7 Tips to Squash Your Fear

Here chickens, chickens, chickens.

Are you tired of being afraid??

You should be because fear is awful, and it holds you back from so much. To recap some of the things increasing your courage can do for you, visit this post.

Now if you’re ready to squash your fear and do the awesome things you’ve always dreamed of doing like pursuing your dream job, trying a new activity like skydiving or surfing (which I’d never do because no matter how well I conquer my fear, I’m just not taking the chance of having a shark take a chunk out of me!), saying what you really think no matter who’s listening or eating pounds of cheesecake – wait, that has nothing to do with fear, just self-control – check out these tips:

7 Tips for Squashing Fear

1) Admit your fear. You don’t have to tell anyone else, but just say it out loud. Verbalizing the fear can actually make it less scary.

Ex) I’m scared of spiders because they’re so creepy and I’ve never been bitten by one so I’m not sure how much it hurts. BUT realistically, I’m probably not going to die from a spider bite and they’re not going to become giant 8 legged freaks who want to eat me. I can just step on them.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0271367/

FYI, I’m not afraid of spiders. I think they’re (mostly) beautiful. Prince Eric, on the other hand, hates them.

2) Get inspired by others’ bravery. Find a role model that you can look up to and do some research on them. See how they overcame fears and obstacles in their lives. Bonus if you actually know this person and can ask for advice! Read biographies of brave people in history. This can also help put things in perspective for us sometimes as in, “Hmm, I guess my fear that everyone will mock my idea isn’t as bad as worrying about hiding from the KKK. Who knew?”

3) Get fed up with fear! Fear is an incredibly paralyzing emotion, but there is another emotion that can kick fear’s butt: anger! Think about how your fear is destroying your goals, holding you back from what you really want and making you a person who talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk when it comes to your beliefs, i.e., “Yes, it’s so important for Christians to pray together! Oh, you wanted me to lead a prayer for all of us now. Um, never mind; prayer isn’t that important.”

When you get angry, you can do things you wouldn’t normally do. Word to the wise: Don’t go crazy with this one. If you hulk out and do everything in a state of anger, you’re just going to be an idiot, not brave.

4) Relax. Fear loves itself so it makes more and more fear so they can go crazy having a fear party in your brain. Even when you are afraid, you can work on controlling your body so that fear reactions, such as shortness of breath, tight muscles, etc., decrease. If you can calm yourself down, you can still choose to act despite your fear.

5) Expose yourself to things that cause you fear. Kind of sounds like Fear Factor, but no, the key is to do this safely and slowly. Not like this …

Fear Factor Moments

Research has shown that fears do decrease when a relaxed person (See! Relaxation is important.) is exposed to what scares them in stages. I mentioned before how I’ve decreased my fear of singing in front of people by first starting off with karaoke at a family venue and am now taking a group class.

5) Realize that bravery is several tiny decisions instead of one big, scary decision. Don’t get overwhelmed. If you want to find a new job, don’t think you have to turn over your boss’ desk and quit today in a spectacular blaze of glory. Think baby steps. Search for a new job (which can be broken down into smaller steps as well). Write your resignation notice (or whatever your business’ policy is). Turn it in.

Each step you take pushes you further toward the big goal and before you know it, the scary thing you dreaded is over. I know for a fact this works because I’ve done it several times – not quitting my job, but the small steps trick.

6) Focus outward rather than inward. Obsessing over self feeds fear. “If I share my idea and the rest of the office doesn’t like it, they’ll think I’m dumb;”  “If I stand up for that nerd, the cool kids might turn on me;” “If I try this and fail, people will think I’m a failure.” But if you turn your focus on God and others, those fears aren’t as important. The consequences of not doing the think you’re afraid of actually becomes greater: “If I don’t share my idea, I might miss an opportunity to help my team;” “If I don’t stand up for that nerd, I’m not loving him the way Jesus would;” “If I don’t try my idea,  I’m wasting the talent God has given me.”

7) Reduce the uncertainty in the situation. This is one of my favorite suggestions. It’s so helpful! Humans fear the unknown. The more you can learn about a scary situation, the less scary it becomes. For example, if you were auditioning for a play and had never done so before, you could Google auditions to learn how it will most likely go. Most plays have multiple days for auditions, so you could go the first night just to watch. You can apply this practice to almost anything.

Now you have 7 ways you can battle fear, so get out there and start squashing those fears!

STSS: When Your Brother’s Too Heavy To Carry

In previous years, my siblings rode the bus to the school my mom worked at. From there, they would drive home together. One afternoon when I had gone to pick them up (probably because we were having car trouble), my little brother, Kaden, decided he wanted to stay at school (Something I would never do because I hated school for a long time).

Why? Who knows? Kids do weird things – like fight over a mutilated toy named Poopoo Nikki-Boy.

He threw a huge fit in Mom’s class room. Parents out there, I’m sure you know the kind, when you’re just hoping you get out of public fast enough before you die of embarrassment. Mom had to carry him out kicking and screaming.

Since then, Kaden has learned to control his emotions and doesn’t throw as many fits. Good thing, because he’s getting harder to carry. He’s on his own to do the right thing and follow Mom to the car or run like a crazy person in front of moving vehicles – Yeah, God definitely has been watching out for him.

We all have people in our lives we love and want the best for, but just like with Kaden, we cannot carry them. We can pray for them, encourage them, point them in the right direction and sometimes even hold them accountable, but we can’t drag them along with us on our life journey.

Simple Truths from Simple Stuff new

 

Simple Truth: We can only control our own actions. We have to let other people make their own decisions – even if it’s bad.

I know it’s hard. It is tempting to drop everything you’re carrying – responsibilities, goals, family duties, personal happiness – and try to carry your loved one instead.

But it’s not really possible, and it only slows you down.

Remember when Jesus called His disciples to follow Him? They left everything behind. They didn’t say, “Well, let me just grab my dad, my childhood friend and this pretty girl I met the other day. I’m pretty sure they can keep up.”

They left everything. If you’re growing closer to Christ, I guarantee you that you will sometimes have to “leave” others behind. If you want your spouse or parents or whoever to be closer to God, too, pray for them, but you can’t force them to be the person you think they should be. Don’t slow down your progress by worrying about someone else.

This also applies to your personal and business lives. Goals don’t get reached when you’re trying to drag someone along to the top. If your loved one is not interested in improving finances, increasing skills, improving health & fitness, working an extra hour each day on a personal goal, etc. then do it by yourself anyway.

You can make this process easier on both of you by communicating openly about your goals and hopes. Share your goals and tell your friend/spouse/coworker you’d love to work on things together, but if he’s not interested, you’re going to keep up your momentum. Don’t hold back from being the person you are meant to be because you’re waiting for someone else to catch up.

To sum it up short, sweet & ready to tweet:

(Click to tweet)

Don’t miss being who you’re meant to be because you’re carrying those who don’t want to be carried 

Your turn to talk. Are you currently slowing yourself down by trying to take care of somebody else? As a Christian, how do we draw the line between helping others & carrying them?

The Basics of Bravery

Bravery “allows you to pursue the life you want, overcome obstacles that hold you back from living a full life, put your core values into action, and it also helps and elevates others along the way,” according to Dr. Robert Biswas-Diener, author of The Courage Quotient.

Let’s break that down real quick:

Being brave helps you:

  • Get a better life
  • Overcome problems
  • Do the things you say are important to you
  • Help others

Yes, please!! Does that sound good to anyone else?

Being a former chicken myself, I know how easily fear can stifle and depress on any level. Maybe you’re too afraid to ask your boss about the raise you think you deserve. Perhaps you wish you could offer to pray for a stranger who is visibly upset. You might turn down a fun evening bowling with friends because you fear they’ll laugh at your “special talent:” gutter balls for the entire game.

But there is hope!

You can increase your courage through practice until it becomes a habit. For example, I used to be terrified of singing in public. I have improved my ability to sing in front of others by singing karaoke at a family-fun establishment, a very low stakes environment. As my confidence grows, I am able to push myself to sing in other situations. In fact, I just joined a music school!

There are several ways you can increase your courage, and we’re going to explore some of them. First though, you need to build your motivation to be brave. Sounds silly because who wouldn’t want to be brave, right? Truthfully, it is easier to be a coward. It takes less work and stress, and our brains know that. We can learn several techniques for increasing bravery, but it is likely we will still defer to chickening out unless we are truly willing to be brave.

Brainstorm a list of times you missed out because you weren’t brave enough. Now write down the things that you want to do in the future that will be easier if you’re braver. Pray and think over those. Get excited about increasing your bravery! Each morning, tell yourself, “I am a brave person.” This will get your brain in the right mode for stretching those bravery muscles.

If you want to increase your bravery, subscribe using the box to the right so that you don’t miss my next bravery post!

Your turn to talk: Feeling brave enough to share some of your “chicken” moments? What are you most excited about being brave for in 2015?

Next: 7 Tips for Squashing Fears

STSS: The Benefit of Solving Problems Now

A massive tree with branches that hung to the ground grows in the front yard of my parent’s home. When I lived there, I loved to sit in its shade. Squirrels and birds made it their home, and beautiful clusters of pink flowers grew in a ring around it. But there was one less than lovely thing about it – one limb had an electrical wire cutting into it.

The city limb cutters must have missed a little branch long ago or thought it wouldn’t be a problem, but as it grew wider and longer, the branch pushed and pushed against the wire. The wire pushed back until they agreed upon the current relationship where the wire digs no further until the branch, and the branch doesn’t lay any more weight upon the wire.

That might have been OK with the tree and the wire, but it apparently was not OK with the electricity company.

One day we came home to find our beautiful tree with all its branches cut so that it resembled a tall stump more than the majestic tree it once was. If the offending branch had been continually trimmed, perhaps they would have left the other branches alone, but because it had grown so big unchecked, the easiest way to solve the problem and prevent future problems was to cut all of it.

Unchecked sins or conflicts can cause a similar problem in our lives.

Simple Truths from Simple Stuff new

Simple Truth: It is better to solve a problem or address a sin when it’s small rather than wait until it and the associated painful consequences have grown into something huge and ugly.

 

Just imagine: wouldn’t it be easier to tell your significant other that you told a small lie now rather than after ten years of marriage when you’ve told twenty more lies to back up the first lie? Wouldn’t it be much smarter to have the awkward conversation with a coworker about boundaries now rather than blow up in a meeting when the reports the boss wants aren’t ready because you finally grew tired of carrying the coworker’s load as well as your own?

It’s not fun and it may be painful to deal with sins and conflicts, but it is so much better to solve these problems when they’re small. Give yourself the push you need to tackle these problems by thinking about how bad consequences could become if you wait and focusing on the potential positive outcomes if you solve the problem now. You can also ask a close friend that you feel comfortable sharing with to help keep you accountable. You will be thankful in the long run!

To sum it up short & sweet & ready to tweet:

Don’t wait to deal w/ sins & conflicts until they’re out of control. Do it now!

(Click to tweet)

Your turn to talk: When have you let a problem grow unchecked? Looking back, would you have rather solved it earlier? When have you had successes taking care of problems right away?

STSS: Maximize Your Success By Recognizing External Triggers

In my junior year of high school, my sister, Britanie, and I convinced my mom that our little sister, Kayli, should have a puppy for Christmas. When Kayli saw the squirming ball of black fur with a big, red bow on her neck Christmas morning, she was less than thrilled.

Guess we had “forgotten” to take into account the fact that Kayli was terrified of dogs.

The puppy, Sheila, became, as most animals at our house eventually do, mainly my responsibility. As she grew older, she developed two very annoying qualities: 1) She’d pick fights with other dogs; 2) She would climb the fence and run the neighborhood.

As often as I would take her on runs, as much as I would play chase and fetch with her, her appetite for attention and adventuring seemed insatiable. I had to pick her up from the shelter once because someone had found her and dropped her off there. Once she chased the gas meter man up and down the street until a policeman saved him (don’t know why he didn’t just jump back in his truck but whatever). We eventually had to put her on a dog trolley since she escaped so much, which just made her more hyper whenever I’d let her loose to play or walk her.

When Eric and I moved into our own home with its spacious back yard enclosed by a tall, wooden fence, I prayed that Sheila would adjust well to the change and be content. I knew she wouldn’t be able to climb it, and I was hoping she wouldn’t try her paw at digging out. We put her in the yard and …

Two minutes later, she was out. Turns out the back gate popped open when she stood and put her front paws on it, much to her delight. But after we fixed that – success!! Sheila stayed and even better, she became very content in her back yard. She was like a different dog, not hyper, very obedient – until I caught her and the neighbor’s dog trying to fight through a spot in the fence that doesn’t meet the ground because of a small ravine.

I guess she just can’t help herself when she sees other dogs. It is a failure trigger for her, an external situation or thing that increases her chances of failure, just as the usually private nature of the back yard is a success trigger, an external situation or thing that increases her chances of success.

It’s not just dogs that are pushed toward triumph or failure due to external circumstances. Triggers are super important for people, but so many of us don’t even notice them. Instead we let them take us on temporary highs and then spiral us down into our lowest lows without ever realizing that we can take advantage of these triggers.

Simple Truths from Simple Stuff newSimple Truth: Triggers, or external situations or things, affect you powerfully so set yourself up for success and not failure by maximizing your success triggers and minimizing your failure triggers.

Example: You’re doing great on eating healthy until you go grocery shopping late in the day right before dinner time, and you end up buying ice cream, chips, queso and a bunch of other stuff you don’t really need. Then, once its in your house, it taunts you with all its horrible deliciousness until you binge on queso, which makes you feel really guilty, so you go ahead and eat the ice cream, too. Will power is depleted throughout the day, and it definitely takes a hit when we’re hungry, so shopping late in the day when you’re hungry as well is a HUGE failure trigger for buying healthy.

But the great thing is that we can start to recognize these patterns and plan for them, so that we can more regularly turn triggers into successes instead of failures.

Here’s how:

Start becoming more aware of your feelings, your ups and downs. You can keep a journal to help you track these patterns. Think about past failures and successes. Were there outside circumstances that affected these? Something that gave you the motivation to succeed or something that led to failure? Anytime you fail or succeed now, stop and think of the external circumstances and your feelings. Were you able to accomplish a tough goal after a smaller success? After being energized by hanging out with friends? Did you slack off on your goals after a late night? Maybe after a huge meal that made you feel bloated and listless?

Once you start to recognize the patterns, get in the habit of capitalizing on your success triggers. If you know that you are most successful in the mornings hours after a workout while listening to classical music, make sure you follow those same exact steps each time you work.

Watch out for failure triggers and avoid working on important tasks when you are more likely to fail. For example, if you tend to be grumpy and less effective when you get a late start to the day, use those days for errands, cleaning and other menial tasks that take less thought and willpower.

You can begin to overcome the failure triggers by using them as signals for changing your behavior. If we were to go back to the dog as an example, as soon as she became aware of another dog near-by, she should go sit in her dog house so that she’s not tempted to cause trouble. Unfortunately, she’s not intelligent and I think she likes stirring up trouble, but you, my friend, have the option to stop the behavior and change it.

The more you pay attention to triggers and the more you manage them, the easier it will become. To sum it up short, sweet & ready to tweet:

Look for the patterns behind your successes & failures. Make them work for you.

(Click to tweet)

Your turn to talk: Do you already know some of your success or failure triggers? What are they? What is one thing you can improve about your day using a success trigger?

12 Days of Christmas Challenge Conclusion

Well, friends, it’s the last day of the 12 Days of Christmas. Good-bye twinkling red and green lights, good-bye reindeer & snowmen & supposed-to-be-jolly-but-turn-out-to-be-really-creepy Santas on neighborhood lawns.

Seriously, that is one Santa I would not want sliding down my chimney.

Seriously, that is one Santa I would not want sliding down my chimney.

And since you’re going, why don’t you go ahead and take the cold weather with you?

Because, really, once Christmas is over, there’s no noble end to our suffering through the many layers, the sneezing, the flu and the constant inability to keep our feet warm. I digress. Ahem … anyways, 2015 is here!! You can make this year a great one if you plan ahead and set smart goals. If you’ve enjoyed this challenge, please take a moment to share. It makes my day!

Below is a summary of how I did on my own challenge filled with tips and suggestions for you, and below that is a reminder of the last six steps of the Christmas challenge:

 

How I did on the challenge + Tips & Suggestions for You:

  1. Brainstorm a list of people/places for sharing the Gospel/loving radically: Came up with 15 ideas that I have put on my calendar and prayer list. One of those is Disney World! It’s pretty crazy because I have no idea of how to actually do that, but I am opening myself up for God to make the move. Remember, He’s in control so just ask Him to make these opportunities really happen!
  2. Read your Bible for an extended period of time: I have a “God Date” the first Saturday of each month so I did not complete this challenge on Dec. 26 but I did do it a few days ago. Need help settling into a long Bible session? Find a quiet place, ask God to help you focus, appreciate, understand and enjoy the experience. Start with a Psalm that praises God to get you in the right mindset. Don’t be afraid to jump around from book to book and to take breaks to let your mind process and talk to God.
  3. Review 2014: I was certainly blessed in 2014 and I did get a lot done, but I didn’t accomplish my largest goals. The number one reason was lack of SMART planning and not setting SMART goals. My number one bit of advice to you is to start learning more about the things you want to do and how to actually do them. You will be amazed at the difference it makes. Second, get an accountability partner. I have a fantastic friend that I talk to weekly and we share three goals we want to accomplish. We help each other refine our goals and give feedback, and it helps SO much.
  4. Start giving: I believe that Eric and I were already doing a good job on this. We give to two churches and several organizations. Make sure to set up auto payments so that you don’t have to worry about forgetting to donate.
  5. Pray for an extended period of time: Once again, I did this on my “God Date” day. Remember that you don’t have to speak fancy or have an amazing emotional experience to have a good prayer. Just share your heart and take time to listen, which is best done through reading the Bible.
  6. Practice being brave: This is weird for someone who has no fear of public speaking and acting, but I hate singing in front of people. This year I signed up for a group vocal class. Excited!!!
  7. Plan your top priorities for 2015: Done and ready to kick some booty!! One bit of advice – Focus on one thing at a time. It may feel like you’re getting less done, but think of how many unfinished projects most people have. I “laser focus” on one item until it’s done. This actually helps you do more.
  8. Keep a gratitude journal or calendar: My 2014 calendar is full of great memories that Eric and I both enjoyed looking back on and remembering how blessed we are. My 2015 calendar is set up and ready to start collecting my gratitude. It’s so fun & easy so there’s no reason not to do it.
  9. Get the ball rolling on one thing you’ve always wanted to do: I’ve always wanted to swim with dolphins. Since my family is already going to Florida this year, that will be the perfect time. I looked up options near Disney World, turns out Disney World has a dolphin swim program, so I won’t even have to leave the park!
  10. Make a prayer box : Follow the link for an instructional post. I already have a prayer wall, but am going to make a box because it’s portable. I haven’t done this yet, but will do it this weekend.
  11. Worship authentically: This is different for me because I teach Children’s Church but during our worship time before Children’s Church begins, I put everything out of my head & really focused on honoring God. It can help if you imagine locking all distractions away in a box until after the service.
  12. Call someone & pray for him/her: I prayed for my sister – doesn’t sound like I went too far out of my comfort zone unless you know about the history between me and my sister. If you’re nervous about calling randomly and praying for someone, text them and say something like, “I’d love to pray with you sometime because {yada yada}. Call me when you can” or something like that. Ask God to give you courage, and remember you have the right to be awkward! :)

 

Original Prompts for Days 7 – 12

7. Dec. 31 – Plan your top priorities for 2015. Start the year off right by deciding what your #1 goals are and what steps you will take to accomplish this.

8. Jan. 1 – Start keeping a gratitude journal or calendar. You don’t have to write a lot but you do have to be specific. I pick one thing that brought me joy, laughter or made me realize how blessed I am per day and write it on a calendar. Then whenever I feel like it, I look back over those days and see how much I have to be grateful for

9. Jan. 2 – Think of 1 thing you’ve always wanted to do & put in on your calendar. Take the first step to get the ball rolling.

10. Jan. 3 – Make a prayer box or prayer wall to help organize your prayer life. Be sure to add for you to take & make opportunities for your goals and glorifying Christ.

11. Jan. 4 – Worship authentically. It’s so easy to fall into the pattern of singing just because it is time to sing in church, zoning out the preacher and thinking about all that you have to accomplish. Don’t do it today! Before worship begins, commit the time fully to God and put everything else out of your mind. Imagine that Jesus is sitting beside you and God is speaking from the pulpit. Be present in the moment in honor of your Savior.

12. Jan. 5 – Last day of the 12 days of Christmas! End the joyful season by calling someone you know really needs prayer and/or encouragement and praying for him/her over the phone. Or if that’s too intimidating, just call (or text) and ask for some prayer requests.

STSS: When You’re Doing The Right Thing, But Nothing’s Going Right

Happy New Year!! Thank you to my current subscribers & new subscribers. I so appreciate you and hope that my blog will bless you in 2015. Congrats to Mr. Seth Bracken who won the $50 Amazon gift card!!

In my last STSS post, I talked about how sometimes when things aren’t working out for us, it is because we need to try a new direction. But there are some times when we know we are doing the right thing, reaching for the right goal, but we face problem after problem after problem.

When I was trying to catch & neuter all the stray cats around my parent’s home, there was one cat I just could not trap – Monker’s momma, Calico. She was wily and the #1 baby-maker around the neighborhood. I would try to tame each litter of kittens & adopt them out, which worked sometimes, but many times they ended up eaten by some wild animal, ran over or just another feral cat that now needed to be caught and spayed.

I got so desperate I even resorted to grabbing a thick blanket and just launching myself at Calico, hoping not to lose an eye. I pinned her against a wall in the garage but she bucked and jumped like a prize bronco and finally raced away, not to be seen for three days.

I wanted to give up, make myself not care and just let nature do her thing, but I couldn’t. I knew I was doing something good, certainly not world-changing, but something that would make a difference to the cats, the area and my parents’ wallet since they fed the cats. Why wouldn’t God give me this?

Finally, I gave up – not at catching Calico, but the stress. I knew that I would keep trying and eventually I’d be successful, and in the meantime, I’d just do what I could. It wasn’t up to me to be the savior for all these cats. God is their creator, and the Bible tells us that not even a bird dies outside His will (Matthew 10:29). I knew that nothing was happening here that God couldn’t handle.

Sure enough, my dad and I caught her a few weeks later.

Simple Truths from Simple Stuff newSimple Truth: If you know you are on the right path but things aren’t going right, don’t give up, don’t stress & don’t blame God. Keep going. Keep praying.

 

 

One thing some Christians are quick to forget is that this is a fallen world. Bad things happen because of Satan, because of people who make bad choices, because this isn’t that perfect Garden of Eden. The Bible tells us that God is all good (1 James 1:5). God doesn’t make bad things happen. And when bad things do happen, God can turn them around & use it for good. Sometimes He may leave us in frustrating situations to build our perseverance or trust. Other times waiting purifies our desires so that we starting wanting right things for the right reason.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy or fun. I don’t think God expects us to not have one whit of distress in our hearts when we are struggling. But He does want us to remember that He is here for us. In this new year, don’t let frustrations and struggles destroy you. Push forward & remember that all things come to an end.

So, to sum it up short & sweet & ready to tweet:

When you’re doing the right thing, but nothing’s going right, don’t give up & don’t stress. Keep praying & waiting.

(Click to tweet)

 

Your turn to talk: What else can we do when we’re in that horrible waiting period and just can’t get things right no matter how we try? How does it make you feel to think about the fact that while God doesn’t make bad things happen, He doesn’t always stop them?

12 Days of Christmas Follow Up Days 1- 6

I hope your Christmas was merry & that your upcoming New Year is bright.

We are halfway through our 12 Days of Christmas challenge. How have you done so far? If you’re doing any part of the challenge, comment below & let me know!

As a recap, here are the first six challenges:

  1. On Christmas Eve or Day, brainstorm & pray with your family to create a list of people/places for sharing the Gospel/loving radically in 2015
  2. Dec. 26 – Read your Bible for an extended period of time. If you normally read 10 minutes, try 20 and so on. When you’re willing to be still with God, He can really work on your heart in some amazing ways!
  3. Dec. 27 – Review 2014. Did the year go how you wanted it to? Why or why not?What goals did you achieve/fail to achieve? Why? What can you learn from this year to make 2015 better?
  4. Dec. 28 – Start giving to your church and/or organizations that bless others. If you already give, consider ways you can increase your giving. Do you have clothes, toys, other items you can donate? Is there something you can give up that will allow you to do more good with your money?
  5. Dec. 29 – Pray for an extended period of time. One time I spent several hours in pray, and I kid you not, God totally enlightened me and I understood, like, everything. Of course, as soon as I stopped praying, I forgot it all … but hey, that’s the nature of being a fleshly creature and a great reason to pray a lot more often.
  6. Dec. 30 – Practice being brave. Fear is an automatic response, but bravery is a choice. God has given us a spirit that doesn’t have to bow down to fear. You can choose to be brave despite your fear, and the more you do this, the more automatic it will become. Think of something that you avoid because it scares you – maybe it’s singing in public, sharing an idea with your boss, walking away from friends who are gossiping, etc. Then do the very thing that scares you. Conquer it! You can do it!

Good luck! Come back to the blog on Thursday for a Simple Truths from Simple Stuff post.

12 Days Of Christmas Challenge 2014

Merry Christmas, friends!

Before I get to our challenge, don’t forget to subscribe to my blog & enter to win a $50 Amazon gift card. The drawing will take place on January 1st.

NOW … let’s get in the Christmas spirit and get ready for the new year with 12 great challenges!

12 Days of Christmas, Partridge in a Pear Tree, Five Golden Rings

image from: http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/ library_article/352/key_to_the_twelve_ days_of_ christmas.html

BTW, did you know that the 12 days of Christmas actually begins on Christmas Day? So if you’re that person who hates to take down the tree and the decorations and just can’t stop listening to the carols, you’ve got till January 5th. After that, we will commence picking on you for leaving your lights up all year round.

 

  1. On Christmas Eve or Day, brainstorm & pray with your family to create a list of people/places for sharing the Gospel/loving radically in 2015
  2. Dec. 26 – Read your Bible for an extended period of time. If you normally read 10 minutes, try 20 and so on. When you’re willing to be still with God, He can really work on your heart in some amazing ways!
  3. Dec. 27 – Review 2014. Did the year go how you wanted it to? Why or why not?What goals did you achieve/fail to achieve? Why? What can you learn from this year to make 2015 better?
  4. Dec. 28 – Start giving to your church and/or organizations that bless others. If you already give, consider ways you can increase your giving. Do you have clothes, toys, other items you can donate? Is there something you can give up that will allow you to do more good with your money?
  5. Dec. 29 – Pray for an extended period of time. One time I spent several hours in pray, and I kid you not, God totally enlightened me and I understood, like, everything. Of course, as soon as I stopped praying, I forgot it all … but hey, that’s the nature of being a fleshly creature and a great reason to pray a lot more often.
  6. Dec. 30 – Practice being brave. Fear is an automatic response, but bravery is a choice. God has given us a spirit that doesn’t have to bow down to fear. You can choose to be brave despite your fear, and the more you do this, the more automatic it will become. Think of something that you avoid because it scares you – maybe it’s singing in public, sharing an idea with your boss, walking away from friends who are gossiping, etc. Then do the very thing that scares you. Conquer it! You can do it!
  7. Dec. 31 – Plan your top priorities for 2015. Start the year off right by deciding what your #1 goals are and what steps you will take to accomplish this.
  8. Jan. 1 – Start keeping a gratitude journal or calendar. You don’t have to write a lot but you do have to be specific. I pick one thing that brought me joy, laughter or made me realize how blessed I am per day and write it on a calendar. Then whenever I feel like it, I look back over those days and see how much I have to be grateful for.
  9. Jan. 2 – Think of 1 thing you’ve always wanted to do & put in on your calendar. Take the first step to get the ball rolling.
  10. Jan. 3 – Make a prayer box or prayer wall to help organize your prayer life. Be sure to add for you to take & make opportunities for your goals and glorifying Christ.
  11. Jan. 4 – Worship authentically. It’s so easy to fall into the pattern of singing just because it is time to sing in church, zoning out the preacher and thinking about all that you have to accomplish. Don’t do it today! Before worship begins, commit the time fully to God and put everything else out of your mind. Imagine that Jesus is sitting beside you and God is speaking from the pulpit. Be present in the moment in honor of your Savior.
  12. Jan. 5 – Last day of the 12 days of Christmas! End the joyful season by calling someone you know really needs prayer and/or encouragement and praying for him/her over the phone. Or if that’s too intimidating, just call (or text) and ask for some prayer requests.

 

I’d love to hear how your challenges go so be sure to comment & share! No blog on Christmas because … well, it’s Christmas!!

STSS: When You Need To Try A New Direction

I’m a writer … I hope you’ve noticed …otherwise I’m doing a really bad job of this.

In college I took a course from the local writer’s guild, and one of the authors said something that has always stuck with me: “Writer’s block is your brain’s way of telling you that you’re doing something wrong.” He claimed there really was no such thing as writer’s block, that when you felt stuck, you should just delete what you’d written and look for another angle, and everything would come together.

I found this super interesting because writer’s block is so often portrayed as this horrible thing that you can’t overcome. The muse is dead. You’ve lost your mojo. The imaginary people who live in your head have all gone into hibernation … and so on.

writers-block1

http://amabaltimore.org/4082/how-to-sock-it-to-writers-block/

I much preferred the idea that you just needed to go in another direction, so I decided that would also be my philosophy about writer’s block. And guess what? …

It is so true. Anytime I feel stuck, I remind myself that I’m just going in the wrong direction. I delete, brainstorm, take off in another direction, and it comes together beautifully. My new idea is a thousand times better than what I had written before. And I propose that the same solution works for “Christian block.”

Simple Truths from Simple Stuff new

Simple Truth: When things aren’t working out for you, God may be pushing you in a different direction

 

Yes, it is true that as Christians we will face troubles and persecution. Sometimes we may be heading in the right direction and just have a lot of road blocks (more about that in my next Simple Truths post!), but sometimes it may be God telling you, “Let it go…”

http://imgur.com/gallery/ZPt55

Sorry couldn’t resist that Frozen reference, and I’m willing to bet it was the first thing that popped up in a lot of your heads, too!

 

Don’t stress if life isn’t going the way you think it should. God is in control & He has a plan. Don’t be afraid to try something new and take a risk. Unlike the writer’s muse, God won’t disappear when you need Him. He will lead you in the right direction, and it will be beautiful.

So, to sum it up short & sweet & just ready to tweet:

Beat Christian block by asking God to point you in a new direction

(Click to tweet)

Your turn to talk: Have you ever had Christian block before? Did you persevere through or have to go in a different direction? How do you think you can tell when you’re supposed to give up & try something new versus keep pushing?