Notes on Forgiveness from a Recent Retreat

Last weekend I attended Christ Church of Oakbrook’s 2014 Spa for the Soul women’s retreat at The Abbey Resort in Fontana, Wisconsin.  The featured speaker was Oreon Trickey from LaSalle Street Church in Chicago and notes taken throughout the weekend are found below.

What forgiveness is:

  • letting go of blame, resentment, and the right to retaliate for wrong(s) committed against you
  • releasing yourself from whatever trauma you experienced & reclaiming your life
  • coming to terms with the reality that the world is not fair
  • giving up the right to hurt you for hurting me
  • letting go of the negative storyline we tell others

What forgiveness is not:

  • forgetting
  • sweeping the incident or your feelings under the proverbial rug
  • condoning or excusing an offense

Verses on Forgiveness:

I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. – Isaiah 43:25

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave the guilt of my sin. – Psalm 32:15

Psalm 32:4 reminded me of Matthew 11:30 where Jesus reminds us of the benefit of letting go of our bitterness and anger to embrace the process of forgiveness: “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

TD Jakes says that unforgiveness comes when we …

  • have been wounded
  • believe the betrayal has not sufficiently been atoned for
  • feel we have been publicly humiliated and forced to suffer the wound of abuse in silence

To overcome the abuse we must:

  1. tell our story
    1. in all of it rawness and messiness because that’s when it loses its power.
    2. for as long as we need to without allowing it to become our primary identity.
  2. name the hurt (i.e., the feelings beneath the facts)
  3. give ourselves time to grieve
  4. choose to renew or release the relationship

You will know that you are ready to forgive when …

  • you are starting to make your suffering matter.
  • you begin to wish the people who have hurt you well.
  • you own that we are co-creators to situations and the negativity that stems from them.

Renewing does not mean going back to the way it was but there is always hope that it can be better.

Stages of Grief:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

“Your past is too small to fit you as you grow into the fullness of who you were meant to be.” – TD Jakes

Books on forgiveness that Oreon recommended:

My Takeaways:

We need to …

  • own our stuff
  • see what can be useful and what needs to be discarded
  • don’t unload unwanted emotions on others

Instead of being defined by what someone has done to you, defy it.

Let my story be defined by, not what has been done to me, but by what I have done with it.


I believe the Holy Spirit brings people to mind for a reason. Sometimes I take it as a sign that God wants me to pray for them or to reach out and see how they’ve been. Other times, it’s God’s way of telling me that we’re about to cross paths for a very specific reason. Like a few days ago when I thought about a family friend and, before I had a chance to pick up the phone, she called me to say that she was at a convenience store and one of the employees was thinking about coming to Chicago.

“A woman I know has stage four colon cancer and her local doctor told her that she has maybe six months to live,” my friend said. “She’s too young to just give up and is thinking about coming to Chicago for a second opinion.”

“Does she know who she wants to see?” I asked.

“Someone told her about the Cancer Center of America but she doesn’t know when the doctors there can get her in.”

My friend was hoping I would help the employee with transportation once she found a doctor who could see her. Imagine her surprise when I mentioned that I had the number for an amazing colon surgeon programmed into my phone.

My daughter Katie was with me a short while later when the colon surgeon’s nurse called me back with instructions to pass along to the person in Nebraska.

“After she calls the main number to register, have her call the cancer center to schedule an appointment,” the nurse said.

When I got off the phone, Katie mentioned how nice it was that I was helping a person I didn’t know.

“I’m just doing what I would want someone to do if I were in her shoes,” I said. “Everybody deserves hope.”

“Literally,” Katie said with a smile as she reminded me that the name of the person at the cancer center who was waiting for the Nebraska woman to call…was Hope.


Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7

No Limits Life Coaching has a new Face…book Page

I recently spoke to a wonderful group of women at at Community Fellowship Church in West Chicago. During my presentation on getting organized, I shared this rhyme to remember: Put every system to the test until the good is better and the better is best. A No Limits Life Coaching Facebook page is my way to improve upon how I share my favorite quotes with others. For years, I have used twitter to accomplish this objective, but there have been times when the sayings that I am most inspired by exceed the 140-character maximum length. Going forward, I will continue to post larger messages to my blog but all tweets will originate here and be passed along to my Twitter profile. If you enjoy the updates, don’t forget to like me on facebook and twitter and invite your friends to do the same.

The Difference Between a Burden and a Load

Every once in a while I come across an article that I love—or learn so much from—that I want to share it with E V E R Y B O D Y. Jennifer Slattery’s  post where she shares another author’s thoughts on the difference between easing someone’s burden and unnecessarily taking on another person’s load is one of these articles. According to Sherri Wilson Johnson, a burden is something that has been placed upon us without any wrongdoing on our part (like a birth defect or growing up in an abusive home). A load, on the other hand, is something you have picked up on the road of life and chosen to carry, even though it has made your way harder. 

We must never do for others what they should be doing for themselves, yet too often we fall victim to our own tendency to be overly helpful and understandably frustrated when loaded down people take advantage of our niceness. When I think of the countless times that I have rescued someone from their own insubordination, I am appalled by mine. Galatians 6:5 tells us that “each one should carry their own load” yet over and over I find myself ignoring this command, not just at my  peril, but also someone else’s.

“We’ve all made mistakes and can sympathize with people who are trapped in a sinful place.” Johnson commiserated. “It is tempting to swoop in and try to pluck this person out of the muck and mire. However, it is not always an easy thing to do nor is it the right thing to do. If this person is stuck or if he is like a stubborn mule, fighting your every effort, then sometimes you must leave him to his own devices. Turn him over to a reprobate mind. Take off your sandals and shake off the dust.”

I am tired of sweeping up after someone else’s stubborn choices. Aren’t you? Galatians 6:7 tells us that “God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” so let’s stop getting in the way and take Hebrews 12:1 to heart as we throw “off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” and run the race that was meant for us, NOT another sinner, by easing other people’s burdens without taking on unnecessary pain.

To read Sherri’s Article, click on the link below:

Carry their Burden but Not Their Load

When Times Change and People Grow

Whoever said that a mother’s job is never done wasn’t kidding: It’s never done. Long after my daughters are tucked into bed, I’m wiping off counters, folding laundry, and making sure that the doors are locked and the lights get turned off. And contrary to what my youngest told a fellow first grader years ago when she had her over for a playdate, I do not sit around and do nothing all day. There are errands to run, calls to make, rooms to pick up, spaces to organize,  trips to plan, and countless other projects.

Although the amount of work rarely changes, the type of tasks do. If you had asked me even one month ago, for example, what my focus would be this week, I never would have guessed that it would be shopping to give my eighth grader an edgier look or rearranging her schedule to find time to practice with a professional all-girl rock band.

Thinking of how much both of my children have matured over the past year reminds me of something a six-year-old  told me after I commented on how tall she had gotten since I had last seen her. “I know,” she said nonchalantly. “Times change and people grow.”

All of us were created to grow. We know this from Romans 12:2 where we are told: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” When I test for God’s will, I ask myself the following four questions:

  1. What does the wise counsel of my husband or a Godly friend have to say about what I want to do?
  2. Do circumstances allow it?
  3. Does it go against Scripture?
  4. Am I at peace with my decision?

Three months ago, I was not at peace with Hollie’s continued requests to dye her hair; but now circumstances have changed and even Bill is encouraging me to schedule the appointment. Hollie has morphed into a disciplined bass guitar player and I have mellowed enough to see that my job as a parent is to support her—even if it means looking for dark-colored clothes that won’t look too “happy” on stage and going to church with a child who is rocking a crazy hairstyle.

We can grow with our kids, or apart from them. Achieving the former and avoiding the latter is the difference between following where God is leading and steering children elsewhere.


Drama Proofing Your Life

Lately, I have been learning a lot about drama and what to do when it is unavoidably forced upon you. One of the more recent resources that I have stumbled across is Ray Kane’s Drama Proofing Your Life series that has been airing monthly on Moody Radio’s Midday Connection program. To give you a taste of how helpful this series is when it comes to understanding and dealing with difficult people, I copied the notes that I took while listening to Part 5 of Drama Proofing Your Life (which aired on February 19th) and pasted them into the space below.

In a drama, there’s a victim, a persecutor and a rescuer. The victim says: “I’m blameless, I’m helpless.” The persecutor says: “I’m right. I’m powerful.” The rescuer or caretaker says: “I can help. I’m special.”

The five factors that make up a drama pattern are:

  1. Intensity
  2. Defensiveness
  3. Unresolved Fear
  4. Anger
  5. Sadness

Drama’s occur when an individual chooses:

  1. not to deal with his intensity (i.e., pain of the past)
  2. to be defensive
  3. not to deal with their fear anger and sadness
Fear is at the pinnacle of the drama triangle. There are more verses on fear than on love in the bible. Whenever I’m angry, 9 times out of 10, it’s because of fear. Anger is our way of growling when we’re afraid.
The fears that create drama are fear of …
  1. failure
  2. rejection
  3. abandonment
  4. death (someone else is going to die, or I’m going to die an emotional death)
Three questions to ask yourself:
  1. How do I deal with my intensity and pain?
  2. How do I deal with my defensiveness that is my ego?
  3. How do I deal with my fear?
The intensity card is critical to being able to disarm the intensity pattern.
Another reason that people create drama (in addition to a lack of problem-solving skills) is because they are defined by the outside-in.
Some people tend to be more outside-in than inside-out in terms of the way they live their life. Generally an outside-in person will look to their environment. They’ll read for acceptance and rejection, for instance. Or they may look for some form of excitement to invigorate them and help them “come alive” by getting some kind of self-esteem (a sense of worth, competence, and belonging) from the drama they are creating; and so they might have a tendency to stir the pot or to be in a go-between type of situation.Kane encourages  us to consider: What are we trying to gain by creating drama or perpetuating drama? Is this the best way to accomplish my goal?Everyone is responsible for their own pain. When a spouse is pouting, withdrawing because he’s hoping to be rescued and playing the victim, he’s not wanting to take responsibility. If the wife disengages without being mean and allows herself to understand what’s going on with her spouse, she can apply knowledge with wisdom and discernment to really grow.More about emotional intensity:
  • Whenever there is emotionally intensity, it signifies that historical feelings and/or experiences are being triggered by current events.
  • Intensity communicates to others that our needs, concerns, or disappointments are not being validated.
  • When we are discounted, our natural reaction is to fight for our rights rather than enter into reasonable and rational conversations that balance our ability to think about our feelings as well as feel about our thinking.
Intensity is a by-product of:
  1. Un-resolved trauma (i.e., we weren’t loved well) expressed through our pain in feeling shame, insecurity, guilt, or believing that everything is wrong with me.
  2. Fear (i.e., failure to meet expectations, rejection of thoughts and feelings, abandonment by someone leaving physically or emotionally, fear unto death where someone else is going to die or I’m going to die or I feel emotional despair)  marked by thinking catastrophically, becoming anxious, or becoming controlling and angry.
  3. Self-Absorbtion is marked by being egocentric or prideful, believing nothing is wrong with me, being selfish and self-centered which ultimately causes one to walk by others who are in pain. The  more self-absorbed a person is, the more ego-centric they are, the more unresolved pain they have, the more trauma they have in their life that they haven’t addressed, and the more afraid they are (but they’re not willing to deal with it).
If you have two people who are engaging in drama, it creates an unsafe but familiar environment where, even if it’s bad, we don’t want to step out of the familiar because it’s what we know. The law of familiarity states that I’m attracted to what I’m familiar to even though it’s unhealthy. We have to choose to want to work on our issues and undergo the process of growth and change.
Drama-proofing your life requires asking these questions:
  1. Are you committed to growth and change?
  2. Do you really want to be healthy?
Although there are true victims who are robbed or forced to do something against their will, generally speaking, people are volunteers because they aren’t willing to take responsibility. The three things Ray Kane measures when he works with people is: 1) willingness, 2) heart & 3) responsibility. Are they willing to engage their heart and take responsibility. If these factors are not present, an individual is not ready to be healthy and will continue to create drama.
What if only one of you is willing to enter the path of growth? Jesus didn’t play into the drama patterns. He was always outside the drama triangle because he took responsibility for his own behavior. When we’re in a drama, we generally feel powerless. Jesus’ power (how he stayed out of the drama) is that he took truth from the father and acted with:
  1. wisdom and discernment
  2. humility
  3. a heart of love and respect (Love is a feeling, Respect is how you show it.)
Truth, communicated with wisdom,  discernment, love, respect and humility is what real power is.If you have a family or work environment where you are committed to be like Christ in being centered and healthy, then the Lord will give you wisdom and discernment with how to set boundaries and how to even stay in a relationship that’s difficult. (If it’s abusive, that’s a whole other ball game.) If it’s not abusive, you take yourself out of the drama by choosing to be healthy and desiring to be more like Christ.In healthy problem-solving:
  1. something happens
  2. skills are applied
  3. solutions are sought
  4. the outcome is evaluated
  5. the next action step is taken.
In unhealthy problem-solving (which is what dramas create):
  1. something happens
  2. the skills needed to solve the problem are missing
  3. there is no search for solutions
  4. feelings of anxiousness and insecurity lead to emotional flooding
  5. aggressive tactics like the ones below are applied in an attempt to restore emotional equilibrium and get someone else to deal with the problem
    • defensiveness
    • using shaming, blaming, critical and judgmental language
    • justifying a position
    • playing the victim
  6. the drama becomes the new issue to be handled and the original problem takes a backseat to the drama that’s been created

We all haven’t been loved well. Because our parents weren’t loved well, we weren’t loved well, and we don’t love well. That’s a given. In our life, the unresolved pain where love didn’t exist (and where love needed to be) becomes an anchor that keeps us from being able to get up to full speed.

Either we’re moving towards Christ or away from Christ. The significant process of the Christian life is learning how to deal with pain because if we don’t transform our pain, we transmit it. And so we have to be willing to engage in a process of growth and change in order to want to be a healthy person, centered in Christ. When I become that person, I then can change my environment.

Skills vs Capacity:

  • Capacity is how much energy I have in my tank to be able to use problem-solving skills to resolve an issue. Capacity will either come from my ego or from my faith. If there is a true heart’s desire to want to connect with Christ in an intimate way, Christ can help to heal the traumas of the past and, as Christ is present in the midst of those traumas, Jesus connects and attaches with the person who is hurting to increase their capacity. That is what it means to be connected with Christ in an intimate way and to experience the fullness of healing when we experience pain.
  • Healthy faith is able to take truth, communicate it with wisdom, discernment, and a heart of love and respect because I’m not preoccupied with trying to look good. Jesus’ power came with his humility, purity and ability to speak the truth.
Over-functioning and Under-functioning Relationships:The over functioning person that wants intimacy and connection more than the under-functioning individual tends to put more energy towards and into inviting the other person who is under-functioning to step up. It’s like spinning your wheels, you feel like a gerbil in a gerbil cage. You have to change-up the dynamic.In a healthy relationship, both individuals need to want intimacy at the same level. Growing towards that ideal means committing to:
  • having a more intimate relationship emotionally
  • learning how to communicate our needs, feelings and pain
  • to learn how to listen, hear and understand
If the under-functioning individual is hesitant to commit to this, then the person is more interested in having you  pursue him than he is in allowing himself to be vulnerable. We can invite people into healthy relationships but, if they are unwilling to do so, we need to be willing to move on and allow the other person to do the same.Can you allow yourself to see your character-disordered person as a gift? We like to see them as the generator of our pain, but they are not. The Lord has us in this place, otherwise we would be someplace else. It is God’s will that we be where we are at right now.Five questions to ask yourself to find out why the drama you are in is a gift:
  1. What is it that I can learn about myself?
  2. What insecurities is it raising inside of me that I need to bring to Christ?
  3. What skills might I need to acquire to be able to set appropriate boundaries?
  4. How might I need to learn how to communicate my needs, feelings and pain in more efficient ways?
  5. How might this experience enable me to develop a much deeper intimacy with Christ?
Recap:Healthy problem solving requires a particular set of skills. With unhealthy problem-solving, those skills are missing. We compensate because we want emotional equilibrium.If I’m not growing by dealing with my pain (which is caused by shame, insecurity or guilt) or dealing with my fears of failure, rejection, and abandonment, then I’m going to compensate by using my ego to be able to counterbalance the insecurity so therefore I become reactive. Reactivity means that I’m being defensive. Defensiveness means that I’m denying a problem exists, discounting and dismissing what others have to say, projecting and making the problem someone else’s as I justify my position, play the victim, and perpetuate the problem by causing the unresolved problem to be buried.If we become reactive and start pointing a finger, there are still four pointing back at us.

When I am willing to deal with my trauma, to deal with my fear, to not be driven by my ego but learn to become more humble, then I can be  reflective and take ownership of my thoughts and feelings by expressing a desire to humbly confess my wrongdoings and turn from my bad habits to pave the way for  negative patterns to be buried dead.If we’re triggered, it’s about our pain. There’s a point at which God hardens someone’s heart, but as long as we’re working on our pain, then we become a safer person to tell someone else that we would like them to work on theirs.

To listen to or download this or other episodes that Ray Kane has presented on Moody Radio’s Midday Connection program, click on one or more of the links below:

Drama-Proofing Your Life Part 1

Drama-Proofing Your Life Part 2

Drama-Proofing Your Life Part 3

Drama-Proofing Your Life Part 4

Drama-Proofing Your Life Part 5

View All Midday Connection Episodes with Guest Ray Kane

How to Make Danish Crepes

My mother grew up eating Danish crepes. Slathered in butter and sprinkled with sugar, they served as the perfect snack to welcome her and her brothers home after a long day at school.  As an adult, she carried on the crepe-making tradition by mixing up a batch every Wednesday night before my brothers and I left for our weekly catechism class. Served with a bowl of scrambled eggs mixed with fried potatoes, it was one of my favorite meals of the week. I had no plans to follow in my grandmother’s and mother’s footsteps until my oldest brother (who is big on tradition) bought me my first cast iron griddle. Almost twenty years later, I am still using it to make a weekly batch of pancakes so that my youngest can heat one up every morning before heading off to school.

To start your own crepe-making tradition, follow the recipe below.

Danish crepes

1. Place the following ingredients in a blender:

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups of milk

1/2 cup of sugar

1/4 tsp of salt

1 tsp. vanilla

3 cups of all purpose flour

2. Blend the ingredients, adding more milk as necessary until the crepe mix is easy to pour.

3. Heat a lightly oiled cast iron griddle over medium high heat.

Note: To minimize the amount of cooking oil that is needed, I purchased the Misto Gourmet Oil Sprayer (which can be used with any vegetable oil).  Another option for spreading a small amount of oil onto a griddle is to use a silicone basting brush that is heat resistant to 500F/260C.

4. Pour a soup ladle of crepe mix onto the center of the skillet and tilt the pan in a circular motion so the batter coats the surface evenly.

5. When the bottom of the crepe is lightly brown, loosen with a metal spatula and flip the crepe over to cook the other side.

6. Remove from heat when the second side is lightly browned.

7. Serve hot and refrigerate leftovers.

Twenty Tips for Making Overnight Guests Feel Welcome in Your Home

Over the past several months, our guest room has gotten a lot of use. When a friend asked if I minded having so many visitors, I didn’t hesitate when I told her that it’s a privilege to welcome people to our home. Luke 12:48 says that much is expected from whom much is blessed. We are blessed to have an extra bedroom and anyone who has stayed with us knows that we go out of our way to make it (and our guests) comfortable. What people don’t know is why.

Why did we decorate the guest room with Bill’s mother’s old Christmas decorations before his aunt came to visit last December?

Why did I set a tray of freshly baked cookies and bottled water on the bed the last time a friend stayed the night?

And what prompted us to develop dozens of pictures of friends and family members so we will have the perfect snapshot to frame and place on the nightstand the next time one of them is scheduled to spend the night?

If my youngest daughter had to answer the last question, she’d say that it makes us look like stalkers; but I am less concerned with making an impression than I am with making a difference. Since our move to Illinois we have traveled to Nebraska on many occasions and, like the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:20, we know what it’s like to be in want and what’s it’s like to have plenty when we stop somewhere to spend the night. My goal is to use that knowledge to anticipate what would make visitors feel welcome and affirm their importance to our family.

If you would like to send the same message to your guests, here are twenty ways to make them feel especially welcome in your home:

  1. When visitors are arriving late, think beyond the porch light by placing a mint on their pillows and turning a lamp on low in their bedroom.
  2. Have a nightlight in the hallway so guests can find their way to the kitchen or bathroom after everyone goes to bed.
  3. Place a tray on the bed with a plate of cookies and a card to welcome them to your home.
  4. Save your wireless password to a text file on a clearly marked flash drive so high-tech friends and family members can access your network from their laptop or smartphone.
  5. Store a cable guide by the television if your guest room has one so visitors can easily locate their favorite channels.
  6. Purchase a brochure holder from an office supply store and use it to hold information about local tourist attractions.
  7. Keep a photo album of past visitors checking out local tourist attractions so new guests will have an idea of what attractions they might want to see while they are in town.
  8. Add flowers to surface areas and artwork on the walls to give guests something beautiful to look at.
  9. Place a notepad and pen on the nightstand so people can capture late night thoughts.
  10. Empty the drawers of a dresser and place extra hangers in the closet so people can use them if they are staying for more than one night.
  11. Provide a luggage rack , bench or other flat surface so guests won’t have to bend down when opening their suitcase.
  12. Store extra blankets and pillows where guests can easily find them.
  13. Place a fresh roll of toilette paper on the dispenser and a second one within easy reach so guests won’t run out during their stay.
  14. Set box(es) of tissues, disposable hand towels, and travel-sized toiletries where visitors will find them.
  15. If you subscribe to magazines, store recent copies in your guest room for visitors to peruse.
  16. Keep your iron and ironing board in the guest room closet so visitors will have access to them.
  17. Place a full length mirror where visitors can use it and keep a spare blow dryer under the sink.
  18. Store extra blankets, towels and washcloths so they will be easy to find.
  19. Hang two matching robes in the closet for guests to use during their stay.
  20. If your guest room is drafty in the winter, consider putting a space heater in the corner of the guest room and an electric blanket on the bed.

Photos illustrating many of the suggestions listed above can be found on but before you view them, remember that implementing even one is pointless if no one stays in your home. Good things don’t always come to those who wait: Sometimes you have to make an effort by extending an invitation and trusting that the people who take you up on your offer will be the ones God has given you the privilege to serve.

 From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. – Luke 12:48b

Using Smart Albums in iPhoto to Keep Track of Your Best Photos

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to change up the way you do things, especially when it comes to organizing your digital photos. It’s a time to keep doing what works and ditch what doesn’t. What works for me is organizing pictures by event and adding the year, month and day they were taken to the title of each folder. If I have two events in one day (like a program at school during the day  and a birthday party that night), I place them in separate folders and include “01” after the date of the first and “02” after the date of the second activity to make sure that the folders show up in the proper order (see example below).

Photos Organized by Year and Event

What also works is periodically backing up these folders to DVDs that I give to Bill to take to work. This ensures that, in the event of a fire, our pictures are not lost forever.

What hasn’t been working is having to search through every folder at the end of the year to find the pictures that I would like to include in our annual Christmas Card and end of year slideshow. In search of a solution that would make the most of software I already have, I read up on how to use iPhoto Smart Albums and created one called 2013 Best Photos. I then added parameters so the album only contains pictures from 2013 events that I gave a 5-star rating (see article titled How To Create Essential Smart Albums for Your iPhoto Library at

To test my new process, I imported a photo from our camera and gave it a five-star rating. The picture appeared in the new smart album and my photo-taking year is off to a great start, proving that Continuous Process Improvement is not just for companies: It’s for anyone who is up for the challenge of putting every system to the test until the good is better and the better is best!