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!

 

 

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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!

What’s The Fog In Your Life?

I was recently out of town and ready to start the ten-hour drive back home.  With a full tank of gas, some snacks and a bottle of water, I felt well prepared for the drive.

However, there was something that I hadn’t anticipated; a thick, dense layer of fog that covered all but a few feet of the road ahead of my car.  I wasn’t prepared for that!  However, I knew the one who always has provision and I called out to Him.  I prayed, not just once, but every few miles.  I asked God to provide a calm heart, clear sight and sharp focus.  I then experienced the inner peace that comes onlyfrom relying on God.

Nearly an hour into the drive the fog began to lift, and by then I also had the advantage of daylight.  The combination meant I felt much more confident of my ability to handle the situation and therefore, could have easily forgotten my reliance on God.

The more I thought about it, I realized that is a much more dangerous place to be.  Relying on myself is where trouble begins, and to do so is absolutely ludicrous when I have an open invitation to rely on God.

It would be like walking through a heavy rainstorm and choosing to go by yourself (with just a newspaper for protection) rather than going arm-in-arm with a friend who has a raincoat and boots for you, AND is holding a large, industrial strength umbrella over your head.  Why would anyone make such a foolish choice?  And yet that is often what we are tempted to do.

The more I reflected upon the situation, the more I realized this simple truth:  Only when I am as reliant on God as I was in the mist of the fog, can I truly experience the peace and joy that God has prepared for me.  What a tragedy to bypass His perfect provision, in rain, fog or ANY situation.

Question:  What is the “fog” in your own life?  What situations prompt you to rely on God?

 

 

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.

 

Is Yours Normal?

Many people have some sort of tradition or specific way in which they celebrate Thanksgiving. How about you? What do you consider “normal” when it comes to celebrating this holiday?

Maybe your holiday includes cooking and cleaning for a large gathering with family and friends. Maybe you eat Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant, with others or by yourself. Maybe this is the first holiday with your husband or son serving abroad. There are countless scenarios. However, no matter what your holiday may or may not involve, I want to encourage you to embrace it.

Unfortunately, many people have high hopes for a great holiday but find their reality is less than fulfilling. Then, making things even worse, they assume that others have a perfect family celebration -much like a Norman Rockwell painting. You know the one: Grandma holding a perfectly cooked, golden brown turkey; the parents and kids joyfully interacting with one another; and everyone having a smile on their face. The truth is …THAT kind of holiday isn’t normal.

I once heard Wynonna Judd say, “Normal, is just a setting on the washing machine.” There is a lot of truth in her statement. When it comes to families and holidays, maybe there IS no “normal.”

This Thanksgiving, whether you’re with your family, friends or alone, try to appreciate your “abnormal” situation; choose to be thankful for what you DO have.

“God bless you” on this holiday, and throughout the coming year. May you find many things for which to be grateful, and give thanks.

 

 

What Do You and This Sports Item Have In Common?

The Nike Company recently developed a new sports watch.  This isn’t your ordinary watch, for it includes a GPS and an extra special feature.  With this watch when you are walking or running, you can access audible messages that provide encouragement.  The promotional material says, “It’s like having your own personal coach right on your wrist!”  The developers of this product are ingenious, for they have tapped into a simple but very important fact:  We all need encouragement along the way.

So what if the audible messages recorded were those you routinely tell yourself?    What if you were your own personal coach?  The truth is, you are!

Many of us have become our biggest critic; we’ve become our own worst enemy.   We’ve been treating ourselves harshly for so long that it has become familiar, and consequently, we fail to realize just how damaging it is.  Can you imagine saying some of the things you say to yourself, to a good friend? Things like:  “You are so stupid;” or “You’ll never amount to anything.”  Of course not!

So what will it take to stop those prerecorded messages you tell yourself?  How can you leave your internal critic behind and begin to embrace the friend inside?

Scripture gives us some clues:  “Take every thought captive unto Christ;” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  The first step in taking a thought captive is to become aware of it.  Next, compare your thoughts to God’s Words.  Are they in alignment or are they in opposition?

God isn’t okay with us beating ourselves up and treating ourselves like worthless junk.  We are His beloved daughters.  Each one is His favorite, and how we take care of ourselves is extremely important to Him.  Maybe it’s time to declutter your thoughts, especially those that cause resistance to the life God has prepared for you.  Begin treating yourself like a good friend.  Notice scripture does not say, “Love your neighbor instead of yourself.”

Learn to extend forgiveness and grace, to yourself.  Cheer for yourself.  Develop messages of kindness, patience and encouragement.  Things like:  “I’ve got what it takes;” and “I am equipped to do anything God calls me to do.”  Put those new messages on “auto replay;” listen to them repeatedly, until they become part of your normal subconscious thoughts.  As the Nike slogan says, “Just Do It!”

 

Can You Hear Me Now?

 

You’ve likely seen the Verizon commercial where a man on his cell phone asks:  “Can you hear me now?”  Have you ever thought about the fact that God is asking you the same question?

Do you regularly hear God?  If not, an old expression comes to mind: “You need to get your ears cleaned out.”  In case that is an expression that is new to you, it was used to insinuate that one was not listening well or was misunderstanding.  Periodically, each one of us needs to get our spiritual ears “cleaned out.”  We must remove anything that inhibits our hearing from God.

Your ability to hear God is much like a muscle in your body.  Maybe you’re not yet aware of that “muscle.”  If not, that might be the first step to take.  Start becoming aware of your capacity to hear God.  Next, begin to use that muscle, even though at first it might be weak and feel a bit awkward.  Eventually, with repeated use, it will become stronger and feel more natural.  The same is true with your ability to hear God.

Hearing God can happen in a variety of ways: audibly; in His Word (the Bible); through music; other people’s words; through nature, etc.  I used to say, “I want to hear from God but He will have to send me an email or I will likely miss it.”  How sad, but that was what I believed at the time.  Actually, deep inside I doubted that He would take the time to talk to me.  But I was wrong.

Throughout the Bible God’s word indicates that He speaks to us.  For example, John 10:27 says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”  If He wasn’t talking, we wouldn’t be able to listen and follow Him.

So what is your response to His question, “Can you hear me now?”  Maybe it’s time to get your ears cleaned out.

-Alicia Economos

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