Summer Break

Hey Bloggy Friends,

 

I’m going on a blogging vacation for the rest of the summer!

Stay safe, have lots of fun & remember to dream it, do it & let Christ shine through it. :)

Come back in September for new material.

STSS: The Right Time To Give Up

Long ago I posted about getting lost on my way home from a concert. In that post I talked about how my friend helped me home and didn’t even mind that he had helped me a bazillion times before just as God will redirect us whenever we need it.

Today I’m expanding upon this thought from that post: “I thought about working my way backwards and trying to get back on track but it was late, I was tired, I wasn’t sure I could figure it out and I knew that the quickest way to get back home (and into my bed) was to just call my friend and ask for help.”

I’m very independent and I like being able to do things myself – this is to say that I really, really, REALLY wanted to find my way myself. I was so tempted to drive back to the concert and start over. It felt like such a waste for me to have found the shortest route online and to have found the concert with no help just to ruin the whole thing and have to choose a different path to return home – a path that wasn’t the shortest or the easiest but was instead whatever was closest to because I was lost.

(Did I mention that I am a perfectionist?)

But I looked at my mom falling asleep in the passenger seat and thought about how I’d have to get up early the next morning for church and I knew it was better to work with what I had than to try to go back and find my original path.

Frustrating, yes, but sometimes that’s the best path for us in real life, too.

Simple Truths from Simple Stuff new

Simple Truth: Sometimes you have to give up on what you had & focus on what you have.

Let’s face it: sometimes in life, we mess up.

Big time.

Paths and plans we thought we’d follow are destroyed or at least closed for an indefinite amount of time for some serious construction.

But the great news is that God has a new path for us. He can make a way in the wilderness.

If you fight your way back to THE plan that you just know is the right one and you refuse to give it up, you’re most likely going to get more lost and waste more time. Chances are that this new plan is the one God has had in reserve for you all along.

And yes, it may hurt. You may look back at that shiny highway you once drove on, complete with Bucky’s and Starbucks pit stops, and compare it to the muddy, churned up dirt road zigzagging through the trees you now face and mourn what is lost. I feel you. It is sad and I know you probably wish you had a time machine, that if you could, you would go back and do things differently. You wouldn’t off-road, but the thing is … you did.

We can’t change what happened. We can only move forward. And here’s the really great thing: God longs to give us the desires of our heart. So often the new road He makes for us is the only one that is actually capable of giving us true happiness or it is a detour that leads back to a mess-free section of the original road.

You’ll never know if you don’t give up your path for His.

 

*repost

STSS: Spiders, Wasps & When Help Hurts

If a spider jumped on me, I’d scream and probably end up running into something, but I don’t hate them like a lot of people do. I think they’re fascinating and beautiful — except for a few that just can’t be called anything other than ugly.

But wasps? That’s a different story. Just the sound of a wasp buzzing makes the hair on my neck prickle and has me ducking for cover.

But a couple of days ago, I felt so sorry for a red wasp trapped inside the church I almost risked a sting to help him find his way outside.

Almost.

When I got close, he gave me a warning look with his big, bug eyes and flexed his stinger, and that was the end of the rescue attempt.

How sad, I thought. What he wants is to get outside, and that’s what I want to give him, but he can’t realize that. He continued to crawl all over the window and search for a way he would never find.

How much sadder it is when people are caught in the same trap: looking for escape, but lashing out at the people who want to help them.

Simple Truths from Simple Stuff new Simple Truth: If you hurt the people who would help you, you’re only hurting yourself.

I’ve seen this firsthand many times with my sister. She would search in all the wrong places for something to make her feel self-worth, to make her happy, and then to escape the guilt and consequences that would ultimately follow. The more my family tried to help her, the fiercer she would lash out as us, pushing away the people who actually did care about her.

Maybe you’re in that place now.

I know it’s hard to put your pride down, and you may not want to stop whatever it is your friends or family are trying to save you from, but at least listen. Don’t attack. Ask God to soften your heart and open your eyes, and you may realize they’re giving you exactly what you need.

Or maybe you’re not in such a drastic situation, but there are little things you close your ears to, advice or criticism you could learn a lot from.

Be willing to consider the help you’re offered.

And if you’re one of those people risking the stinger to help others, keep up the good work! God is going to reward you for it one day. But remember that the only person you can really control is yourself. Find the balance between helping others and hurting yourself.

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

Help hurts sometimes, but that’s usually when you most need it.

How To Get Out Of A Rut

I checked the time as I pulled into the church parking lot … 2 PM! Again!!

Image from clipartbest.com

And my goal had been to arrive at noon.

Talk about a major goal fail.

Although I planned each week to work at the church from 12 PM – 8 PM, without fail, every Wednesday I’d fall behind schedule and not make it until 2 PM.

I was stuck in a rut.

Luckily, I decided to be proactive and kick that rut’s butt, and now I can help you get out of whatever rut you’re in:

 

How to defeat the dreaded rut:

 

1. Identify the main problem

For me, it was oversleeping on Wednesdays. I did wake up to my alarm, but in my sleepy state, I always decided that silencing it and sleeping a couple extra hours wasn’t that big of a deal.

2. Determine how to overcome it

Since I did wake up from the alarm, but didn’t stay awake, I realized just an alarm wouldn’t do. I needed accountability.

3. Put your solution into action

I called my mom & asked her to call me at 7:30 AM to make sure I was up.

4. Assess & adjust

This solution worked for me, and in a few weeks, I was able to maintain the rhythm by myself. But let’s say it didn’t work. What would I do next? Go back to step 1. Identify why. Maybe you get back into bed after telling your friend you’re up. Then your problem is that you’re a liar, and you should really fix that. Kidding. 😉

The real problem might be that you’re too tired because you’re going to bed too late or you’re not sleeping well because the room is too hot, etc. Find a way to overcome that, and keep adjusting until you get out of the rut.

If you approach your problem as a puzzle to be solved instead of beating yourself up and getting into a slump, you’re sure to have greater success!

 

Your turn to talk: Do you have tips for getting out of a rut? What would you add to my list? What rut are you struggling with, and how might you overcome it?

STSS: Wild Cats & Never Giving Up

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.

*repost

The Fail Safe Way To Be More Productive

I pulled up my hair, told myself I wasn’t quitting until every last box was emptied, and got ready to sweat.

That’s how I got all our belongings unpacked in the new house in one weekend.

Laser focusing is choosing your highest priority task and putting all your energy into that project, ignoring lesser tasks, until you’re done.

I’ve mentioned the laser focus technique previously, but it’s worth digging deeper into because it is such a powerful tool.

For example, when I was trying to finish editing my first novel, tidy up old posts on my blog and who knows what else, I very responsibly planned out various times to work on each goal per day. But two weeks later, I was still slogging through. I decided to ditch everything except my top priority – finish my novel – and I finished in three days.

Three days!! When I earlier couldn’t finish in fourteen days! Thanks to laser focusing.

 

Benefits of the laser focus technique:

  • More projects completely done rather than several projects in various stages of completion
  • Highly rewarding because you are able to cross more items completely off your list
  • Spikes your enthusiasm level so you have more energy for your next project
  • Decreases stress because you focus on one thing at a time
  • Decreases the time spent overall on one project
  • Fun!

 

You must try laser focusing. You must!

Even if a complete laser focusing lifestyle is not for you, it is a useful skill to develop when you need to handle large projects.

Be sure to tell a friend that you want to focus on one thing at a time more often so he/she can hold you accountable when you are dabbling here and there and everywhere too much!

Your turn to talk: What tactics do you use to be productive? What is one project you’ve had hanging over you that you can use laser focusing to get done?

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 June 2nd.

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?