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Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Valentine & Love Letter From God

               For God so loVed the world
      That He gAve
          His onLy
          BegottEn
              SoN
                            That whosoever
           Believeth In Him
                    Should Not perish,
                         But have Everlasting love
                                                             ~ John 3:16





My Child,

I know everything about you … Psalm 139:1
I knew you even before you were conceived … Jeremiah 1:4-5
I knit you together in your mother’s womb … Psalm 139:13
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book  Psalm 139:15-16
I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love … 1 John 4:16
And it is my desire to lavish my love on you … 1 John 3:1
Simply because you are my child and I am your father … Matthew 7:11
Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand … James 1:17
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope … Jeremiah 29:11
For you are my treasured possession … Exodus 19:5
When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you … Psalm 34:18
As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart … Isaiah 40:11
One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes … Revelation 21:3-4
And I’ll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth … Revelation 21:3-4
Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled … 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you … 1 John 4:10
And nothing will ever separate you from my love again … Romans 8:31-32
I have always been Father, and will always be Father … Ephesians 3:14-15
Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen … Luke 15:7

Love,
Your Abba Almighty God

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lessons: Grace & Forgiveness (Part 3)

I would be lying if I said that I don't need to forgive both myself and others. I'm very self-critical, but I can be pretty critical of others as well.

"To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable,
because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you"
(C.S. Lewis)
Until we forgive, we are in a self-made prison and at a stand-still in our relationship with God. If we don't forgive, we will lose our appetite for prayer, the Scriptures, Christian fellowship... we cut ourselves off from God.

I've been in that self-made prison before, where the appetite for prayer, the Scriptures, and Christian fellowship it lost. It's a lonely and dark place to be.
"Forgiveness happens inside the person doing the forgiving. It heals our pain and resentment before it does anything for the person we forgive; they might never know about it" (Lewis Smedes, author of The Art of Forgiving, Morrings, 1996).
My car accident, and the resulting health struggles, has often left me feeling lonely. There are some of my friends that I felt would (and should? - see, being critical) be there for me in ways that they simply weren't / haven't been. It has hurt me so deeply that I find myself trying to trudge through latent resentment, which has held me back from doing all I should to help heal these relationships.
If you are having difficulty forgiving someone, ask yourself in what way you might lack forgiveness for yourself.
I have been looking a lot at what I need to forgive myself for, in hopes that it would free me to be able to forgive others. The Bible does not specifically speak of forgiving ourselves.
"Not forgiving ourselves is a symptom, which will take care of itself if we truly forgive others and receive prayers of healing" (from here).
So, I should be working harder to forgive others, that I, too, may be forgiven.
"For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Matthew 6:14-15).
"Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation" (Luke 11:4).
In order to forgive, we must release old perceptions and unresolved hurts, but that does not mean that we have to trust him/her or condone inappropriate behavior. We can forgive, while still keeping healthy boundaries. But, forgiveness releases us from the chains of unresolved resentment, and allows us to open our heart and freely consider the future of our relationships.
"Forgiveness is our decision to accept God's grace to let go of the hurt due to sins committed against us and to express this by acts of mercy and love toward the offender" (from here; see Luke 15:20-24).
We are called to forgive immediately (see Matthew 5:25) and indefinitely - "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times" (Matthew 18:22).

We are called to pardon / forgive others, before we are asked for forgiveness.. and even if we are never asked for forgiveness.
"None of us can forgive by our own power. "To err is human, to forgive divine," [Alexander Pope] and we are not divine. However, the Lord promised us His divine power to forgive. Therefore, forgiveness is our decision to accept God's grace to forgive" (from here).
I'm trying to let go of the unresolved resentment that I've held onto toward myself and others. But, I'm trusting in God's mercy and in His timetable.
We must ask for the grace of forgiveness, and then let go - it may take a short or long period of time, but it will come.
I already have the grace and forgiveness of my loving Father, and that makes all the difference.
"The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world."  (Marianne Williamson)

Lessons Series:
Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 2)
Lessons: From Suffering to Empowered
Lessons: Learning From Life With Chronic Pain
Lessons: Finding Joy
Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 1)
Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 2)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 2)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 3)
Lessons: Grace & Forgiveness (Part 1)
Lessons: Grace & Forgiveness (Part 2)
Lessons: Grace & Forgiveness (Part 3) 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Weary

I've been so weary.

I'm tired of counting pills to make sure I can at least partially treat my migraines until I can get my next prescription. I'm tired of missing family events, including my now 6-week old nephew, Evan. I'm tired of having to reschedule and/or cancel plans. I'm tired of the often excruciating pain. I'm tired of feeling so down. I'm tired of struggling to eat, which is a daily battle. I'm tired of the anxiety and subsequent feelings of helplessness regarding some family stuff going on.

I'm just tired.

Lessons: Grace & Forgiveness (Part 2)

I've dealt with mounting guilt for missing activities and events, but I need to figure out how to be more gentle with myself. It's not that I want to miss these events. It's out of my control... it's due to a neurological condition.
  • Forgiveness is "to grant pardon for an offense; to cease to feel resentment against."
  • Grace is "favor or goodwill... a manifestation of favor, especially by a superior... mercy; clemency; pardon."
"For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment" (James 2:13)

Forgiveness is about releasing your negative emotions and perceptions about painful events. Holding onto anger, resentment, etc. keeps you chained to those people or events. Forgiveness releases us from the heavy burden and tight hold that unresolved negative emotions have on us.

Holding onto unresolved feelings demands our attention and leads us to expend a lot of energy on issues of the past. Forgiveness, of ourselves and others, frees us to live in the present moment.
"The act of forgiveness is the act of returning to present time.
And that's why when one has become a forgiving person,
and has managed to let go of the past,
what they've really done is they've shifted their relationship with time."
- Caroline Myss
Learning to live in the present moment has become increasingly important for me to learn to do - it's unhealthy to constantly try to live in the past (especially the life I had before chronic migraines), and I'm unable to plan very much for the future because my illness is so unpredictable. So, the present is all I have.
"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you" (Colossians 3:12-13)
Forgiveness is also the acceptance of who we are, exactly the way we are. Oh, how terrible I am at this! I am my own worst critic and judge myself in the harshest ways. I know that I need to ease up on myself, which starts with forgiving myself for being so hard on myself in the past. But, forgiveness isn't something that I can just know and say... it can only happen through God's grace. I have the desire to forgive... I have the desire to accept myself exactly how I am... and I will work to fan the flames of these desires, until I really feel it through my very core.
In order to prepare ourselves to forgive (either ourselves or another person), we must find the desire to forgive. We must recognize and accept our feelings, exactly as they are, even as we desire to change them. "Once we have compassion for ourselves, the desire for forgiveness arises within" (from here).
I know that accepting the grace of forgiveness will take time. And, as everything else in life, this will happen according to God's timetable, not my own. I must be patient; and continue to do my best to let go of how I've been in the past, accept the way I am in the present, and choose to be less critical and judgmental of myself and others in the future (being more compassionate and understanding with myself and others).




Lessons Series:

Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 2)
Lessons: From Suffering to Empowered
Lessons: Learning From Life With Chronic Pain
Lessons: Finding Joy

Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 1)
Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 2)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 2)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 3)
Lessons: Grace & Forgiveness (Part 1)
Lessons: Grace & Forgiveness (Part 2)
Lessons: Grace & Forgiveness (Part 3)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Lessons: Grace & Forgiveness (Part 1)

The life lesson I've been consistently faced with has been in forgiveness.
"For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye" (Matthew 7:2-5)
** I wrote most of this post toward the end of February 2012, but I didn't get it finished (then I forgot about it... then I forgot to publish the post... so, here it is a year later!) **

With the return of longer-lasting migraines (well, it was just as hard with the random migraines every few days because of the prodrome and postdrome), I've been unable to keep the apartment very clean. I don't have to have things perfect, but I like things orderly. Things have just gotten completely out of control. Jeremy works all day, and then comes home and takes care of me... so, chores like dusting just get pushed to the side.

My memory has been beyond bad (as I previously discussed in Migraine Brain). Sometimes, I can't remember something long enough to get it written down on a piece of paper right in front of me. I forget to follow-up with family and friends about things happening in their lives. I have trouble doing any sort of cooking, especially if it involves halving or doubling a recipe - thankfully, Jeremy has helped me fix these little mistakes a lot.

The first half of this year is filled with all kinds of events with friends and families (birthday parties, bridal showers, weddings, etc...). I've already either cancelled or struggled to get through several, and I HATE it!!! I pretty much missed my nephew's 4th birthday party because of a migraine (I spent the party out in the hall sleeping off my migraine and meds). I really want to be there for family and friends, especially for special events. My sister is getting married in a few months (June 2012), and there are a lot of events between now and then... I want so badly to be there for her through this exciting season (and I will do my best to do so), it's just not all in my hands or ability to control.

I've done some reading online, thinking / reflecting, and praying about grace and forgiveness. It's something that's going to take time and practice, but I'm trying.
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9)
"There is hope for the helpless, rest for the weary, / and love for the broken hearts. / There is grace and forgiveness, mercy and healing / that meets you wherever you are. / Cry out to Jesus"

Lessons Series:

Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 2)
Lessons: From Suffering to Empowered
Lessons: Learning From Life With Chronic Pain
Lessons: Finding Joy

Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 1)
Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 2)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 2)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 3)
Lessons: Grace & Forgiveness (Part 1)
Lessons: Grace & Forgiveness (Part 2)
Lessons: Grace & Forgiveness (Part 3)

A Quick Update

I haven't posted in two months. Partially because I was busy preparing for, enduring, and recovering from the holidays. I was also very sick for several weeks, following Christmas. I sincerely hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday season.

Honestly, I haven't felt like I've had much to say lately, but I'm hoping that the desire and words to write will return soon. In the meantime, I'm going to share a short series (Lessons: Grace & Forgiveness) that I started working on months ago... and actually meant to post back in December.