomfortable with that.  I want to give God pieces of my life that I like, that make me look good.  You know the ones we put on Instagram.

This past week, I posted pictures of my family in black and white.  I love how black and white looks.  It takes away flaws and makes things look more glorious.  Maybe it makes things look the way I want them too.  In the original pictures, my teeth looked yellowed from the grey sky, you could see stains and dirt on the kids shirts.  And I only took pictures of the kids smiling or posing.  I didn’t take a picture of our girl falling and crying, of our baby boy crying because he felt left out.

That night a sweet friend messaged me and asked how our kids look so happy and how we manage three kids.  Do we ever feel overwhelmed? She asked.  OH MY GOODNESS.  Humbled.  Totally humbled. Yes I feel overwhelmed.  Being outside was giving me some breathing room and the kids some freedom to run and play instead of watching their favorite show or be on the iPads.  I wanted to run and hug her and proclaim no way in the world am I perfect or my kids.  Definitely, not.

God is perfect.  We are not, that is why we need Him.  We cannot be perfect in this life, but in Heaven we will be.  Our true life wrapped in Christ, we will be perfect as we stand before him.  Whew.  If we were able to be perfect here, there would be no need for us to be here.  This life prepares us for the next.  And our imperfections are how we show other’s Christ.  Our imperfect past shows others they can be saved too.  So I remember those moments even if they are hard and that God loves me and wants to use those moments to help save others.  I ask God a lot, how are you going to use this?  There are much better areas we could work with, but He keeps bringing me back to those moments.  Those moments that make me human, those moments that I’m weak and in need, those moments that He has used to save me.

Let’s be imperfect together.  It’s the only way, but we might have to go back and love ourself first so we can love others there too.  Maybe that’s the memory.  Not because it’s not painful, but because we still had worth then too at our worst, at our most broken moments.  And so do others.

Little by little

When I reading with our older kids last night, I was feeling frustrated, like I had let my kids down.  Like I hadn’t done enough for the day.  (Usually happens after scrolling through Facebook or instagram, i.e. note to self).  I was throwing up a prayer and felt an immediate response, there’s grace for that guilt too.  When you did enough and you still feel like it’s not enough.  When you didn’t necessarily do anything wrong, but you are afraid you didn’t really do anything right either.  There’s grace.

Imagine this with me. There’s a little boy working hard on an assignment. The school day is ending and he’s stressed trying to finish all of his work. His teacher has two choices – scold him for not getting his work done or sit (down?) by him and calmly reassure him he has tomorrow. And what about the boy’s parents? Again, they have two choices. They can be frustrated they have to help and rail him asking him why he didn’t get his work done in class OR they can sit down with him at the dining room table, answer questions, laugh about the day and enjoy time together while he finishes his work.

We can see the difference when we are looking at someone else, especially a little one, that the scolding is unnecessary, but we do it to ourselves all the time.  And I don’t think this is how Jesus is speaking to us.

Another example of this would be Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples. On Jesus’ way to the cross, Peter denies knowing Him three times before the rooster crows.  Peter promised Jesus he would follow no matter what.  He left everything and now he is denying he even knows Jesus.  Can you imagine Peter’s mental beating he is giving himself?  Why did you do that?  What were you thinking?  You should be ashamed of yourself.

What does Jesus do?

He restores. He gives grace upon grace.  He know’s Peter inside and out.  Jesus wants to be with him.  To have breakfast with him, even after this fall.

We went to this spot on a trip to Israel this past November.  An amazing trip.  This spot where Jesus restores Peter spoke so tenderly to me and tears bursted forth as I walked down to the beach.  I was overcome, so grateful for a Savior that wanted to be with someone who totally messed up.  I imagined Jesus smiling as He was walking out on to that shore to call Peter in because He knew what He was going to say.  He knew he loved Peter and that Peter loved him.  Maybe He asked Peter if he loved Him so that Peter would remember that he did.  And that love for God and for people is what changes everything.

Let God’s love and grace transform even the smallest of guilt into peace.  Knowing He has us.  He is working.  He is growing and changing us, even if we don’t see fruit yet.  Little by little.

What do you feel guilty for today?  Ask God to pour His grace over it.  He will.

You are not alone

My husband’s favorite band, Emery, released an album called “You were never alone.”  My husband got a poster with this album cover on it and I can remember the very day I opened it those words washed over me.

You were never alone.  Alone.

Yuck.  I hate that word and honestly avoid it most days.  However, I’m on a new journey of inviting others in.  Like letting a handful of ladies in to read my blog before I post it.  Because I know for sure I cannot do this alone.

You know those people in your life you can ask anything of and they’ll help you.  The ones you fight for and the ones that fight for you.  The people who make you feel better after you are around them.  They challenge you, but also love you.  Those are the people we need to let speak over us.

God created us to be together, in unity.  Sin broke that, but Jesus restored it.  And He wants to continue to restore that unity through us.  For us to be a part of His restoration.

I’m pretty selfish, especially as a mom.  I feel like my time is already so split that I withhold from friends sometimes because I’m not sure I’ll have the energy to be with them.  Anyone else?

Yesterday, I’m cleaning for our connect group buzzing around picking up toys and wiping down tables.  My first reaction is to immediately think this is too hard.  Cleaning is a tough job.  Taking care of my kids is enough to do.  Which most days it is.  But when Wednesdays roll around, it’s time to spread myself and allow God to use me.  A clean house makes my husband more at ease.  I can love on people instead of thinking about the things I should have gotten done.  So I clean.  Hopefully, next week I’ll remind myself of this.

See it takes work to be with people.  But that joy at the end of the night when we are all sitting around eating dessert and laughing and listening to each others stories is enough.  That’s what I clean for.  To be heard.  To be seen.  To be known by a group of college age students that mean so much to us.

Who are you letting in today?

I was reading through Thomas Merton “No Man is an Island” and I love this quote he gives by John Donne, “No man is an island, entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”  We need each other.  So we can say to ourselves and others “You were never alone.”

Enough

Enough: occurring in such quantity, quality, or scope as to fully meet demands, needs, or expectations. Competent. (m-w.com)

Last night I was doodling, playing with my watercolor calligraphy pens and listening to music, trying to find inspiration.

 

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I have always loved lettering.  I remember sitting in class in junior high and high school spelling “SMILE” and making block letters.  So calligraphy feels like an adventure back in time for me, with some added excitement with all these different types of pens!  I have always loved pens and journals too.  A natural tendency if you will.

I was listening to King’s Kaleidoscope “Rain” and the chorus is “I am enough, always enough.  You are enough, precious and loved.  Morning will come, sure as the Son,
I am enough, you are enough.  You are enough.”  (Go listen immediately*)

Not only am I enough, but you are too.  This song sings deep truths over my soul.

I didn’t always feel like I was enough growing up.  I fell into patterns of “pharisee” living-trying to earn my salvation.  Maybe you’ve been there too, trusting Jesus for your initial salvation, but after that you needed to get your stuff together instead of trusting in His work on the Cross continually.

Through counseling and tons of encouragement from friends, I am moving into recovery as a Pharisee.  Its a terrible way to live.  It eventually bites you.

So on this Tuesday, my kids are all home, I’m writing while one naps and the other two play and fight.  Reminding you and myself, we are enough.  We don’t have to earn or merit our salvation.  It’s done.  Jesus on the cross and raising three days later.  It was enough.  For you.  For me.  For the whole world.

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The Garden Tomb just outside of Jerusalem

 

I have written on my cupboard in the kitchen “You are Enough, because Christ is in you, and He is enough.”  (reference John 3:16, Colossians 1:27, and 1 Corinthians 12:9)

I pray those words sink deep into your soul, and mine too.

Those are the words that will change us for the better.

Slow down sweet girl.

 

Slow down.

Those are two words we don’t use in our vocabulary very often.  We hurry, we rush. Maybe some of you are gifted at slowing down.  I am not one of those.

Today after getting the kids ready and off to school, running to the grocery store, and trying to return library books, I was spinning by the time I got home.  You know that thought cycle where you just feel frustrated and want to curl back up in bed.  That’s where I was this morning.

It’s just too much sometimes.  I was saying this in my head.  And I heard the words: slow down.  You are going to have to choose to slow down.  Trust me no one will do it for you.  This is your responsibility.

And all the things I enjoy started popping in my head, like: reading, coffee, writing, painting.

I decided I would clean up the house some: toys, dishes, and sheets (because I told my son last night I’d clean his sheets-nothing like getting into bed with the smell of clean sheets, cue the inhale.) I still did too much, but it felt important to me to get a few things done that I knew would be important this afternoon when my kiddos come home.

And that’s okay.  It’s okay to be busy, as long as we slow down so we can hear ourselves think.  It’s okay to run around town and get a bunch of stuff done, as long as we still have coffee with our neighbor. It’s okay to take care of everyone, as long as at the end of the day we are taking care of ourselves by taking a hot bubble bath and reading a good book.  It’s okay to strive, as long as we take a moment to stop and realize that we have worth outside of our striving.  And it’s okay to spastically clean the house, as long as you make time for things you love like writing.

We have goals, we have things that need to be done, but we also have a self that needs to be heard and nurtured.  She will get more done if you take care of her.  Whew that sounds weird.  But I believe we can only hear her when we slow down, because if not she’s yelling at us like my daughter from the back seat because she needs attention.

Go, be loved today and take care of yourself.  You’ll take care of others better.

And picking up a book I’m loving: The Happiest Mom by Meagan Francis, the chapter on aim low, slow down.  I picked it up today and was immediately reminded of that chapter title.  I love that God works in a synced pattern, repetition, because I’m a slow learner.

Balance

 

This is my word for 2018.  Balance.

Have you ever had a word for the year? A word you let God speak to you?

I love this. It is so personal. A magnificent God communicating to each of us personally through one word.  How powerful.

I love that my friends have shared their word for the year with me. Some are joy, humility, to be content and to grow. I’m honestly challenged by many of their words. Through them sharing, I feel like they are letting me be a part of what God is doing in their lives.

So what is God challenging you with this year?

Over the past two years, my word has been rest and I read books on rest and being present and reflecting.

And this year my word is balance. So I’m not only balancing my schedule with my kids and husband but also with myself. Picking things I enjoy amidst the chaos of loving my home and the people in it. I’m taking time for the things that make me smile, and grow me as a person and a believer.

Here are some of the things I will add to balance out my schedule. And most of them I’ve learned the past two years focusing on rest, I like that!

I’m reading more fiction, balancing out my how to and Christian living books. I’m doing yoga and appreciating my time and worth and it has opened my heart to be thankful just by slowing down to do it. I’m taking baths with fizzy bath bombs and painting canvases. I’m doing calligraphy and making artwork for friends. I’m cooking and trying new foods. I’m listening to piano music and nature sounds. But I’m also still doing laundry and dishes and picking up after my kids. It’s both and I like that.

So what’s your word? Pray about it. Share it with your friends! Comment below, I’d love to know too!