Showing posts with label 31 Days of Preparation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 31 Days of Preparation. Show all posts

Sunday, October 21, 2012

31 Days :: Preparing Your Heart with the 4 Steps of Forgiveness - Day 21


Yesterday we talked about making plans ahead of time to forgive, but how do we actually work through the process?  Here's how I learned the steps crucial to forgiving via my own experience...

A few years ago a situation came up that was quite hurtful.  I was struggling with distancing myself from a couple of negative relationships and knew that a change needed to be made, but because family was involved I put off that decision.  I could see these two were struggling and I wanted to help, but instead of honoring my own boundaries I offered assistance, support and all-available access whenever a need appeared (...which seemed to be quite often).  

By the way...if you're in a situation where giving is always one-sided and you're trying to be "all-available" to help during times of continual chaos, then the relationship has become an unbalanced one and not good for either party.  Sad to say, I ignored my intuition and things escalated, which resulted in massive betrayal and a feeling of unsafeness like I had never known before.  Warning...people who are using you don't really like it when healthy boundaries are set, tend to get offended and then call you the horrible one for setting them (; Just keep moving forward and set those boundaries.

I have to admit, it took me a while to let go.  My heart was broken in a million pieces and I was hurt on a level I couldn't even fathom.  That's when I realized that forgiveness is something for which we need to plan ahead.  When hurts happen, forgiveness is the last thing on our minds and NEVER the first thing we want to do.  But if we choose to reach for forgiveness first, we're opening the door for those hurts to be healed.

1) Acknowledge the pain...
Be honest with yourself about what happened. Forgiveness doesn’t mean reconciliation or condoning what happened, it simply releases the hold on your heart so healing can begin.

2) Change your perspective...
Sometimes people think forgiveness means letting the offender off the hook.  Instead imagine forgiveness as an act of personal power.  Requiring someone else to be responsible for healing your pain gives them tremendous control over your life.  Allow God to heal the brokenness and step into His grace which will bless every other area of your life.

3) Release the situation and affirm the healing of your heart...
When we've been wounded, that hurt can sometimes linger.  Places, situations and even smells can bring up past emotions and if we aren't training our minds to focus on the good, then it's easy to fall back into those old feelings of pain.  We want to give our minds something to latch onto so it doesn't snap back into automatic mode.  Throughout the day say the following...
  • I am healed, happy, whole and blessed
  • I am filled with peace about this situation and release it
I know...it may feel a little goofy at first, but having faith that God is taking care of the situation activates His power and frees us from the worry of trying to handle everything alone.  These simple affirmations spotlight the positive and keep us moving forward.

4) Bless those who have hurt you...
Okay, now this is the tough one...Say a prayer of blessing each day for the ones who have hurt you. 

"What??!!  I've acknowledged the pain, made the choice to forgive, released the situation and I'm even saying those goofy affirmations, but now you want me to bless the jerks who took my heart and shredded it?!!!" 

In one word...Yep.

"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."  Luke 6:27-28

See, something magical happens when we take action to do something good for someone who has hurt us.  It begins to flood our soul with peace and changes how we feel about that person and the experience. Saying a prayer each day for those not-so-nice people in our lives associates something good with their memory and renews our attitude towards the situation which brings an even greater level of healing.  What we offer to the world is offered to us.  If we offer a blessing, then we'll be blessed.

This doesn't mean that you bake them cookies, send care packages or invite them over for dinner...we're not even talking about allowing the offender back in your life at this point.  That might or might not be the thing to do in time, but right now were are offering blessings so we can associate different thoughts with these individuals.

Have you ever been so mad at someone or something that the very mention of their name or topic gets your blood boiling?  Without even realizing it we're giving away our power.  We're wanting to take those painful moments and give them a new focus so restoration can take place.

It's not easy and can be one of the most challenging experiences to go through, but by putting these 4 Steps of Forgiveness into motion, it sets up our hearts for healing and can free us from anchors we never realized were there.

I hope you'll continue to join us for Day 22 of our 31 Days of Preparation journey.  Enter your email below and each post will automatically be delivered to your inbox.  Don't forget to stop by the many other 31 Dayers for additional inspiration!

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Ÿ Day 1             Ÿ Day 7             Ÿ Day 12           Ÿ Day 17           Ÿ Day 22           Ÿ Day 27
Ÿ Day 2             Ÿ Day 8             Ÿ Day 13           Ÿ Day 18           Ÿ Day 23           Ÿ Day 28
Ÿ Day 3             Ÿ Day 9             Ÿ Day 14           Ÿ Day 19           Ÿ Day 24           Ÿ Day 29
Ÿ Day 4             Ÿ Day 10           Ÿ Day 15           Ÿ Day 20           Ÿ Day 25           Ÿ Day 30
Ÿ Day 5             Ÿ Day 11           Ÿ Day 16           Ÿ Day 21           Ÿ Day 26           Ÿ Day 31
Ÿ Day 6             Ÿ Day 12           Ÿ Day 18           Ÿ Day 1             Ÿ Day 22            Ÿ Day33

In Gratitude,

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

31 Days :: Preparing Your Heart with Forgiveness - Day 20


Yesterday we talked about how focusing on thankfulness can cause us to see things in a new light, but what about when we've been wounded so deeply that thankfulness is merely an action we wish we could muster...what to do then?  When hurt is involved we go from logic mode to feeling mode in an instant and most of the time our emotional side wins out.

The thing about feelings is that they can be fickle and flow with the currents of our emotions.  That's why it's so important to prepare our hearts ahead of time to protect us from the ever changing movement of circumstance.

I might not feel thankful today, but writing in my gratitude journal helps to get me moving in the thankful direction.  I might not feel like exercising today, but I do it anyway because I know my body needs it.  I might feel like eating that entire carton of ice cream, but I decide ahead of time to only eat a certain amount.  If we choose ahead of time how we respond to circumstances, we can then stem the tide of emotional currents and stay on course.

And so it is with forgiveness...

The very act of living means at some point and time we are going to be hurt.  Betrayal, abandonment, being used...they all leave marks on our hearts that can lead to anger.  By dwelling on these painful circumstances, the anger within can turn into bitterness, resentment and self-pity.  Then before we know it, we begin blaming others, ourselves and maybe even God. 

We've all been there...we've been hurt, we dwell, we get mad and then we stew.  But did you know that stewing over those hurts can actually create a physical reaction in your body?  Didn't realize the topic of forgiveness could turn into a health lesson, did ya (;  If the idea of thoughts directly affecting our bodies is something new, then you have to pick up Who Switched Off My Brain? Controlling Toxic Thoughts and Emotions by Dr. Caroline Leaf.  She lays out a visual display that makes the concepts easy to understand and it's a favorite in my collection of reads.

Dr. Leaf states that 87% to 95% of the illnesses that plague us today are the direct result of our thought life.  What we think affects us physically and emotionally.  Through an uncontrolled thought life, we create the conditions for illness to thrive and we make ourselves sick.

Research shows that fear, all on its own, triggers more than 1,400 known physical and chemical responses and activates more than 30 different hormones.  Toxic waste generated by toxic thoughts can cause diabetes, cancer, asthma, skin problems and allergies, just to name a few.  Sounds to me like there are not only intellectual, but also medical reasons to forgive. 

In her book Dr. Leaf shares an example of this in the story of a woman who came home while her home was being robbed.  For three days after the robbery this woman was totally consumed with revenge, anger and fury at what had happened.  That same woman, who was perfectly healthy before the robbery, now uses a walker and is in constant pain with a laundry list of medical problems that didn't exist before the incident. 

The intensity of her emotions, combined with the power of adrenaline racing through her system, created a stew of toxicity that absolutely ruined her body.  Her doctors best explanation was that she "basically fried her body."  Those emotions of hate and fury had literally short-circuited her nervous system.  There's a reason they call it "stewing in your own juices." 

By making a choice ahead of time to forgive, we free our bodies from the fate of damaging toxic thoughts and emotions.  So where to start?  We've decided to embrace forgiveness before something happens, but how do we actually work through the process once the forgiving is called into action?

Make sure to come back tomorrow as we continue our 31 Days of Preparation and I'll share The 4 Steps of Forgiveness that I use to help keep my heart free from anchors.   If you enter your email below, each post will automatically be delivered to your inbox.

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Ÿ Day 1             Ÿ Day 7             Ÿ Day 12           Ÿ Day 17           Ÿ Day 22           Ÿ Day 27
Ÿ Day 2             Ÿ Day 8             Ÿ Day 13           Ÿ Day 18           Ÿ Day 23           Ÿ Day 28
Ÿ Day 3             Ÿ Day 9             Ÿ Day 14           Ÿ Day 19           Ÿ Day 24           Ÿ Day 29
Ÿ Day 4             Ÿ Day 10           Ÿ Day 15           Ÿ Day 20           Ÿ Day 25           Ÿ Day 30
Ÿ Day 5             Ÿ Day 11           Ÿ Day 16           Ÿ Day 21           Ÿ Day 26           Ÿ Day 31
Ÿ Day 6             Ÿ Day 12           Ÿ Day 18           Ÿ Day 1             Ÿ Day 22            Ÿ Day33

In Gratitude,

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Friday, October 19, 2012

31 Days :: Prepare Your Heart by Expressing Thankfulness - Day 19


Yesterday we talked a little bit about preparing our hearts for thankfulness by keeping a gratitude journal. Opening our eyes to the blessings that surround us is the first step. Once we have hearts of thankfulness, it begins to naturally come out in our actions. Not only are we thinking thankful thoughts, but those thoughts then manifest in how we reach out to others.

Saying thank you may sound like a little thing to most of us...we were trained to say it because it was just good manners, but I've begun to notice that saying thank you has become a little bit of a lost art. As a matter of fact, I know several people who rarely say it all. If a gift is given or something is done, you don't hear "Thank you!" Instead you hear, "Oh, you don't have to do that!" After a while it becomes amusing to see what the next response will be because all attempts to use those two little words are avoided.

There are personalities who exude thankfulness (like my Mom and Grandmother). It just naturally comes out of their spirit no matter what, but for the majority of us, thankfulness is a habit we learn over time and therefore it should be practiced at every chance possible. Learn how to say thank you with reckless abandon (: Look for ways to show others how much you appreciate them and don't just focus on family and friends. Seek for ways to bless the cashier at the grocery store, the postman, your child's teacher, etc.

A couple of years ago our apartment was having roof work done. We were very impressed by the care and diligence given by each roofer. They were helpful, gracious, respectful and took great pride in their work. We wanted to thank them for all of their efforts and to let them know how much we appreciated all they were doing. The answer? Cupcake love - we decided to make cupcakes with thank you notes attached to be given to the workers during their afternoon break.

The foreman was so taken by our gesture that he took a group picture to show his boss, cupcakes and all. The sad part was what he said next..."Ma'am, no one has ever done this for us before. In the 15 years I've been in construction no one has ever said thank you. Thank you so much for thinking of us!" The simple act of baking cupcakes was a bright spot in their day...not only did it put a smile on their face, but it put a smile in our hearts to know it made them feel special.
Another way we like to reach out is to leave little seasonal "Thinking of You" gifts on our neighbors' doorsteps. For the fall season small pumpkins with notes of thankfulness make an appearance. They can be used for Halloween and then flow right into Thanksgiving...a frugal and versatile gift all in one (: It's a simple and inexpensive way to connect and break down barriers with those you might not know very well.

When we reach out in thankfulness, it not only changes how we see others, but it alters how we move through life. We begin to connect on a deeper level and move beyond the "surface living" of generic "Hi's" and "Hello's." This open heart of thankfulness also begins to release judgments, enabling us see the soul of others and to meet them in a place of authenticity. The surface level, "Hi, how are you --- I'm fine" dialogs, now become authentic conversations of substance. We really want to know the cares, hurts, happy moments and times of sorrow of those around us so we can minister accordingly.

So the next time you go to the grocery store, make sure to tell the gentleman in the parking lot who gathers the carts how much you appreciate what he does. Offer a note of thanks to your favorite dry cleaner. Leave a little pumpkin for that neighbor down the street who always takes such great care of their yard and tell them how much you appreciate the work they do to make the neighborhood beautiful. When your little one helps her siblings, do something special to let her know how thankful you are for her helpful heart. Leave love notes of gratitude for the hubs for the hard work he does each day.

Seek out ways to express appreciation for everyone in your life and soon you'll discover that thankfulness is the key to open the floodgates of abundant blessings (; I hope you'll continue to join us for our 31 Days of Preparation journey. Tomorrow we'll move from thankfulness to preparing our hearts with forgiveness. Enter your email below and each post will automatically be delivered to your inbox. Don't forget to stop by the many other 31 Dayers for additional inspiration!

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Ÿ Day 1             Ÿ Day 7             Ÿ Day 12           Ÿ Day 17           Ÿ Day 22           Ÿ Day 27
Ÿ Day 2             Ÿ Day 8             Ÿ Day 13           Ÿ Day 18           Ÿ Day 23           Ÿ Day 28
Ÿ Day 3             Ÿ Day 9             Ÿ Day 14           Ÿ Day 19           Ÿ Day 24           Ÿ Day 29
Ÿ Day 4             Ÿ Day 10           Ÿ Day 15           Ÿ Day 20           Ÿ Day 25           Ÿ Day 30
Ÿ Day 5             Ÿ Day 11           Ÿ Day 16           Ÿ Day 21           Ÿ Day 26           Ÿ Day 31
Ÿ Day 6             Ÿ Day 12           Ÿ Day 18           Ÿ Day 1             Ÿ Day 22            Ÿ Day33

In Gratitude,

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

31 Days :: Prepare Your Heart with Thankfulness - Day 18


I've mentioned before that there are certain things I do each day to keep things running smoothly. One of these is the simple act of focusing my mornings with thankfulness. The way we begin our days sets the tone for how we finish our days. Ever had those times when you just wished you could go back to bed and begin again? It's all about getting started on the right foot.

Before my day begins, I center myself with these three components...
  • Center spiritually by having time for meditation, prayer and devotions
  • Center mentally by being thankful
  • Center physically with simple exercise

That second component of thankfulness is the one I want to focus on today. The way I center myself mentally is by keeping a gratitude journal.  Each morning I make a list of 10 things for which I'm thankful and it can be something as small as a great parking space to a biggy like healing. The depth of content really doesn't matter...the important thing is to begin noticing all of the good in your life, because we all have it. I know sometimes it feels like there isn't much to be thankful for, but oh, what a misconception (:

By training our eyes to look for the light in life, we begin to see more of it. We all know that focal points are important in design, but they also matter in life. That center of attraction pulls everything together. If you're focused on blessings, then you'll see more blessings. If you're tuned in to lack and what you don't have, then that's exactly what you'll see.

When I first started keeping a gratitude journal many moons ago, it felt a little odd and sometimes I kept writing the same things over and over again. Then one day I decided to look for new blessings during the day so I would have something different to write about in my journal the following morning...haha! Seek and ye shall find (;

When we open our hearts to being thankful, we begin to catch sight of the good that is sometimes hidden in the everyday. We begin to notice the small gestures made by others. We begin to witness the touches of grace that were so woefully neglected before. It's easy to spot the irritating, aggravating and annoying and it doesn't require much spiritual fortitude to express our disdain for these things once discovered.

People love to complain. Why? Because it doesn't require anything of us. It's easy. But when we're surrounded by the uncomfortable things of life and choose to be thankful anyway, ah...now that requires a part of the soul that digs deep. By excavating and using our thankful muscles, it trains our spirit to keep the lacks away and we naturally begin to see our days in a blessed way.

"Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!" Psalm 106:1

So, if your days seem to be filled with more dark than light, try keeping a gratitude journal to open the pathway for more blessings to flow. You may just be surprised at what you might find (; 

I hope you'll continue to follow our 31 Days of Preparation journey.  Join us again tomorrow as we share how to prepare our hearts by expressing thankfulness once we find it (;  Enter your email below and each post will automatically be delivered to your inbox. Don't forget to stop by the many other 31 Dayers for additional inspiration!

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Ÿ Day 1             Ÿ Day 7             Ÿ Day 12           Ÿ Day 17           Ÿ Day 22           Ÿ Day 27
Ÿ Day 2             Ÿ Day 8             Ÿ Day 13           Ÿ Day 18           Ÿ Day 23           Ÿ Day 28
Ÿ Day 3             Ÿ Day 9             Ÿ Day 14           Ÿ Day 19           Ÿ Day 24           Ÿ Day 29
Ÿ Day 4             Ÿ Day 10           Ÿ Day 15           Ÿ Day 20           Ÿ Day 25           Ÿ Day 30
Ÿ Day 5             Ÿ Day 11           Ÿ Day 16           Ÿ Day 21           Ÿ Day 26           Ÿ Day 31
Ÿ Day 6             Ÿ Day 12           Ÿ Day 18           Ÿ Day 1             Ÿ Day 22            Ÿ Day33

In Gratitude,

New to The Homesteading Cottage?   Don't miss a post and subscribe here...
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