CHRISTMAS!  The word evokes many feelings, depending on our experiences. For some, Christmas is a happy time, filled with beautiful memories and joyful expectations. For others, Christmas is a depressing time, a season one wants “to get over with” as quickly as possible because of bad memories associated with this time of year.

Having ministered to people for many years, I have come to the conclusion that depressing memories at Christmas time are most often related to problems of unforgiveness. Hurts from the past become more pronounced during the Christmas season, but the reason those hurts still affect us is that we have not let go of the bitterness associated with them. In short, we have not forgiven the people who have hurt us.

Why do most people have such a difficult time forgiving? I believe the main reason is that they do not understand what forgiveness really means. If you are one of those people, what follows may help you:

LET’S LOOK AT WHAT FORGIVENESS IS NOT:

  • Forgiveness is NOT letting someone off the hook.
  • Forgiveness is NOT condoning evil.
  • Forgiven is NOT being a doormat.
  • Forgiveness is NOT having to trust again the person who hurt you.
  • Forgiveness is NOT a feeling.
  • Forgiveness is NOT an option.

NOW LET’S LOOK AT WHAT FORGIVENESS IS:

  • Forgiveness IS taking the person who hurt you off of your hook and placing him on God’s hook, then praying that God will have mercy on him.
  • Forgiveness IS acknowledging that evil was done but choosing to bear the consequences of that evil without retaliation.
  • Forgiveness IS taking charge of your emotions.
  • Forgiveness IS setting boundaries with the person who hurt you, even refusing temporary or permanent interaction with that person, if necessary. An example would be a wife who is being beaten by her husband.
  • Forgiveness IS a decision.
  • Forgiveness IS obedience to God’s commandment to forgive.

No matter how badly you have been hurt, choose to forgive. It’s the best thing you can do for your own well-being. Unforgiveness chains you emotionally to the person who hurt you. Forgiveness breaks that chain and sets you free.

What better time is there than the Christmas season to forgive those who have hurt us? The very essence of Christmas is the truth that God forgave humanity through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Who are we not to forgive when God has forgiven us?

So this Christmas, forgive! But don’t just forgive. Ask to be forgiven. As the Word of God tells us, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). All of us need not only to forgive but also to be forgiven.  And as long as we are on this earth, it is never too late to forgive or to be forgiven.

For a heartwarming, compelling story on the power of forgiveness, you may wish to read my new novella entitled A Christmas Homecoming.  It is available in electronic format for your Kindle, Nook, or iPad.  To view the beautiful book trailer of A Christmas Homecoming, click hereLast, but not least, may you forge happy memories this Christmas season as the power of forgiveness sets you free!

Reprinted by permission of Dr. MaryAnn Diorio.

Dr. MaryAnn Diorio is a widely published, award-winning author of compelling fiction that deals with the deepest issues of the human heart. Her latest work of fiction is a trilogy set in 19th-century Sicily and titled The Italian Chronicles. MaryAnn and her husband Dom reside in New Jersey. They are the blessed parents of two adult daughters and the grandparents of six rambunctious grandchildren. In her spare time, MaryAnn loves to paint in acrylics and oils.

 

 

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God is bigger than any storm

As storm clouds gather, they often cover the sun and a harsh greyness vails the light. This was the place B ill and I found outselves for three long years, as Bill commuted back and forth almost weekly through gridlock Los Angeles traffic to care for his againg parents, all while we worked to keep up with our acre of land, and our Love-Wise ministry of writing, speaking, and travel. While our marriage was weathering the storm, we both we tired of the treadmill that seemed to have now end. A darkness of depression was trying to cover over our hope. One night, at the end of yet another long an rigorous commute, about midnight, I heard Bill’s footsteps, heavy on the stairwell, then say his weary face in the dim light of our bedroom. I whispered,

“Keeping your parents alive is killing you. Something has to change”

He nodded in exhausted agreement.

For Sale Flyer

He worked to remodel our home and place it on the market, while I was writing my portion of

Discovering Hope in the Psalms. We handled these unbelievably long work days and very short nights of sleep by emailing Psalms to each other; sharing Psalms as we ate meals together; as we traveled in the car and as we sorted, packed then moved boxes.  We looked for Psalms to sing praises and we listened to Psalms as musical choruses or being read aloud as we drifted to sleep. The Psalms calmed our hearts, renewed our spirits, and revived our HOPE despite the difficult circumstances

Psalm 43:3-4 gave comfort one day in the middle of the mess of life. Our home wasn’t sold (yet still needed to be kept picture perfect for showings), our parents still needed care, our commute was still long, our ministry needed an infusion of energy and finances that we lacked, and nothing on the horizon in our circumstances was indicating anything would be changing any time soon. We needed to have a verse to hang our heart on to move forward emotionally in this very long wait. So, we prayed Psalm 43:3-4:

“Send out Your light and Your truth. Let them lead me. Let them bring me to Your Holy hill and to Your dwelling. Then I will go to the alter of God, to my God my exceeding joy.  …”

Bible Art by Pam Farrel
Psalm 42 and 43

Instead of looking at our current difficult circumstances, we looked at the end game. God would bring us to a place where we saw the exceeding joy only God could give. And He promised to dispatch His light (the kind of light that pierces the darkness like dawn) and His truth (some translations say, “faithful care” or the trustworthy truth that is backed by God’s caring character of action) And we were most encouraged that the kind of “leading” that the Psalmist is describing is a fluid one that moves forward and back to create the best opportunity!

We hung our hearts on verses like these. for a long five-year journey, but in the end, God brought a church planter to buy our

Bill and Pam on their boat

home at a price that was a win-win for all; God moved us on to our family’s vineyard as an oasis of recovery, then provided the perfect live aboard boat, at a miracle price where I daily now, read a a #sunsetpsalm from the bow of our vessel moored in a sunny southern California marina.  . .  and yes, there is exceeding joy on our tiny home on the water!

 

Pam Farrel doing Bible art from Discovering Hope In the Psalms

Pam Farrel is an international speaker, author of 45 books including  the best seller Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti  and her newest  Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience (co-authored with Jean E Jones and artist, Karla Dornacher) Pam, along with her husband, Bill are Co-Directors of Love-Wise, helping people with their most vital relationships through their books, online blogs and videos, and thru live events. When they are not traveling for speaking, you may catch them walking the beach or paddling to lunch near their live aboard boat in southern California.

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In today’s world with frightening headlines blasting the worst possible scenarios into our homes, and the stress of the daily responsibility of providing for ourselves and our families weighing heavy on our hearts, coupled with the unpredictable, unwelcome, unwanted, unbelievably hard or harsh circumstances like floods, fires, relationship strife, death and disease it is very easy to get depressed, discouraged and down-trodden.

But God has a solution for our despairing hearts!

Discovering Hope in the Psalms: Creative Bible Study Experience

While writing my newest book (co-authored with Bible teacher Jean E Jones and artist Karla Dornacher), Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Biblical Experience, Jean, in passing said, “Psalm 71:14 I think could be the theme verse for this study.” Intrigued, I immediately looked up Psalms 71:14:

But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more. (Psalm 71:14)

The word hope is a verb, so it is an action we choose, to wait expectantly for God to move. I like to say, “trust while you tarry” , or to wait patiently (and sometimes painfully long) for God

Psalm 71:14 Bible Art by Pam Farrel

to show up and show off! After doing a word study, to summarize the meaning, this hoping is to be exercised: surpassingly, repeatedly, increasingly, intensely, exceedingly, continuously, regularly, consistently, and perpetually! When I drew the verse in my Bible art journal, I pictured a geyser of ever-flowing hope!

My contribution to Discovering Hope in the Psalms is a series of inspirational devotionals that help women apply the psalms to their everyday lives and keep HOPE ALIVE. To help me keep HOPE ALIVE, in my bullet journal, I have pages I write my “God-Sized” hopes and dreams and I wrap them with scripture so I can pray the Word over my life.

Bullet Journal prayer page
from Pam Farrel

The key to securing a hope like an eternal spring is also in this same verse, “praise you more and more”. The “more and more” means to accumulate or gather praise—and in doing this gathering we fuel hope. One way to picture accumulating or gathering praise would be how you might walk through a garden to gather flowers to create a beautiful bouquet or through a mall gathering gifts for family and friends that will bring joy!

So to capture praises to fan the flame on hope, in my bullet journal, I have pages to accumulate praises. One looks like the sun with praises written on each ray. Another is a vase with praises on each flower petal. Accumulated praise could also be drawn as gift bags collected while shopping, presents under a Christmas tree, waves on the ocean, or shells on the beach– use your imagination to personalize your record of praise! 

(Download your Prayer and Praise sheet to keep Hope Alive!)

 

Pam Farrel hopes to help people around the world keep hope alive. She is and her husband Bill are international speakers, authors of 45 books including her newest Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience. Stay connected with Pam at www.Love-Wise.com Learn more about Discovering Hope In the Psalms, and find numerous free downloads on creative Bible study at www.DiscoveringHopeinthePsalms.com

Pam Farrel with Kay Arthur

What an incredibly unique and creative Bible study Pam, Jean, and Karla have created! It’s multilayered, dimensional, theologically rich, touching the senses—enlightening the mind, capturing the heart. Well done, beloved Sisters! Thank you for this gift.

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Zeke Christmas

 

Unless you’re allergic, it’s a funny thing about pets—they have a way of weaving hearts together.

From the time my daughter graduated from high school until well past university, she struggled big time with depression.  In fact, she was so severely depressed during her school years she began cutting herself….

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