Breaking the Connection

August 29, 2011

By:  Staci Stallings

Electricity.

I was grateful for it, I suppose, but honestly I never really thought much about it.  Walk in a room, turn on the light… it just happened.  I’m not sure I even cared how unless it didn’t.

Then my son was born. He cares about “how” for everything!  “How do they fix the road?’  “How do they make tables?”  “How does the light come on like that?”

To put it mildly electricity is his “thing.”  He loves it.  So a couple years ago we got him a set of Snap-Circuits (the best toy ever made for little boys who love to build things!).  The general idea for those who just walk into a room and flip on a light with no understanding of how it works (like me!) is that the switch is the connector.  To make electricity work, you have to have a battery or source of power connected from both sides.  The switch connects the two, completing the circuit, and turning on the power.

Connecting the electrical components in a line won’t work.  It doesn’t “complete the circuit.”

To have power, you always have to complete the circuit.  If your light or buzzer isn’t working, there’s a break in the circuit somewhere.

Now I remember this lesson vividly from my days on the farm.  We relied on electrical fences to keep the cattle in.  I had a healthy fear of those fences because you could totally get zapped by one if you ever challenged the thing.

BUT… if there was a grounding somewhere on the line or a break, no power flowed, and the fence was harmless.  If a fence wasn’t “hot,” that could mean hours searching for the break or weed that was touching the thing.  There was amazing power, but it was remarkably easy to break that power.

So what does all of this have to do with anything?

Everything!

Jesus Christ is the power source, but His power can only flow through our lives if we complete the circuit.

This can mean one of two things:

1)  On our own, we must grab onto Jesus with BOTH hands.  If we’re reaching for something else with our other hand, we’ve broken the connection and God’s power cannot flow through our lives.  This is called sin.

Sin breaks our connection with God and He cannot work in our lives as vibrantly as He could if we were fully connected.

2) You can make a HUGE circuit.  My son has actually tried this hooking multiple sets of Snap Circuits together.  You’re not limited to you and God.  Start adding other people who join one hand to Him and one hand to you and the power gets stronger not weaker.

That’s why it’s so important to forgive and to work to bring friends back into the circuit!  If they let go of you or let go of God, the circuit has been broken.  And you know how a broken friend circuit feels… crummy!  It has no power.  It has no life.  It is a drain on you rather than a way God sends His power to you.

So lift your friends up to Him.  Help them latch onto His hand as they take yours.  Encourage them to spend some one-on-One time with Him, fully connected only to Him.

You will be amazed at the results!

 

Staci’s books are now on Kindle & Nook!  Check out all the options at the Staci Stallings’ site! 

As always you’ll feel better for the experience!

 


The Secret to Contentment

August 25, 2011

By:  Staci Stallings

Our world is designed to make us discontent.  Think about it.  Have you ever gotten the newest, latest, coolest gadget only to find out ten days later that the 2.0 version will be out in a month?  Have you ever felt that sense of rejection… again… because you’re not in the coolest, hippest, most wonderful category of people who own the latest thing?

Join the club.

In our society no one can afford the newest, coolest thing every time.  It’s impossible.  If you have the newest computer system, you can bet the development team is working hard to make the next big thing you just have to have.  If you got the newest phone, I’ll bet you dollars to donuts your phone will “need an upgrade” by the end of the year.

So what drives this insatiable need to have, have, have?  Why do we feel such pressure to keep up with the Jones when the truth is we don’t even like them very much?

I think it all goes back to Adam and Eve.  That fruit was forbidden, so they wanted it.

Now, think about this for just a moment.

They were in the Garden of Eden.  They didn’t have to toil for anything.  They literally walked with God in the coolness of the evening.

In short, they had everything they could ever have wanted or needed.

So why was it so easy for Satan to tempt them with wanting this apple?

I believe the secret to contentment lies in this simple story.  At the moment of temptation, they were not thinking about all they had.  Eve did not say, “Look, Satan.  Look around you.  We’re in the Garden of Eden.  How could that apple possibly compare to all of this?”  No.  In that apple, she saw what she didn’t have, not what she did.

And we’re the same way.  We are not grateful for what we have.  We want what we don’t have… constantly!

An ad on the television shows us something we never even knew existed and all of a sudden this “I’ve got to have that” springs up inside of us, driving us, pulling us forward as if on an unseen current.

Here’s a tip.  If you want to be content and not always chasing after the next big thing, spend some time today being thankful for what you do have.  If you’re married, spend time being thankful for your spouse.  If you’re not, spend some time being thankful for this time to get your feet on the ground so that when marriage comes around, you can bring a solid, stable life to the table.

Look at the things in your house–large or small, newest or oldest–and be grateful for them.  Be grateful for your kids. Be grateful for your church. Be grateful…

And contentment is sure to follow.


Is there life after dyslexia?

August 22, 2011

By:  Staci Stallings

If you’ve been reading this blog since December two years ago, you know the struggle I’ve had with my eight-year-old son.  At first we had no idea what was going on.  This seemingly bright, wonderful little boy was having the most atrocious time with spelling.  Then reading became a real problem.  Then he started having blank-outs in school.

First grade was an incredible struggle just to keep our heads above water.  By the middle of that summer, I knew something was really wrong.  Not only could he not read well, simple words like “left” and “spin” were far above what he could decode on anything other than a hit-or-miss basis.  That’s when I learned that there was a label for kids like him.  Dyslexic.

Yes.  At first that label scared me to pieces.  But I’m not one who will just lay down and “accept the inevitable.”  So with the prayers of a lot of people and following every small step God asked me to take, we embarked on a journey to first understand and then to cross the abyss that this new reality held.  At first we tackled it with word help and breaking words down and decoding them.

I learned very quickly that he was reading nothing.  Instead, he was memorizing.  Which works when you “read” the book three or four times, but what about things you have to read cold?  What then?  What he didn’t memorize, he guessed at, and he had gotten really good at looking at pictures and telling the story close enough so that everyone thought he was reading.  Around that time, I also learned there are several actors who struggle with this–people who I really admire for the creativity and honesty they bring to their roles.

I also learned that in a couple of states, the prison system estimates how many beds they will need in 20 years by the number of 3rd graders in their state that can’t read. Let me tell you, that’s scary!

Through the first half of second grade, we struggled.  It was better because now I knew there was a definable problem and what it was.  However, how best to get past it was still a mystery.

Enter Vision Therapy in January.  As you recall, my son went in for testing, and we found out that his eyes “jump” as he is trying to focus on something.  They also didn’t stretch side-to-side the way they were supposed to.  He also had trouble shifting from near focus to far focus quickly.  In February we started therapy.  We kept reading too.

It wasn’t always pretty, and the downs sometimes felt like they would last forever.  But…

After a spring and a summer, I’m happy to report that last Tuesday in his final vision evaluation, he scored “at or above grade level.”  Those are some of the best words I’ve ever heard!  Unbelievably, we are 10 chapters into his very first long chapter book!  And he’s READING.  He can read a chapter in 10 minutes.  It used to take us 10 minutes to get through 2 pages of a 1-sentence-per-page book.  It feels like we’re flying!

So to all of you who prayed so diligently for us, thank you.  Sincerely.  From the bottom of my heart.

Last night we got into bed, and always before, mentioning a book was a one-way-ticket to a bucket of tears.  Instead, he reached up and grabbed a book.  It was called “Why Does it Rain?”  He said, “I think it should be ‘Why Doesn’t it Rain?'” (Terrible drought here in our part of the country.)  Then he would look at each page, read it to himself, and reword it to what it would be if it was trying to explain why it doesn’t rain.

I really think life after dyslexia is going to be fun.


Watching Dad

August 18, 2011

By:  Staci Stallings

Sometimes God so overwhelms me with lessons and love and insights that I’m just blown away.  Sunday was just such a day.

If I tried to tell the whole story, it would stretch into a million words that wouldn’t capture it all.  So I’m just going to tell you about one tiny moment.

For several reasons we decided to go to church at noon on Sunday.  The noon service is the one that is attended by several deaf people.  To encourage the deaf to attend, our church has several different interpreters that come for the noon service.  They stand down on the floor in front of the raised platform where the readings are proclaimed.  All those who are deaf or who have deaf family members sit down in front to “see” the words.

My oldest daughter became fascinated with sign language a few years back, and this summer, we found one of the people in the deaf community to actually teach her ASL (American Sign Language).  Although I’ve also been fascinated with ASL, I think my daughter’s interest in it has heightened my awareness of it.  So I often watch the interpreters now.  Their skill is amazing.

Usually there are two of them, and they trade off duties.  One will sign the standard parts, one signs the readings, one signs the homily, one signs the songs.  I’m assuming this is to give each of them a little break for their hands and their brains.  How they process things that quickly, I’ll never know.

And so it was that at Communion time, as we approached the front, I happened to glance over at the young woman who was signing the song.  She was a new interpreter–one that I’d never seen before anyway, so I assume she’s new.  For one single second, I caught sight of her eyes.  Rather than being on the words and music in front of her, they were down just a bit farther–on the person in the bench in front of her.

My gaze traveled down, wondering who it was she was looking at.  That’s when I saw him.  The other interpreter.  The man who is always there and leads the interpreting.  He was sitting in the bench, looking at her and signing.

Instantly my mind said, “Well, she’s not doing it at all.  She’s just mimicking what she sees him doing…”

Talk about getting hit like a ton of bricks!

Here I was totally believing that she had this all under control on her own power.  However, in that second I realized she was doing her best, but she was really relying on his best.  His.  The seasoned veteran.  The leader.

Now honestly I don’t know if that man is her father or not, but I thought, “Well, she’s just like me, watching Dad and doing what He does!”

That’s about the time I started crying.

You see, so much about my life right now looks impressive.  The ten books going out on Kindle in a month.  New covers for books left and right.  Signing up with Twitter and Facebook.  Learning how to actually use those two mediums.  Creating a new blog.  All the while finishing up Vision Therapy for my son, reading with him and actually seeing him blossom into a reader.  Getting the kids ready for school.  Listening to my middle daughter play the drums and bells, and marveling that she’s come so far this summer.  Watching my oldest learn ASL.

That’s when I realize I’m doing the same thing the interpreter was doing… I’m watching Dad and following His lead!

I have to tell you, it’s an awesome way to live!


Announcing Spirit Light Moments

August 15, 2011

By:  Staci Stallings

Wow!  Things are moving so fast around here, it’s hard to keep up.  But they are great things, awesome things, God blessings.  So I’m not complaining at all–more like hanging on for the ride!

I wanted to let you know about the newest addition to the Spirit Light family.

Spirit Light Moments opened today, and God is so good to have given me this idea.  In fact, I woke up with it.  So last night when I went to bed, it was only a light in God’s eyes.  Today it’s a blessing in mine!

The basic idea is, I know how busy everyone is.  Who has time for reading, right?  You’ve got kids to get to school, a job to get to, those other five projects staring at you that you have no clue how you’ll get to.  But wouldn’t it be nice to start your day off for one moment in the presence of God?  To spend just a minute, two at the most, reading something to lift your day up?

Or maybe you come home at night, dragging, and you just need a little bit of inspiration to let you breathe and remember God’s right there and He’s got a plan.

That’s what Spirit Light Moments is all about.

Check it out, and if you love it, subscribe so they will be delivered right to your inbox 365 days a year!

A friend of mine said on Sunday she was going to church to sing some praises to God.  I wrote back, “Wouldn’t it be great to make a little time to do that everyday?”

Well, consider these my praise hymns for the day!

Thanks for taking the journey with me, and as always feel free to invite anyone who might be blessed by Spirit Light!

Now find Staci on Facebook!  Search for Staci Stallings and ask to be a friend!


When Normal Isn’t Working

August 11, 2011

By:  Staci Stallings

I’m reading a great book by Craig Groeschel called:  “Weird:  Because Normal Isn’t Working.”  The book is excellent as it takes modern life area-by-area and explains why being normal just doesn’t work.

Groeschel starts with the premise that the gate is narrow and few are they that find it.  True.  In fact, Jesus says that HE is the way and that HE is the gate.  If you want to find the narrow path, if you want to find the gate, you should first start by looking for Jesus.

I don’t mean just going to church.  I may have mentioned this, but it bears repeating.  My daughter posted a great saying, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than standing in the garage makes you a car.”

Going to church is a great starting point, but if that’s as far as your faith goes, you’ve missed the point entirely.  The point of faith is to take it from the church, through the door, and then to LIVE IT!

Too many of us use our faith to make us “normal.”  We go to church… sometimes.  We call ourselves Christians when pressed.

Again, that’s missing the point of being a Christian.  Calling yourself Christian but not bringing that into your life is the “normal” way of doing things.  But God calls you to be “not of the world.”  The world is the broad way of doing things, the normal way.

The world is the one that tells you debt is the only way to live, that divorce is okay because everybody’s doing it, that things like the Ten Commandments and prayer are out-dated, old-fashioned ideas that just don’t work anymore.

The world is WRONG!

If you are going to be a weird Christian, you’ve got to start bringing Christ into your life every minute of every day.  (That’s what to “pray without ceasing” means!)

I happened to go into a business yesterday that had a huge framed painting on the wall.  In the painting, Jesus sat on one side while a business man sat on the other listening.  I commented about liking the picture.  The owner said, “I’m curious.  What do you see when you look at it?”  I said, “Well, it’s a businessman listening to Jesus about what the best decision will be to make.”

The owner said, “You would be surprised how many people don’t see that.  Oh, some think the second man is a doctor or something, but a lot of people don’t realize the first man is Jesus even though there’s a Scripture verse at the bottom, and he is clearly in ‘Jesus robes.'”

To the world, you are weird if you sit down and have a conversation with Jesus.  To the world if you stand in a church for an hour on Sundays, you can call yourself a Christian in good conscience.  To the world, you don’t want to be weird when normal is so much easier.

But now I’m going to use a famous Dr. Phil line:  “How’s normal working for you?”

How does being in debt like the rest of the world working for you?

How does being stressed to the max and running all the time working for you?

If normal isn’t working, maybe it’s time to try weird.

I’ve been weird for awhile now, and let me tell you, it was THE best decision of my life.

You might consider trying it for a change!


Does Anybody Hear Me?

August 7, 2011

By:  Staci Stallings

Maybe it’s a given that we all want to feel important.  Maybe it’s not.  Maybe it’s possible that we get to a point where we don’t need earthly connection.  However, feeling important, wanted, seen, and yes, even loved is important to most of us.

But important can be defined so many different ways.  To some, important = success, top billing, top down, leader of the pack.  To others it just means for a few minutes a day, it would be nice if SOMEONE knew you were on the planet.

Interestingly, I’ve written about both types of people, and at the core of it all, they really aren’t that different.

Oh, on the outside it looks like they have radically different goals and lives.  After all, what does the CEO who is making $10,000 a minute have in common with the mom who just got home with a new baby and is now in the throes of midnight feedings and diaper changes?  On the surface maybe not much.

The CEO wears Armani, and the mom’s wearing whatever’s not stained.  The CEO is the head of a multi-national.  The mom would like five minutes of alone time to sleep.

But I challenge you to look just a little deeper.  Look for a moment at why each person does what they do.

When you look at the mom, you see a woman who is stressed but would love not to be.  She loves what she does, but it would be nice to get a “way to go” or better yet a “can I help?”

Our CEO is also stressed, and he would really like for somebody (anybody!) to be grateful for his work, to be grateful for all he does for the company, to get a “way to go” or even a “can I help?”  He wants to be recognized.  He does what he does because he wants to feel important.

I think we are all quietly or loudly asking, “Does anybody hear me?”

One secret to life I have found by hanging out with God is simply this:  Realize that every person you come in contact with wants to be heard, they want to feel important.  The more you can make them feel genuinely important to you, the greater impact on their life you will have.  In fact, just doing that can make life change for them in ways you can’t even imagine.

That’s what God does with each of us.  God hears us in deeply personal ways. He will hear you when you talk to Him.  He may not always answer the way you want Him to, but He is always there to listen.  And when you’re with Him, He will send others to you to listen as well… especially if you make it a point in life to listen to others.  Never take really listening for granted.  It’s the key to unlocking every other person on the planet.

What are they like?  What are their fears?  What is their biggest joy?  What is their biggest disappointment?

The truth is that it is the connection that is important to all of us.  It is the feeling of connection that makes us feel important.  Ultimately that’s why the CEO works so hard.  He wants to be someone others look up to–that’s a connection.  The mom wants to be someone her child can count on–that’s a connection, a point of importance.

Kids, co-workers, friends, spouses.  They are all looking to be heard, to see if they matter to you.  Do they?  Are they important to you?

If someone is important to you, take the time to make them feel it by listening and really being there for them.  Otherwise, no matter how important they really are to you, they will walk away believing the answer is no. And that is the greatest tragedy in life:  to be loved and to be important but feel like you are not.

 


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