25 Years

November 30, 2010

By: Staci Stallings

Today I’m sending flowers.  They aren’t flowers I ever thought about sending or considered sending.  I never thought, “I need to do that” five years ago.  But today I’m sending flowers.

Now I’m not a flower-sender usually.  I can probably count the number I’ve sent on one hand using about three fingers.  But you see, today is special, and I want to mark it.

Today my brother would have been married to my sister-in-law for 25 years.  I was in their wedding.  The third bridesmaid.  The only one in the whole wedding party (sans ushers) who was a sibling of either one.  That was when I was a freshman in high school, and I probably didn’t appreciate the honor enough back then, but I do now.

A lot has changed since then.

Sometimes when things change drastically as they have for my family, things fall apart.  People get angry with each other and say dumb things, hurtful things, things that can’t be repaired with an “I’m sorry.”  Sometimes when things change drastically, people blame each other and drive a wedge between themselves and those who are still here.

I am in awe of my family for that reason alone.

Not only did my brother’s death not drive us apart, I believe in some ways it has brought us closer.  I know I appreciate my sister-in-law more now.  She is amazing–strong and kind.  She has not blamed or berated anyone over what happened.  Instead, she has held on with grace and tenacity, believing that her kids deserve to have both families in-tact and working to make that happen.

So today I’m sending flowers.  It’s not much, but 25 years especially under adverse circumstances should be celebrated.


Each Child a Mystery

November 22, 2010

By:  Staci Stallings

I’ve been spending a lot of time with my kids lately, and one thing’s become very clear:  I did not decide what and how they were going to be.

Oh, sure.  I told them not to spill milk on the table and not to hit each other.  I sent them to school and made the mow the lawn.  But I did NOT get to decide what they love, what they hate, and how they were going to choose to inhabit this planet.

They are each a work unto themselves.

One loves to take pictures, which is something I also like, but not to the extent this one does.  I’m talking, capturing just the right lighting in just the right frame with just the right lens at just the right time.  And reading?  I love reading, but 374 pages in a week?  Even I can’t touch that.  Not to mention the things that one chooses to read.  History?  Mystery?  Uh. No.  Not for me, thank you very much.  She’s got her own way of studying (record everything and listen to it a gazillion times), her own way of competing (did you know you could compete to see who brought in the most phonebooks to recycle or the most canned food?), and her own way of organizing (if you saw her room, you would know what I mean!).

The second one seems the polar opposite of her sister, but is she?  Doing her best is key with this one, and her best is often “blow everyone else out of the water.”  Selling raffle tickets for school?  If the other “top sellers” are in the 40 or 60 range, 160 will be this one’s goal.  Studying cannot be done once.  Oh, no.  “Quiz me again, Mom” is her mantra (and I’m NOT looking forward to semester tests!).  Last night she sat down with me while I was designing a cover.  Guess who designed the cover (I’ll give you a hint:  It wasn’t me!).  She’s creative to a fault:  witness for example, the canned food sculpture she designed with towers for the castle and a dragon taped to a box of Corn Flakes at the top.  She loves to sing and play the violin and the piano and the guitar and the drums…  I love music too, but this one takes it to new heights I could never have even dreamed about!

And then there’s the little guy, who at 8 is getting MUCH bigger.  With this one, I have one word for you:  Electricity!  Snap Circuits were invented for this kid.  He can design his own light that really works, his own radio that really works, his own fan….  I thought the other day that since he loved electricity so much, I should tell him about Ben Franklin.  Well, I got, “He wanted to see about lightning so…” out.  To which my son said, “Oh, and he attached a key to a kite…”  and proceeded to tell me more about that story than even I knew.  When I asked him how he knew that, he replied, “I don’t know.  Doesn’t everybody?”

The coolest thing about my kids is how innately they live.  I don’t have to tell them what to be excited about.  They just are.   They are like little God masterpieces running around my house, showing me that God and the person can have it all figured out without me getting in the way.  Oh, there are still rules.  You still aren’t allowed to hit your sister, but I find the more I let them do what God sent them here to do, the less everything else is a problem.  They are having too much fun doing what God put in their hearts to do.

God is so cool!


Announcing…

November 19, 2010

By:  Staci Stallings

I know.  It’s Friday, but I’m excited so you get this news now!

First, as you all know it’s been a tumultuous year here at Spirit Light Books.  What started out as a normal, run of the mill year became anything but in May when my partner, Dennis Bates decided to have knee surgery.  Thinking it would only be for a month, I decided to start Spirit Light Works, a blog where I would post a novel at a time just to cover for Dennis on Tuesdays and Wednesdays until he recovered.

That was my plan.

By the first week in June, Dennis was gone, and I was left to try to make some sense of where to go from there.   To be honest, Dennis and I started the blog together because we thought that together we could keep it going.  When I realized I was on my own, well…  I wasn’t sure what came next.

As life progressed, I decided to keep the Spirit Light Works blog as it gave me a chance to publish some books that may never see the printed page.  It also gave me a way to connect with readers again (something I had missed greatly for some time).   Prior to SLW, publishing had become a real drag.  It was difficult if not impossible to find time to edit the books, get the covers ready, go through the whole publishing process, and then try to market them.  At some point in that process, I kept getting snagged.

Enter a new form of publishing called, “Kindle.”

Some time ago a friend asked if I had my books on Kindle.  Although I knew what that was, I didn’t really have a good feel for if I wanted to put my books on it.  When I decided to, the learning curve nearly tripped me up.  I had already decided to put out a new book in print.  Did I really have time to convert books to Kindle?

Yes and no.

I have hired the services of a dear friend of mine to help me get things formatted for Kindle.  I will be putting my new books and my older books on the service.  We are working now on streamlining this process.  Also, I’m working on a new title for in print… with a new printing company.

Unfortunately, what I’ve ended up with in all of this is a mess of titles even I have a hard time navigating.  What’s in print?  What’s on Kindle?  What’s at SLW?

SO…  Today God led me to an idea I hadn’t considered prior to this.  I’ve created a new blog that is less a blog and more a navigable listing of my books.  It has each title listed as a post and then books listed by the formats that are available through the links at the top.

Check it out here!

I will be adding titles and editions as we go so it’s a one-stop place to find any Staci Stallings’ title that’s available.

I hope you enjoy looking through it as much as I have, and feel free to do a little Christmas shopping while you’re there for any readers on your list.

As always, you’ll feel better for the experience!


The Test of Faith

November 18, 2010

By:  Staci Stallings

I have a couple of friends who are going through various crises in their lives.  Some of these crises involve dealing with other people.  Some involve finances.  Some involve health issues.  Some involve friend issues.  Some involve relationship issues. All are weighed down and afraid of the outcome, buffeted by the storms of life, and trying to figure out what to do now.

In the midst of all of this, I have been reading a fascinating book called, “The Way of Peace” by James Allen.  Now apparently this is an old book, but I have it on my Kindle, so it seems new to me.  The book centers around peace in the storm–how to find it, how to maintain it.  Basically, the secret is this:  Find God and hold onto Him no matter what happens around you.  Center your life on His immovable, unchangeable principles, and the buffets of life will be seen as temporary and “handleable.”

One of the things I would point out about this is that when you get your life set and centered on God, you realize that it’s not YOU that has to handle the storms at all.  It’s Him.  Your job is to trust Him as much as possible and when you fail at that, trust Him to grab you anyway.

This quote stuck out at me:  “It is the hour of crisis which decides who are the minions of darkness and who the children of Light.”

Here’s the thing… I’ve been through one crisis during which I lost my faith, but what I found at the end of my faith was His.  He reached out, literally, through my storm and grabbed me and held me up.  In that, I realized that making it through the storm is not about MY ability or my strength… it is about His.

One of my friends, seeing that in the midst of crisis I am most often calm, decided to test me.  “Well, but what if this happens?  What if it doesn’t work out?  What if you lost everything?  What if the worst happened?”

I told her that the worst has happened… repeatedly.  What I prayed for was not answered the way I wanted it to be.  My brother died.  So did my brother-in-law.  My church burned down.  My daughter was born early.  I got nickel poisoning so bad I almost died.  My son still has dyslexia.

But what I’ve learned is that God is on the other side of even the worst thing that could happen.  He’s STILL there.

He doesn’t abandon you at the point of greatest impact.  He’s still in the car, or on the bridge, or at the funeral.  He’s STILL there.

I remember the story of a local pilot who while crop-dusting got the plane tangled in some high-line wires.  The plane plummeted and crashed, and he was badly injured.  In the hospital later, his young daughter came to see him.  She looked at him and said very solemnly, “Daddy, your guardian angel must be a boy.”  “Why’s that, darlin’?”  “Because a girl angel wouldn’t have stayed in the plane that long.”

God stays in the plane.  He doesn’t bail when things get rough.

See the test of faith is not so much a test of how much we believe in Him but a test of Him so He can show us how loyal He is to us.  He shows us, over and over and over, if we let Him, that He is ALWAYS there.  No matter the storm–financial, health, other people, ourselves.  God doesn’t get out of our plane when we get tangled up and crash.  He is there… no matter what.

OUR part is to realize that and breathe into it, taking that faith into the next crisis.

He will be there, too.  That’s not a promise.  It’s a guarantee.


Being Different

November 15, 2010

By:  Staci Stallings

Yesterday I taught Sunday School again.  Due to some weird shift of the universe, I am just now getting to the Source/Resource lessons that I usually cover in the first couple of weeks.  One of the ways we jump into that is with the story, “You are Special” by Max Lucado.

In that story, the little wooden Wemmick, Punchinello learns that other Wemmicks don’t have the power to give him stars or dots unless he lets them have that power–only Eli, the woodcarver can say if he is good enough… and Eli never makes mistakes.  Of course, we all need to start going to Eli (God) who made us rather than panting after the approval of our fellow Wemmicks.  They cannot give us what we most crave, a sense of “I’m good enough just like I am,” a sense that “I am loved and accepted.”  Instead, we spend our lives trying to prove we are good enough to be accepted and failing miserably.

I asked the kids about why God loves each of us even if we don’t always perform smashingly great.  They said that we all have talents, but because we’re different, we think sometimes that we’re not as good.  But, they continued, it’s okay to be different because that’s who God made you to be.  (I have VERY smart kids this year!)

Later last night, I watched a movie with my kids.  The movie had a great message of being who you are even if you’re different, even if you don’t fit in.  There was a quote in the movie I really loved.  “Sometimes being different is what makes us great.”

I think we often look around and compare ourselves to others.  The problem is, we compare our cons to their pros.  Like me.  I can’t cook.  Okay, I can, but I don’t like to, and I’ve not had a lot of practice to get very good at it.  However, I can write.  Now what happens with me a lot of times is that I compare my con, not being able to cook, with someone else’s pro–they can.  And I come out wanting.  Rather than seeing that I have my own unique talents and gifts, I too often beat myself up for not having what someone else does.

Further, the talents that I do have, I often put down when talking with others.  Like, for example, I can sit down as I’m doing now and just type out my thoughts.  I don’t usually do a lot of editing to these articles–a word here, a comma there, but mostly you read them about the way I write them.  In a lot of ways I realize that’s weird.  It’s not normal to be able to sit down and think into your fingers.  But it’s a skill I have learned and practiced and honed to the point that I can.

That’s “different.”  And I could be upset by that and hide it and hope no one realized I could do that (which I’ve been known to do).  Or I can realize that it is a talent that God gave me and something He gave me to help out His Kingdom.

It’s such a different mentality when I think of Him giving me that talent versus trying not to let anyone think I’m weird or different.

So what are your “differences”?  Think for a little while today about why God gave you those things and how He might be calling you to use them in His Kingdom.  Trust me, they were not given to you randomly.  They, and you, have a purpose.  His purpose.

And your differences might be just the things that make you great!


Talking to Dad

November 11, 2010

By:  Staci Stallings

You know, we all have days that are just rotten, times that we think “What’s the point?”, moments when nothing seems to be going our way.  In those times, many of us seek out a sympathetic ear, someone to listen, someone to care.

In the mornings, my kids and I call their dad who is usually on his way to work.  Via the cell phones we all pray together.  The prayer has gotten much longer than when we first started.  It now stretches into 8 prayers and about 5 minutes or so.  At the end of the prayer, we go, “One, two, three… WE LOVE YOU, DADDY!”

The other morning, we couldn’t get the connection made with my husband because we forgot the cell phone.  However, morning prayers were not complete without the requisite, “WE LOVE YOU, DADDY!” at the end.

That’s when it occurred to me… I wonder if God sometimes hears that and thinks it’s for Him.  And why not?  We love Him too, right?

Can’t you just see Him smiling when His children shout, “WE LOVE YOU, DADDY!”

In listening to the audio on prayer, I realized that prayer is less like I envisioned it back in the day–put in my requests or appease Him long enough so I can get on with my day–and more like sitting down with my Dad and just having a talk.  “You know, Dad, this is really going good, but this thing over here is really worrying me.”

Does He always fix everything I bring to Him?  Uh. No.

But the truth is just being able to go to Him and remember that He loves me no matter what… helps.  It helps me to be more confident and less jittery.  It helps me stay grounded and remember that He IS no matter what is going on with me or in me.  It takes away some fear knowing I’m not in this alone.  And it gives me confidence to remember that I am a child of the Most High God, the God of the Universe, and He’s looking out for me.

Talking to Dad is really awesome.

Maybe that’s not the religious view of prayer, but it sure has helped me to just fall into talking with my Dad.

You might want to try it as well!


Uh. No.

November 8, 2010

By:  Staci Stallings

One of the things I love most about having great Holy Spirit friends is that they find cool things to help me on my journey.  The other day one of my best friends sent me a link to a sermon at her church.  Now it’s kind of long, about 35 minutes, but if you have time to listen to the whole thing, I really recommend it.

The topic was on prayer and specifically why when we pray sometimes things don’t work out the way we wanted them to.  I often say that we treat God like a vending machine.  We put the prayer coins in, punch A5, and He’s supposed to give us what we want.  When He doesn’t, we kick the vending machine, curse it, and vow never to use that one again.

The problem with all of this is, of course, our very limited perspective.

Let’s say that what I most want is a car that has become available.  Now I don’t just want this car… I REALLY want this car.  So I pray to God, “Please, God, let me get this car.  If you do, I will never ask You for another thing.  Please, it will help me get to work.  I won’t have to walk or take the bus anymore.  It is the perfect car for me.”

From your limited perspective, this car is the answer to all of your prayers.

Here’s the problem:  What if it isn’t the answer to all of your prayers.  What if it’s a lemon that is going to leave you stranded AND without your hard-earned cash in two weeks?  What if God wants to give you this other car that’s coming but is not here right now?

In the sermon series, the preacher talks about how God’s perspective is like that of a good parent.  He knows some things are bad for us even when we don’t.

The example this preacher uses is one I will never forget…

He has three sons, little boys right now.  One day the oldest two came through the house carrying a box.  They went through the kitchen and down to the basement.  Their mother, knowing something was up, looked at their father, and the father followed them down.

“What’s up, boys?”

“Oh, Dad!  Look what we found!”

At which point they opened the box to reveal…

SNAKES!

Their plan was to let the snakes loose in the basement so they could have their very own snake habitat!

To which their dad said, “Uh. No.”

Our dad sometimes says, “Uh. No.” to us as well.  And we get angry and we stomp around and we pout and we try to get back at him and say hurtful things.  But Dad really does know best.  It is when we relax from thinking we have to have that snake habitat in the basement and allow ourselves to see things from God’s perspective that we realize, you know, maybe snakes in the basement really isn’t such a good idea.

Sometimes it takes years for us to see that and to realize why God said, “Uh. No.”  Sometimes we won’t truly see the reason at all on this side of Heaven.

The question is can you trust even without seeing?  Can you trust that God has a reason for not letting you have a snake habitat in your basement because it would be fun?

To listen to the whole sermon on prayer (which really is very worth your time), here is the link: http://my.ekklesia360.com/Clients/sermonaudioplayer.php?CMSCODE=EKK&siteid=4254&sermonid=181394&useSkin=skin_plain.xml&CMS_LINK=http://my.ekklesia360.com&width=350&height=140

Enjoy!  & Have an AWESOME DAY!


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