Have You Claimed Yours?

Father holding hand daughter 51573124

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

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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

MVP vs. MVR

Time to choose 74809207

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?

Name Tag blue

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!

 

 

Recipe – Part 3

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The recipe for Wholehearted Living involves three ingredients.  As stated in previous articles, if we were making a pizza, the crust would be “your relationship with yourself.”  The things you put on top would be “your relationship with stuff.”  Now, the cheese (what melts over everything and holds it all together) would be “your relationship with God.“

In preparation to work with this third ingredient, you’ll need to start with an assessment.  Consider how your relationship with God was established, and what has happened since that time.  What are the highs and lows of this relationship?  Has it continued to grow or has it become stale and stagnant.

Next comes sifting.  You’ll need to sift through your beliefs; those about who God is, how He feels about you and what He wants for your life.  Then determine how each belief is affecting your life.  Is it releasing toxins and contaminating the recipe, or is it enhancing the flavor and working well with the other ingredients?

For example, do you think of God as a harsh judge, or as a loving Father who holds you in His arms?  Do you believe He is disappointed with you, or that He delights in you?

The next step is to look at how you interact with God.  Are you comfortable talking with Him, listening to Him and being quiet with Him?  Do you make your own rules or do you obey the guidelines God has provided?  Do you act as if He is making your life miserable or that He is actively working on your behalf?

As you learn to know God, love God and obey God, you will discover the joy of being in a vibrant relationship with Him.  You’ll realize that NOTHING could be more fulfilling.  Remember that practicing with each of these ingredients is the only way to master them.

Enjoy the recipe for Wholehearted Living, and then share it with your family and friends.

– Alicia

Recipe – Part 2

As shared in my previous article, the recipe for Wholehearted Living involves three ingredients.  The first is your relationship with yourself.  Learning to establish and maintain a healthy relationship with yourself, is the foundation for the following ingredients.  If we were making a deep-dish pizza, your relationship with yourself would be the crust.

The second ingredient is your relationship with stuff.  In working with this ingredient, you will first need to take an inventory; take a good look at your beliefs and actions, as they relate to your relationship with:  food, your body, possessions, money and success.

Take a hold of each item and check the expiration date.  Determine what is no longer helping or adding value to your life, and then get rid of it.  Consider what items need some work in order to become useful again.  Also, identify what items you need or want to bring into your life.

For example, how do you take care of your body?  Do you provide enough water for your body to remain hydrated and function as it was designed to (6 to 8 eight-ounce glasses of water a day)?  What kind of fuel do you provide on a regular basis? Do you live on high fat foods laden with processed sugar and other toxins?  Do you run yourself ragged without ever getting adequate rest?  We take care of the things we consider valuable.  How valuable are you and your body, based upon your words and actions?

When it comes to your possessions, do you own your possessions, or do your possessions own you?  How much time, energy and money do you spend on maintaining your possessions?  Could it be time to get rid of some of your “toys” so they can reduce your stress and in turn, be a blessing to some one else?

What about your relationship with money?  Are you beliefs about money based on Biblical truth, or are you still operating with some twisted beliefs from your past?  Are those causing clutter and preventing you from the financial success you really want?

Regardless of the ingredient you are working with, it is crucial to keep decluttering.

Look for part 3 of the “Wholehearted Living Recipe” in my next blog.  Until then, happy decluttering!

– Alicia

Recipe – Part 1

girl looking in mirror

As stated in my previous article, living wholeheartedly means to love yourself, God and others with all your heart. Most of us have erroneous beliefs and unhealthy behaviors that prevent us from wholehearted living. However, there is a secret family recipe (for living wholeheartedly) that I would like to share with you.

Whether or not you’re aware of it, you already have the ingredients on hand. The first ingredient in the Wholehearted Living recipe is your relationship with yourself. You can have a healthy, vibrant relationship with yourself, or one that is harsh and damaging. Every day, whether you’re aware of it or not, you are actively choosing one or the other.

For example, what do you routinely think when you look at yourself in a mirror?  That you are beautiful and amazing? Probably not. Unfortunately, most of us are our own biggest critic; we’re our own worst enemy. Have you ever stopped to consider just how hard you are on yourself? Do you treat yourself like a friend, or perhaps, do you love your neighbor instead of yourself?

The first step in working with this ingredient, is to disengage from your inner critic. The average woman has over 31,000 self thoughts per day, and 75% of those thoughts are negative and self-defeating.  No wonder we’re worn out, sick and disillusioned! We simply must learn to pay attention to our self talk; we must deliberately say things to ourselves that are truthful, kind and supportive.

The second step, is to let go of guilt and shame (which is closely connected to your inner critic).  We’ve all done things we aren’t proud of, but only as you process your past and learn to let go of guilt and shame, can you be free to live wholeheartedly.  As Scripture says, there is no condemnation for those who are followers of Jesus. So are you ready to put that two-by-four down and quit mentally beating yourself up?

Although these first two steps are fairly simply, that doesn’t mean they are easy to master. We’ve all had a lot of practice being harsh with ourselves.  Therefore, this will take some effort.  A friend of mine says it best, “Massive repetition is the mother of mastery and skill; dabbling, is the mother of bozohood.”  It’s true.  If you are serious about living wholeheartedly, you must become intentional about decluttering your relationship with yourself.  Start practicing today.  Look yourself in the mirror and say “goodbye” to any critical thoughts about how you look, who you are and what you do.  Then, watch the good “fruit” that is produced in all your relationships.

(Look for the 2nd part of this 3-part recipe soon.)

Alicia

 

Do You Have This Family Favorite Recipe?

vegetables & cut board, pad

“Wholehearted living” means to love God, yourself and others, with all your heart.  Sounds simple, but day-to-day do you find yourself living wholeheartedly?  Unfortunately, most of us don’t.  The secrets to living wholeheartedly are contained in a treasured family recipe; one that was supposed to have been passed down from generation to generation.   It seems, however, to have been lost along the way.

Several years ago God gave this “Wholehearted Living” recipe to me.  With some practice I began to master it, and as a result, experienced amazing transformation.  As I taught other women how to make the recipe, they also experienced tremendous results.  Now I would like to share it with you.  It is not a complicated recipe with a lot of ingredients you’ve never heard of.  In fact, I am confident you already have the ingredients on hand.  You’ve just been missing the recipe.

In preparation for this recipe you won’t need to preheat the oven, but you will need to consider that at least some of what you believe just might not bet true.  The first step then, is to declutter your beliefs; check the expiration date and toss out any that are stale or no longer serve you well at this point in your life.  Pay special attention to those beliefs about who you are and what you are capable of, as those are the most common that prevent wholehearted living.

In subsequent articles I will reveal the 3 ingredients for this amazing recipe.  Until then, happy decluttering!

Thanks For The Gift

Sally and Ken. They may sound like ordinary names to you, but to me they are two very special people who left an extraordinary impact on my life.

Back in the 1970s, when I was a young adolescent girl, I came to be friends with one of their daughters, Tammy, who was my age. Throughout Junior high and high school I was frequently invited to their apartment to hang out after school or overnight on the weekends.

Tammy’s dad, Ken, was a hard worker who traveled with his job during the week, but was home on the weekend. Ken was always quick to offer his light-hearted humor along with a lot of good common sense. You somehow knew that He had his priorities straight; He knew what was really important in life and never lost focus of that.

Sally, Tammy’s mother, was not only the daily caregiver for their 3 daughters, but also worked full time as a nurse. Despite her full schedule, she was always quick to offer help, grace and compassion to everyone. She also strongly discouraged any judgment or gossip, as she simply didn’t tolerate it -ever. She was such an example of a gentle and kind spirit. The two of them, were a great pair whose personalities and characteristics complemented each other well.

Although I lived with my family in a very large, beautiful home, I was inexplicable drawn to their small apartment. What was always present was what I came to know as the love of God’s presence. It literally filled the atmosphere and drew me back time and time again. It wasn’t that they didn’t have any challenges, but rather, that in the midst of those challenges, there was a constant peace despite any circumstances.

Nearly 25 years later, I tapped into the hole in my heart and consequently, came to know Jesus for myself. Today, 10 years later, I too have come to live with that peace that can only come from residing with Jesus. I am forever grateful for Sally and Ken giving me one of the best gifts of all; providing an example of the love of God, and, for the gift of friendship with their entire family.

How about you? To whom are you grateful for impacting your spiritual journey? Maybe they would enjoy hearing from you.