From my kitchen to yours, best wishes for a very Merry Christmas! May you be blessed by the love of Christ.
#GlobalForgivenessDay July 7, 2021
If you follow my Facebook page, you know most days I’ve posted about random celebrations designated for that day. Most of them are fun and many revolve around food, but others are more serious. Today, is Global Forgiveness Day and as I worked on the post, my thoughts went deeper than a social media post.
I see a tremendous amount of pain in the world, particularly when I watch the news. Rioting, violent crime, verbal assaults, all these stem from a place of anger and hurt. No amount of government intervention or additional policing will solve this problem. Forgiveness is needed to begin the process of healing in our homes, our local communities, our countries, around the world.
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts,
As we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
That part is well known, but Jesus continued: “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Holding on to hurt and anger only injures the one carrying this burden. Quite literally, refusing to forgive can damage our physical bodies. A University of Wisconsin study regarding forgiveness found forgiving people suffered less from certain illnesses. On the other hand, less forgiving people suffered a higher number of health problems. Withholding forgiveness causes stress, which can lead to physical symptoms like – anxiety, high blood pressure, and depression.
The amount of relief and freedom that comes when we choose to release that burden and forgive the person who has hurt or offended us is immeasurable. It’s often easy to say we’ve forgiven but much harder to mean that in our hearts and allow the healing to begin. Forgiveness doesn’t always mean reconciliation, either. There are some offenses that damage relationships beyond repair and make it unsafe to return to them. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we allow the person to continue hurting us, either physically, verbally, or emotionally. We may need to depart from those relationships as part of the forgiveness and healing process.
I struggled for many years with unforgiven hurt from my childhood that grew into bitterness and stunted my emotional growth. When I began releasing the pain, that process that took longer than I even realized at the time. Choosing to forgive isn’t always easy and doing so doesn’t guarantee the hurt will disappear overnight. Sometimes we need to make the choice daily to forgive the other person, to pardon them in order for us to begin our healing.
That early hurt shaped how I dealt with subsequent offenses until I realized I hadn’t completely dealt with it and sincerely cleared the debt of an apology I felt owed by that person. When that came to light, my eyes were opened to other hurts I had held onto and used not just as bricks to protect my heart, but offensive weapons to ward off potential offenses. Who here hasn’t used a past hurt in a current argument even if the two instances aren’t linked at all? We do that because we aren’t dealing with the hurt at the time and allowing true forgiveness to complete its healing work in us.
How much happier would life be if we could wake up each morning free of resentment, grudges, emotional debts we expect to be paid. Instead, we would wake up with peace, trust, and an open heart. I wish I could say I’ve reached that point, but there are still days I struggle with anger and resentment about certain things. Being aware of them, though, and making the choice to forgive them once again brings me one step closer to complete healing.
Learning from History March 17, 2021
I’m a student of history. It always frustrated me in school when each year we would only cover the same time periods. We rarely made it to World War I and never beyond. I took it upon myself to read about the events not covered in class.
The magnitude of devastation the world has seen and survived helped to keep the events of 2020 in perspective. The “Black Death” swept through most of the known world in the mid-1300s and lasted seven years killing an estimated 200 million people. There was no known cure or treatment. This plague came on the heels of a famine about thirty years earlier, which is estimated to have killed anywhere from 30%-60% of Europe’s population.
Many of you have probably heard the statistics of the Spanish flu that began in 1918 as WWI was still grinding on. Somewhere between 20-50 million people died from this illness and again there was little doctors were able to do. Just over forty years later, in the late 1960s, my grandmother was stricken during the Hong Kong flu epidemic. Thankfully she survived but her lungs were damaged for the rest of her life. Treatments had progressed, though, and this outbreak’s death toll declined to between 1-2 million lives.
Most recently, in 2009, the Swine Flu swept across the globe creating panic and causing around 200,000 recorded deaths. My dad contracted this illness and was very ill. He survived, but again his lungs were damaged and he’s suffered breathing issues ever since.
Disease is not the only thing that has claimed lives through the centuries. Wars, famines, natural disasters, tyrannical leaders, unchecked gang violence, and everyday car wrecks have laid claim to millions of victims. When the media is bombarding us with one story all day and facts are evolving on a frequent basis it’s easy to get caught up in fear and become paralyzed, desperate for any action that offers protection.
I have family members and acquaintances that contracted COVID. Some were very sick, some died, but most were minimally ill. I have gone through the gut wrenching pain of watching loved ones die of incurable diseases. I don’t discount the suffering of those who have experienced loss. It took a period of anguish for me to come to terms with what my heart has known since childhood. God knows all the days of our lives. He knows when we will be born, all we will do and the day we will die. It’s an inevitable part of life none of us like to think about but cannot escape. Remembering that along with the lessons of the past helped me keep the year in perspective.
If you don’t know Jesus in a personal way, it’s difficult to see light or experience hope in this fear filled time. If you need hope, I encourage you to take time to read the New Testament of the Bible, the words of Jesus himself. Start with the book of John. If that is intimidating, watch Season 1 of The Chosen, which follows the calling of the disciples of Jesus. It makes the life of Jesus relatable, understandable, and real. Season 2 will begin streaming on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021.
Humanity has suffered great turmoil before and we will do so again until the day Jesus returns. What a glorious day that will be!
Laughter, Love, and Lemons February 3, 2014
Growing up, my family was part of a family life group at our church and the times we shared together were deeply ingrained on my subconscious. I don’t remember how old I was when the group started to drift apart for a variety of reasons, but then again, I am getting older and memories are harder to call upon.
However, I do remember the love, laughter, and feeling of safety of those nights singing and studying the Bible. I’ve measured every church group since then against the feeling that settled deep in my heart during those gatherings. (more…)
A Life of Gratitude: Free Kindle Book & Giveaway February 27, 2013
By Shelley Hitz
About the Book:
A Life of Gratitude: How to Overcome Self-Pity and Negativity
During a season of transition in my life, I found myself overwhelmed with negative emotions like self-pity and a complaining spirit. It was as if a dark cloud had descended over me. I prayed and asked God for wisdom on how to overcome these negative emotions. As I did, I sensed Him leading me to do a 21 day gratitude challenge.
Over the course of the 21 days, God began to change me as I spent intentional time being grateful for all I had been given. I did this through writing in my journal each day and also sending a hand-written thank you note to someone different each day. This also led me to writing out 21 prayers of gratitude and compiling 21 stories of gratitude.
I want to share what I learned with you in the pages of this book which includes:
- 21 Days of Gratitude Challenge
- 21 Prayers of Gratitude
- 21 Stories of Gratitude
What to Expect On Each Day:
- Read my personal stories, struggles and reflections.
- Read one scripture and one quote about gratitude.
- Apply one personal application step from the challenge.
- Read one prayer of gratitude
- Read one story of gratitude
Get Accountability and Encouragement
Along with the 21 day challenge, I also started a private Facebook group to provide accountability and encouragement for myself but also for others who decide to join me in the challenge. You will get access to this group as well. It has been amazing to see God at work in each of our lives.
Will you join me on this journey to gratitude?
FREE on Kindle 2/27/13 & 2/28/13)
Shelley Hitz is an award-winning and international best-selling author. Her openness and vulnerability as she shares her own story of hope and healing through her books will inspire and encourage you.
Shelley has been ministering alongside her husband, CJ, since 1998. They currently travel and speak to teens and adults around the country. Shelley’s main passion is to share God’s truth and the freedom in Christ she has found with others. She does this through her books, websites and speaking engagements.
Enter to Win a Paperback Copy and Coffee!
Enter below to enter a paperback copy of “A Life of Gratitude” and a $5 Starbucks gift card, sponsored by author Shelley Hitz!
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Tea, Biscotti, and Me August 1, 2012
This weekend I had the privilege of appearing at another Afternoon Tea with the Author, this time in Anderson, SC. The women I met were warm and welcoming. When we offered gifts to those who asked questions, Lois was quick to jump in, asking when I gave my life to God. Since I write Christian fiction, I was actually a bit surprised this question hadn’t come up in my previous Tea events. I was nine when I first prayed for God to come into my heart, and I remember actually thinking a little person was going to come live inside my heart. I enjoyed talking with these gracious Southern women, sharing about my writing process, and where I get my ideas.
The food was wonderful too. I love biscotti and was thrilled to see a plate of homemade biscotti sandwiched between fresh scones and a cranberry-coconut bar that was to die for. Of course I couldn’t leave with out getting the biscotti recipe. If you give it a try let me know what you think.
Pistachio- Craisin Biscotti
Line a heavy, large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk 2 cups flour with 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder. Set aside.
Beat 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 1 tsp. grated lemon zest & 1/4 tsp. salt.
Beat in 2 large eggs – one at a time. Add the flour mixture just ’til blended.
Stir in 3/4 cup chopped pistachios & 2/3 cup craisins.
Form the dough into a 13″ long, 3″ wide log on the parchment sheet. Bake until lightly golden, (about 40 min.) Cool 30 min.
Place log on a cutting board. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2 to 3/4″ thick slices.
Arrange the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake again ’til pale golden. (about 15 min.)
Transfer biscotti to a rack & cool completely.
These may be served plain or dipped in dark or white chocolate & set on rack to set.
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