Self-Care: Heart Checkup for Your Soul (part 1)

self careSELF-CARE: The best self-care is a heart checkup.

In part one of this 3-part series, you’ll discover…

  1. Why you may bristle at the word “self-care.”
  2. A definition of heart checkup.

Self-Care Hangup?

Self-care may sound…extravagant, even selfish. But for some of up — my old me! — I didn’t think I deserved self-care. Then I dared to ask myself, What’s my hangup?

Also I considered that Jesus took time to rest, didn’t he? He got away to the mountains and rejuvenated. He hung out with the broken people and lunched. I can imagine him smiling and laughing and cracking jokes.

And I asked myself, Am I denying the reality of my own humanity when I think I’m too busy to watch birds flit about my neighbor’s feeder? Or take time for a walk?

Could I reek with. . .twisted pride?

Reminder: The self-care of rest, exercise, meaningful work, eating well (and, for me, chocolate too!) isn’t selfish when your self-care is “onto the Lord.”

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

But divorced from a Godward focus, self-care can be selfish, wouldn’t you agree? Your motivation matters.

Heart Checkup

Most people think the heart is the emotional part of a person. Scripture suggests that it is your mind, emotions, and will. It is the center of your being. You can compare it to a control center. Your heart controls what you think, feel, say, and do.

Proverbs 4:23 says it well:

Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.

Everything.

But there’s bad news. The Bible says your heart “tricks or deceives us into thinking that our desires are pure, that we want what we want because it is good and God approves,” writes Elyse Fitzpatrick, biblical counselor and author.

And this is why you need a heart checkup.

During the check up you’ll see whether your thoughts align with God’s thoughts. Also, you’ll find out if your actions and emotions are rotten or good.

By the way, in the counseling office, we focus on the heart. And when the counselee’s heart changes so does her life. But the goal isn’t life transformation per se; it is growth in Christlikeness.

3 Parts of the Heart

As mentioned, “heart” is the word the Bible uses for your mind and your emotions and your will altogether. Your mind, emotions, and will influence one another. Let’s look at the parts of the heart.

Your mind: Your mind involves your ability to understand, reason, and discern. It includes your beliefs and opinions.

Taken aback with news from angels about her son, Mary the mother of Jesus “treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).
The power of God’s word “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
As a man thinks in his heart so is he (Proverbs 23:7, NLT).

Your emotions: You emotions include your moods as well as your longings, desires, and hopes.

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation (Psalm 13:5).
If you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts. . . (James 3:14).

Your will: Your will is the part of your inner person that chooses what actions to take. Your mind and emotions inform your will what to do.

Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve (Joshua 24:15).
Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth (2 Corinthians 12:6)

I pray this three-part series helps you understand why your do what you do, so that you can choose God’s best always. Next time will focus on your emotions and thoughts. If you haven’t signed up for my blog and complimentary eBook, please do. Then you’ll get parts 2 and 3 delivered to your inbox.

God bless you as we grow together.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

 

Self-Counsel: Counsel Yourself and Improve Emotions

self-counselSelf-counsel: When you counsel yourself with biblical truth, your emotions become more stable and you respond in better ways. Why? Because you’re speaking truth to your heart! This article by Heart2Heart Counselor Ellen Castillo appeared first here at BC4Women blog and is used with permission. Check out Ellen’s page in the Heart2Heart Counselor Directory.

A couple of months ago, I was in a car accident. My van was totaled, but my daughter and I were not seriously injured. Whiplash, bruises, and soreness have become our daily battles, but those things will get better.

Emotional Effects Post-Trauma

The emotional effects are the most difficult to overcome. I have counseled many post-accident and post-trauma victims. As biblical counselors, we know how to come alongside someone gently in the immediate days following trauma. We know how to eventually begin to target the heart when we see unhealthy and unbiblical responses to the trauma.

When the trauma is our own, do we know how to “self-counsel” our own hearts? There is no trauma too big or too small when it comes to the need for counsel.

When we find ourselves repetitively dwelling on and reliving the accident details, condemning ourselves for the guilt we might bear for the cause of the trauma or accident, having panic attacks at the thought of re-entering normal life again, getting behind the wheel, or seeing the place where the trauma occurred, we must cling to the good counsel we offer to others by offering it to our own hearts.

Goals of Biblical Counseling

One of the goals of biblical counseling is that the counselee would eventually be able to do self-counsel. Self-counsel means that when someone is struggling with sin or suffering, she can turn to God’s Word for answers. She can read, study, memorize, and pray as she seeks to bring the gospel to bear on her struggle.

One of the goals of biblical counseling is that the counselee would eventually be able to do self-counsel.

In that process, God can reveal her heart issues, and she can focus on mind renewal as she repents of her sin. This is how we are all to live, every day, as self-counselors.

Good Self-Counsel Helps for Trauma

As I continue to recover from whiplash as I write this, I have found these things to be most helpful. This is good self-counsel for someone who has recently suffered any kind of trauma:

  • Take every thought captive. Remember that every struggle we have begins with a thought. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to destroy the things in our thoughts that are not consistent with the gospel.
  • Focus on what is true. Philippians 4:4-9 is a passage to go to often and consider it as sort of a checklist. Run your thoughts through that Philippians 4:8 grid, and redirect your thought life.
  • Rehearse the gospel. This phrase is not a cliche, it is life-giving. Thinking on the gospel recalibrates our minds and reminds us that we are no longer under condemnation, that we have been given a new identity, and so much more.

Rehearse the gospel. This phrase is not a cliche, it is life-giving.

  • Fight the fear with the knowledge of God’s sovereignty. God is either in control or He isn’t, and I believe He IS. Yes, even over my car accident. I do not need to know the why’s or how’s in order to trust His promises. Romans 8:28 keeps me from dipping too deep into the “why me’s”.
  • Know when your natural initial responses are becoming debilitating, and ask for help. Low-grade temporary depression, for example, is common to most trauma victims. But debilitating depression requires intensive biblical counseling. If you are unable to function at home or on the job, spend most of your day isolating or sleeping, have turned to substance use to self-medicate, are unable to make decisions, or get along with those you love, then it is time to ask for help. God’s Word has answers you need, but we sometimes need someone to come alongside us and show us the way.
  • Some people say that “time heals” even trauma. I suggest that although that may seem to be true sometimes, it is only God who can truly heal a traumatized heart. Because of my self-counsel, I am struggling far less with the effects that the accident had on me.

How to Self-Counsel

To self-counsel, you must seek Him more intentionally, dig deep into His Word – read it, study it, memorize it. Keep a meaty prayer life, stay in the church, and in fellowship with Christian friends who encourage you (and also admonish you as needed.)

Serve in ministry at your church, putting others before yourself. And do not hesitate to call on a biblical counselor if you are stuck, and she will be glad to come alongside and offer help and hope. These are the things that helped me and I believe they will help you, too, regardless of your struggle.

Isaiah 41:10 (ESV) “Fear not, for I am with you;

be not dismayed, for I am your God;

I will strengthen you, I will help you,

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

 

Stop Food Cravings and Glorify God

food cravingsFood cravings come on quick and strong, don’t they? You’re driving along singing to KLOVE or whataver, and out of nowhere food cravings strike.You may crave a Snickers bar or chips or ice cream or a Ding Dong. Perhaps you crave strawberries, carrots, or freshly baked multi-grain bread.

Up the road sits a 7-Eleven, beckoning.

In this short article, let’s look at…

  1. Biological food cravings versus emotional food cravings
  2. A biblical solution to food cravings

Choose Your Choice 

So what should you do when hit by food cravings?

A. Try your very, very best to ignore them.

B. Proceed to the 7-Eleven and get the goodies..

Well, it depends! Biological food cravings differ from emotional food cravings. It’s wise to fill the biological kind because your body needs what is craves. Just think of how delicious a glass of water is when you are super thirsty. So when you fulfill this type of craving, you’ll think and feel better. But fight the temptation of emotional food cravings. If you cave, you’ll feel worse, and you’ll miss out on God’s best too.

So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

Biological or Emotional?

Here’s a simple what to tell whether your food cravings are biological or emotional:

When you have a biological food craving and fulfill it, you feel nourished. And it doesn’t take much food to meet such a need either. One bagel, a wedge or two of low-fat cheese, or a couple of chocolates–that’s it.

In contrast, emotional food cravings aren’t about food. They are an attempt to meet a need apart from God. An emotional eater looks for comfort in food. Sometimes it follows “I’m a loser” self-talk. And a small treat is never enough. Never.

Emotional eaters confuse love and self-acceptance with food. It is their drug of choice. Their god.

Solution to Food Cravings

The good news is by obeying and trusitn God, your can have victory over food cravings.

To have victory, you’ll need to break the vicious cycle of emotional eating. You can make this break when you begin desiring what God desires and, with God’s help, change your heart. Your heart is the immaterial part of you where your motivations, beliefs, thoughts, emotions, and actions reside.

For life transformation you need heart transformation!

God’s life-changing power helps you embrace a right perspective of food, make good and godly food choices, straighten out your thinking on food, and practice, practice, practice. A great resource with helps for those times you mess up — and we all mess up sometimes — is Love to Eat, Hate to Eat by biblical counselor Elyse Fitzpatrick.

God wants you to live life based on truth, not emotions. The truth of who he is. The truth of who you are. His truth is sure. Our emotions go up and down like an elevator.

Now emotions are fine; God gave them to us. You and I must not trust them to influence our decisions. We need to turn to truth.

10 Tips for Healthy Choices

Here’s truth talk on healthy eating. You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating:

~ Choose water over coffee and soda pop.

~ Shrink your portions by using smaller plates.

~ If you desire seconds, go for the veggies.

~ Eat at least five vegetables and fruits daily.

~ Choose whole grains.

~ Limit your consumption of sugar.

~ Skip foods with ingredients you cannot pronounce.

~ Sit down during meals.

~ Eat slowly.

~ Remember eating becomes sacred when it becomes worship.

Remember the Bible verse I mentioned? So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Let this command guide your motivations and desires.

When you do, then everything — from washing dishes and sweeping floors to helping your children with homework and writing blog posts — can be worship. As long as you line up your thoughts with God’s, the simplest things become sacred.

And so it is with food.

For YOU!

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Sharing hope with your heart,

 

Focus: Seeing Life Clearly Brings Peace

focus

A right and godly focus cuts through the complications of life and brings peace to your heart. In her article, which appeared first here on her website, Heart2Heart Counselor Karen Gaul shares insights from story of Ruth as well as Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

Life has a way of being very complicated. It is so easy for us to get lost in the situations that happen around us that we quickly lose our focus and our way. We become overwhelmed, disillusioned, fearful, maybe even bitter and angry.

When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians it seemed that might be the case. Paul hoped to encourage this church. I wonder if they were thinking that since Paul was a follower of the Way and was imprisoned that maybe it could happen to them too. Perhaps the scuttlebutt around town was “imagine Paul in prison, chained up. I wonder if he is going to be killed soon? He must be scared. This is terrible. How could God let this happen? Is Paul wrong?”

But this is what Paul writes,

Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.

Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” Philippians: 1:12-14

Deciding Your Focus 

Wrong thinking is one of the first places we look focus.

You can hear it in the true story of Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah. 

Naomi’s focus: Naomi faced famine and moved to Moab, a godforsaken land, where her husband dies. Her sons marry idol-worshipping women. They produce no offspring. Then her sons die, leaving her with two daughters-in-law. Life couldn’t get much more difficult than that.

She believes God’s hand is very heavy on her and that she has been emptied of anything and anyone who mattered to her. Now she was old. Death would have been a welcome visitor for her. She saw nothing but her difficult circumstances. Poor Naomi … lost, alone and disillusioned and bitter. She sees no hope for her future..

Ruth’s focus: Ruth, on the other hand, could have thought that if she went with Naomi to Israel, she would not be welcomed. She could have thought: “I will never marry or have a child. Perhaps I will face abuse and ridicule. I may starve.”

These were all real possibilities for her future. Yet she did a remarkable thing. She wanted to be where God was in the Land of Bread, and she was determined to go. She persisted and off Ruth and Naomi went to Israel.

Orpah’s focus: Orpah, the other daughter-in-law, returned to Moab and her idol-worshipping life. She lacked God’s perspective. To her, returning home looked most promising.

When we focus on circumstances, we miss what is really going on.

Listening to Paul’s Solutions

The aspostle Paul…

  1. clarifies the gospel
  2. focuses on results
  3. looks at the big picture

Clarification

Paul clarifies things so this little church isn’t discouraged or fearful. He doesn’t go into the details of what has happened to him. Instead, he reminds them that the Gospel is being advanced all over the place.

Focus

Paul focuses on the results. Paul reminds them that he is in chains for Christ and that the Gospel is advancing.

When we get lost on the problem, doesn’t our vision become limited? Naomi couldn’t see past her circumstances, Ruth saw something way beyond herself. She was going to be in the place God was and she couldn’t wait to get there. It didn’t matter what happened to her as long as she was close to Him.

We become self-absorbed when we focuse only on the horizontal of life. Our world gets smaller and smaller and it appears nothing will ever change. Naomi was caught in that place for quite some time.

But Paul took advantage of his circumstances and shared Jesus to everyone who was attached to him as well as anyone else. Ruth also took advantage of her situation and lived a life of integrity committing herself to the care of this older bitter woman who she loved. Both Paul and Ruth were witnesses of what a follower of Jesus looks like and people noticed.

  • How can we think differently about the situations that happen to us? What might God be up to? 

Sometimes we know the purpose but other times we don’t. Paul took advantage of this situation and proclaimed Christ.  Ruth on the other hand just lived her life in love and obedience to the God she found.  She wasn’t a great teacher or spokesperson instead she lived a life of grace and others noticed.

Big Picture

Paul looks at the big picture. Paul sees he is in chains, and other believers speak more boldly. And that is all that matters to him, that Christ gets proclaimed.

God desires for us to change our thinking. We live in a soft and comfy world and we quite like it that way, but following Jesus comes with great cost.  We might not be in chains like Paul was, but there will be ample opportunity for us to suffer and go through hardship and in it we can choose to respond like Naomi and get bitter or we can like Paul see the big picture.

Paul endured, he suffered, he sacrificed, he gave and he served because he loved.

How can we take up that same challenge?

During your darkest hours God is working, He is up to good things. He wants to redeem your struggle and use it for nothing but good in your life. You may not always know what He might be doing but you will know the end result is to make you reflect Christ more. (Romans 8:28,29)

What an honor we have.

Will you allow God to use your suffering to produce in you a most pleasing aroma for Him?

An Invitation to You

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

Trials: Take the Wild Path to Joy

trials

Who likes trials? Only masochists, right?

Yet in Jesus Christ’s flip-the-world-upside-down gospel — where the weak are strong, and the poor are rich, and the messed up are cleaned up — trials are the wild path to joy, to true happiness. And here’s a key:

Christ gave his life for you in order to give his life to you so that he could live his live through you.

Blessing of Trials

Sucky trials get your attention.

Then you feel a need to deal.

And Jesus is the real deal.

Did you know he wants you to think like he thinks? Did you know you canwhat a mind-boggling thought!  because he empowers you to do so? It’s all Jesus.

‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinshtians 2:16, ESV

With Jesus, trials help you and me see, really see. They help us gain a new perspective, God’s perspective, as long as we’re open to listen to him. But Satan tries to interfere.

As Timothy Lane and Paul Trip say in How People Change:

Nothing is subtle about the ongoing war that rages throughout the Christian life. Trials and temptations about, but we respond to them from a new vantage point.

 New Perspective of Trials

We can change our perspective of trials. Here are just three ideas.

1. Remember that God continually blesses you. He is for you. You belong to him, and he wants you to experience the abundant life.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10.

2. Decide to want what God wants: a close relationship with Jesus. Let go of lesser pleasures that entice. Seek the greatest pleasure and spend your life enjoying God.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,  rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7

3. Embrace the truth that God uses sucky trials to increase your desire for the highest dream.

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that you belong to God? That you can spend the rest of your life enjoying him? That trials have a goal?

And what is this goal? To become more and more Christlike as you love God and love your neighbor.

Invitation for YOU

Friends, we gave one hope: Christ. But sometimes life beat us down. This is where biblical counseling can help. If you’re facing trials and want God’s best for you, I invite you to consider biblical counseling.

I’m a trained biblical counselor persuing a doctorate in biblical counseling. I also am certified by the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors and by the Association of Biblical Counselors.

I meet with counselees (women, teen girls, and couples) in person and by Skype. (Skype-to-Skype calls are free.)

May our great God bless you, as I know he will. Ephesians 1:3

Sharing Hope for Your Heart,

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5 AMAZING NAMES GOD CALLS YOU!

Blessed, Daughter, Saint, and more!

In this delightful, four-color ebook, you’ll discover the precious names God calls you. Today so many Christian women don’t fully know their wonderful identity in Christ. Isn’t a time to know yours? Filled with scripture, photography, personal stories, and encouragement!

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