Neighbors, Stress? 7 Steps You MUST Do!

Neighbors, Stress? 7 Steps You MUST Do!

When you have neighbors, there might be a time when it can be stressful living next to them. It isn’t easy when we try to understand how to manage these unfavorable circumstances. So, next time you feel stress knocking on your door, take a look around you and IN you. Yep! We’re going to talk about cleaning out the clutter so we can live in harmony with our neighbors.

My wake-up call

From March 13th to September 1st, 2020 (that’s when school went back in session) we have been living in close proximity to our neighbors, especially these particular neighbors. The distance between our homes didn’t change, but our closeness has. I love all my neighbors and I enjoy helping them out. Most of us know our boundaries and respect each other’s space, but lately, these guys have gotten too close. Come on, I know you understand me.

Neighbors have their place. They aren’t your sister, they aren’t your best friend, and they aren’t your therapist. They are people that live by you, who will help you when you’re in a jam. The one thing we must remember is that neighbors have boundaries beyond the property line. And as much as I tried to set boundaries with these neighbors, they barged through them, not necessarily on our lot but in my mental well-being.

Understanding what’s happening

What am I leading up to? Stress! Not just stress from the neighbors and their messes, but stress in my own mess that is affecting my situation. Thank goodness for our camper. This was an amazing escape for us during the summer. And what an eye-opener it was being away from our neighbors. I didn’t realize how toxic this issue was until we got away from it.

What happened with the neighbors?

Usually, before we make a major change in our life, there is a trigger. These triggers generally ignite one of our personal values. And when our personal values get punched, “stress” punches back so hard you know you need to make a change.

My trigger was when I found out my neighbor was living a lie. In a way, I felt like I was scammed. I know that sounds minuscule, and I could say it’s none of my business, but it is my business when it affects my life. Some of you will understand this, others will not. But more noticeably, after this long quarantine and uncertainty in the world, it became clear of who was intruding on our lives. On the outside, everything was fine and dandy, but in the unseen realm, there was disorder. And it wasn’t necessarily my neighbor, it was who they allowed to “play with” and how naive I was to think it didn’t matter much. Let me tell you straight up, it matters more than you think, and it affects you a heck of a lot more than you think!

The ironic thing about this neighbor’s mess is that God showed me who I had been entertaining for a long time. It was time to claim my life back. Goodness, this seems more like a journal entry for me than a blog post. But listen up, I learned some super important game-changers that I want to pass along to you to help you in this area.

Who are they allowing to play with them?

I’m not talking about kids here and who they’re playing with. These are adults. And it’s who they are allowing to control their lives. So, after this trigger went off, I felt the need to seek and find. I craved the truth. I mean after you have been deceived for so long, wouldn’t you crave truth? To the Bible, I went. There were specific scriptures I wanted to understand. Particularly those verses about how the Enemy attacks and how we are to fight back. And no, I’m not a crazy person. Spiritual warfare exists and it happens to each of us. And yes I’m talking about Satan. This isn’t to scare you, this is to help you be strong.

I’m not writing this post to teach you everything I learned, there is a lot of information, so much so I don’t even know how to explain it in words! This post is to give you quick tips and a taste of what you can do to clean up stress messes within yourself; so when disarray occurs in your neighborhood you’ll know who you’re fighting…and it’s not necessarily your neighbor.

Romans 12:2

Seven steps to peace

Step 1

The first step to cleaning up my stress mess was to physically clean out my home of any objects that may have been subjected to evil doing. I know this sounds silly, but if objects can be blessed like a prayer shawl, objects certainly can be cursed too. Yikes! Be careful about the things you collect, including books. And be watchful of gifts you receive or have already received. Most things are probably fine, but if you question anything that may have been cursed or made with the hands of witchcraft or a religion that goes against Jesus, get rid of it. I know this sounds voodoo, but remember who you’re dealing with…don’t entertain the enemy or test him.

Step 2

The next step I took went beyond knickknacks. I went deep…into my old journals. Digging out my journals from high school, college, and my twenties was an eye-opener for me. First off, journaling is super healthy. It’s great to journal lessons you have learned, to write down prayers, to journal about great things and dreams, and to write about positive memories.

It’s also great to vent on paper, it’s better to beat up a pencil and notebook than to take-it-out on a person. Write it out. Don’t hang on to it. Vent. But then pitch it. Physically throw the journal entry away or burn it. When we keep our old journals, the ones filled with darkness and distress, in some way or form your mind is still hanging on to it. Do you know what I mean? Destroy those entries full of complaining, anger, bitterness, and foul language. Who are you saving those journals for? Why would you ever want to reread those things, ever? Get rid of that darkness. It’s done. All over. It’s behind you. Why relive it?

What motivated me to destroy these entries was that I personally didn’t want my family to ever read them or for me to read them again. Toxic. In fact, I have no idea why I hung on to them for so long! So…I ripped out the bad stuff and burned them. There were even some journals in which I just burned the whole thing. Yep! I literally took gasoline, stepped back, and torched them in our portable fire pit; kind of like breaking up with a boyfriend and burning his things. I broke up with my old self. It was so liberating! I didn’t want to remember that junk, so again, why was I hanging on to it?

Step 3

The third step was to repent my sins. I wanted all negative ties broken. Asking for forgiveness of all my wrongs was humbling. You may think it’s no big deal, but to have a fresh start this needs to happen. In the past, I had asked God for forgiveness, but this time I was more thorough and I continue to this day to ask the Lord if there is something I missed to bring it to my attention. I don’t want any sin holding me back from what God wants to do in my life. This is a daily practice for me, I sin all the time without even knowing it!  In Psalm 139:23-24, David asks, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Step 4

The fourth step was to forgive anyone who had wronged me, including me! I didn’t say forget. I am not a Bible scholar, nor am I trying to be one, but I do know that you must forgive those who hurt you…yes, this includes your neighbor. Most of our offenders didn’t know what they were doing because the Enemy had such a big hold of them they had no way of telling what was right from wrong. Yet, there are some people that DID know what they were doing… The verse that comes to my mind is Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

Step 5

The fifth step was to renounce, refuse, reject any lies, or fear that was/is holding me back. The Enemy is sneaky, and he only wants to hurt you. When you hear a lie like, “You’ll never succeed at this.” Get on top it immediately and say, “That’s a lie Satan. I am complete in Christ!” It’s also a super good idea to slam him with scripture you’ve memorized. In Ephesians 6 we are given the armor of God, and one vital piece of that battle gear is the Sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. Philippians 4:13 states, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Memorizing has been a powerful experience for me. Granted I only know a handful right now, but when I use them, I can feel it. Fighting off the Enemy is a daily thing for me along with repenting my sins, and forgiving others. Just remember that in John 10:10 Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Here is a site that is full of scriptures to memorize and use to fight with: hopefaithprayer.com

Step 6

The sixth step was to look at what I’m putting into my mind daily. Am I listening to gossip? Depressing music? Lies on the news? Am I watching trashy TV? What are my conversations full of? What am I watching on YouTube or what video games are I playing? How are these shows helping me? I’m not perfect, I have temptations, but I do have a mind. And if I want to live a life of joy and peace, I am going to try my best to control the things I put in my mind. Did you hear that? “What we put in our minds is in our control.” We have a choice here. No one is forcing you to watch Silence of the Lambs. The Bible teaches us what to put in our minds Philippians 4:8 gives us an idea, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, what is noble, whatever right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”(NIV)

Step 7

The seventh step was to pray. I’m not just talking about prayers of “God is great. God is good. Let us thank him for our food.” Prayers for protection, love, and to do His will have power behind them. The Lord wants to hear from you, He wants to talk with you, and He wants to bless you. But the first step is to pray. In Matthew 6:5-15 Jesus teaches us how to pray. He uses the Lord’s Prayer as a guide in what you should include in your prayers. Some pastors follow an acronym for prayer: ACTS.

Don’t make praying complicated; you can pray however you like, however, if you’re looking for help, you can use the above acronym as a guide. If you’re vibing in your prayer life, stick with that!

To Round It Up

Whether you are dealing with neighbors, family relationships, or friendships my hope is that if it gets messy, take a step back and see what and WHO is really at fault here. I recommend going through these seven steps so you can get clarity in your relationships and in your everyday life.

Along with reading the Bible (Ephesians 6:10-18 is a good start), I also recommend these books.

Battlefield of the Mind, Joyce Meyer

The Invisible War, Chip Ingram

Get Out of Your Head, Jenni Allen

You can also head to my freebies and download the Stress & Anxiety Protocol, it’s a free download. My hope is that you’ll understand more about this spiritual warfare so you know how to recognize it and fight if off! Blessings to you.

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

Chaos vs Simplicity. A Strategy You Don’t Want to Miss.

Chaos vs Simplicity. A Strategy You Don’t Want to Miss.

The world is dominated by chaos especially now; pandemic, racial injustice, a shaky economy, broken homes, and anxiety-filled minds. If you look at what’s on TV, YouTube, and in theaters, you wouldn’t be surprised by the health of our world. Right now is a great time to pull out your secret weapon to fight chaos and kick it to the curb. Learn how to access your boxing gloves and how to use them effectively every day. You’ll be surprised how much simpler life gets and enjoyable.

The start of the school year

Starting school during a pandemic is stressful. No one knows what to expect or how to react. In fact, there is no right way. At least they have some type of school. As the kids head off to school or start their online education, we moms, whisper to ourselves about the tranquility we’re about to experience. Let’s face it, it’s been 6-months of constant contact with our precious babies. We love our children, but to help them survive on their own, they need to leave the nest. With an extra cup of coffee, a wide stretch of our arms, and a sigh of relief, we can finally relax and have the house (or room) to ourselves. Or is that false?

Yes, it’s true that the kids or gone or quiet, but it’s false that tranquility is immediate, it’s going to take some work to get there. When ‘me time’ comes we have this grand plan what we’ll do with ourselves, but we soon find our left brain playing ping pong with our right. Before we know it, mental chaos settles in. “I’m home alone, I only have X amount of time to get everything done! I’m not going to get it done! Can I get anything done? Oh my gosh! I just wasted an hour doing nothing!” This is what I call ‘Silent Chaos’.

Who is Mr. Silent Chaos?

Last month, I was feeling Silent Chaos put his welcome mat on my doorstep. My health was a mess, my kid’s EOE flared up, our kitchen was being remodeled, we were living in our basement out of boxes, work was overwhelming, and we had this pandemic going on. Mr. Silent Chaos paralyzed me. I was pissed. Who and what is going on? As I peeled back the layer of this mess I clearly saw that the Enemy is going on. Satan is having a heyday with this pandemic mess we’re in and I’m actually more upset at myself for letting him set-up camp in my life. Do you hear me?

My go-to for cleaning my head out

When there is too much going on in my head I usually grab a piece of copy paper and write down ALL the things on my mind and categorize them in different departments. This way I can visually see what I have going on in there and I can come up with a game plan on how to tackle it. This technique usually does the trick, but this time I was still unsettled. Grr.

My enlightenment, who knew?

As I was listening to my daily devotional, the pastor talked about something that helped explain why I was feeling so overwhelmed. It was something I didn’t think of and that’s what I want to share with you.

Personal values do what?

Did you ever think personal values had a role in our serenity? I used to think personal values were like jewels in a black velvet bag; you learn them when you’re young and then carry them around with you. BUT don’t you dare get them out and use them because they’re valuable. Did I sure have that backward.

It had been a while since I opened my bag of personal values. Let’s face it, I’m an adult, and values are taught when we are children, right? Not so, those are morals. Morals are beliefs that are taught to us. Think of morals as “acceptable” acts. Parents usually teach morals to help a child determine what is right and wrong. Personal values come from within; they define what is important to us and help us make the right decisions that align with our heart. When personal values are used correctly we ultimately experience happiness with our decisions.

Ahem. There is no better time than now to review your personal values. For me and Mr. Silent Chaos, my personal values had to intervene to save the day, along with some Bible verses of course. When our values align with our decisions, life is SO much easier and happier.

Free Download from Simplify Firefly

How could something so simple have such a big impact?

The first week of school is a GREAT time to revisit our values. And that’s what I did, I took a minute and grabbed my values exercise and reviewed what I wrote down as my core values. During the exercise, I realized some values had changed and that was probably one of the causes of my chaotic feeling. When we understand WHY we’re making certain decisions, we understand ourselves better and can move forward by making the right decision for our sanity.

After my values exercise, my mind felt clearer and cleaner. It felt like getting new running shoes, I was ready to run hours on end. At this point, I could now go back and look at my paper where I wrote everything down and organize it according to my values.

If you’re at a point where ‘simplifying your life’ sounds like heaven, then sharpen your pencil. Chaos isn’t welcome in my home anymore. In fact, if I can keep myself in-line with my values and speak God’s word, then the enemy doesn’t have a foothold on me. Fight back with what the Lord put in you, use your personal values.

“If you watch your life, you’ll be amazed at how many times a week Satan launches an attack against you for the sole purpose of stealing your peace. When I finally saw that, God said to me in my spirit, “Joyce, if the devil wants your peace that badly, then there must be something pretty powerful about being peaceful.”

– Joyce Meyer

Download my personal values exercise now. Here are some great verses to fight off the enemy, I highly recommend memorizing these. Get full access to all my freebies here. Our world needs you to be your best to beat this beast of a year.

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

Cleaning the House: 5 Factors to Understand

Cleaning the House: 5 Factors to Understand

Cleaning the house has been one of the most toxic yet healthy tasks in life. Sure we could pay someone else to do it but stay humble friend. Living in a clean house is not just healthy for our bodies, but for our psyche. Learn how to make cleaning less stressful by understanding 5 key factors.

cleaning the house: 5 factors to understand to make it less stressful

There have been numerous times my husband has suggested hiring someone to clean our house. Each time he brings it up three reasons keep me from saying yes:

1. I would still clean the house before they came to clean!

2. It’s hard to find a good cleaner, yet alone one you can trust.

3. It’s one more thing to add to the budget.

Someday I will probably get there, but I honestly don’t have any excuses for why I can’t clean my own house. So if you’re like me, listen up to loosen up about cleaning the house.

Why cleaning the house matters

First off, living in a clean home does a body and mind good. When we don’t dust or vacuum as often as we should, dust mites build up and can lead to allergies. Not to mention lingering smells and sticky surfaces. It’s like a welcome mat for various germs and bugs with large bodies and little legs…that will motivate me to clean!

Like mowing the lawn, cleaning provides that same kind of instant gratification. Accomplishing a clean house is a huge win, especially if you put your own sweat into it. When I’m cleaning I like to think of all the money I’m saving from paying someone to do it, not to mention all the calories I just burned!

5 factors to determine how often I clean

I’m not a deep cleaner every time I clean my house. Deep cleaning and the number of times to clean will depend on your situation. I’ve found there are five factors to determine how often to clean your house.

Pets

If you have a shedding dog or other messy pet, cleaning is probably going to happen more often.

Kids

The number of kids determines how often to clean. With kids, you must consider their ages. Starting a child out at 5-years-old with an easy cleaning chore helps them understand you’re not their servant. The older they get the more they should help.   

Allergies

If your husband’s allergies flare up, dusting and vacuuming will be more frequent. When my husband sneezes in the morning, I know it’s time to clean. My son has the same issue. I’m getting a lot of miles on my vacuum!

Location

Where you live plays a factor in how often to clean the house. Do you live in a dusty field, near a construction site, or pollen invested forest? Again, in these instances, allergies could attack.

Personality

And lastly, don’t forget about your personality. Ask yourself these questions: Are you ‘Laidback Jack’ or ‘Anal Andy’? Do you like to do things yourself or are you a delegator? What about how you were taught? How often are you entertaining? Get an understanding of who you are and how you want to move forward.

All in all

When it comes to cleaning the house, get in the right frame of mind. Schedule a cleaning day and make sure your kids or husband understand what cleaning is and what their responsibilities are. Remember your cleaning schedule depends on where you live, who lives with you, and how you’re living!

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

Stuck? 5 Essential Tools To Break Free

Stuck? 5 Essential Tools To Break Free

There is nothing worse than being stuck in life. The hard part is knowing you’re stuck and not being able to rock back n forth to break free from the mud. Stuck. Let me help push you out with five essential tools that have helped me gain traction.

My Lesson

In the autumn of 1998, I took a mountaineering class near Vail, Colorado. Back then I was a big outdoor girl hence the backpacking trip. This experience was awesome and changed the course of my life. But it also taught me something I didn’t expect.

My group consisted of eight people. The dynamics were a bit of a mishmash…many personalities, many opinions. What more can you ask for? Other than knowing you’ll be with these people for three weeks. During the course, we were given a variety of challenges on top of our normal survival tasks, which weren’t easy. We didn’t have coffee, a tent, or a fire! Filtered water, a tarp to sleep under, and a sleeping bag were what we got. I survived, but SO appreciate the comforts of my home.

A few challenges we embarked on were rock climbing, summiting a 12,500 ft. mountain, and we even learned how to do a survival search n’ rescue. On this particular day, our task was to follow a topographical map and use a compass to get to the next camp. Sounds simple, yet it was to be done without our guide and to not follow a trail. According to our instructors is was a six-hour trip. Easy peasy.

We got this, right?

The day started crisp yet sunny, things were looking good. However, the first snag we ran into, was the group dynamics. During our hike, each person was to take a turn to lead the group. Oh boy. You can only imagine. They should have added a rule for everyone to shut their mouth too! That wasn’t the worst of it though. After five hours into our trek, the sky began to darken. A bit of panic settled into some folks, including me. We’re in the mountains remember. I pointed out the dark clouds and no one said a word. We knew what was coming, we just didn’t know how powerful it would be.

Within minutes rain, hail, and wind pounded our bodies. We thought about stopping but that could cause us to get cold and maybe a little hyperthermic, a ‘no’ on that choice. It was hard to see and hear for that matter. The calm of quietness before the storm was no more. Exhausted from arguments, confusion, and complaining we all wanted to give up and signal our guides to find us. Our backpacks felt like cinder blocks and our feet were wet. We felt stuck. Looking forward looked bleak, and backward no different. We wanted to stay put and give up.

vision is a clear picture

When out of nowhere, someone yelled, “Come on Nina, hot drinks. Christy, dry socks. Seth, spaghetti!” As silly as this sounds, that person was genius. He rocked us from ‘stuck’ to ‘moving forward’, and all it took was a little visionary picture. We pictured ourselves eating a warm meal, sipping hot tea, and wearing dry socks. As we continued to hike, we kept talking about how good the spaghetti was going to taste and how cozy our feet would be in warm dry socks. This picture naturally encouraged us. Our attitudes shifted. We got along, laughed, and grew stronger. Two hours later we made it to camp. Our goal of being cozy became a reality. There was so much relief we made it through.

The power of the mind

Having a picture to focus on pulls us forward to break free from being stuck. The backpacking trip is a small example of what vision can do.

No matter how short or long, having a forward-thinking picture for our future is one of the keys to surviving in this complicated world, most importantly through our personal storms. Why? Because it’s the storms that have the greatest power to derail us, to distract us, and to make us want to quit. Which leads me to share with you how to simplify the process and to prevent being stuck.

5 essential tools to break free from being stuck

  1. Get focused.
    • Take a few minutes each day and think “big picture”. How are your decisions today going to affect tomorrow; and who will it impact? What is the one thing you absolutely want in life?
  2. Pray about it.
    • Ask God to help you see the big picture of your life. Most importantly in the storm, “Help me see beyond this storm. Help me to be strong, focused, and…yes…thankful no matter what.”
  3. Line your vision up with your values, passions, and strengths.
    • Ask yourself these questions: What is important to me? What do I love to do? Values play such a big role in our happiness.
  4. Talk with someone who understands your big picture or what you’re aiming for.
    • This is huge. Just talking with someone who genuinely listens and asks the right questions can be a game-changer. Contact me I’ll talk with you.
  5. Create a vision board or “Big Picture Board”
    • There is power in ‘seeing is believing’. This is a fun tool. Here’s a free guide.

In conclusion

Daniel Harkavy says, “Vision defines what you stand for, why you exist, and who you will become.” Having vision in a storm will not only get you through it, but it will make you stronger, wiser, and clearer about how to move forward.

This isn’t new news friends. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:19 to not put out the Spirit’s fire. Vision is bringing the picture out of our minds and hearts and experiencing it with our senses and neighbors.

Maybe all you need to do to get unstuck is to simplify the picture and aim for one thing at a time. For me, that was dry socks!

By CT Copyright © 2017 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

The Truth Behind “Can’t”.

The Truth Behind “Can’t”.

This post isn’t about a movie review; it’s about the message God put in my heart while watching this particular story. I had an epiphany and want to share it with you. With that said, may you find motivation and inspiration from the word “can’t”.

In 2018 the movie I Can Only Imagine debuted and has made over $85 million. The song I Can Only Imagine hit radio stations 19 years earlier. The movie is based on the true story of the songwriter, Bart Millard. When the movie came out, I personally thought it would be a boring movie. Two years later, I finally watched it and my emotional response shocked me.

Why did the movie grab me so much?

This past Sunday I was in a funk. We had just come off a 3-week vacation camping at a nearby campground…kudos to my husband who stayed there the entire duration, but for me? My busy brain came home now and then to get things done around the house, tend to appointments, and feel productive. It wasn’t until the last week I could finally sink into the vacation. Have you ever experienced something like that? I was actually mad I couldn’t submit to vacation. Anyway, I was grateful our trip was 3 weeks long, otherwise, I would have missed ‘vacation mode’.

My funk.

Since I did most of my chores while on vacation when we got back I didn’t have any motivation to do anything! In times like these I usually think about my blog, my creative projects, or simply go for a walk. But instead, I revisited my career path and asked myself hard questions; and frankly, I felt more lost than ever. It was a moment of dead space where you think about where you’ve been and where you want to go and feel you missed something. Ugh. Needless to say, I needed to escape and watch a movie.

As I was flipping through Hulu, my finger stopped at “I Can Only Imagine”. I vaguely remembered my family telling me it was a good movie and thought, what the heck; it’s Sunday, why not watch a Christian movie.   

From the beginning, I was into it. Multiple times through the movie I found myself getting emotional. My emotions were scattered and jumping from one character to another. One minute I was sad for Bart, and next I was upset about his mom in many ways. I was sad his dad was so confused and abusive. Then my heart ached for his dad when he was trying to figure out the Bible on his own. And then back to Bart of how he heard from God and pursued. But what was I really crying about?

The truth comes out

Deep emotions surfaced from my own past, and as I peered closer to the anchor which has kept me down, I saw a four-letter word written on it. Through my blurred teary eyes the word “can’t” became clear.

“You Can’t”

Throughout my life, I have heard “you can’t” from people I love and respect, from people I have trusted, and mostly myself. With ideas and dreams I’ve shared, I was hopeful for encouragement and instead got, “that’s silly”, “you know how hard you’d have to work?”, “you don’t want to do that”, “do you even qualify to do that?”… “you can’t”… these words not only were verbally spoken, but the Enemy whispered them in my ear too. They pretty much say, “don’t even try”.

Not only did I hear it from my family and friends, but I heard it on the media. “You can’t do that without this.” “You can’t lose weight without this system and support team.” And the list goes on.

To add more shine to the word “can’t”, my body was telling me I can’t! My digestive system got so messed up I’m unable to eat a “normal” diet. I actually have to think about what to order at a restaurant and make sure it’s safe for me to eat. Other aliments loitered and set up camp for months and then years crippling my ability to sit for long periods and walk without pain.

I was really starting to believe I couldn’t do the things I had ideas about. It felt like no one took me seriously or believed in me…even me. Do you know what that’s like?

When someone tells you it can't be done, it's more a reflection of their limitations, not yours.

Moving On

As I reflected on the movie and looked closer at the word “can’t” I realized something. You know how some people get motivated when other people tell them they can’t do something? Then you turn around and the next thing you know they’ve achieved that very dream someone told them they couldn’t do! From a Christian perspective take a look at the configuration of the word “can’t”. What do you see?

This movie showed me something I’ve missed for so many years. When you physically see how the letters of “can’t” are configured anything is possible with Jesus.

Simply by looking at the word “can’t” with merciful eyes helps us see life in a new light. Right now in my life, I am learning how to take the “can’ts” and give them to Jesus. This isn’t always easy, but it gives me the extra power to overcome and move forward. When I ask Him, He’ll give me the strength to sort through, persevere, and push on.

To get you started download my 30 favorite affirmations right now. And for more freebies head over to my freebies page and unlock numerous resources to get you moving forward.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, whether you’re a Christian or not, give it try, you may just experience a breakthrough.

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

5 Habits to Break free from Pressure

5 Habits to Break free from Pressure

Pressure, stress, and worry got the best of me; until I unexpectedly stumbled into a promising antidote. A couple of years ago I accidentally deleted my entire website. Yeah, ‘File Not Found’ stared at me in the eyes. My stress level went from a three to a hundred in a matter of milliseconds, to say the least. As a result, about 5 seconds later Worry settled in, and in a matter of 60 seconds, Pressure found it’s the trigger point.

woman stressed out at computer

Fix it, please

Furthermore, because I did my own website work, I couldn’t just call a web person and say, “Fix it please”. All this hard work…GONE. The “undo” button or back arrow was pointless in this case. I tried it. Do you ever have times like these? When you ask yourself, “Why did I just do that? Did that really happen?” Wishing there was an “undo” button?

It’s funny when these stressful mistakes occur and we believe for a split second, maybe it will go away and fix itself, or everything will go back to normal if I just close my eyes. Tell me I’m not the only one who thinks this.

Above all, what really put the icing on the cake was that this website disaster occurred right before bed. Like sleep was going to happen! My brain was fried. Knuckles locked. Fingertips deaden. The courage to push the keys on my keyboard was in deep jeopardy. As a result, when I did find the strength to push buttons, I immediately checked my backup. Well, guess what, it wasn’t working! My ears got hot and gut started to cramp. I needed help.

Just gotta vent

My husband was sleeping already…not that he knows anything about websites…but I needed someone by my side, to listen to my predicament. Through the years I’ve found healing when I talk to someone about an issue. When we “vent” it’s like we release the problem from our minds and put it out in the world for the world to figure out. Maybe the listener can relate to how to deal with the subject. I see “venting” as a pressure cooker. When there is too much pressure, we need to open the cap to let some steam out. Anyway…I needed to vent.

Believe me, many lessons learned here. But my biggest lesson I learned was the gift pressure gave me. Uh? With no one available, I folded my hands and closed my eyes tight, “God, I’m freaking out. I made a mistake and I’m not sure how to fix it. Please help me dig deep and figure this out.” And then I prayed again.

The size of my problem.

All I wanted to do was escape, to get out of the room, away from the keyboard. In the black of the night, I slide on my slippers, grabbed a towel and walked outside. The dark sky peppered with a twinkle. It was a welcoming reminder of how small my problem was and how big the world stands. “Was anyone else in their backyard stressing-out like me?

As I folded my towel into a neat square, I anticipated sitting on it to just be. The shadowy trees surrounded me, but not in an intimidating way. No bugs, no noises, just stillness. I watched my breath let go. The quietness blanketed my shoulders. The earthy air filled my nose. And I felt a peace embrace my soul. There at the moment was the gift.

man standing looking at night sky

Selective Perspective

The value of this stressful night revealed to me perspective. If I didn’t get stressed out, then I wouldn’t have prayed, I wouldn’t have felt the nudge to go outside, I wouldn’t have encounter nature in its nightly glory, and I wouldn’t have experienced the healing powers of my backyard.

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, spending even just five minutes around trees or in green spaces, like your backyard, helps lower blood pressure, reduces stress, improves mood, instills focus, accelerates healing, increases energy, and improves sleep.* And you wonder why I craved to get outside…

The article goes on to say, “Numerous studies show that… simply sitting looking at the trees reduces stress-related hormones.”

Focus on the calm

Consequently, I know this is hard, but when you encounter pressure or a stressful situation, I challenge you to focus on calming down immediately. In doing so; you will gain a better perspective of the issue and will respond in a wiser manner. After a good 15 minutes, I wasn’t worried anymore. Whether I had to start from scratch or come up with a different solution, it was going to be alright. I stood up, shook my towel out, and walked back inside. My feet slid out of my slippers and I went to bed.

My Take-Away: 5 Habits to Break Free from Pressure

  1. There are gems hidden in stress if you look for them outside the situation.
  2. Back-up everything that is important to you.
  3. Pray without ceasing.
  4. Go outside and take a breather.
  5. Rest to be your best.

The next morning, after a good night’s sleep, I got up extremely early to mend my mishap. With a well-rested body and mind, I was diligent to figure this out. Hence, venturing into the back-end of my website was scary but I succeeded and found an older back-up. Thank the Lord! Later that day I took a long walk amongst the trees while being grateful for my state of being.

By CT Copyright © 2019 More Than Existence, All Rights Reserved

9 Easy Ways to Learn More about Yourself

9 Easy Ways to Learn More about Yourself

Learn more about yourself so you can live a happier life. When we were born, we were born with an identity. One of the problems I see in unhappy people is that they don’t know who they are as an individual. I’ve been there in many seasons in life. Our job is to learn who God created us to be, to not only be happier but to fulfill our deepest need: purpose.

There are times in life when we don’t feel like we’re doing anything; we’re just going through the motions to get through the day. The tug-a-war happens when we want more out of life, we want to make a difference in society, we want a fulfilling life, but don’t know how to go about that because we’re stuck in a cycle of worldly pressures. How can we break away? We do that by understanding who we are.

Do More Than Exist

Do more than exist (DMTE) used to be the name of this blog. Those four words are pretty powerful and say a lot! Do more than exist can mean a variety of things. It can be about getting off the couch, starting a business, getting healthy, raising a family, volunteering, running a marathon, going on a mission trip, contributing to a global cause, or expressing your artistic ability. We all have our own unique meaning behind those four simple words. And we all have a fingerprint that is critical to our success. To do more than exist is to learn more about yourself.

Discovering Who We Are

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Discovering oneself is quite a journey.  We may go down many paths to look for opportunities, to look for clues of who we are, yet find nothing. I remember way too many rabbit trails I followed, only to find disappointment. “WHO AM I, GOD?” I would yell in my mind. Tears streamed down my face out of frustration. I so badly wanted to know what God made me to do on this planet.

In my worry, I missed something very valuable. I was so focused on a map that I forgot to look between the paths. Following or trying to follow everyone else made me feel like a failure. I didn’t fit and thought something was wrong with me! It took me a long while to learn that what worked for someone, didn’t work for my individuality. Let me save you some tissue, the trap of comparison will throw your compass off and you’ll just keep going around in circles if you don’t do something about it.

With that said, let me tell you that your path in life isn’t going to be one path. Rarely does that happen. If we want a fulfilled life we’re going to have to adapt to the seasons we’re given in life. When we have children, be a mom. When we have to bring the bacon home, bring the bacon home. It’s okay if we don’t feel purposeful at the moment. But I do ask you of this: always learn who you are in the role you play, you will then have a clearer picture of the path you want to take.

9 Easy Ways to Live Beyond our Existence

Taking the time to explore our hearts to understand what we like and dislike is extremely important for our overall happiness. Our hearts shape our lives and our values affect our choices. When our values align with our decisions, something magical happens…a smile on our face. If you want to learn more about personal values, you can check out my freebie here.

Learn more about yourself

1)      Help others. If you see someone in need, help them! Hold the door, pick up something they dropped, simply do what unto others as you would do unto you.

2)      Spend some time alone. I like to go for walks outdoors on a trail in a park. Spending time alone at home with a fun project or your hobby is also a great way to have fun with yourself. I have even gone to the movies solo. There is something about taking a time-out for yourself without having to worry about a kid or dog, or spouse for that matter. It’s just you.

3)      Journal. Writing down your thoughts, prayers, and frustrations helps you understand what’s going on in your heart. Over the years I found the tone in my journaling started out pretty rough. I was swearing, mad, and confused about what was going on in my life and relationships. Rarely did I find a positive entry. But that is what journaling is for, an outlet, a venting passage. It’s to give our thoughts permission to leave our minds so we don’t have to think about it anymore...it’s documented on paper so I can now let it go.

On the flipside, journaling is also there to be creative, to document life, and to tell yourself good things. As I grew older I found my journal entries to be much more positive and creative. My journal entries turned into prayers and things I learned on my daily devotional podcast.  As I flip through the pages it’s gratifying to see how far you’ve come. And to see what seemed like a big deal then is not so now.

blue circle

What else?

4)      Engage in an activity you normally wouldn’t do. Push your introvert-ness aside and step out of your comfort zone for just a little bit. Challenge your limits, physically and mentally. This may sound silly but I recently went to an estate sale. You have ever been to one of those? I had not, a bit nervous my stomach was. Not only was the sale out in the middle of nowhere, but it was also a challenge to get there. I’m talking dirt road with no shoulder to park. Cars were getting stuck everywhere! At the auction, I bid on one thing raising my little card. Gosh, I was scared, but I did! Going to an estate sale might not sound like a big deal to you, but it was something completely out of my normal routine. This is a very small idea of what you can do.

5)      Clean out your stuff. Clutter is toxic. Sifting through your stuff and giving it a good organization will do your mind good. You’ll learn all about yourself and what stuff you like to keep. Maybe you’ll even understand why you want to keep it or give it to someone else. Take a look at your stuff and ask yourself, what does that say about you? At the auction I went to, I learned A LOT about the people who were selling it.

6)      Write down what you want to leave behind. I’m not talking about stuff. What kind of legacy do you want to leave? What do you want to be remembered for? And how can you start doing that today?

Lastly, get busy

7)      Volunteer. Choose an activity at your church or community center and volunteer to help out. This too can be scary. We don’t have much time, especially we have little ones, so bring them along. It not only helps you feel good about yourself contributing to society, but it shows your kids how to do it. Again you’ll learn about your attitude and capabilities simply by lending a hand.

8)      Get your body in check. I could go on and on about this one. In fact, visit my store for a course on how to take better care of our precious bodies. The way you feel affects your decisions. And your decisions affect your path.

Be the change

9)      Do something creative. Draw, doddle, sew, design your own landscaping or garden, make your own cookie recipe or stir-fry dish, arrange flowers, move your furniture around, or mow your lawn in a different pattern. Get those juices flowing and see what you create!

By engaging in these activities you will have a better idea of who you are and who you want to become. I suggest starting small. Maybe try one of the nine exploring ways every few days or on the weekends….except for the body one, that should be done every day (wink). When we get to know ourselves better, our path in life becomes clearer and more fulfilling. It’s funny how this simple exercise can give you a wealthier life.

5 Ways to Make Your Dreams Come True

5 Ways to Make Your Dreams Come True

open barn door

I recently talked to a friend of mine who said she forgot how to dream. She didn’t remember how to do it. When life takes over and kids are screaming I can see how our day-dreams turn into day-to-day monotony. Let’s fix that.

First off let me reiterate that dreaming is super healthy! In fact, dreaming might save your life for that matter. It provides hope, encouragement, and it gives us something to strive for every day. It gives us purpose and meaning. Individuality.

How do you dream?

This might sound easier said than done, but a good exercise is to think about winning the lottery. What would you do with all that money? Would you pay off your debt? Buy a new house? Go on a trip around the world? Give it to a charity? This is where we start. We start with ‘what if’ questions.

If I had all the money in the world and no responsibilities, what would I do?

I have amazing health and the freedom to do anything, what would it be?

I am amazingly smart, what am I doing to do with my wisdom?

These questions may seem extreme or unrealistic, but remember, this is an exercise to get your dream-juices flowing. Maybe a more realistic question is: when the kids are out of the house, what is it that I’ve always wanted to do? Or another approach is to think about when you were a little girl. What did you dream about doing as an adult?

It’s fun to dream. You learn a lot about yourself. No one can steal your dream from you. They may try, but they aren’t you and they don’t have your magic touch.

wooden table with open book

How do we make our dreams come true?

Well, I’m no expert, because I’m still working on my dream. But I do know a few things that have worked for me. Check these five actions that help our dreams come into reality.

1- Pray about it. Ask for opportunities to present themselves. And ask for a person that can help you.

2- Do something about it. God may want you to fulfill your dream, but He’s probably not gonna help you much if you don’t get off the couch and work hard for it. He might just be waiting for you to take the first step! Do one little thing today towards your dream, maybe it’s writing it down?

3- Don’t lose sight of it. People are going to try and change your mind, twist your big picture, or tell you it’s ridiculous….stand firm and stick with what you’ve always wanted. We are all unique for a reason, stay unique!

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4- Read the Bible. That may sound silly to you. But it works. It WORKS! I recently had a huge question answered by reading the Bible. It was totally unexpected and surprisingly comforting and reassuring. Invest in a Life Application Study Bible….huge help in understanding scripture. One of my strategies for reading the Bible is that I look at the concordance in the back of it. I find words that POP at me. Then I read the scriptures underneath that word. And as a bonus, I read the study notes if available. It takes five minutes or less.

5- Plan. Then plan some more. Write down, draw, voice record, you name it….anything and everything about your dream and what you want it to be like. Even write down what you’ll do with your riches after you hit it big….riches as in time, money, or love you received.

Get back into dreaming by asking yourself fun questions, write all those dreams down, and pick which one you can be starting working on today. Then take some action on it. Pray, take a step of faith, stand firm, read the Word, and draw a plan. We all love planning! Enjoy this journey, receive motivation by simply dreaming.

By CT Copyright © 2018 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

5 Important Ways to Measure Success without Numbers

5 Important Ways to Measure Success without Numbers

To measure success in this day and age it pretty much boils down to a number. Sales numbers, weight on the scale, pant size, steps walked, income, number of orders, miles ran, test results, and so forth. There is nothing wrong with measuring success by numbers, I personally love it, but numbers can also drive us batty. I’m here to tell you that numbers can lie from time to time (from a personal success standpoint, not as in lab results). I’ve got a HUGE question to ask you plus I’ll give you five amazing ways to measure your success without numbers involved.

5 Important Ways to Measure Success without numbers

Last week a friend ask me a few questions about my blog and she had a hard time of why I was pouring so much time and energy into it. The numbers threw her off. The conversation went something like this, “Christy you only have X number of social media followers, you don’t have hundreds of email subscribers, and your sales are down. Why are you doing this? You can make a lot more money if you did anything else.”

Can you relate?

If you get frustrated when people tell you things you already know…especially about the numbers, then I know you get it. If you get weird looks when you tell people you’re a stay-at-home-mom, a full-time volunteer, or you spend a lot of time on your hobby, then I’m sure you also get it…if not more so.

First off, there are times when we didn’t ask their opinion but they give it to us anyway. This is where we graciously explain what we do and why we do it without getting defensive. If fact, if people do this there is most likely something stirring in their hearts that needs healing. Either way, this is when we swoop in and stick up for ourselves and to honestly yet kindheartedly ‘shut them up’. Most importantly, it’s when we say, “I measure success differently, let me explained.”

They say "Show me the money!" You say "Show me you love me."

My friend. What she said.

As I mentioned earlier I had to have this hard conversation the other day with a close friend. She was confused and even got a little heated…this I can’t figure out…but I think it was out of concern. She obviously measures success and happiness by numbers and numbers only. I love my dear friend and she knows that that’s why we can be brutally honest with each other.

 Just so you know, she’s okay with me blogging about this conversation. And for the record, I’m not saying she is wrong of how she measures success but opening her mind to different ways of measuring broaden her perspective and even helped her in her line of work. The thing that bothered me most was the tone she used in talking to me. It was stern and serious like she was my boss or an investor. I felt like I was on Shark Tank being blasted by Mr. Wonderful. I certainly wasn’t asking her for anything. But I simply took a deep breath, reminded myself that my friend is trying to help me, and spoke from my heart.

When the heart comes out in words, things change. Throughout the conversation, she listened. She nodded her head, even cocked it at times. You could tell she was unraveling her confusion. The tone in her voice changed and she said, “I didn’t even look at it that way. I get it now. ” I simply responded with, “Cool.”   

What does your work provide?

When you lose sight and get stuck in the numbers game. To measure success by numbers and numbers only is eventually going to bite you. This is a time to remind yourself why you’re in this game. Rather than ask yourself what the numbers are telling you, a bigger question you should ask yourself is this: What does (whatever-you’re-working-on) provide for you? This is a HUGE question. And it’s how you look at it that determines your success.

5 ways to measure success from a “providing” perspective

1. Outlet

Blogging provides me with an outlet. I’m the type of person who measures her day by what she created that day. Did I write a blog post? Did I create a social media post or inspiring quote picture? Did I incorporate a new plug-in or fix a few things on the website? Did I help my son with something or make him laugh today? Did I try a new recipe? Things like that. Having an outlet to feed your creative beast is not only therapeutic but it is a seriously good vitamin for mental health. My blog provides me with a place to bring my ideas to life, to express my thoughts, and to help others in the same boat. This is a success!

2. Voice

I come from a large family with a variety of personalities. If you happen to be the baby of the family, like myself, sometimes it can be hard to be heard. In large conversations I have found to be heard and listened to is like a battle. You need to fight for space. And even when you do get the soapbox you’re likely to get interrupted. Do you hear me? On the flip side, the pro of this family position is that I have become an excellent listener, which in some ways is more powerful than speaking. But when I have something important to say when people won’t let me have a voice, my blog gives me permission to speak without interruptions.

3. Purpose

Life purpose is something every human craves. We want to feel like we’re making a difference! My blog helps provide that purpose. Whether 500 people read my stuff or ten, I’m at least going beyond my walls and reaching out to the world. I’m at least taking the steps to do something I am passionate about. For instance, as I mentioned earlier, my blog gives me a platform. I’m super passionate about helping people lose weight and getting healthy. I’m also passionate about our mental well-being. And I love to try and raise an independent child in a fun way. My blog allows me to fulfill those passions by writing about those topics…it gives me purpose.

4. Education

I can’t stress enough how much my blog has exercised my brain! There have been numerous programs I’ve had to learn to get to where I am today. Sure I could have paid someone to do it all, but what good is that if I don’t understand how it works or want to make a small change? I personally like to try things on my own first. If I can’t figure it out, then I’ll pass it on to someone else. Having my blog has kept my mind sharp and eager to learn. It’s exciting and it’s a confidence booster when you figure something out. Success!

5. Gratification

According to Merriam-Webster gratification is the act of pleasing oneself or of satisfying one’s desires. After a big week of working on my blog, I love looking back on the week and saying to myself “You did it, you figured it out Christy, and made it happen!” It’s so gratifying to see all your hard work put into action, kind of like mowing the lawn. Stepping back to see a job well done satisfies the soul and brings warmth to the heart.  

Numbers don't always tell the truth.

Wrapping up how to measure success

Measure success by what your work provides for you. On that day I talked with my friend, I told her, “I know you like numbers, but numbers don’t always tell the truth of success. My blog provides invaluable benefits. It gives me an outlet to express my creative side, it provides me a safe place for my voice to be heard, it gives me a purpose to get out of bed every morning at 5:30 A.M., it exercises my brain and keeps me learning new things every day, and it satisfies my soul. So thank you for your concern about my numbers, but numbers do lie when it comes to this.”

Do not give up on your passion. Do not let anyone tell you to shut your doors because they don’t understand. Keep moving forward one step at a time. Your time will come when people will start to turn their heads to see what you’re up to. Shine your light friend the way you like to do it!

Take care friend,

Christy

Bonus: How to start a blog

Starting a blog can be overwhelming. There is so much information out there it’s hard to know where to turn. My suggestion to you if you interested in starting a blog is to just start it. Start by writing blog posts right now in Word or in your journal. Draw out how you want your blog to look, what name you want to have, and even what colors represent your message. You can do a lot right now without having a platform yet. I recommend writing at least five posts before deciding on your platform.

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

4 Must-Haves to Start Anything – Gotta Start Somewhere

4 Must-Haves to Start Anything – Gotta Start Somewhere

Gotta Start Somewhere: 4 Must Haves to Start Anything

Mark Twain says it this way, “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” Getting started is probably the most difficult task of them all. We know what we want to do, we can see where we want to go, but we don’t necessarily know how to start. In this post, I’m going to share with you the top three must-haves in starting your goal, business idea, or task at hand. Let’s get started.

1. Have a plan.

Of course, I was going to say that. If there is no plan, there is no map. When the map isn’t in front of our faces, we won’t know what direction we’re going in. We could be going in circles for all we know…which has happened to me. In fact, I was going so fast around the circle that I actually thought I was going somewhere.

Take things one step at a time. The first step is the write everything down. I know all these ideas have been in your head and you may think that is enough, but get it down on paper. For some of us, this might even be scary. “What if it doesn’t look as good on paper as it does in my head?” This might be true for starters. But keep working on it. Draw pictures, use details, it can be hard to transform information from our brains to the paper. But at least we can see it now. When it is down on paper, your idea becomes real. Now that’s really scary. But if you really want this to happen, it starts with paper and a pencil.

2. Get organized

The next step is to take all those things you wrote down and organize them in categories or to-dos. I personally wouldn’t do this on the same day as step one. You just puked out your idea on paper, if that was hard, let it sit there overnight and start step two the next day. One exception to this rule is if you are on a roll and are ready to break it down, then go for it.

Organizing your ideas, the steps you need to take, the research that needs to happen, the tools you need to acquire is critical to your success. Think of anything and everything you think you need to make this dream happen. You won’t know if all, but you need someplace to start.

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Lastly, break down these tasks into doable steps. I know you’re going to want to go fast, but there is no sense in going fast if you don’t know what the heck you’re doing. Step by step. In fact, when you take a step by step approach, you may find you will go faster than expected. Most importantly, with each step, we get a little more confident in what we’re doing. And with more confidence, comes the next step, then the next, and so on. I have a freebie on goals if you want to check it out. Head over to Powerful Products for a ‘Step by Step’ necklace. I wear mine when I’m overwhelmed; it really does helps to have a little reminder around my neck. I hang on to it and say, “I got this”.

3. Seek encouragement – this is a big one!

“Gotta start somewhere” is a great weapon to protect you from judgment. When you’re trying to describe your dream or idea to someone and they just don’t get it, you’re probably going to get some weird looks and unasked opinions. Remember this with your kids. When they come to you and say, “Hey Mom! I’ve got this great idea to make popcorn bowls out of my old basketballs!” If you want your child to come to ask for your opinion in the future, you better choose how you react wisely. The idea may stink, but they need to figure that out on their own.

Lesson one: tell someone you trust, who will give you encouragement, more on this in a minute. Lesson two; don’t say a thing to someone who may bash your idea into liver pudding. Remember, if someone comes to you to share an idea, this person came to you, they feel safe with you. They are seeking a green-light. No matter what the idea they tell you, give them a high-five! Anyone who drums-up the courage to tell someone something dear to their heart deserves a five.

My Story

This happened to me many times before I finally learned my valuable lesson of ‘pick who you share with’. The most hurting time was when I shared some ideas with someone I loved. You’d think that is the right person to share with, and sometimes it is, but those loved ones can be very critical. They don’t mean to be critical. They love you so much they don’t want you to fail. So to ‘protect’ you, they blast constructive criticism from the gate. Parents, spouses, best friends listen to me, please. You may think you’re helping, but you’re not. At this point, think before you speak, this isn’t your spotlight to steel with knowledge or ego, it isn’t a time to ask a million questions of how they’re going to do it, again, just be excited for them, let them have this moment and give them encouragement.

Getting worked up

The embarrassing time when I shared my idea was at a dinner party with my husband and his colleagues. Wrong time. I panicked really. Of course, at any work function, one of the questions people asked is, “Where do you work?” I should have known better. Why wouldn’t they ask this, we’re all curious to know what people do and secretly compare our lives to theirs. We’re all guilty of that. Anyway…while we were sitting at the dinner table waiting for our salads, the butterflies started to flutter in my belly.

Here I was a stay-at-mom-home who was trying to start a blog. I wanted to say something important like I’m launching a new product. Everyone else has these big fancy things they were doing. My blog was just starting out and wasn’t too confident about it. I guess I could say I’m a stay-at-home-mom, which I’m very proud of doing, but I got stupid. My hands were getting sweaty as the person next to me told us what she did. These people have awesome jobs. Me? I had a hobby. And the annoying part of this experience was that it was loud in the restaurant so you had to yell for anyone to hear you. Go figure.

“Christy, what do you do?”

Yikes! My turn. Oh boy. “I’m starting a new blog to help people go after their true dream in life and do more than exist.” At the time my blog was domorethanexist.com. From my answer people just stared at me, which seemed like five minutes. Because no one said anything I felt like I had to explain myself. I should have stopped there. Not really knowing what I was saying I went on and fumbled, but tried to catch myself. Big “L” to the forehead.

When I was trying to explain the blog their expression on their faces made me feel so out of place like I had a bug on my face and they were trying to figure out if they should smack it or let it crawl in my mouth and choke me. All this was going through my head until I said my magic words “Gotta start somewhere, right?”  All of a sudden, the bug jumped off my face and into their mouths, they couldn’t argue, they couldn’t judge. Those four words made all the difference, and who knows maybe they were jealous they weren’t in a position I was. Toast to that! Wipe to the brow.

Two quick lessons at the dinner party:

  1. Know your pitch before you go to a dinner party
  2. When you get that ‘bug on your face look’ use “Gotta start somewhere, right?”, they’ll simply nod their head and repeat, “Gotta start somewhere.” Try it, it’s funny.
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Where do you get true encouragement?

Know who to go to.

This goes back to some of the things I just said. If you know the person you’re going to is going to be critical, don’t talk to that person. I know that’s going to be hard, because sometimes we have this weird emotional acceptance thing that goes something like this, “if Sally (the critical person) approves of my idea then it’s gotta be a good one. I’ll just keep asking her opinion on my ideas until I get a thumbs-up from her.” STOP IT! You’re playing the acceptance game, fold your hand and leave the table. If you continue to go to this person your self-esteem will tank. Don’t have anyone? Talk to me! Schedule a Jam Session, I’d love to hear from you!

The Bible.

The Bible is full of encouragement. In a weird way, the Bible is not dated, meaning God speaks to us individually through His words no matter what year it is. One verse may mean something one day, then a year later that same verse may mean something totally different. He knows what you need to hear and when you need to hear it. You just have to willing to read the pages. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid? (NIV).

Teachers, mentors, coaches, our kids.

Teachers are great encouragers, so are mentors, coaches, and even your own children. When I tell my son an idea I get a ‘high five’ right away. Kids are pretty smart, they’re extremely observant. On a side note, just the other day, I was trying to figure out a new plugin for the website and it took me forever to figure it out, when in fact, I couldn’t get it to work. My son had asked how my day went and I told him I had wasted it on a silly plugin, nothing got done. His response surprised me, “Mom, you didn’t waste your day, you learned what not to do!” I laughed, smiled, and said, “Right On! I needed to hear that. Thanks, bud.”

Yourself.

If anyone can encourage you, it can be yourself. Gotta start somewhere. With that said, head over to my Freebies and download my top favorite affirmations.

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Random places.

More sources of encouragement come from non-fiction books, YouTube videos of motivational speakers, stories from those TV talent shows, music, and even a stranger. When I first started out I got encouragement from Holley Gerth’s book, “You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream“. I still reference it today. So good!

4. And lastly, tap into courage.

In 2008 I started blogging. I had no idea what I was doing or how to do it for that matter. Note the dinner party. All I knew was that I needed to start somewhere. In the various books and ‘how to blog’ posts I read over the years, I’ve noticed a common denominator; nothing happens until Courage is invited (make picture quote).

I had to get the guts to try. “Gotta start somewhere” gives us permission to take a step forward, to try it on for a bit. They say, “You don’t know what the hell you’re doing, but you gotta at least try. So if you fall, it’s because you didn’t know what you’re doing. And that’s okay. Now stand the hell back up and figure it out.”  

What is courage?

It’s the moment in time where we take a step of faith not knowing what will come of it but do it anyway. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (NIV) Gotta start somewhere.

When we put ourselves out there, people are going to judge. The magical element of courage is that we don’t care what other people think, we have a vision and we’re going to try our hardest to see that vision become part of the big picture. When people watch, give them a show. Show them how to move forward, how to stand back up, and how to fight.

Those bug-on-your-face looks are beaming with curiosity or maybe jealously. Remember, everyone has their own opinion, and they are only opinions; it’s you who you need to believe in.

How do we ‘start somewhere’?

  • Pray. Daily. In Jesus’s name. “Lord, light my fire within. What is my next step?”
  • Plan. Step by step.
  • Practice. Try your dream on, take it off, try it on again.

You stepping out in faith may not only help you but others who want to do the same. “Gotta start somewhere” isn’t just permission to try; it’s also to inspire others to do the same.

By CT Copyright © 2017 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

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