STSS: Good Is Always Out There

Eric pulled me forward while explosions boomed behind us.

Fireworks

Image from freedigitalphotos.net Photographer: vectorolie

I looked back longingly at the fireworks painting the sky on my last night at Disney World.

But knowing that the fireworks would happen every night even though I wouldn’t be there to see them made me happy. I knew that just as Disney had been a magical experience for me, it would be magic for someone else every day.

Christians can be confident in this same truth with God.

Simple Truths from Simple Stuff new

Simple Truth: We may not see it happening, but with God, we can be confident that good is out there.

Romans 8:28 tell us “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”

This world can be a really dark place, but that doesn’t mean God is not still working. Although we may not be experiencing the good at that moment, someone else is.

And if even we are dealing with something bad, God can use evil for good.

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

Remember that God is good even when life isn’t.

No blogs next week because I will be back at Disney World with my family for their first ever trip! New posts on May 26th.

Give Anger An Outlet

“Kaden!”

I turned my head to snap at my little brother in the back seat.

But when I saw his happy face, I couldn’t.

Yes, he was driving me crazy by yelling every little detail about his new DS game and nearly making me wreck by stretching forward and waving it in my face, but he was just excited.

“What?” he asked.

“Your new game is so cool!” I shouted. “Tell me more! Just don’t wave it in my face.”

And then I listened and listened and listened and burned off my frustrated energy by being overly excited about everything he told me.

 

“You jump on the bad guys and you get a coin.”

“So cool! I bet you are awesome at jumping on the bad guys.”

“And you get a suit that lets you fly.”

“You can fly?! That’s crazy!”

 

I flipped my negative energy into something positive, which is a fabulous technique for dealing with anger or frustration without bottling it up and making yourself crazy.

Think back to a time when you were upset.  How did you feel?

Negative energy confuses our normally (somewhat) rational brains. We don’t want to let go of the anger. We want to hit something or yell at someone, right? Anger likes having an outlet.

 

Give your negative energy an outlet, but make it positive.

Ferociously clean your house.

Tackle a tough project.

Complete an intense workout

Remember that anger helps you overcome fear so think of a way you can use it to boost your courage

 

Your turn to talk: What are some ways you can use your negative energy in a positive way? What other anger management techniques do you use?

Crazy Computers & The Ways God Helps Us

I will not destroy my computer with my bare hands.

And not just because I’m not strong enough.

I like my computer. It has important stuff on it. And great music.

Tiffany Biagas and sister posing with arms up

We love dancing in my family!

I had to remind myself of those things when my computer kept doing a crazy highlighting thing where it would psychotically highlight all over my document, ignoring my commands to stop.

While I was still having this problem, I looked up at the title of the document and realized I had not saved it using “Save As.” Which I had meant to do. Because I needed the original document in its – well, original form.

I closed it without saving my changes and therefore was able to keep the original intact. Then I copied and started making my changes.

No crazy highlighting appeared.

Suddenly I went from hating my computer to being thankful that slowed me down before I really messed up.

Simple Truths from Simple Stuff newSimple Truth: What you consider a hindrance God considers an opportunity to help you.

Maybe the slow driver in front of you is keeping you out of a bad traffic accident. A difficult boss might be teaching you patience. Not being invited to a party is preventing you from falling to that temptation. A lost job pushes you out of a place where you were too comfortable and propels you toward your real purpose in life. A friendship that falls apart could open your eyes to the changes you need to make in your personality.

A really tough time in life might be a wake up call that you need God.

Don’t just get angry when things go wrong. See what you can learn. Consider how it could be a blessing. And remember that God is still good.

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

What you consider a hindrance may be God saving your butt.

Admit You Don’t Know

 

My mom had to dissect a cat in college – can you imagine me dissecting a cat?!

Card Carrying Cat Lady

That would be a no.

I’d probably break down and cry, then steal the cat’s body for a proper burial. Despite being a bio major in college, I skipped on vertebrate morphology because I knew I couldn’t handle chopping up an animal.

Just like I can’t dissect animals, we can’t dissect God.

We can’t get inside His head and see how He works. We cannot diagnose Him, study Him or theorize about Him.

 

He is bigger, greater, and mightier than what we can comprehend.

Instead, we must admit lowliness and accept that we cannot understand.

 

When confronted with this option, many reject it and instead choose to say He doesn’t exist.

To all my Christian friends, this sounds crazy. Why refuse to consider believing in something just because you don’t understand it?

 

But we Christians are guilty of doing the same thing whenever we are unwilling to humble ourselves and admit ignorance in our everyday life.

 

Admitting you don’t know something, asking for help, going outside your comfort zone to learn something new – these things are hard for everyone, but the people who push themselves to do it are the people who gain …

Knowledge & wisdom

Broader horizons

Connections with people who can help you

A bigger comfort zone

New skills

Confidence

A full life

Who doesn’t want those things? I know I do. And that’s why I’ll admit my ignorance. I read books to improve my writing. I go to conferences and listen and apply. I take a music class and ask questions. I push myself to learn rather than pretend I know it all.

I’ll admit I don’t know. Will you?

Your turn to talk: Is it easy to admit when you’re ignorant about something? What is something you’d like to learn?

 

STSS: Pick People Over Productivity

My phone charger has disappeared. It may be at my friend’s house; it may be somewhere around my house; it may be in that alternate dimension where lost things go …

Regardless of where it is, there is one place it is not – and that place is charging my phone.

My phone has been living on one battery bar for the last four days and not even a full bar, a blinking bar which is the phone’s way of screaming about imminent demise. I’ve kept it alive so long by only turning it on for very important needs.

Talking to my friends – not going to happen.

Ordering a pizza – necessity :)

Setting an alarm to wake me up – no way the phone would survive the night.

Calling my dad to ask him to bring Monker’s forgotten bottle to my office – super important!

I am managing my time very carefully and all business comes before socializing or extravagances. “It’s a good plan,” I thought. “But only for dying phone batteries, not people.”

Simple Truths from Simple Stuff newSimple Truth: Being productive & accomplishing goals is awesome but not if we are sacrificing loving people to do it. 

1 Corinthians 13:1 – 3 says, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

Love is what it’s all about, but very few of us live that way. We manage our time like a dying phone battery, putting our “important” business above people. Who cares if we have to tell our neighbor, “No, I can’t give you a ride to the store”? We accomplished everything on our to-do list today and isn’t that so much better?

Not according to God’s logic.

Even if “Share Jesus’ message of salvation” or “Volunteer in a soup kitchen” was on our completed to-do list, we’re not loving the way Jesus has asked us to. We are loving when it is convenient which isn’t really love at all.

We can’t check “loving people” off a task list. It is constant and it does not always fit a schedule.

Go ahead and drain your whole battery by spending some extra time loving someone and trust that God will keep you charged enough to complete your important tasks as well.

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

Pick people over productivity 

 

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Be Productive Even With A Late Start

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Worst day ever.

Which day?

Any day that you wake up late, have to rush to get started, end up in a bad mood and fall way behind on your agenda.

Boy making face at camera with sister behind him

Not Fun

Late start days are a bummer. They can really mess you up. But it is possible to still have a good day despite a late start, and here is how:

 

1. When you wake up late, don’t panic & don’t beat yourself up.

Immediately think of your morning routine and do whichever part of it is a necessity to get you in the right mindset for a good day.

For example, if I had to cut time from my morning routine, I would keep my prayer time while filling my water bottle, skip my dancing time and depending on if I had somewhere to be, I would either keep my Bible reading time and skip meditation or move Bible time to the evening.

Now if you do have somewhere you are/were supposed to be, then feel free to panic. Just kidding. If you are running late for something, get ready as quickly as possible and get on your way. Being late for external commitments will only add stress to your day so it’s OK to rush a bit to make those.

Just adapt your morning routine. For example, you could pray in the car or have a glass of water once your meeting or commitment is over.

 

2. Look at your agenda and focus on your three most important tasks.

Yes, only three! You’re running behind so you have even less time than usual to try to complete an unrealistic number of tasks.

The small tasks can go! Let them go forever or write them on a to do list to be put into your schedule another day or next week.

See if one of your top three tasks can be cut (maybe it’s not as important as you think …), delegate anything you can or  move it to another day.

You may be tempted to jump in and start working on the tasks, but thinking about them first and moving them around to fit  your schedule more realistically will allow your brain to stop subconsciously stressing about them and focus on what you’re doing.

 

3. Keep positive

Perspective and attitude affect our productivity and success a lot. Listen to some good music. Call a friend, tell him/her you’re stressing and ask for prayer. Don’t use negative self-talk.

 

Your turn to talk: What do you do when you get a late start? Any suggestions to add to this list?

STSS: Down Is Easier But Up Is Better

Hey People Who Regularly Read My Blog But Aren’t Subscribed, now’s the time to sign up! You’ll be entered to win a copy of Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving & Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans. Winner will be announced April 30.

Nervous energy raced through me. My heart pounded. My legs could not keep still. I felt like I was going to vomit.

And that’s when the gun fired.

 

 

From failblog.org

 

Track.

What a terrible sport.

No, I exaggerate. I liked it. And hated it simultaneously.

But I digress. After each race, it felt good to be finished but also horrible because I couldn’t breathe, my legs were jelly, and I ran too many darn races so I likely had another one coming up.

My fellow racers and I would cross the finish line, stumble off into the center field and immediately bend down with our hands on our knees. Immediately our coaches would be there pulling us upright and telling us to put our arms above our heads.

Resting your arms on your head opens up your lungs and helps you take bigger breaths. But after an intense race, everything hurts, and it is much easier to just crumple down than fight against gravity and fatigue and go up.

Down is easier but up is better for you.

Simple Truths from Simple Stuff new

Simple Truth: It is easier to live by the world’s standards than God’s, but living by God’s standards is so much better for you.

 

Imagine you’re with a group of friends, and they start talking bad about someone else. It is much easier to join in their gossip or not say anything but maybe stop smiling so you always have the option to later say, “Well, they could tell by my face I didn’t approve.”

But the right thing to do is speak out against the gossip.

And it will probably be scary (although the more you speak up, the less scary it becomes) and awkward, but it is so much better for your soul.

 

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

Doing what’s right can be hard but like exercise, it’s good for you

 

How To Make Time With God A Priority

Hey People Who Regularly Read My Blog But Aren’t Subscribed, now’s the time to sign up! You’ll be entered to win a copy of Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving & Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans. Winner will be announced April 30.

In order to receive God’s blessing upon our dreams & goals and to use them to honor God, we must develop intimacy with Christ. If you’re alive today and not a monk or a hermit living in a mountain shack with a couple of goats, you probably spend a lot of your time being busy and may struggle with where to fit God into your schedule.  The old saying says that idle hands are the devil’s playground but the opposite is also, and sometimes even more so, true: Busy hands are the devil’s playground. As promised, I’m going to help you overcome this.

But first, I have to be straight with you: Growing closer to Christ is a personal decision, and if you want it, you actually have to make it your top priority – like not missing the latest episode of Once Upon a Time priority or keeping up with covering your gray hairs priority. The things we really want, we don’t miss. Sadly, they tend to be things that really don’t matter.

I’m so sorry, Rumpel. You do matter to me! Just not as much as God.

For example, for many years, I scheduled Bible reading and prayer as the first item on my daily agenda, but each time I ran behind schedule or needed extra time, it was the first task to get kicked off my list. “See ya tomorrow, God. I’m sure you understand; after all a thousand years is like a day to you.” But now that I really have made it a priority, I find a way to get it done. The other items are the ones that get taken off my list.

So, if you want to stay close to Christ, make it a real priority and don’t make excuses for yourself. 

 

Now, let’s break it down. How can you stay close to Christ despite being so busy?

 

Develop the habit of talking to Him throughout the day. If you’ve died to yourself and began a new life in Christ, then He has sent the Holy Spirit to live in you. Great news! The Holy Spirit and God are the same, so you are always intimately connected to God already. You just have to remember this & tap into it. You do not have to go to a special spot or be completely alone or sacrifice an animal (Thank God because that would sorely conflict with my dedication to saving animals!) to come into God’s presence. Just open your mouth & speak or do it mentally. I especially recommend the mental approach if you’re around a lot of people and want to avoid looking like a crazy.

http://survivingtheworld.net/Lesson424.html

Some ways to make the habit stick: set a timer on your phone to remind you to speak to God every hour, stick reminder notes at your work desk or wherever you most frequent during the day, ask a friend to practice with you & see who remembered to talk to God the most times at the end of day – hey, why not?

Start spending time with Christians who are also serious about growing close to Christ. Did you know that we tend to be an average of the 5 people we spend the most time with? For some of us, that’s a seriously scary thought!

Include God in all of your activities. Before you begin a new project at work, say, “God, help me do this.” If you’re watching TV at home, say, “Thank you, God, for this time to just relax.” Acknowledge Him in all things & you will eventually develop a constant dialogue with Him.

Speaking of TV, cut out some of the meaningless distractions in your life. A huge one … social media (Except for my blog, of course, don’t stop reading this!) Most of us have been guilty of it at some point – the slow scroll, where you mindlessly scroll down, down, down the endless feeds on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. Wow, what a waste of time! Cut some of that out and you have time right there to spend in prayer or Bible reading. If you can’t control yourself, there are programs that can help: Cold TurkeyStay Focused, Focal Filter, Self Control (Mac)

stop_wasting_time_on_facebook

http://www.quertime.com/article/how-to-effectively-stop-wasting-time-on-facebook/

When you are talking to God, don’t force it. You don’t have to be eloquent or in a deep state of spiritual bliss or really long-winded. God knows your heart already, so it’s totally OK to say, “God, I’m not feeling very spiritual right now, but I love you and want to grow closer to you. Please keep working on me.” Then, be done. It can actually be worse to try to be super spiritual and then realize 5 minutes later that your mind has definitely wandered off to what you’re having for dinner and something funny your friend said yesterday. If you feel your focus start to wander, say, “God, I am going to stop praying now because I can feel my attention slipping and I don’t want to disrespect you. Thank you for being patient with me.” Then, let that mind wander. It’s fun.

At the end of the week, review: Was I too busy for God this week? Where did I waste time? What are some things I can cut out of my schedule? How can I remind myself to talk to God regularly?

 

Your turn to talk: What did I miss? How else can we keep close to God during the day? What benefits have you seen in your life when you maintain a close relationship with Him? I’d love to share sample “schedules” for staying close to God with my readers, so please share what works for you!

*repost

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?

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