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.

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.

A Little More Jesus

It’s been said that absence makes the heart grow fonder but, sometimes, it just makes me wonder: What’s been keeping a person away for so long?

Was it something I said?

Or something I did?

As a coach, I am trained to listen for two things: The story and the truth. The story is what we say to make ourselves feel better (or worse) about a situation. The truth is rooted in, not perception, but fact. And the fact, in this instance, is that the mind can get pretty carried away without something real to keep it grounded.

I was reminded of this just yesterday when I received an e-mail from a friend who I had not talked to for most of the summer. I’d thought about reaching out to her on several occasions but, because it was her turn to call, I stubbornly decided not to. Immediately upon reading her e-mail and learning about the challenges she’s been facing since we last spoke, I realized two things:

1. I was the person in the wrong.
2. Good friends don’t keep score.

Why is it that what bothers us most about others is the very thing we are guilty of ourselves? Sometimes I think the world be much simpler if we never had to spin stories to hide our hypocritical cores.

The story I spun about my friend was that she had lost interest in our friendship. The reality is that silence does not mean indifference. I, of all people, should know this after taking time off from writing following my father’s death last June. In the six years since publishing my first newsletter, this is the longest that I’ve been away from my craft—and all of you; but with an obituary to write, a slideshow to create, and an overwhelming amount of other projects to tackle as my brothers and I started the long process of cleaning up our Dad’s farm, I knew in my heart that it was the right thing to do.

What wasn’t right was my decision to also take the summer off from God. It’s not that I didn’t want to spend time with Him: It’s just that with everything that was going on, spiritual disciplines always seemed to be the last thing on my mind. And as the dog days of summer wore on, it became clear that the longer I went without studying the bible, the farther I felt from God.

If out of sight is out of mind, then out of mind definitely leads to lack of heart. It’s the one time when absence makes the heart grow, not fonder, but fussier as we lose all compassion for others.

I often joke that I get along great with people as long as I’m the only one in the room. What I don’t say about this philosopy is that it doesn’t account for God. Although it doesn’t always feel like it, silence doesn’t mean absence−just that He has chosen not to comment on our behavior.

I definitely had moments that left God speechless as certain relationships and circumstances left me ranting and raving like an emotional toddler. To make sense of these situations, I listened to self-help audio tapes while driving to and from Nebraska. One batch that I checked out from the library included the title ‘One Month To Live: Thirty Days to a No-Regrets Life’ by Kerry & Chris Shook. Although I never got used to the narrator’s deep voice (think James Earl Jones from the Lion King), I was glad that I stuck with the guy for long enough to hear him challenge listeners—myself included—to never give up something that we can’t go a day without thinking about.

What can’t you go a day without thinking about? Do you know?

I asked myself this question in early July and already it was apparent that I can’t go a summer without Jesus. And as someone who was away from home for 47 days last summer, I speak from experience when I say that if you’re feeling far from God, it’s your actions and not your location that needs to change. It felt good to return to my pre-summer ways when life settled down enough to pick up where I left off in my bible. As soon as I did, I was welcomed back with these words from Psalm 16:

5 Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
7 I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
8 I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

How comforting it is to know that, no matter how long or far we travel, our lot is secure as we keep our eyes on the Lord and our behavior in check by putting a little more Jesus in our day.

Summer is coming: Do you have a plan?

Version 1 of my coaching website is up and running and my coaching doors are officially open for business. For help with letting go of self-limiting behaviors & beliefs and living up to your full potential, check out NoLimitsLifeCoaching.com.

While you’re there, visit the Group Coaching page where I outline my first tele-workshop, which begins on May 1st. If you are a parent or know one who wants to set goals for your child(ren) in the areas Jesus outlined in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, I’d love to have you join us. The cost for the program is just $36, a small price to pay for a plan that will keep kids living with purpose all summer long.

Note: If you work during the day and would like to participate in an evening Parenting with Purpose Group Coaching Program, please e-mail me with the night(s) of the week that would work for you and, if there is enough interest, I will let you know.

A Little Help from My Friends

In a previous post I wrote about the power of accountability and how, by making goals known, we strengthen our resolve to complete them. Today I’d like to tell you about a free calorie-counting program I’ve been using to improve accountability in a part of my life that has been inexplicable for too long.  A friend told me about the myfitnesspal iPhone app. Although a little skeptical, I downloaded it to my phone and was pleasantly surprised to find that the program has a huge database of food items. In the ten days that I have been using it, I haven’t overeaten once.

That’s my goal: to not overeat. I’d been doing it for so long that I was beginning to wonder if I would ever break the habit of hour-long binges and self-condemnation that followed. 1 Corinthians 10:13 promises that God will not tempt us more than we can stand. And when we are tempted, he will show us a way out so we can endure them. For me, that way out comes every day in the form of a set limit of calories that I can consume before the program notifies me that I have exceeded my goal. As soon as I saw how easy myfitnesspal was to use, I told my exercise buddy (who also signed up) and now I no longer have to tell each other about my progress. She can see it on her phone.

The camaraderie of it all reminds me of the song by The Beatles where Ringo Starr sang “I get by with a little help from our friends.” If you, also, lack accountability and want to gain control of your eating habits, download the app to your phone or use the online version to sign up. My user name (and the name to search for to add me as a friend) is stopsettling.

I picked that name because it’s time to stop settling and start living up to our full potential. If you feel the same way, join me as we prove that with God all things are possible as we get by with a little help from our friends.

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” ~ Romans 14:17

Making the Most of What We Have

Last month, Bill and I celebrated our eighteenth wedding anniversary with a four-day trip to Las Vegas. Wanting to make the most of our long weekend, we set a goal to attend at least one show every day. In addition to watching great entertainers like Jay Leno and Garth Brooks, we saw a Cirque du Soleil performance, attended a beach party where Will.I.Am was the DJ, and signed up for a helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon.

The aerial tour was our anniversary gift to each other and one of the highlights of our trip. To mentally prepare for the flight, Bill was listening to the song “Danger Zone” from the Top Gun soundtrack as we waited to board our chopper; and I had to laugh when he walked up to where I was sitting and, in his best Maverick impersonation, leaned down to say: “Talk to me Goose.”

My husband’s excitement was justified. Flying over Hoover Dam and descending 3,500 feet into the Grand Canyon was an amazing experience that we will be talking about for years to come. It was also the first thing to come to mind when the cab driver asked about our stay while taking us to the airport. After mentioning the helicopter ride and our other adventures, the man confessed that in the thirty years he’s lived in Las Vegas, he and his wife had been to maybe five shows.

Knowing how easy it is to get discounted tickets, I struggled to comprehend such a low total. We had seen more in thee days than our driver had in three decades. Was I the only person who saw something wrong with this picture?

Living well is not about having the most, but making the most of what we have. Jesus made this clear in the parable of the bags of gold when he said: “For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” Verses like this one from Matthew 25 remind me of the time a woman at church told me about a childhood friend who had invited her family to visit them in Kansas City.

“When are you planning to go?” I asked, knowing how much her kids would enjoy attractions like Kaleidoscope, World’s of Fun, and the Crayola Cafe.

“We’re not,” she replied. “For now, it’s enough to know that we could go if we wanted to.”

It’s not enough, I thought to myself as I stood there in disbelief.

Sometimes I think we spend so much time weighing our options that we forget who placed them on the scale. I want to leave this world knowing that I have wrung every bit of good out of my circumstances. Don’t you?

God is calling all of us to “live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.”ˆ¹ Those who do will find that the greatest risk is not stepping out in faith, but never stepping up to see what God has planned for those who are willing to give His adventurous suggestions a try.

ˆ¹See Ephesians 5:15

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLP4ZYapAO8]

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

1 Corinthians 2:9


Counting the Cost

While visiting with another mom the other day, I asked if she was getting excited about her family’s upcoming move.

“I’m really going to miss my friends,” she said.

“It’s only two hours away so you can come back on weekends,” I replied, trying to make her feel better.

“And we’ll visit you,” I added.

“That’s right, you like to travel.”

“I don’t like to travel,” I corrected. “I like who we travel to see.”

It’s been said that people will do what’s important to them at their own inconvenience. Friends are important to me. So important that I look for reasons to reconnect with the ones who live far away. Those reasons have taken our family to Florida, New York, California, Arizona, and several states in between. If I were to count the cost of those trips, it would pale in comparison to the price that so many pay for never having gone. People like the woman I met shortly after moving to Chicago. We were still getting to know each other when I mentioned that, although our family had no plans to move again, there was a chance that my husband’s company would ask us to relocate in five or ten years. Immediately upon hearing this, the woman exclaimed: “Why would I spend time getting to know you if you might leave me in five years?”

Although her words remind me of the Alfred Lord Tennyson poem where he said “‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,” I don’t view a friend’s move as a loss. To me, it’s an opportunity to show that person how much she matters. Those who do cross the miles will be relieved to find that one new memory has the power to bridge even a decade of silence. I’ve seen this happen again and again in my own life. Like last year when we traveled to Minneapolis to reconnect with a couple who left Nebraska before Katie and Hollie were born. As soon as we sat down to dinner, the miles melted away and my only regret was that we hadn’t gotten together sooner.

What that trip to Minneapolis taught me (and the lesson that I share with you today) is that Proverbs 27:10 tells us not to forsake others for good reasons—because relationships worth keeping are worth keeping in good condition; and no matter how much time passes, it’s never too late to pick up where you left off with a friend.

Starstruck

I don’t get starstruck. In fact, I have been known to assume that someone is “just another guest at an event” when in fact the person is hosting it. Like the time I made small talk with a woman at a charity dinner without realizing that the man standing next to her was the governor of Nebraska and she was his wife. Or the time I tagged along with Bill to a conference in California and “befriended” the wife of another conference attendee after assuming that she was feeling out-of-place, like I was. I later learned that the woman was the wife of the partner in charge of every auditor in the room (and the company’s national practice).

That’s me: Oblivious to and unimpressed by earthly accomplishments. I learned years ago that it’s not what we do, but who we are that matters. Jesus made this clear in the parable of the penny when he said that the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who paid his workers the same amount of money, regardless of the hours worked. This equal-pay-for-unequal-work philosophy that was laid out in Matthew 20 didn’t set well with the laborers who were in the field the longest. When they wanted more than the workers who were hired later in the day, Jesus held his ground as he said: “I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?”

Knowing that everyone is of equal worth is not enough. We have to act like it by seeing similarities, instead of differences, in others. Years ago, I was visiting with someone from our church who had recently moved into a new neighborhood. When I asked if she had gotten to know the people who lived in the large house at the end of her street, she immediately tensed up and said: “Oh no, I could never be friends with them.”

“Why?” I asked her.

“Because their home is much nicer than ours.”

Her reply reminds me of these lyrics from the song “People Are People”  by Depeche Mode:

People are people
So why should it be
You and I should get
Along so awfully

So we’re different colours
And we’re different creeds
And different people have different needs
It’s obvious you hate me
Though I’ve done nothing wrong
I’ve never ever met you so what could I have done

The neighbor in the nice house did nothing to merit the conclusion that the woman I was visiting had drawn. And by putting someone on a pedestal that no man was meant to stand on she created, not just a pain in her neck, but a problem within her heart. Self-deprecation is a form of pride. And pride, according to Proverbs 16:18, always leads to our downfall.

We can’t believe that the bible is the inerrant word of God and discount it whenever it suits us. Instead, we are to recognize everyone’s worth and remember that no matter  how well-known we become in our corner of the world, there will always be someone who doesn’t know who we are.

Earlier this week, I was once again this “someone” when Bill sent me a picture that a coworker had taken of him and another man during their lunch.

“Don’t you know who that was?” Bill asked when he called to see if I had received it.

“Not a clue,” I replied.

“It’s Thibodeau.

“Thib-a-what?” I asked.

“Coach Thibodeau,” he said.

“The coach of the Chicago Bulls,” Bill added when I still didn’t have a clue. “You know, the NBA Coach of the Year.”

Turns out that person Bill had his picture taken with was more important that I realized and … so are you.



Getting Organized On The Go

When a friend told me that she was planning to attend an in-home party where the proceeds were being donated to victims of the March 2011 earthquake that struck Japan, I agreed to tag along. We arrived to find a variety of storage solutions from Thirty-One Gifts on display and, after much deliberation, I purchased a set of All-In-One Organizer totes in a pattern that matched the interior of my van.

I used the first All-In-One Organizer to corral papers, books, and other items that used to make my passenger seat look more like a messy desk than an inviting place to sit. The second tote was the perfect size to hold reusable bags and coupons. Because the seller was running a monthly special where I could get one of the all-in-one organizers for half-price if I spent $30 of more, I also bought a Littles Carry-All Caddy and used it to store tissue paper, lens cloths, and glasses cleaner.

What I like most about the organizers (besides how nice they look), is that they also work great for road trips to hold snacks, reading material, and other travel essentials. I have been so pleased with these items that I contacted Jennifer Hansen (the Thirty-One Gifts consultant who sold them to me) and she agreed to offer free shipping to anyone who orders over $ 40.00 worth of merchandise. Thanks, Jennifer!

Links to the Thirty-One Gifts catalog, website, and current monthly specials are found below.

Catalog

Website

Current Monthly Specials

I receive no financial kickback for your order so please don’t feel pressured to make a purchase. I’m just sharing what I know so that others can grow (and become more organized on the go).