Monday, September 15, 2014

Gratitude can be a challenge. There are days and weeks when life is hard, busy, or out of control, but those are the times I need gratitude more than ever. No matter the circumstances what can you give thanks for? There is always something, and if we look hard enough we will find that there is an abundance of "somethings" to praise Him for.


-One brother willing to defend another
-Late night drives
-Watching a sunset while chatting with a friend
-Learning to trust a God that never fails
-The acceptance of an imperfect life
-Taking pictures
-Getting through a teaching week being under the weather

-Printing off "flag maps" to decorate my door that my Spanish students use
-A long drive
-One of my students' families giving us ten pounds of hamburger
-Great humor from a student as I teach them rhyming words
-Early morning coffee
-Writing out a psalm and praying through it
-A puppy in mischief

Hope and Healing {Forgiveness}

Friday, September 12, 2014

Over the years I have taught many lessons on youth groups, camp counselors, and even to my peers. It is a topic that has haunted me over and over again.  What is real forgiveness? What does it look like? Can I forgive and yet choose to not have the person back in my life? Does forgiveness mean I have to forget what happened? What if I can't forget?  This post is from a series called Hope and Healing if you would like to read more.

Sometimes we think we can't forgive because it is unreasonable.  Many times though our barrier to forgiveness is the fact that we have misconceptions of what it is...

Forgiveness is NOT least, it isn't in the beginning.  We know full well that we have been trespassed upon.  We feel the pain too deeply to forget about it.  And while forgiveness is not forgetting it is acting like we have forgotten the offense.  In essence, we say "I know what you did to me, but I am choosing not to focus on it. I am choosing to bless you instead of harm you."  The irony is that while forgiveness is not forgetting, it does allow healing which helps us to forget the offense to some degree.

Forgiveness is NOT allowing ourselves to get stomped on repeatedly. There comes a point in time when we may have to remove ourselves from a relationship in order to protect ourselves (like in cases of abuse).  We can still forgive someone without having a relationship with them, especially if that relationship is too detrimental. So in the end, forgiveness and reconciliation are two totally different entities. You can forgive even if the relationship never becomes whole again. Entering back into a relationship is unwise if the offender is unrepentant and the offense was deep and cutting. Just because someone says they are sorry doesn't mean they have repented. Here are 12 signs of repentance.

Forgiveness is NOT saying that the sin committed is ok. If you have been offended or deeply hurt then obviously what was done to you wasn't right. Acting like everything is right and good in your world when it isn't is a form of dysfunction. The offense needs to be dealt with truthfully in order for there to be healing.

Forgiveness is NOT not being hurt. Sadness and a feeling of hurt may linger, but that doesn't mean that you haven't forgiven. If there is no hurt then there is no need for forgiveness.  Forgiveness is not a feeling. It is a decision.

So what is forgiveness?

Forgiveness is giving up the right to hurt back. If you have truly forgiven, then you won't hurt the other person. You give up your right to get complete justice in the face of injustice.  And let's face it, some offenses are so grievous that there is no way that you can get justice.  Revenge won't bring back a loved one killed by a drunk driver. Revenge won't recreate a reputation tarnished by slander. Revenge won't make things will just temporarily make you feel better. Forgiveness, however, will eventually release you from all the negative emotions surrounding the offense.

Forgiveness is letting God be God. Vengeance is His and His alone.  He is the only right and true judge. When we chose not to forgive we take God's place. When I teach on forgiveness I call this concept "Jesus Jail" {not my it in a book once.}. Basically, you hand the offender over to the custody of Christ for Him to deal with them.

Forgiveness is repetitive. For deep offenses you will need to employ the 70 times 7 idea...every time the offense comes to mind you may have to make the decision all over again to forgive.

Forgiveness is blessing the offender. Probably the biggest indicator of whether you have forgiven someone is if you can bless them in some way, shape, or form.  Can you pray for them? Can you give them a gift? Can you speak a kind word about or to them?

Hope and Healing {Unrecognizable}

Thursday, September 11, 2014

{The following is a letter I wrote this past is my prayer as you read it that you will be encouraged...healing does happen and we can become whole whether we are the wounder or the wounded one.}

To The One Who Wounded,

You have no idea the pain you inflicted. The nights of sorrow spent. The doubts you raised in the heart. The loneliness that ensued. The anger you raised in your refusal to make it right. Now I search for healing...

I don't even know how to recover. I doubt  that I will survive. As a matter of fact, I am sure I have not. I am not who I once was. You won't recognize me if you meet up with me someday. Oh, sure, I will look the same on the outside.  It is the inside that is unrecognizable.

I have always been fascinated by how healing happens.  Is it the wrapping of a wound that heals it? But how do you wrap a heart that hemorrhages hurt? How to bandage a big, bloody mess?

But I do know...

The wounded can become warriors.

The hurt can become healers.

The devastated can develop love.

It's possible to heal because He walked up a hill.  We can be whole because of the holes in His hands and feet. We can live victorious because He was a victim.

By his wounds we are healed.  Isaiah 53:5

So when you see me again you won't know me, because I ran to the Wounded One to carry my sorrows. {Isaiah 53:4}  If you are looking for the victim you won't find her.  Search for the wounded...she won't show up.  Because she gave her hurt...her heart to Someone else.  The One who heals hearts when you give Him all the pieces.

It is my fervent prayer that one day you, too, will give Him your pieces, and I won't recognize you...the one with the healed heart.

Your sister in Christ,

How He Blesses...

Monday, September 8, 2014

This past week I have felt particularly blessed.  Not that life is perfect. I am still one broken individual in total need of a Redeemer. I think that God at times gives us reprieves from the weariness that is life and chooses to heap His love on us in special ways that we weren't expecting. He is a God full of surprises in the form of the gifts He leaves for us to find along our way...


-Words of affirmation
-Name calling {the good kind} This week I have been called everything from a hero to a good writer to a "sock fairy" (because I bought my husband socks!)  LOL
-Late evening walk watching the sun set
-Cards in the mail

-The beauty of God's creation

-Dinner and precious time with a friend
-Humor over a flat tire.
-Fall weather
-An unexpected text
-Studying Malachi
-Listening to a sermon online
-Reading a book on healing
-That we serve a God who heals us
-Being a part of a new group on Facebook to encourage women
-Stories shared
-Sweet students
-Loving the job that I do

-Flowers from a neighbor early on a Sunday morning.
-Conversation around a fire late into a fall evening

All Things Fall {Favorite recipes and ideas for the season}

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower. -Albert Camus

{Affiliate links used. Thanks for supporting this blog!}

My favorite season is upon us. Many people that I come across that know I live in Alaska think I am somewhat crazy for loving fall. Because isn't autumn just the predecessor to eight cold, icy months? My heart can't help it.  There is something about this season that I am in love with.  Here is a collection of recipes, ideas, and products that I love during this season...

Pumpkin Recipes- some of my favorites

Fall Snack Mix - So quick and easy! Here is what I put in it... pretzels, peanuts, 
M&M's Fall Colors Milk Chocolate CandyCaramel Bugles, and Caramel Apple Candy Corn. No measuring...just dump and mix!

Apple Chip Cake

1 1/4 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
3 cups flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts
3 cups peeled and chopped apples (hence the name, "apple chip")

Preheat the oven to 350. In a bowl mix oil, sugar and eggs. Beat until smooth. Sift flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon and beat into wet ingredients to form a still batter. Add vanilla, nuts and apples. Stir to blend. Spoon batter into a 9 x 13 pan. Bake 1 hour.  (I tend to use a bundt pan instead.)

You don't really need to frost this cake. However, if you just can't resist this is the frosting that is the best!

Caramel Frosting

1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Bring the butter, brown sugar, and milk to a boil. Boil three minutes and then stir in the powdered sugar. Pour over cake.

Candle wax melts from Grace Note Gifts {Love the scents that she comes up with!}

Fall Yankee Candles

My Fall Pinterest board with more ideas!

Care to share? What are you favorites of fall?

Hope and Healing {The Power of Brokenness}

Friday, September 5, 2014

Are you struggling to heal in the aftermath of brokenness? Are you feeling like you may never be the same again? I am so glad you joined me today as I talk about the power that brokenness can have in our lives. There really is a benefit to brokenness if we will allow God to work through us. To read more of my Hope and Healing series, click here

A lone egg left in the nest after a season of raising babies.  It looked perfect.  A little dirty, but not a crack to be found.  Perfect.  Yet unfruitful.

While we hate hurt, plead for no pain in our lives, and avoid annoyances at all cost, the fact still remains.  Brokenness brings life.  No egg ever gave birth to a baby bird by being totally intact. So why do we try to walk away, push away, and flee from the very thing that can bring us life?  We fight it with all the strength we have.  The irony?  Facing it makes us stronger. Facing it brings freedom. Taking it straight on brings life. The more broken you are the bigger your potential to bless the world.  Ask the egg. The broken one that leads to chirping in the morning. A fluttering of wings heard nearby.  A splash of color in the sky. The whole egg? It can't boast of such magnificence. 

I used to think I wasn't broken. Came from a perfect family.  Perfect grades. Perfect behavior.  That was a lie.  Even Christ in His perfectness was broken.  You can't bring forth life without it. Christ followed those same rules. Broken to make us whole. Beaten to set us free. Scarred to grant us salvation. The magnitude is almost too much to comprehend. There is no way of getting around it.  Facing brokenness brings freedom and blessing. 

I learned a long time ago life without cracks is a farce.  These days I am more broken than whole, but I am not fretting...knowing that God will use it somehow to bring life.  He already has. He continues to. He will in the future. Someday the brokenness will take wings and fly.

Are you struggling with your own brokenness? One of the ways to have hope is to realize that no matter what happens to you God can bring blessings out of it. Your brokenness may bless yourself or another.

Hope and Healing {An Introduction}

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Are you feeling broken? Mind racing over the past and what happened? Do you feel like you will always be stuck in a cycle of hurt? If so, I hope you will join me for my new series here at The Architect and the Artist, Hope and Healing. 

First, a little bit about my road to healing...most of my pain has been relational. Broken relationships have been an overarching theme in my adulthood. A few of them have been repaired by genuine repentance and my willingness to work through the hurt to get to the other side of it, but many of them have not.  Either the person had a hard heart, apologized while blaming me all in one breath, or I decided that the relationship was too toxic. These have been the hardest hurts to deal with...the ones where there was no reconciliation in the end.  I have learned to heal without the help of those that hurt me. In the long run it has made me stronger and proved to be some of the best learning experiences ever, but it has been a long, hard journey.

We are all broken. Not a single one of us escapes unscathed by the hurts of life. The goal is to transform the hurt into healing and to take the pain and give it a purpose, because a wound that won't heal only stinks and eats away at us. It is my prayer that you will come back during the month of September on Thursdays and Fridays to read my posts on hope and healing.  Healing is possible, but it is hard work.

A lot of the information I have posted before, but I thought it would be good to consolidate my ideas and journey. There will also be some new information. Here is what I will be discussing...

{Note: The links will be live once the post goes up on the blog.}

Intro {Today's post}
The Power of Brokenness-How brokenness can be a blessing
Unrecognizable-How brokenness changes us
Forgiveness-One of the biggest steps to healing
Be a Heart Vader-How to deal with relational angst
Victim Turned Victor-Do you have a voice?
Making Peace with Your Past-Who to give your pieces to?
Five Ways to Heal-Practical ideas to promote healing

And a bonus post in October...
A Resource List-A long list of books that I have read and recommend that deal with healing