“Therefore, I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” 

Luke 7:47

Forgiveness has been on my heart and mind for some time now. One of the most painful gifts to give and to recieve, forgiveness is a challenge I have faced several times in my life.

We don’t live in a very forgiving world. I find myself awfully unforgiving at times. How many times have I seethed in anger as a driver cut me off in a lane? It hurts to be wronged. I don’t understand it. I get angry and want to lash back.

There have been a few moments in my life where I have felt the bitter pain of true hatred. At times, it has hurt so bad I could hardly bear it. The thought of forgiving such an offender seems impossible.

It hurts to be cheated on, lied to, and misunderstood because of the color of your skin or your ethnicity. Hasn’t everyone been wronged at some time? The pain is so real it can be unbearable.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

The story of how the sinful woman came to Jesus and threw herself down at his feet with perfumed oil in gratitude pulls at my heart every time I hear it. 
It is because I am much like that woman. 
I am not quite sure what she did, but she had a reputation among the legalistic religious leaders as a “sinner”. I am sure she had baggage. I am sure she was a hot mess at times. I am sure she hurt others. Maybe she cursed a lot, or had too many men hanging around. Whatever the case, she was judged by those who lived around her. 
If I were to lie to you all, I would pretend I was perfect. I would sit here and say to forgive others becuase it is the right thing to do. I would say things like it feels good to forgive or that you should do it to come out on top and be the bigger person. 
However, I believe that there is so much more to forgiveness that Jesus is teaching me. It is much less about my offender’s heart and much more about my heart.

I am the offender. 

I am a lustful, greedy, selfish person. As I observe my nature, I see that I do things I don’t want to do much of the time, as Paul said in his letter. I want to be kind, loving, and faithful. Often times I am not those things. I am at war within myself much of the time. I say things I wish I could take back. I forget to consider people going through death, loss, and health problems. I might lash out at my child for pushing me when I am tired. I might get on my husbands case for no good reason at all. There is at least one episode a week where I wish I could better control my emotions. 
When I was a young girl, I made many mistakes. I gave myself away to the world, hoping for a fun and successful life in exchange. I often recieved heart break instead. I hoped in charmful people who made lofty promises and left me alone and in tears. I compromised my standards thinking things and people could fill the giant hole in my heart. In the end, I realized the hole was bigger than before. 
When I heard about Jesus, my heart stirred. I had heard of Christians, and for the most part I wanted nothing to do with that. It scared me. 
Then I heard the stories. Forgiveness. Love. My soul yearned for forgiveness. I knew I had done things I regret, said things I wish I could take back. I knew I had hurt people for selfish gain. I longed to stop doing that. 
I was like that girl walking into a room filled with Pharisees. I felt dirty, tired, and heart broken by the world. I felt misunderstood, ashamed, and fraudulent. I felt myself moving past all that guilt and mockery of the righteous people who say following Jesus is a set of rules and moved toward the light and hope of Love of God. The night I met Christ I shoved my way through the jeering voices in my head telling me to try harder or clean myself up before entering the presence of God…
and as I thrust myself forward into his presence without much thought and begged him for help and forgivness every voice hushed. The only voice I heard was the voice of forgiveness. I knew in that moment I was loved and forgiven. My heart, although still damaged and torn, was filled with what I had been searching for my whole life. 
Why is forgiveness so important? Because it was God first  who forgave us and modeled the importance of forgiveness for our souls. 
Is forgiving others easy for me to do? No. I have often done it through tears. Many times I have wrestled with God in fear of confronting those who have hurt me. 
Yet, the feeling of being forgiven outweighs the hurt others thrust upon me. The freedom I have gained from the love and grace of God gives me freedom to loosen up my expectations of others and give them a little grace, too. Because I have walked in those shoes before, and I know I have been the offender.

Grace is such a counter-intuitive gift. It is so beautiful that it cannot go unnoticed. Forgiveness is grace extended to someone else when they really don’t deserve it. I will ever be grateful for the grace extended to me, and I hope my response in gratitude to God will be the ability to extend grace to others as he has done for me. 

Meet this amazing woman:

No-Knead Bread Recipe for fresh baked bread and butter lovers

I firmly believe that one of life’s most simple pleasure is fresh baked bread and butter. Did you know it is extremely easy to make at home? Delight your company at dinner time with fresh baked bread. This recipe, adapted from Jim Lahey from Sullivan Street Bakery, is easy and delicious. 
We ate our fresh bread with a couple slices of thick bacon from Whole Foods, some ripe tomatoes pan roasted in butter, and a fried egg. Can I just say that is one of my favorite breakfast combinations EVER?
Let me prepare you: it will take some time for the bread to rise, so plan ahead. 

No-Knead Bread Recipe

Time: About 1.5 hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
11/4 teaspoons salt
Flour for dusting
1. In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water and stir until well combined. The dough should be sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest for at least 12 hours at warm room temperature. 
2. You will know the dough is ready when the surface has bubbles. Flour a work area and place the dough on it. Sprinkle with a little more flour and fold it over once or twice. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes. 
3. Gently and quickly shape dough into a ball, using flour on your fingers or work area as needed to keep dough from sticking. Cover with a cotton towel and let rise for another 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will be more firm to the touch. 
4. Pre-heat overn to 450 degrees. Place a 6 to 8 quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel or ceramic) in the oven as it heats. Let the pot heat for about a half hour. When dough is ready, remove pot from oven. Gently slide hand under towel and place dough into pot, seam side up. Cover with a lid and bake 30 minutes, remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes until loaf is browned. Cool on a wire rack. 

Featured blogger of the month:

Let’s Be Friends Blog Hop #54 is now live. Come link up!

Welcome to the Let’s Be Friends Blog Hop!

A blog hop is a set time frame for current or aspiring bloggers to find new blogs and quality content. It is a great way to make new friends and find inspiration! It is also a fabulous way to promote your own blog and posts.
Dear Friends,

What a day to celebrate! This is the 54th week of the Let’s Be Friends blog hop! Thanks for joining us on this special day. Chelsee and Tiffany are extremely delighted to see the way this hop has grown and love to see your faces each week! 

Join us every Tuesday at 7am (MST). This blog hop focuses on content. LINK UP YOUR FAVORITE POST from last week in this fun content-sharing blog hop! I love the idea of blog hopping, but I love the idea of reading posts and quality content on new blogs I’ve never been to even more. Instead of simply linking up your blog button, you are now able to link up your favorite post you recently wrote. Have a delicious recipe to share, DIY tutorial, or heartfelt post? Share it with us! All hosts and co-hosts put up some unique and fun content from the past week. Make sure to check them out. P.S.- you may still link up your blog button and blog name, but it is encouraged to link up your favorite post instead. You will get more page views and interest if you do so! Some of the most successful blog hops I have participate in focus on content rather than just exchanging follows. You never know who will become a loyal follower or pin that delicious new recipe you posted!

The BEST part of this blog hop? Each week there will be a WINNER! That’s right, each week we will choose one lucky blog to feature from the previous week’s hop. This hop receives thousands of page views every week, so your blog will have the chance to be center stage for free. You must follow all the hosts and co-hosts in order to win. Only those who link up a specific post are eligible to be featured! *You must follow all the hosts and co-hosts in order to win.

The last exciting change is that the co-host spots will now be available to all sponsors of  The Dwelling Tree or Southern Beauty Guide. If you are interested in co-hosting the blog hop, email Tiffany or Chelsee about sponsorship opportunities and how to co-host the weekly hop!

There are a couple of great giveaways going on right now at Southern Beauty Guide and The Dwelling Tree. Go check them out! 🙂

Let’s Be Friend’s Blog Hop Guidelines
1. Link up your favorite post from your week.
2. Follow your hosts and co-hosts.
3. Grab the button and post it on your blog so we can share the love.
4. Visit 3 other blogs and follow them along!
5. Tweet about this blog hop, using #letsbefriends
6. Pin the button on pinterest so we can spread the news! 

***Once a week, one blog will be chosen to be the featured blogger from the previous blog hop. 

Meet your hosts: 

The Dwelling Tree: Blog, Bloglovin’

Southern Beauty Guide: Blog, Bloglovin’
 and your co-hosts:
Kendra from Open Spaces
Jessica from Punk Rock Twins
***This weeks featured post from last week’s hop:

Hi sweet friends. This is Tiffany. I loved reading through all of the posts last week. There are so many great posts about faith, life, and amazing recipes. Thank you all for making this such a high quality link up! 

It was a pleasure to run across the blog Mommy Like Whoa. I am super impressed by the multitude of tutorials and recipes she has on her blog. I found myself perusing tons of awesome posts. She is super crafty! 

I love the idea of this DIY felt garland inspired by Anthropologie. It is super cute and fun, and would make a great decoration item for a party. She made a fantastic and easy to follow tutorial for this craft. Definitely check out her blog! 
Keep posting awesome content! You make it so fun for me to read all your posts! If you can, please link up a specific post. It makes it easier for us to come and visit! 

*Remember YOU can be next weeks winner! 🙂