STSS: Fear & Laziness Get You Nowhere

Want a free copy of Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving & Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans? It’s her newest book & just came out Tuesday! Subscribe to my blog & you’ll be entered to win. Winner will be announced April 30.

I looked at the little, plump, red fruits (or vegetables or whatever tomatoes officially are now) and crinkled my nose. They had been sitting on my kitchen counter for awhile and looked a little wrinkly.

I was feeling a little scared to pop one in my mouth and try it. Never mind the fact that I’d have to wash them first … and oh, what a hassle that would be!

I may have also been feeling a little lazy.

A couple of days later I forced myself to wash the tomatoes and try them …

They were still delicious!!

And I had almost missed out on a yummy snack and wasted good food and money because I didn’t feel like giving it a try.

Simple Truths from Simple Stuff newSimple Truth: If you do not try new things, you will miss out on good things

 

This world has so much to offer:

Tall Trees & Sun

The beauty of creation

 

A Kiss For Mom

Precious moments with family and friends

 

Disney Castle

Unforgettable experiences

 

In Africa

Opportunities to grow & bless others

Fear and laziness cripple us and decrease the richness found in life. The less we are willing to go outside our comfort zones and try new things, the less full our lives will be, the less meaning they will have.

And what horrible reasons to miss out!

Staying on the couch and watching Netflix? Worrying about what people will say about you?

These are not the things we want to characterize our lives.

 

Here’s how you can enrich your life today:

Read my series on overcoming fear: http://www.tiffanydawnbiagas.com/basics-bravery/

Pick one thing to do that reaches toward a goal or gets you out of your comfort zone. Start a habit of doing one proactive thing like this per day.

 

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

Put fear and laziness aside & live a full life!

Learn From The People You Hate On

Want a free copy of Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving & Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans? It’s her newest book & comes out today! Subscribe to my blog & you’ll be entered to win. Winner will be announced April 30.

 

Let me start by saying, I’m not jealous.

I met a young woman last week who has similar goals to me but while I’m still looking for an agent, she already has one. And her book is due out this summer.

I’m not jealous though because I keep a realistic perspective:

Her father is an author and I’m sure he pulled some strings for her. Also, she basically wrote a rip off of The Hunger Games so the agent knows she can play on that and make lots of money.

 

Kidding.

I completely fabricated that whole situation.

 

But isn’t this similar to what we sometimes think when we are jealous of others? We look at their success or happiness or appearance and say, “Yeah, it works for them because … they have lots of money/their parents helped/they’re just lucky/blah blah blah.”

We automatically pick apart their projects, goals, or lives to make ourselves feel better while at the same time cripple ourselves by insisting what they’ve accomplished can’t work for us.

A spiritually healthier and all-around more intelligent way to deal with feelings of inferiority is to ask yourself, “What can I learn from this person? How have they found success? Are there ways I can implement some of their strategies into my life?” And so on.

Ramit Sethi, New York Times Best-selling Author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, calls this technique going from D (disparagement) to C (curiosity).

Not only is this a practical way to improve your professional life, it should absolutely apply to our lives as Christians!

For example, the next time you are frustrated by a ridiculously slow person in the checkout line, instead of asking/thinking, “What is wrong with him/her?” ask, “What is wrong with me?”

“Why am I being so impatient? How can I learn and grow from this situation?”

You may realize you’re thinking of your time too much as your own and not trusting God’s timing. Or maybe you’re in a bad mood because you’ve been building up resentment against your spouse. Perhaps you’re just an impatient person and need to work on it!

God calls us to be Christ-like in every situation, not just when things are good. Using this D to C technique is a good way to grow spiritually and defuse negative situations.

The possibilities of how much you learn and grow are limitless if you examine others with a positive perspective, then turn inward for reflection and improvement.

 

Your turn to talk: What is an area of your life where you need to apply the D to C technique? Why is it easier to tear people down rather than admire and learn from them?

Remember to subscribe for a chance to win  Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving & Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans!

STSS: We’re Ungrateful But Jesus Doesn’t Care

Remember how God totally blessed me and Eric through an old family friend who gave us a Honeymoon trip to Disney World as a wedding gift?

That same person had another surprise for us …

We’re going back to Disney World for our one year anniversary and my family, complete with 3 adorable, young siblings …

Goofy kids collage

Well, usually adorable

… Who’ve never been to the Happiest Place on Earth, are coming, too.

A completely free trip for all of us.

It is a huge gift we can never repay.

We’ve known since last May and all throughout the year, we’ve had this urgency to tell our friend how much we appreciate it.

We sent a thank you card filled with chocolates.

My mom and I both send emails every once in a while just to say thank you again and that we are so looking forward to the trip.

When we see our friend, we say thank you, thank you, we appreciate you so much!

Maybe you can relate to the feeling. When someone blesses us in a big way, we feel this desire to make sure he/she knows we aren’t taking it for granted.

But for some reason, we usually don’t feel the same sense of urgency to thank God for all He has done and continues to do for us.

Simple Truths from Simple Stuff newSimple Truth: We take Jesus for granted, but He keeps blessing us anyway.

It is easy to fall into the habit of taking Jesus for granted.

It’s understandable considering that He gives us good gifts even when we don’t deserve it yet doesn’t drop by with casual comments about what He’s done for us, making things really awkward and forcing us into gratitude.

And right there is the reason why we never should take Him for granted.

He gives us so much more than anyone else ever can, and He keeps on giving despite our flaws, failures and generally greedy, “I deserve it” attitudes.

Let’s not take Jesus for granted anymore!

Here are a few ways you can improve your gratitude today:

Set a daily reminder on your phone to stop and thank Jesus for something good He has done that day.

Plan a special way to show gratitude to Jesus every week or month, perhaps by going out of your way to help someone else, calling a family member or friend to praise God for your blessings or praising Him despite your trials, maybe by writing out a thank you prayer.

Post on social media how thankful you are for your relationship with God.

Donate to a charity as a way of giving back to God.

Cut something out of your schedule for a day and spend that time in prayer or Bible reading instead.

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

Don’t be God’s ungrateful, problem child. Make sure He knows you appreciate Him!

How To Have An Awesome Morning

Some mornings I just don’t want to get out of bed. Everything is bad. Everything is wrong.

And sleeping in with my sweet kitty buddy seems like the best option.

IMG_4935

Can you blame me for hitting snooze? He keeps my legs toasty.

I’m sure you’ve had some mornings like this because who doesn’t?

But mornings can be better. In fact, they can be one of the best parts of our days.

In a recent post, I shared a monthly routine for spiritual growth. Then I thought, hey, I should share my suggestions for making your daily morning routine awesome because why be awesome only once a month?

First, The Why

We’ve all had those days that start bad and just get worse, right? So I think we can safely assume that a bad start usually equals a bad day (although you can turn bad days around!).

When you have a good morning routine, it can set the tone for a positive & productive day.

Morning routines decrease stress because we start the day with a plan rather than chaos. We have time to collect our thoughts and get our brains on track instead of jumping into the day in a hurry and a sleep-frazzled mind.

They reduce anxiety. In my post about reducing fear, I explained how uncertainty increases fear and that the more we know about something, the less it worries us. Knowing how our mornings will go each day makes us happy.

Many of the world’s most successful people establish morning routines, and it only makes sense to learn from the best.

Now, The How

First, there is no right or wrong way. Experiment and find the routine that works best for you.

Mine consists of:

7:00 AM Waking up to  a gentle alarm & brushing my teeth

7:05 Dedicating the day to God through prayer while I fill my HUGE water bottle

7:10 AM Reading the Bible followed by meditation

7: 20 Dance to “Shake If Off” by Taylor Swift – I’ll switch up songs whenever I feel like it.

7:25 AM Taking care of & loving on my cats

7:45 AM Make a health shake for breakfast

7:55 AM Drinking the shake while brainstorming about anything & everything

8:15 AM Ready to start the day strong!

 

There are some things you definitely want to make essential in your routine, such as having at least 15 minutes without screen time. You don’t want to immediately jump into the busy, busy, distraction world of social media, emails and the such.

Always give yourself something to look forward to. This helps us get our lazy bones out of bed and puts in a good mood. Set a good song as your alarm, hug and kiss your spouse, play with your pet, etc.

Drink water! Our bodies need replenishing after the night. Take it to the next level by drinking warm water with fresh lemon squeezed in it. The lemon starts your metabolism, cleans the mouth & throat and boosts energy.  Wait about 30 minutes after your lemon water to brush your teeth, drink or eat.

Focus on how you want the day to go.  Our minds are powerful. We should use them more. Visualize yourself finishing that report or having a great meeting with the boss. Pump yourself up for finishing your hardest project as soon as you get into the office. Think about how you will keep positive throughout the day. Remind yourself of (if you schedule ahead of time) or pick 3 goals for the day. This ensures you get your most important work done and aren’t wasting your days.

P.S. Willpower is highest early in the day so you really should tackle the hardest tasks or the one you’re dreading first.

Make It Even Better

Here are some “bonus” ideas for improving your morning routine:

Hitting the snooze button and drifting off for a few more minutes of bliss is a pretty wonderful feeling but not necessarily the best for you. If you know you want to snooze, consider setting your alarm a little later so you get more uninterrupted sleep, then don’t hit snooze when it goes off.

Track your sleep and find the best window for waking up (Resources on how to do this and more are included at the bottom of this post).

There is supposedly a best way to get out of bed: roll on your right side, push yourself into a sitting position and stand with a straight back. This should take pressure off your heart & back. If you’re sharing the bed, obviously only one person can roll on the right side and get up. If you get the left side of the bed, use the routine but roll to your left.

Move around to loosen up body and get blood flowing. Many people recommend working out in the morning to increase your focus and productivity for the rest of day as well as getting it done when willpower is highest. But there are cons. Our bodies just aren’t as good at working out in the morning as they are in the afternoon.

Use a smart thermostat to have your house gradually warm when it is time to wake up. Isn’t it terrible trying to get out of a warm bed on drafty mornings?

Try to increase the quality of your sleep so you wake up feeling better.

Ask yourself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” Steve Jobs asked himself this each morning and said, “Whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” Such an easy thing to do with the potential to make a huge difference in our lives! I’m adding this one to my routine.

I hope these suggestions as well as the resources below help you create an awesome morning routine! Do you have a good morning routine? Please share with us!

Resources

If you want to try meditation but don’t know where to start: Headspace app: https://www.headspace.com/how-it-works

A short workout that won’t take too much of your time: 7 minute workout: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/projects/workouts/

If you’d like to learn more about smart thermostat: Benefits of smart thermostats: http://lifehacker.com/what-can-a-smart-thermostat-do-that-mine-can-t-already-472975733

To improve your sleep quality: http://lifehacker.com/5971884/the-science-behind-sleep-and-how-getting-better-sleep-means-youll-need-less-every-night

If you want to learn from the morning routines of others:

http://mymorningroutine.com/

http://morning-routine.com/famous-and-successful-people-with-morning-routines/

 http://morning-routine.com/

STSS: Bleed For It

My cousin cried next to me but I screamed, “Hit him, Daddy! Hit him!”

My dad was a boxer.

And I was a blood-thirsty, little girl.

I wouldn’t be too interested in watching two men beat each other up now, but there is something inspiring about people who push themselves to the limit, something captivating about rooting for someone who overcomes impossible odds and achieves victory.

This is why movies like Rocky, The Hunger Games, and Remember the Titans appeal to us.

We love to see underdogs succeed. The higher the stakes, the better. The more our heroes have to bleed, sweat and sacrifice the more in awe we are.

But when it comes to our blood, sweat & sacrifice, we’re not inspired at all.

We quit.

We give up.

And we like it.

Simple Truths from Simple Stuff newSimple Truth: We’d rather bow out when things get tough (temptation, trials, goals), but if we’d push through, our victory would make us stronger & inspire others!

Have you ever completed such an intense workout that you seriously felt like you were going to die, or at least be very, very sick? It hurts, but when you finish, you feel good and strong.

The sweat dripping off you, the cramping in your side, the tenderness of your muscles – they’re no longer negatives. You are proud to say, “I went through all this pain, and I came out stronger because of it.”

The same principle applies to life.

God has promised He will never leave or forsake us. He said He will give us what we need. He called us “more than conquerors.”

So there is no question about whether you can overcome these obstacles.

The question is will you push through? Or will you give up?

One way to increase your odds of victory:

Your mind is powerful, so visualize your life as a great movie. You’re the star. You’ve got to come out on top. When you’re struggling and feeling like you’re going to fall flat on your face, play that Rocky theme song and pump your fist. When you have too many tasks to get done, pretend the fate of the world is in your hands, and you have super speed. If temptation is pulling at you, imagine you’re at the climactic moment of your life movie, and of course, you’re going to win!

Your turn to talk: Any struggles out there we can pray for? How do you keep fighting when you want to give up?

STSS: I Was Suffering & No One Knew

On the outside, I looked normal, but inside, I felt horrible.

After several days of being so sick I couldn’t get out of bed, I decided to work a couple of hours AND make a trip to the grocery store even though my loving and apparently very wise husband urged me to skip the store.

By the time I reached Kroger, I already felt tired and clammy.  I moved past the sliding doors, and the sound of groceries being swiped across the bar code scanner filled my ear. Each high-pitched beep sent a little stab of pain in my head. I hurried to the back of the store, but I kid you not, the sound stayed in my ear, echoing over and over.

My currently out-of-whack ear made it hard to hear normal conversation but amplified loud or high-pitched noises, and to me, the store sounded like a bunch of pre-teen girls at a One Direction concert. I sagged against my basket, gathering the items on my list and avoiding overly loud people, including a happy baby who squealed and shrieked like a demon feasting on souls.

My cashier told me jokes I could not hear. I nodded and smiled. At the register next to mine, a familiar, giggly scream made me wince. The demon baby had returned! Her mom smiled at me, and I smiled back before I even realized it.

To everyone around me, I seemed perfectly fine, and that’s when it occurred to me:

On average, we don’t know what’s happening in the lives of the people around us, and we’re usually too busy, too oblivious or too selfish to care.

Simple Truths from Simple Stuff newSimple Truth: People who are hurting and need love aren’t always going to make it obvious for you.

Ask God to give you His perspective, and be on the lookout for people who need encouragement and love. This requires an attitude that looks outwardly rather than focusing on self. Start every day by praying for a heart for others.

You can also pray for people as you see them. You don’t know what they need, but God does. A short prayer like, “Please bless that woman and give her the strength to overcome the problems she’s facing today” could make a huge difference in her day!

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

Look for people who are hiding their hurt & love them.

Become A Better Person

I am burning up right now.

Not because I’m still sick, but because I’m on fire for God.

 

God is a consuming fire

No worries. This is actually a sunset, not the world on fire.

Especially after conferences, amazing concerts or mission trips, we can get a spiritual high we hope will last forever. Unfortunately, it never does.

But those times of closer communion with God are so uplifting and make our spiritual life and daily life vastly improved that it makes sense to replenish our spiritual well as often as possible.

Every month I have a “date” with God, and this helps realign my spiritual focus back on Christ. It helps me be a nice person when I really want to channel my dad’s boxing skills on mean people. It helps me remember to stop and pray during my day. It keeps my disposition sunny when things are looking gray.

I’ve mentioned my God Dates before but over time, I’ve developed a specific routine that I think works really well, and I wanted to share with you.

 

1. Worship song – Pick a song, turn it up & just worship. Music moves our hearts. It can radically change our moods. When you take time to really listen to a worship song, your spirit is going to start moving into alignment with God’s. Don’t stress over which song to choose. When you’re in the mood for an old favorite, pick that. When you want to hear something new, go for it.

 

2. Prayer of adoration - If you think about it, many, many of our prayers are asking for what we need/want. We need to turn that around, and after a great, Jesus-praising song is a perfect time to pour out some verbal love on God. You will naturally be in a praise-oriented mood, and you can expand upon some of the lyrics of the song when you struggle with what to say. Ex) The song says, “The God of angel armies is always by my side.” You say something like, “God, you are powerful and mighty, commander of an angel army. Knowing that you are with me fills me with hope and strength and pride. God, you are greater than any other, and I will stand for you, confident in your power.”

 

3. Bible reading/prayer - Crack open your Bible. You can let the Spirit lead you, pick up where you last left off or fall back on something like Psalms or Proverbs. As you read, pray over the verses and praise God for the things He’s done/can do, ask God for understanding and for help applying them to your life. No specific time limit on this: 5 minutes, 10 minutes, as you grow closer to God and desire Him more, maybe an hour!

 

4. Worship song - Listen to another worship song. I really like music and singing. I usually pick something upbeat because by this time I’m in a really good mood, and I want to jump around and shout about how great God is. Substitute this for something tailored to you if you’d like. Maybe you prefer writing out poems about God, painting or composing an opera.

 

5. Closing prayer - Thank God for this time you’ve had to renew. Ask Him to remain with you throughout the day (Spoiler: He will!) and help you keep your great attitude.

 

6. Meditation - Close your eyes. Breathe in slowly for a 5 count. Pause. Exhale for a 5 count. Pause. Repeat the breathing, and clear your mind. To help you focus, you can pick a short phrase that encapsulates your “theme” for this particular God date. Maybe you read a verse about letting go of fear, and that’s what you want to take from the experience. You might think, “I will trust God and not fear.” Time the phrase with your breathing, and you will (hopefully) be able to really concentrate on only that, letting all distractions and worries disappear. When other thoughts come to you, acknowledge them. If you try to ignore, they tend to get noisy! But after acknowledging them, think, “I’ll think about that later,” or “I won’t worry about that,” etc. You can imagine locking them away in a chest if it helps. Once again, no specific time on this. The more you do it, the easier it becomes and the longer you will probably want to do it.

 

What do you think about this routine? What would you add?

Be Productive Even When You’re Sick

I’m alive!

I’ve been out of the blogging world (heck, even the real world) for two weeks with a horrible case of strep. Now if you know me, you know that few things can keep me from being productive, and strep would not be one of those.

But a case of strep so bad that it blocks off my ear drainage tube resulting in throbbing brain pain – yes, that apparently does it.

IMG_4930

And while I was lying in bed, drugged up on painkillers, drifting in and out of consciousness, I thought of 3 ways to keep a productive attitude even when you’re sick.

Of course, they didn’t work for me … but if you’re not spending half your time freaking out about a giant cloud of pressure in your ear and the other half unconscious, give them a try:

 

1) Keep a positive perspective – remind yourself that this is just a season, and yeah, it stinks to feel bad AND fall behind on your goals, but it will eventually be over. This helps you feel better mentally & physically, plus keeps you ready to jump in strong when you’re ready rather than mope about depressed about how far behind you are.

2) Delegate – there are certain times in life that people will give you a lot of attention and help: when you get graduate from school, get married, have a baby … and when you’re sick. Don’t take advantage of people, but do take this opportunity to get some help. In fact, if you have struggled to get your team/coworkers/family to do tasks you’ve asked them about multiple times in the past, this is your moment to really guilt them into it ;)

3) Complete easy goals – Think about the things you usually put off. This is a great time to finish them. For example, you may feel too bad and be too contagious to go out and recruit volunteers, but you can probably huddle in bed and create a great “Welcome to the Team” email. There are lots of small, easy things you can accomplish if you get creative: catch up with friends through text, clean out your purse or wallet, read through useful blogs, and so on!

 

What other ideas do you have for being productive when you’re sick?

 

Be Slow To Accomplish Your Goals

Being slow … a good thing?

Florida Box Turtle Digon3 re-edited.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

When I spent three weeks in Zambia, Africa, the slow-paced lifestyle shocked me. I intended to start working at a school on my 1st day, but ended up sight-seeing for 3 days because some scheduled construction at the school kept getting put off. And the construction workers didn’t even contact the school. They just kept not showing up!

Especially in America, being slow is not considered good.

But as much as we may dislike it, God’s perfect timing is sometimes slower than we like, and that’s a good thing.

Why?

Waiting can purify motives & clarity.

 

When I was in high school, I wanted to drop out of school, move to California and be on the Disney Channel ASAP!

As I adult, I still like performing but I’ve realized I like writing way more, I liked the thought of being famous probably too much and that being in the Hollywood environment so young would not have been good.

My dreams of acting now are better dreams: I want to act because I like to perform, be creative and bring to life imaginary worlds. I want to work with other Christians to create quality, family friendly TV. I want to voice a Disney Princess and bring joy to little girls like Ariel and Belle did for me.

I am not encouraging you to slack off or be lazy. Don’t sit around and claim you are waiting for God’s perfect timing. Better motives and clarity can also come from trying and failing and learning as you go.

But this is a reminder not to tear yourself down if you are “behind” on your dreams.

 

God has a good plan for you, and while you are waiting for it, dream a better dream.

STSS: Does God Like How You Smell?

Ever have to track down something with your nose?

If you have kids or pets, you definitely have done this.

You get a whiff of something mysterious (or horrifying) and sniff around the house until you find a kid covered in peanut butter, the tub filled with expensive body wash instead of bubble bath, a dog or kid who has clearly forgotten their potty-training skills or worse.

Sometimes you can’t find the source of the smell, but your nose knows … it’s out there somewhere.

I had a friend over during the Christmas holidays and while we were watching TV, she said, “I keep smelling something really sweet.”

“The plug-in air freshener is right beside you,” Eric answered.

“Oh, I’m glad you can smell it. I’ve gotten used to it,” I said while thinking that my plan to sit her by the air freshener so she’d think I’m an excellent homemaker paid off. Mwa ha ha! (That’s an evil laugh, btw.)

Although she couldn’t identify the source, she knew there was something that smelled great in the house. Did you know that Christians can give off a great scent as well?

And no, I’m not marketing a new perfume for Christians!

shareasimage (1)

 

Ephesians 5:2 says, “Live in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” When we live in love, we are a good smell to God which means if we’re not living in love …

We stink.

Simple Truths from Simple Stuff new

Simple Truth: Our actions are like fragrances. They either entice or repel the people around us. 

 

Hearts are won and minds change when God’s radical love is evident in our everyday lives. People may not be able to point a word to it, but they will be drawn to it just like their nose leads them to the funnel cake stand at the fair. When we are judgmental and self-righteous, people will keep a wide berth from us and our God just like they detour around a dumpster. If we are apathetic and self-absorbed, we lack any sort of fragrance and impact.

Consider the fragrance of your life. Are you the beautiful rose enticing people to search for the source of goodness in our lives, a reeking trash can or empty of fragrance?

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

Make sure your actions don’t stink up Christ’s name!