Is It Time For A Cut? (Not your hair, and not your budget)

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Imagine that you find yourself with a shortage of funds, not sure how you’re going to meet all your expenses. Your first thought might be, “How can I bring in more money?” In this scenario however, there’s another equally helpful option. Ask yourself this question: “How can I reduce my expenses?”

That seems so logical when we’re talking about finances, but what about your schedule? Do you typically over-schedule yourself? Is your daily mantra, “There’s never enough time in the day?” If so, why not ask yourself a similar question: “How can I reduce my commitments?”

The facts are simple: Everyone has 24 hours a day; there’s nothing any of us can do to get more time. However, the choice is yours as to how you use the time. You can waste time or use it wisely. If you find yourself not having enough time, maybe it’s time to cut some commitments from your calendar.

Keep in mind that this will involve saying no, which can be challenging for many women. When you say yes to one thing you’re inevitably saying no to something else; maybe something ultimately more important to you – like your health and happiness. As you review your schedule, you may see that your tendency to keep peace with others has produced a lack of peace with yourself.  Unfortunately, if you make that a habit it’ll cause resistance to living wholeheartedly.

If you’re truly overscheduled, the remedy is literally on the tip of your tongue: Just say no. Cut out some commitments so you find time for yourself.

Knowing what’s important to you and aligning your commitments with these priorities, results in a deep peace, confidence and joy. Who wouldn’t want that?

-Here’s to happy cutting!

Which One Are You?

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When life gives you lemons how do you handle them? Do you often feel blindsided and react to the “bad cards you’ve been dealt?” Do you complain that what you really wanted was oranges? Do you spend months focusing on the “bad news” or do you find a way to make lemonade?

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not suggesting that you should be happy when life deals you lemons. In fact, it’s critical to validate your feelings before doing anything else. However, after you’ve processed your feelings, what then? How quickly do you look for options in the midst of the challenges?

For example, imagine you’ve just been told that your job has been eliminated. How much time do you spend feeling angry and upset, complaining about how unfair it is? How long do you remain in that “victim” mindset? Although the news surprised or upset you, can you look for the hidden opportunity within the situation?

As you process this, where does prayer enter the picture? Do you try to figure things out on your own, or do you pray and ask God to direct your next steps – for Him to show you the doors waiting to be opened?

Over the past fifteen years I’ve heard a lot of women’s stories. Many are filled with tragedy. They talk about unhealthy marriages or job situations, loss of a spouse or a child and toxic relationships with food, their body, alcohol or other substances. However, I’ve seen two very different approaches to handling those situations. One road is that of a “victim.” These women react as if thy were still a child – one without resources or power to turn things around. The second approach is the road of a” victor.” These women fully embrace their reality and then look for options that can help them move forward. They take steps to move from where they are to where they believe God wants them to be.

My question is this: Which one are you? Take a look at your most recent setbacks or trials, and see how you handled them. My prayer is that you’ve discovered those trials were actually trails that led you to something better. If so, you’re well on your way to a victorious life – or what I call “living wholeheartedly.”  – Alicia

Have You Claimed Yours?

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Imagine having a very wealthy relative. One day you get the news this relative has passed away. The second part of the news is that you have a huge inheritance to claim – bigger and more valuable than you can even imagine.

So, now what? You claim it – right? What difference would that make in your every day life? Would you use it to make your life better? Or, would you continue to worry about even small expenses, refusing to enjoy the inheritance? How foolish would that be?

Although you may not have thought about it this way, that’s our reality in Christ. Let me explain.

Christ died and left us an inheritance (Colossians 3:24): an intimate relationship with God. The question, then, is have you claimed your inheritance?

In order to do so, you must get to know Him:  Spend quality time with Him, meet with Him as you read the Bible, and talk with Him (pray). Begin to look for Him in the beauty of nature, the smile of strangers, or new opportunities that come into your life.

Over time, as your relationship grows, you’ll become more trusting of Him and His direction for your life. Rather than trying to control things on your own, you can learn to trust that HE is in control. And that ability to trust Him brings peace, which is also part of your inheritance. In the same way that a child is confident when holding her Father’s hand, you can be confident as you put your hand in God’s.

Here’s to making 2015 the year you claim your inheritance!

– Alicia

www.wowwholehearted.com

The Restoration of a Broken Heart

Mabel sleeping

If you read my most recent blog, you know that my officemate and constant companion (my dog, Hailey) was killed in a car accident in October. In the weeks that followed, I found myself thinking, that my heart would never be the same –it certainly felt that way. The heartache was like nothing I’d ever experienced. While I’d had bigger losses, they hadn’t been so unexpected.

Through the aftermath of that painful loss, several things became clearer to me. First, even though I’ve never been a worrier, I had a newfound awareness of the potential for tragic accidents and sadness. I felt more protective of those I love, which led me to pray more intentionally, which is a good thing.

Second, I came to the realization that for me, living wholeheartedly involves having a dog. I had to work through all the logical reasons why (at this stage in my life) it would be so much easier NOT to be a dog owner. So after carefully working through each one, I realized that the joy a dog brings to me, is much greater than the challenges. Maybe that’s not the case for you, which is fine. The important thing is to know what’s necessary FOR YOU to live wholeheartedly.

I’m now happy to share that through a series of incredibly timed events, I’m the proud owner of a mini Goldendoodle puppy. “Mabel” is like a burst of sunshine for my heart. I love when she’s curled up on my lap, or when she snuggles close to my neck, or when she wags her tail to greet me and when she performs her new dog obedience tricks. Simply said, she brings sunshine to my heart.

I’ll never replace Hailey, but as the weeks go by I’m able to remember the great times we had with her, without feeling the accompanying heartache. I’m reminded that even in the midst of extremely sad or challenging times, that God is right here with us. As we draw close to Him, He comforts us and puts salve on our wounds.

This Christmas may you find salve for your wounds, and may the New Year be filled with a more meaningful relationship with God, and all the blessings that ensue.

Merry Christmas! – Alicia (& Mabel)

Freshly Heartbroken

Hailey Mae on couch

Warning: This is without a doubt, the toughest and most gut-wrenching, heart-felt blog I’ve ever written…

I am saddened beyond belief, feeling truly heartbroken. Tuesday evening, my beloved dog, Hailey, was hit by a car and killed – right in front of my eyes. It happened in a split second and I feel like my heart will never be the same. This hurts – I mean really, REALLY hurts.

“Hailey Mae” was a Cavapoo (King Charles Cavalier mixed with a miniature Poodle). She was not yet 4 years old and still looked and acted very much like a puppy. She was my constant companion and her absence has left a huge hole in my heart. She literally followed me everywhere I went… I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without having her push her way in and sit at my feet.

Hailey had a HUGE, vibrant personality, with a lot of energy and enthusiasm… a lot like me, but there was one big difference. It took me years to appreciate and value my personality (and to drop the belief that being so enthusiastic and energetic was somehow bad). But not Hailey! She was completely okay with her BIG personality. She made no apologies for how she lived life… and she DID live a lot of life in just 4 years.

Every morning when I would shower she would lie under our window seat bench and patiently wait until I was ready for the day. And sometimes when I would return home, I would find her in our master bedroom closet – asleep, with her head on my fuzzy slippers, or, curled up in our master bed with her head literally on our pillows. I understand that originally, King Charles Cavalier’s were bred to be lap dogs for royalty. We used to laugh and say that Hailey certainly embraced that role.

Unlike our previous dog, who would only get up on the couch with a lot of coaxing from us, Hailey sprang right up on any piece of furniture she wanted – she would even get up on the leather couch and shove the 2 throw pillows out of her way onto the floor, so she could nestle in right where she wanted to be. Then she’d look at me with her big brown expressive eyes and her ADORABLE face, as if to say, “AHHHH… this feels good.”

She was without a doubt, the cutest dog we’ve ever had, and she literally filled this house with energy and love… nearly every day I would stop and think about how much joy she brought me.

Hailey was also the best example of unconditional love. I was often mindful of that fact, and would think about how that was probably a drop in the bucket compared to God’s love for each one of us.

Whenever I was sick and resting on the couch, she was right there beside me. Whenever I was sad and cried, she would lick the tears off my face.

When I would get my purse and prepare to leave for a bit, she would flop into her fur-lined dog bed, and then flop her front paws over the front. She’d hang her head low and look at me as if to say “Awwwww… do you have to leave?” Sometimes, she would even go to the door and sit right in front of it, putting on her most adorable face as if to say “I’m going with you, aren’t I?”

The best was when you came in the door after being gone even for a little bit. She welcomed you with such enthusiasm it was as if she was celebrating the arrival of a celebrity or someone famous. I guess she realized her biggest fan had just come back on the scene.  She knew that to me, she was much more than just a pet.  She had become an important member of our family and a huge presence in my daily life.

Everything wasn’t ALWAYS so great with Hailey… like whenever anyone would come to our house. She would jump up and whine and insist they pay attention to her wiggling little body. Or, when she would go ballistic when she was out in our back yard and saw our neighbor’s cat. She would bark – more like screech, as if to warn us “THERE’S A CAT IN OUR YARD!” Or, when she would go to our back door and ring the bells that were hanging there, to indicate she wanted out… then moments later she would bark to be let back in. Then she’d want back out, and back in, and back out.  There were also times like when we had a family dinner and realized Hailey was no longer sitting at my feet… we found her on top of the game table with her head in the bowl of guacamole!

Then there were the times where she would grab the downspout with her teeth and bang it against the house until a squiny would come scurrying out whereupon she would chase it and unfortunately… often times catch it. She was really fast and a MUCH better hunter than our previous Labrador or even our Beagle. Or, when late at night she’d go chase rabbits in our yard and make me wait for what seemed like HOURS, until she was good and ready to come back inside so we could go to bed.

Hailey and I had a very special bond. But in some ways it felt like she was an infant and I was the only one who could truly satisfy her needs… and sometimes that felt like a bit of a burden.

For all of Hailey’s great and not so great qualities, she had one that ultimately led to her demise – sometimes she had a mind of her own. You see she had the tendency to obey when she wanted to, and to disobey if she had something else in mind. – I’m reminded of my own disobedience and the fact that that always means pain and suffering, rather than enjoying God’s best.

So I pray… for God’s peace to return to my heart, and, for confirmation that Hailey is okay. My only solace is the belief that she is in Heaven, cuddled up next to my mom who would most certainly be scratching her belly and kissing her sweet face.

In my devotional this morning, God’s word says: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus so we do not grow weary and lose heart.” I also read that when God’s servant, Elijah, was tired and overwhelmed, God comforted him. So I pray that I can keep my focus on Jesus, and that He will comfort me. It just hurts so darn bad….

P.S. The high school kid who was driving recklessly and therefore killed Hailey, did one thing right… after initially driving off, he returned to the scene of the accident shortly after it happened. He had to face the police, the crowd of neighbors and me and my family. I understand he is a young man who is struggling with life. So more than anything else, I ask you to join me in praying for him – that this might be a wake up call to him… that it would lead him to the love of his heavenly Father, and that he would come to know the incredible man God created in him.

– Alicia

What Are You Not Seeing?

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When you take a close look at yourself, what do you see?  When looking in a mirror, what do you say to yourself?

The truth is that every woman has a unique beauty of her own.  I imagine you acknowledge and appreciate the beauty in your friends, but do you believe you’re beautiful?  If your answer is “no,” I invite you to take a closer look.

When looking in the mirror, most women see something negative.  They see themselves as not good enough:  Too tall, too short, too thick, too thin, too shapely, not shapely enough -and the list goes on.  Their self talk is also negative; they say things they wouldn’t dream of saying to any one else.

Apparently we’ve grown accustomed to bashing ourselves.  We focus on our perceived faults and keep track of all the ways we don’t “measure up.”  We fail to remember that the airbrushed, photoshopped magazine covers, are nothing more than an artistic illusion.  Therefore, we make comparisons and determine we’re not good enough.

So what’s the answer?  Are we doomed to a lifetime of feeling “not pretty enough” or “not valuable enough?”  Absolutely not!

When trying to make changes, people are motivated more by praise than criticism. The same applies to ourselves.  So instead of finding fault with your reflection, start affirming what you see.  Be kind, complimentary and encouraging –just like you are to your good friends.  Start discarding negative thoughts about yourself.  Replace them with ones that help you to recognize and embrace your beauty.

As you declutter your thoughts, you’ll discover the truth:  You, are beautiful!

Have You Crossed The Line?

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This post may especially hit home with those who are moms of adult children, like me.  As a mother, your tendency is to nurture your children (no matter how old they may be).  You want to do things to help them, to make life better and easier.  And that’s a great thing, to a point.

However, there’s a fine line between helping and that dreaded word… enabling.  Do you think that doesn’t apply to you?  Keep reading, as it just might.  Let me explain…

Recently, upon graduating from college, our 22-year-old son moved back home.  He started his job, is actively looking for a place to live, and will move out within the next 2 to 3 months.  In the meantime (while he’s under our roof) I have a lot of opportunities to do things for him.  For example, cook, clean and do laundry for him.  I love him and enjoy having him home, and I’m doing those things anyway, so why not just add him into the mix –right?

In my 26 years of being a mother (to our daughter and then our son), I’ve made plenty of mistakes (as every parent does).  However, I’ve also gained some wisdom.  In particular, I’ve learned that doing too much for our kids, can quickly become damaging –it can enable unhealthy and immature behavior, which promotes a failure to launch.  If you’ve seen the movie, “Failure to Launch,” you know what I’m talking about.

So I made a decision: As a general rule, I will not do my son’s laundry –as to do so would rob him of the confidence he gains from doing it himself; I will not clean his bedroom or pick up after him –because being responsible for the cleanliness of your own living space is part of being an adult; and I will not hover over him; try to control his decisions about what to wear, what to eat and what to do everyday –for that would stunt his growth and ability to launch.

As parents, I believe one of our greatest jobs is to prepare our children to become responsible, productive and kind adults; to train them and empower them to stand on their own two feet.  The Bible (Proverbs 22:6) says it this way, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

So if by some chance your children are having trouble standing on their own, maybe it’s time to look in the mirror -to see if you’ve crossed the line from loving to enabling.  If that’s the case don’t panic, just start RE-training them (and yourself).

By all means, validate their feelings, encourage them, and pray for them, but stop there. The bottom line is that living wholeheartedly means loving yourself, God and others with all your heart.  Just remember that “with all your heart,” doesn’t mean enabling.

Post note:  Before you come to the conclusion that this sounds harsh, please know that this very morning, I made a double batch of scrambled eggs so that our son could have some with me.  It’s just that I don’t make this a daily habit.   After all, he needs to know how to make eggs for himself, which I am proud to say, he does.  🙂  Wishing a successful launch for your children!

 

Have You “Got No Time?”

 

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Recently, as I was driving home from a speaking engagement I turned on the radio to help pass the time.  I soon found myself singing along to an “oldie.”  The song was, “No Time,” by the Guess Who.  If you’re not familiar with it, the lyrics say:

(No time left for you) On my way to better things

(No time left for you) I found myself some wings

                                                              (No time left for you) Distant roads are callin’ me…

I realized that those words provided a great message, but do you know who needs to be hearing it?  Guess who?  Your inner critic!  That’s who!  You know -that voice inside your head that so often knocks you down and hurls condemnation at you.

The truth is that you DO have time.  No matter who you are, you have 24 hours a day, everyday.  The most critical choice you make is what you do with those 24 hours.  Your daily choices (of how you spend or invest your time) actually start with your thoughts.  If you choose thoughts that are critical and demeaning, you will find you “Got No Time” for the things that really matter.  The damage done by your critic will leave you exhausted.

If, on the other hand, you choose thoughts that are positive and encouraging, you will find time for the things that bring you fulfillment.  When you invest the time to become your own fan, you’ll HAVE TIME  (and energy) to do what you’re created to do.

Only as you quiet the critic (since you’re “on your way to better things”) can you learn to live wholeheartedly.  Today, right now, start telling your critic “Got No Time for YOU!”

MVP vs. MVR

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In a variety of sporting events an “MVP” is chosen; a most valuable player is identified.  This is an individual that’s had the greatest impact in the game. In the “game” of life, have you ever heard of the “MVR?”  Your “MVR” is your most valuable resource.

We all have a variety of resources, although you might think some have more than others. When asked about their MVR (most valuable resource), most people say that it’s their money. What about you?  What do YOU think is your most valuable resource?

I used to think it was money, but over time have come to a new conclusion. In most cases we can work more or do other things to increase our supply of money. In other words, we have opportunities to get more money. However, there is one resource of which there is a limited supply; that resource is our time. Like or lump it, we all have exactly 24 hours a day, everyday. There is absolutely nothing you or I can do to get more of it.

Given a limited supply, you can see the importance of what we choose to DO with our time. We can invest our time or waste it; we can use it for good or for bad. Ask yourself to whom or what do you regularly give your time? If you want an honest answer, simply take a look at your calendar.

We all make time for those things that we believe are most important. For example, if you say good health is important but your calendar shows no time scheduled for exercise, you apparently believe other things are MORE important.

Seeing that your time is the most precious resource you have, how could you change how you choose to invest that time?  As you gain clarity about what’s really important to you, why not invest more time in that and begin intentionally crowding out the time you’re wasting in other areas.  When you stop and think about it, those other areas are probably distractions that create resistance to what you REALLY want from your time.

Today is a great day to take a look at your calendar and make some changes. Be intentional about investing your time in what matters most.

Are You Accountable For Yours?

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Would you describe yourself as “accountable?”  By definition, accountable means one that is required or responsible for justifying actions or decisions.  If you’re thinking that you show up on time, keep your word and do what is expected of you, you might consider yourself accountable.  However, are you accountable and when it comes to your own thoughts?  How do you justify the thoughts and actions you choose toward yourself?

Do you think you are not good enough, not smart enough or not pretty enough?  Do you realize you are in fact, responsible for those words?  Harsh, critical words leave a lasting hurtful impression on one’s heart.  And because your brain listens most intently to YOU, those are even more damaging.

When God created the earth and many of the things in it, He said that it was “good.”  But when He created each one of us He said “very good.”  Unfortunately, before too long, others began to judge us, according to their own “standards;” they viewed us through their own distorted lens and gave us the message we were somehow NOT good enough.  The really unfortunate thing is that we believed those messages to be true.  Each negative label that we took in was like a thick layer of cement over our true identity.  Eventually, those layers hardened; those beliefs became “set in stone.”  Now those beliefs are the very thing that  prevents us from connecting with our true selves.  When we look at ourselves we see the hard shell and think THAT is who we really are.

What might it be like to live without all those layers?  Can you even imagine how that would feel?  Aren’t you ready to to dismantle the layers that weigh you down and cause clutter in your life?

As you embrace your true identity (of “very good”) you will discover peace, confidence and joy -you’ll learn to live wholeheartedly!