Tag Archives: family

The Power of Forgiveness

LoveWarmsHeartThere’s very few of us who have not thought a lot about some of the ways we’ve been hurt or disappointed. In fact, Mira Kirshenbaum, Everything Happens for a Reason, reveals that anger, guilt, envy, and not feeling safe are all signs that we carry a heavy burden of not being able to forgive—ourselves or others. But forgiveness does not always come easily or quickly because of two key reasons: shame and guilt. And both are the result of a basic need to point an accusing finger at ourselves or someone else.

Kirshenbaum sees our need to blame someone or something as part of our natural perspective in life. She writes: “Part of what can make it so hard for us to forgive is the automatic way we orient ourselves in life through blame. If anything goes wrong anywhere, the first thing anyone thinks about is who to blame… Blame is a very deep instinct because it makes us feel safe.” (p. 111) and, no one wants to feel as if they are constantly living under personal attack.

As I thought about Kirshenbaum’s examples she gives for Reason #4: To bring you to the place where you can feel forgiveness–or, perhaps said differently, to bring us to a place where we can accept the “…possibility there’s something else besides blame…” I found myself asking: What is there besides hate, fear, blame, and the inability to forgive? Are there legitimate reasons to forgive the cruelty of something or someone?

Mira Kirshenbaum offers her readers a spectrum of reasons for putting away finger pointing and accusations. She asks us to consider forgiveness when:

  1. The other person’s cruelty was because “he or she was sick, damaged, or limited somehow”;
  2. We see that the other person has “suffered enough…even if they haven’t suffered as much as we have”;
  3. We realize “we are safe now”;
  4. We recognize that “we don’t want to be the kind of person who doesn’t forgive”;
  5. We find that the other person makes up for what was done;
  6. We understand that “if we don’t forgive, we’re the ones who are hurt the most.”

Life is not perfect and neither am I.  There have been many things and people in my life that were incredibly cruel. There have been many times that my Christian values stood in conflict with my feelings.  As I remain open to God’s  leading, however, I’ve found that His amazing grace helps me to substitute finger pointing with the power to forgive. But forgiveness does not come cheap; it takes great inner strength and commitment. I’m reminded of what Gandhi said: “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”


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Breakin’ Bread

Some argue that the making of bread marks the beginning of man’s civilization. Others say that it reveals the height of social exclusivity using the example of the bread riots of the French Revolution. Without a doubt, today, bread has become a staple of the American household—in all its varieties. My experience with making bread pudding using six slices of day old bread, however, has convinced me that bread can and does lift the spirit of the eaters!

Moving from CA and establishing my new living space here in Abingdon, VA this past 6 months, I’m discovering a lot about myself. One discovery is in the area of self-preservation where I am learning to take a larger needful stride in the area of nutrition. My attempt at making bread pudding was a very large step for me in more ways than I expected!

Over the last 4 years, I’ve learned that muscular dystrophy (FSH) affects every aspect of life– especially when preparing meals. FSH weakens muscle groups of the upper torso. As a result, cooking, in particular, remains a challenge in many ways: physically, emotionally, and temperamentally! Did I say temper? Yes, I’ve come to understand that cooking with FSH can sometimes evoke emotions normally best kept sealed under a tight lid. Despite visions of spilled milk or emotional setbacks, I was determined, however, to learn work around methods in my new kitchen space.

Positive prior kitchen experiences steadied me as I worked through the challenge. Like other baked items, bread pudding took preparation. First, I reviewed the recipe from http://www.allrecipes.com for bread pudding. Second, I selected a traditional recipe, as this was my very first time in baking bread in this manner. Also, I wanted to experience history and savor its richness. Third, I laid out all ingredients and collected the necessary cookware. Fourth, I followed the directions as stated in the recipe except for (a) leaving the pudding in the oven for a total of 65 minutes instead of their suggested ¾ hour and (b) using an egg substitute.

Despite being my first attempt, I have to admit that I was impressed with the aroma and site of my bread pudding. I called my next door neighbors Mandy and Miss Thelma to find out if they had any interest as taste-testers. Mandy was elated. Miss Thelma said “Of course, I’ve been searching for something sweet all day!” She put down her recently opened chocolate bar and said she’d wait until I got there. However, before rushing the pudding out of the oven and over to their kitchens, I inserted a knife to check for doneness. The knife came out respectfully clean but the amount of excessive moisture migrating toward the middle of the pan gave me a feeling of nervous disaster. I doubled checked several recipes and they all called for a “moist” appearance.

After  four test samplings, I decided to chance it all! It felt good transferring the hot bread pudding into small bowls. The cinnamon and vanilla smells filled my senses. But something else came out of the oven in addition to the pudding–something for which I hadn’t planned. After delivering the hot bowls of bread pudding to the smiling faces of Mandy and Miss Thelma, I found that a life larger than I had imagined for myself in Abingdon, VA had begun to unfold itself. As I opened the door to my apartment, I felt the largeness had been waiting for me all this time–waiting for me to embrace it. I did and it felt very warm indeed! Conclusion? Bread pudding is best enjoyed with family and friends, and now, I add–cherished neighbors!

Living life in 2011,

AllRecipes Bread Pudding II
6 slices day-old bread
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Break bread into small pieces into an 8 inch square baking pan. Drizzle melted butter or margarine over bread. If desired, sprinkle with raisins.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Pour over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered and soaking up the egg mixture.

Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.

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A new year and a new today

January 12, 2011

Starting a new year was easy enough. Although I had been out late the night before with my sister and her husband, my inner clock went off as usual at 5 am; I lay thinking, wondering, and praying about how the day would unfold itself. I had not yet made any new years’ resolutions and so I continued to enjoy the freedom of feeling no commitments.

As the new year began, I realized however that what I couldn’t get away from was that little voice inside me—the voice of direction. I think the voice sounds different for everyone. For me, it sounds like my 5-year old niece, Lenzie with her slight Virginian drawl. I can hear her saying, “Today, I went to granny’s house.” Her emphasis always being on the word “Today.” Today, today, today… My sense of freedom ebbed.

Now, two weeks into a new year, my Lenzie-voice is saying, “Today, I am making a new resolution.” My 2011 resolution is to proceed with life with a longer stride and larger embrace to advance the skills learned and gifts that I’ve been given. For example, as an artist and writer, I’ve decided to continue my blogging but in a new direction both for my craft making and my writing.

I hope you enjoy adventure because I believe that today offers the beginnings of an exciting journey. As a visual artist and writer, I am inviting you to journey with me in living life through image-making and anything else that comes across my desk—Mary L. Buck’s style!

Wishing you a happy today,

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