Monday, June 30, 2014

Tiny Pieces of Fear

Can you get this visual in your mind?  Tiny pieces of fear … all glued together? 

And what does it create?



Have you ever been afraid?  Of course you have.  And you have probably glued all those pieces of fear together and done the thing you feared anyway. 

That is courage.

For thirty years I’ve wanted to write.  Fear stopped me for a very long time.  Finally I knitted those fears together and now … I am a writer. 

Fears came along wearing all kinds of disguises.

~Ridicule at what others might say
~Laughter at some serious goof or wrong usage of words
~Rejection from those that might matter ... (Actually the only people who matter are the ones who like my writing.  Seth Godin helped me with that one.) 

Let me encourage you to knit your fears together and make courage out of them. 

Sooner or later we realize this:  Fears or not, we have to emerge and do the thing we fear. 

To borrow from Ralph Waldo Emerson –
“Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”

And remember this:

“Screw your courage to the sticking place”
~William Shakespeare – Macbeth

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Friday, June 27, 2014

Life's Stings

Don’t you hate the stings that life has to offer?  For example …

~When we lived on Franklin Avenue a swarm of yellow jackets attacked me from a honeysuckle vine.  I received 15 or 20 stings that day.  Ouch.  That hurt.

~I broke my arm at age nine.  That was no fun, especially when my brother tried to set the broken bone himself, and he was only twelve.

Both of my parents are deceased. That stung.
Bankruptcy stings.
Job loss stings.
Losing a close friend stings.
Just last Saturday my brother Tom passed away.  That stung – a lot.  It still does.

It is a given that we will be stung by life’s circumstances.  It is inevitable. 

However – we can survive these stings.

God never promises to keep us from the hard places, but He does promise to be with us in those hard places.  And when they come, well – we endure.  We hang on.  We gather our close family members around us and those friends that we cherish and we hang on. 

The words of friends have done much to heal the sting of Tom’s passing.  I’ve received some amazing notes and expressions during this experience.  And the strengthened ties with my siblings is sweeter than before, and it was great before this happened. 

If life stings you in some harsh ways, turn to your friends.  Let them know some of what you are facing.  The measure of support you receive will amaze and encourage your heart.

And keep your faith intact.  The assurance of the presence of my God during these days has been a stabilizing force.

I’ve found comfort in the scriptures.  I've been encouraged by the words of friends and family, and I've found release after release in allowing the emotions to flow unhindered. 

That is perhaps one of the great truths I could share with you.  Let your emotions flow as you need them to.  You are not weakened by this display.  It is a healthy and therapeutic physical and emotional release valve that is built into our makeup.

I want to close with two verses from the Bible that have been especially meaningful during this sting in life.

“Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.

“Be not afraid nor dismayed, for I your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Be not afraid (Johua 1:9)

Life stings – no doubt about it. 

May the salve of God’s word bring you relief when the stings sting.

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Monday, June 23, 2014

Flawed Yet Worthy

Is there even one perfect human being on the face of this planet?  I rather think not. 

So, the next logical step is to note that in some way every one of us has a flaw, or a series of flaws.  For some it is a physical deformity.  Others suffer from some mental ailment, or maybe it is nothing more than stinking thinking (to borrow a Zig Ziglar phrase). 

So, for the record, we are all flawed in some way.  What then?

We still matter – you and I.  We still are people of worth and great value.  We are still worthy of being loved, of belonging, of holding down a job and making a significant contribution to society.  Flaws are only something around which we maneuver.  They are not a death sentence.  They are an obstacle course that helps build stamina and resistance.  Flaws build flexibility.  They teach us how to be better, do better, live better, and be better. 

And above all, flaws teach us that we are still worthy.  We still matter.  And we still belong.

Here’s a quote worth remembering.

“Perfect and bulletproof are seductive,
but they don’t exist in the human experience.”
~Brene Brown

Shall I point out a few of my flaws?  Perhaps not, for then I’d want you to point out a few of yours and we don’t have that kind of time in this space to cover the subject matter of my flaws, much less your flaws.

Rather, what is “right” with you and me?  That is the focus.  There is so much we can still do, and there are mountains we can still climb metaphorically.

The attitude is this … what do I want to accomplish that is still within reach and within my capabilities. 

That is what we go after.

Got flaws?  Who doesn’t?

Got worth? 

You better believe that one!

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Friday, June 20, 2014

Life as Improv

Improvisational jazz pleases me.  When a really great musician, say Diana Krall, does her craft it becomes magical.  The improvisation at play fits, flows, and melts into one great musical experience.

I like improvisation.

Life sometimes needs improvising.  Things don’t always flow like the text book says it will.  And what then?

We either improvise or quit the band? 

Sometimes jobs don’t flow like the handbook said they would.  Do you flow with it or take another job?

Same with marriages, partnerships, and courtships.  You either find ways to improvise and get back in the same key or your go your separate ways.

When I served as a music leader in churches, sometimes I liked to go off script.  I called it “creating”.  Once, my technical team got rather upset with me for going off script at a certain point during a night of music.  They didn’t like it one bit, let me tell you.  They said it made them look incompetent.  I knew exactly where I was and what I was doing.  I was creating on the spot and they had a hard time with that.  So sad for them.

Sometimes, plans are just that – plans.  Sometimes we spice things up and improvise.  We paint outside the lines just for the fun of it – just to see what we can discover, or as an afterthought when it makes sense to make some minor adjustments in the flow of things.

Often, Carolyn and I improvise on our date days together.  We start out with no agenda and move through our day going from one place of interest to the next with no game plan, no agenda, and no structure.  We just free-fall and those often turn out to be some of our best dates ever.

I’m all for having an agenda and a plan, but it is not the end of the world if on occasion we abandon the plan and improvise.

Really, it can be a kick in the pants. 

A couple of suggestions:
Leave your “up-tight” mindset at home on those days.
If life hands you lemons, do what some wise person once said and make lemonade with lots of sugar.

If you find yourself needing to improvise, trust your instincts.  We really do have survival skills that can serve us well.  We just need to get back in touch with them sometimes.

What I am not saying is this … always improvise and never follow the plan.

Even Diana Krall and her combo always have a chord chart to follow.  They often work out ahead of time who and where the improvisation will occur. 

Have fun.  Improvise when you have to, or need to.  You might learn something about yourself that will open up new vistas.

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Listening doesn't Mean Agreeing

An arresting title, wouldn't you say?  I am all about listening as a communication and human relations skill.  Don’t get me wrong.  However – HOWEVER – listening and agreeing can sometimes be diametrically opposed to each other.  I want to listen to you so that I can understand what you are saying and what your expressed needs are.  And I can still choose to hold onto my own thoughts and ideas on the subject at hand when all is said and done.

I recently heard this great story:

“If Henry Ford had “listened” to every opponent of the automobile he was building he would have created a better buggy whip instead.”

Be assured, I do want to listen to you.  Please allow me to still hold onto my own opinions and make my own choices after the fact.  That is all.  It doesn't mean I didn't listen.  It simply means I hold a different opinion or value from the one you presented.

This is one of those tough relationship essentials that some have difficulty wrapping their mind around.

Now, you talk.

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Friday, June 13, 2014

Our Touch

One of the great trends that is happening today is the “pay it forward” trend.  You know how it works … if someone does a kindness for you, you pass it along to someone else who crosses your path.  Here’s a great video to illustrate that.

Mr. Buechner said it this way:

"The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.”
~Frederick Beuchner – The Hungering Dark

You mean my simple act of kindness could travel all the way around the world?  Absolutely true. 

In evangelistic church circles this has been played out time and again.  A famous missionary by the name of Harmon F. Schmelzenbach felt called to Africa.  Through many trials and hardships he and his wife were finally able to establish a foothold for spreading Christianity.  Now, three generations later his descendants are still spreading the work of Harmon, and the influence has spread far beyond that first primitive village in Swaziland.

Who can guess where the influence stops?  Who can guess where the one good deed that started on Tuesday will end, and will it ever end? 

Look at your own life.  What was instilled into you as a young child that you still pass down?  Is it good?  Is it profitable to others? 

You do see that we pass good stuff along and we pass bad stuff along. 
     Bad ideologies
          Bad habits
               Bad insights

The point is this … Mr. Beuchner understood that evil can be passed along, which he refers to as the “trembling”. 

But we want to pass along the good, the profitable, the esteeming, the encouraging and the nurturing.

And sometimes we pass it along …
 -In words
 -In songs
 -In a financial contribution
 -In food for a poverty-stricken country
 -In technology that opens whole vistas of opportunities
 -In fresh water supply as the Bill Gates Foundation does
 -In farming techniques
 -In literature printed in the language of the land
 -In building a building in some remote area that becomes a church or a place of learning, or a hospital of healing

You see what is happening here?  One action – one simply action has the reciprocal effect of paying it forward.  The gift keeps on giving.

It is your touch, your gift, your word that made a difference.

Kind of makes us want to find ways to do that often, doesn't it?

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Monday, June 9, 2014

How to Dim Fear

Fears loom large in this world.  Down through history we have had fears of enormous size and we dared never to go near some of these.  Yet we explored, we built bigger and better, and we faced some of these fears. 

And they dimmed.

Want to know how to dim fear?

Fear dims when you learn things.
Lois Lowry – Son

Face your fear.  Learn about what you fear.  Understand it.

Fear is the weapon of choice for many cult-type operations.  They get you to fear the consequences, the rules, and the mystery of their organization and with fear comes avoidance.  We fear what we don’t understand.  That is a powerful tool – instilling fear into followers.

When fear sets in we stop asking questions.  We stop understanding.  We stop thinking and making choices for ourselves.  We stop knocking on doors and rattling gates.

Some religious groups use this tactic.  They control with fear. 
I think at times our own government attempts to use this tactic. 

What is it some wise person once said? 
Knowledge Is Power

We don’t step out when we fear.  We tread carefully.
We don’t ask the tough questions when we fear.  We accept things just because someone said so.

And fear grows.  And we shrink smaller into the world of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Denis Waitley gave us this acrostic a few years ago for the word “FEAR”.
     F False
               E Evidence
                         A Appearing
                                   R Real

We fear what we don’t understand.  We fear the unknown.

Years ago, before map-makers got wise, when they would draw a map of their then-known world, at the boundaries of their drawing they would often inscribe these words:

“Beyond this, there be dragons.”
~Earl Nightingale

And when mankind dared to dip a toe into the unknown, look what he found.  He found other worlds, other civilizations and mysteries and knowledge that rapidly expanded our understanding of this world.

And fear dimmed a bit more.

When we flew into space, fear dimmed.
When we discovered penicillin, fear dimmed.
When we performed the first heart transplant, fear dimmed.

When computers came, fear dimmed.
When we analyzed and recovered from every economic downturn, fear dimmed

What is the quick cure for fear?


And choices!

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Friday, June 6, 2014


I want you to know right off the bat that this blog is purely and simply motivation and inspiration with a huge dash of encouragement mixed in.

We will talk about leaping and trying and stepping out. 

All of those are action words. 
               Step out!

Of course there are risks.  Of course you might fail.  Of course you might look the fool. 

So what?

You read that right – SO WHAT?

The gulf between where you are and where you want to be or want to do can only be crossed with one giant leap. 

So leap we do. 

We measure the cost.  We prepare, and plan, we save, we study and listen to others wiser and more seasoned than us, and sooner or later we find ourselves standing on the edge of the canyon.  Do we or don’t we? 

What the heck am I talking about here? 

I’m talking about anything you've ever thought seriously of doing, or starting, or learning, or organizing. 

~Is it a job you've always wanted to go after?  LEAP!

~Is it an article you've always wanted to write in a blog?  LEAP!

~It is a conversation with a significant other?  LEAP!


And when you do – you just may make it to the other side.  Now wouldn't that be something?

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Monday, June 2, 2014

Do You Fly When You Fall

Now that is an intriguing title.  And the answer is … I surely hope so.

After all, what is a fall but a chance to get back up and soar better, or fail better until you soar?

We could look at falling as flying lessons.  It is pretty evident that sooner or later we will fail at something.  We will fall off the wagon, or make a misstep or two that leads to some kind of fall.

And look at the possibilities we face on the way down.  We have this vast storehouse of what didn’t work, how it didn’t work, why it didn’t work and the seeds begin to grow, even on the way down, of what to do next time.

I hate flying lessons, but I love how much better I fly after them.

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time