Category Archives: Forgiveness

Snowballs and Forgiveness

Picture full of evenly spaced snowballs, with the words "Snowballs & Forgiveness" superimposed.Snowballs and Forgiveness

by Lydia Floren

I mess up.  In big and little ways.  I can judge people. Disrespect their boundaries. Poke my head in where it doesn’t belong. I can be inconsiderate and rude.  Selfish. Unforgiving. I can neglect my health, Indulge myself in a pity party. Waste time…You get the idea. I mess up. A lot.

And, when I realize I’ve screwed up, I make it all worse by beating myself up.

“Why did you do that? you know better than that? What’s wrong with you?”   And then, I pile on the guilt of past misdeeds, like I’m wagging a finger at myself.  “That’s just like the last time…will you ever learn?…” And I have just started on my general sorry-ness.  My favorite phrase at this stage of the self-guilt-trip is, “I am not enough.”  I am not good enough, kind enough, considerate enough, productive enough, forgiving enough, _______ enough,.    My accusations snowball into a huge mound of negative thinking that rolls over my hope. Pretty soon, I have convinced myself that, “I am a bad person. I will never change.”

This dirty snowball that has barreled down the hill of my past failures, finally rolls to a stop at God’s feet.  I look up into His gentle, kind eyes.

“I’ve done it again, haven’t I Father?”, I say. (He nods) “I’ve messed up, and then made it all worse by beating myself up, instead of remembering that I am forgiven and loved. Thank you, that You came to set me free of this condemnation.  Remind me again, please, of who I am, and who You are.”

“You are, My precious child,” He responds, “so precious and valuable to Me that I was willing to give My life for you to be with me in eternity.  Never forget that.  I am more powerful than every evil in this world, and I love you.  I have already paid for every single one of your transgressions—past, present and future.  Instead of trying to fix yourself, just leave this all at my feet, every day, and follow me.

“Start again, today, right now.  Enjoy this day I have given you, and be at peace.  Know that as you walk with me, I am healing you day by day. I am exposing Satan’s lies and accusations and bringing you into increased truth in your life. So you can live as you were born to live:  connected to me, accepted by me, made perfect by me, and used by me to love those who cross your path.”

Under the heat of God’s truth-light, my snowball of condemnation melts away,

until all that remains is a little patch of dirt.  He reaches out with His foot and scuffs it away, and then His gaze meets mine.

“Where are your accusers?”, He asks.

“Gone,” I say.

He nods, and then responds. “Sin no longer has power over you.  I have broken that power. I have set you free from its hold.   Walk in that freedom.  Go and sin no more, remembering that I am right beside you every minute, protecting and guiding you in your journey.”

We share a smile. Then He throws His arm over my shoulder, and together we step back onto our path, talking and laughing as we stroll along.

Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28

You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. John 8:32

A small pool of dirty water in a parking lot, with melting snow adjacent.  Caption says, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  Romans 8:1

Focus

7:30:16 Focusby Lydia Floren

“O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see?”

These are the first lines of a great old hymn. Even though Helen Lemmel wrote these questions decades ago, they are relevant today, aren’t they?  Here’s what she says next:

“There’s a light for a look at the Savior, And life more abundant and free!

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

We all feel overwhelmed at times. Lemmel simply reminds us, when we get discouraged, to take some time to focus on something—Someone—else.  As we shift our attention to Jesus, our troubles don’t disappear. They just settle into a different perspective.

Turn your eyes away from your troubles, and look at Jesus.

Listen, as He says:

I love you in the mess of your life, and day by day I’m redeeming it and setting it right. It is beautiful now, and it is becoming more beautiful. You don’t have to fix anything. You just have to rest, and follow and let me work.

Live in the present, aware of God’s loving presence. The past is redeemed. The future is secure. The present is really all you have at any given time.

Perfect love drives out fear.”  1 John 4:18

Catch & Release

4:21:16 SM Catch & ReleaseCatch and Release

by Lydia Floren

My friend Derek is really good at catching fish. He actually enters fishing contests (I didn’t even know there was such a thing) and wins. One time he won a truck—a new truck, mind you. In a fishing contest. Amazing. Now me? Not so much. I can literally count on one hand the number of fish I have caught in my whole life. (And not for lack of trying.)

Catch and Release

So frankly I have never quite understood the reason for catch and release rules – where you actually catch a fish and then throw it back in the water. This makes no sense. If I manage to hook a fish, by goodness I ought to be able to do whatever I want with it. (Not that I really know what to do with one when I catch it!) But apparently there are lots of people (like Derek) out there who actually catch enough fish that someone had to enact this “catch and release” rule, just to keep the fish population at a healthy level, so all of us other poor shmo’s might have a fighting chance of hooking our third or fourth lifetime fish.

My personal catch and release rule

But I have my own personal “catch and release” rule, that makes infinitely more sense to me. Here’s my logic: if I catch a fish, and I just leave it lying around – I don’t either cook it and eat it or put it in the freezer – pretty soon the whole house will start to stink. There are very few smells worse than the stench of rotting fish. My catch and release rule is very pragmatic:

If by some miracle you catch a fish, and aren’t going to do something with it, you better release it, so it doesn’t stink up the house.

Catching sin, releasing guilt

Lots of times, when I “catch” the truth that I have sinned, I let it hang around, stinking up my life with guilt and shame. Why? Maybe

  • Pride. I can’t believe that I could do – or did do – something like that. So I deny it.
  • Self-punishment. By some warped thought process, I think if I keep it around, and beat myself up enough, maybe that will make it OK.
  • Control. I am trying to fix it myself. I worry over it, trying to figure out how to make it go away. Instead of fixing it, it just sits there. Stinking.

God wants us to catch, and then release our sin – to be free of it – every day.

Today, ask God to show you where you have sinned, and then catch it:  Admit it to yourself and to Him. Choose to receive His forgiveness. Let Him take it – and you – off the hook.

And then release it. Let it go. Let go of guilt and shame, of regrets and should-have’s. Let go of the idea that you can make this right on your own. Let go of control, and let God lead you in how to be permanently rid of this sin-habit, so it doesn’t stink up your life.

God is faithful and reliable. If we confess our sins, he forgives them and cleanses us from everything we’ve done wrong. 1 John 1:9

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36

To Be

todotobebelovedlovetitleby Lydia Floren

In my last post, I talked about TO-DO lists, and the importance of BE-ing restored every day.  That got me thinking:  What are some great things to have on a TO BE list?

TO BE:

Be Restored. (see last week’s post for more on this)

  • “He [The Lord] makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters.  He restores my soul.” Psalm 23:2-3
  • Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit. Psalm 51:12
  • I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be filled John 15:11 

Be Cherished. You are fully known and completely loved. Not because of what you do, but because of who you are: a precious creation of God’s.

  • “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”   Jeremiah 31:3
  • You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Psalm 139:5
  •  I have called you by name; you are mine. Isaiah 43:1

Be Forgiven. There is no reason at all to keep carrying around regret and guilt and shame.  Choose to receive God’s forgiveness, and forgive yourself.

  • All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.  Isaiah 53:6
  • He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. Psalm 103:12
  • Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Romans 4:7

Be Free.  Let go of worry, resentment, unforgiveness, expectations for yourself and others, old habits.

  • Now by “the Lord” is meant the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, freedom is enjoyed.  2 Cor. 3:17
  •  For freedom did Christ set us free: stand fast therefore, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1
  • Don’t judge, and you won’t be judged. Don’t condemn, and you won’t be condemned. Set free, and you will be set free. Luke 6:37
  • I run in the path of your commandments, for you have set my heart free. Psalm 119:32

Share with us: What’s on your TO Be list?

Blog

Related posts: To-Do, To Be, Oil of Joy, Joy = Love + Laughter, The Barnacles of Busy-ness

Be Still and Know that I am God.

be-still-recby Lydia Floren

Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10

In the swirl and stress of the holidays, or just daily living, God often uses these 8 words restore my soul.

Be still and know that I am God.

The simple acts of being and knowing free us from the Twilight Zone of Anxiety, the Abyss of Never Enough:

Be still and know that I am God.

Be.

  • Just be.
  • Be aware of being alive. Appreciate that you have a beating heart, and air to breathe.
  • Settle into the truth that
    • You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
    • You are wanted. Treasured. Valued. Loved.
    • You are known and you are loved.

Be still.

  • Just stop. Rest. Take a breath. Or two. Be still.
  • Be still on the inside, as well as the outside.
  • Release all those thoughts swirling around in your head.
  • Take your mind off your responsibilities, your concerns, those things in your head that are nagging you.
  • Let go right now, and just be still.

 And know.

  • Let truth sink in.
  • Be aware of what is real, and what is not.
  • What is beyond seeing and understanding—and in the realm of just knowing.

Know that I

  • Know the Person who made you,
  • Who knows you better than you know yourself.
  • Who loves you with an everlasting love, which is in no way dependent on what you do or don’t do.
  • Who lives within you.
  • Who has your back.
  • Who has shown, and will show you how to live.
  • Who will never steer you wrong.
  • Who goes after you when you stray—deliberately or unintentionally–and brings you back to the path of life and joy.
  • Who restores your soul, leads you into the light and away from the darkness.
  • Who will never leave you or reject you.
  • Who keeps you safe—protects your identity, value, belonging and calling—for all eternity.

 Know that I am God.

Know that this person–your heavenly father, your friend, your one and only guide in life, your creator—is God.

He is God.

He is

  • 100% good.
  • The most powerful being in the universe.
  • Wise
  • Trustworthy
  • Present
  • compassionate
  • understanding
  • forgiving
  • uncondemning
  • full of life and joy
  • available
  • ready to show you a better way to live
  • Committed to walking with you on that way.

Be Still and Know that I AM GOD.  Psalm 46:10

How has this truth changed your life?  Please share with us!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

Live Grace — Invite God In

 

live grace, invite god in squareby Lydia Floren

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. Revelations 3:20 NASB

At some point in your life God knocks on your door, and you recognize that knock. You realize that He is real, and that He loves you, and that you need Him.

You have two choices:
1. Keep Him out. You can choose to keep the door to your heart shut tight. He will respect that choice. He is a gentleman. He won’t force Himself on you, no matter how self-destructive your decision might be.
2. Let Him in. You can choose to open the door to your heart. Maybe the reality of your need–and of God’s presence—has eclipsed your hesitation, and you decide to open your life to Him. Here is a way to do that:

Open the door by praying GRACE:

Live GRACE: Invite God in.   GRACE:  Give thanks, Release, Accept, Continue, and Enjoy.

Give thanks:
Thank You, God, that You are real, and good, and powerful, and loving,
Thank You for giving me life, and the ability to make my own choices.
Thank You that You are committed to loving me and every other person You have created, whether I choose to accept
or reject that love.
Thank You for helping me to see that I need You. That I can never make myself perfect. Thank You for showing me
my sins, not so that I can beat myself up about them, but so that You can free me of them.
Thank You providing a way to make things right with You, by sending Your son Jesus, and allowing Him to die so
that could be free of shame.

Father thank You that You are real, and that You love me.
I choose to invite You into my life right now.

Release:
Thank You for releasing me from guilt.
Thank You that You know every wrong thing I have thought or said or done, and that You have loved me through it all.
Thank You that You have made provision for those wrongs through Jesus’s blood sacrifice.
Thank You that Your forgiveness is complete: You wipe everything away.

I choose to release my sins to You.

Accept
Thank You for accepting me just like I am–right where I am–and loving me.
Thank You for accepting me as Your child, and protecting me and caring for me.
Thank You for accepting the reality that, as much as I would like to think otherwise, there will be times in the
future when I will wander away from You, and will need a fresh dose of Your grace.

I choose to accept Your love and forgiveness, which frees me from guilt and shame.

Continue
Thank You for Your continued presence with me and within me throughout the rest of my life.
Thank You for Your calling– to love You with all my heart, and to love myself, and to love my neighbor as myself.
Thank You that You will continue to guide me in fulfilling that calling, and redirect me if I head down the wrong path.

Father, I choose to continue, to follow You every day.

Enjoy
Thank You for enjoying me.
Thank You that You value my company.
Thank You that You that You love to give me good gifts, and that You scatter them throughout my day and life.
Thank You for inventing laughter and joy and love and relationships.
Thank You for the gift of hope: that I can welcome the day with anticipation, knowing You are working all things to
good for those who love You and are called according to Your purpose.
Thank You that with You I need never be afraid.

Father, I choose to enjoy each day with a grateful heart.

Just so you understand: praying GRACE is not something you just do just once. It is something you do over and over again. And every time you pray GRACE, God refreshes your faith and restores your soul.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. Psalm 23:1-3

Living Grace

living grace titleby Lydia Floren

Do you ever feel bogged down? Not by anything external, but by what goes on inside your head?  I know I do. Regrets and  hurts sap my strength. Worries and  frustrations drain away my joy.

Lately I’ve been figuring out a cool way to get back on track every day, so that I can go forward refreshed and energized:  I’ve been learning to pray GRACE.

Pray GRACE:

Give thanks

Release

Accept

Continue

Enjoy

 

For example, in the morning I might pray something like this:

 

Give thanks

Thank You Father, for life that is in me and in the world around me. Thank You for air to breathe, a beating heart, five senses and four limbs. Thank You for the past, present, and future. Thank You for You:  Your goodness, Your commitment to be with me and within me, Your love and care. Thank You for the particular situations that are on my mind, that You work all things to good, that You understand and will lead me in the right way to look at things, and how best to proceed.

 

Release 

Father, I know I have been carrying around all kinds of baggage, and right now I just want to leave everything right here at Your feet.  I release

  • my self-reliance: those times that I have gone my own way instead of your way.
  • regret for what I have done that may have hurt myself or others, and
  • any hurt that I am experiencing as a consequence of someone’s actions for what has been done to me.
  • my habit of beating myself up over stuff. Thank you that you do not want or expect me to live under condemnation, a slave of shame or guilt. That is precisely what you gave your life for.
  • grudges I am holding against others: resentment and/or unforgiveness
  • things dragging me down that I’m not consciously aware of: You know even more than I do what those things might be.

Accept 

Thank you for my life

  • where I am in time and space,
  • my unique gifts and talents, my incredible value, and belonging to you and the family of God
  • the privilege of joining with You to love those around me, and that you use me just as I am, not “perfect” by my own false standards.

Thank You for You

  • You being with me and within me, and never leaving me.
  • That You are committed to me: You have my back.
  • that you are Truth, and You have freed me.

Thank you for the freedom

  • of your forgiveness
  • from hanging on to hurt, condemnation, and the expectations of others.
  • From fear as I leave my worries with you.

Thank you that every day is a new day that I can embrace with anticipation.

Continue

Help me to continue moving forward in the direction You’ve already led me.

  • According to the plans carefully—and prayerfully– formulated.
  • Utilizing the habit(s) you have led me to establish
  • keeping the commitments you have asked me to keep.

Thank you that you fill in the blanks of my imperfect efforts with your perfect sufficiency.

And as I go, thank you that you will show me what  changes you might want to make in those plans, habits and commitments.

 Enjoy today

Thank you for the constants in my day:  your love, your presence, your commitment to provide and protect and lead me, your working in this world.

Thank You for the unexpected:

  • the gifts You give me throughout the day:  a beautiful sky, a smile, a connection, a new friend.
  • the surprising ways You work sometimes. ways I don’t anticipate or understand.
  • opportunities to love and bless those around me.
  • unique ways You communicate with me through your still small voice, your word, circumstances, your creation, and other people

Praying GRACE—it’s a great way to live!

PS:  I am really excited about this GRACE model!  I am finding all kinds of applications for it.  Expect to hear more about Living Grace in the near future!  Below is a tool that can be printed on a 4×6 card so you can try Praying Grace, filling in your own blanks. (You can also find this on our Pinterest page)

Take a moment and share with us:  How are you living grace in your day?  

grace workpage 4x6

Rest for My Soul

heavy load

Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden

We fail. We mess up.  We make bad decisions, and many times the heavy load we carry is the result of those choices.  When we recognize this, we pile on self-condemnation—guilt and shame.  Not God, our Loving Father.  He opens His arms wide, and says:

Child come here.  Put down that heavy load, and climb up in My lap and tell Me all about it.  Receive the grace, the forgiveness I so want to give you, and let me release you from your worry.  Quit accepting shame, and embrace the freedom-joy of My love once again.  Just leave it to Me.  I will help you know what to do as you move forward from here.

Take my yoke upon you and learn of me

I will not only show you what to do now, but I will help you learn from this.  I can teach you to be free of your compulsions, to see more of the world from My perspective, so you don’t make this same mistake twice.  If you choose, My Holy Spirit will do this deep healing in your spirit. 

For my load is easy and my burden is light and you shall find rest for your souls

It is so much easier–and more enjoyable–to follow Me when you aren’t carrying unnecessary burdens.  The load I give you is quite simple: stay connected with Me.  Don’t let anything get in the way of this connection, especially not your mistakes. Don’t let anything keep you from embracing the identity, value, belonging and calling I have given you.

When you stay connected with Me, you will be able to hear my voice and follow where I am leading you to go.

I will show you the next step from here.

Do not anxiously look about you for I am your GodReaching forward to what lies ahead I press on to the upward call of God in Christ JesusCast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you

What helps you stay connected to God, even in the midst of failure?

come to me all who are weary and heavy laden

By Lydia Floren

Image by woodleywonderworks

Facing My Failures, Embracing God’s Grace

God's love reaches into me warming me like hot tea - peace - he restores my soulIt’s hard to see my own shortcomings.  I don’t want to look at my ugly wounds.  But, if I desire to heal – to be restored – I must first face these flaws.  Then, I must be still and allow the Great Physician to free me from the habits-rooted-in-lies that keep me doing the same destructive things over and over.  Sometimes God’s knife must go deep – it can’t be helped – to get to the root of the lie.  The results are definitely worth it:  true healing, and with it, profound joy.

Father, forgive me for my haughtiness, my rudeness, my feeling of superiority, of trying to jockey for position, or importance.  Help me to be an instrument of your peace, not of my own pride. Thank you for restoring my soul.

The deeper my soul reaches toward Truth, the more deeply God’s love reaches into me, warming me, like a cup of hot tea on a cool morning.  In the safety of His embrace, I can celebrate my God-given identity, value, belonging and calling independent of others’ fluctuating opinions, or influence.

Each time I manage to turn around and face my failures, the brilliance of God’s grace takes me by surprise

Why do I forget this?   How can I learn to remember?Hebrews 4:16 let us approach God's throne of grace with confidence

2 corinthians 2:19 my grace is sufficient for you

Psalm 23:3 he restores my soul

Do you ever find yourself running from yourself?    What prompts you to remember the brilliance of God’s grace?

We would love to hear from you!

God's grace is brilliant - joy - God's love