By: Staci Stallings
In addition, or maybe in connection with, studying God and His ways, I have always been fascinated by the concept of change. Specifically, how do we get out of ruts our lives get stuck in. You know those ruts–maybe its boredom or hopelessness, maybe it’s debt or marriage issues. Whatever it is, what I’ve learned is “it” always starts with “you.”
If the problem doesn’t start with you, then the solution certainly does.
Change demands that we change–something about ourselves or about the way we are looking at the situation.
Sometimes we’re forced into change. Someone dies, we graduate, we get fired, we get married.
Sometimes we choose to change. We decide to start a family or a business.
Whatever it is, change brings about certain wonders and lessons, and also certain challenges. For example, a student in school is constantly asked to change by learning new things. Over the course of a year, one student might learn a million bits of information–how to do certain things like write the letter A or a six-page essay. They might learn that the Revolutionary War started in 1775 or that the atomic element Sodium has a symbol NA.
All of these change the way that student sees the world. And the changes don’t stop in academics. Maybe that student learns to play an instrument or play it better. Maybe he learns to shoot a jumpshot correctly or to clear a hurdle. Maybe she learns a little patience with a friend or how to format a spreadsheet. All of this learning is essentially change.
In fact, most of life is essentially change.
But here’s the thing… most of us don’t like change much. We know how things are, and we want them to stay like that because status quo means safety and comfort. Change is a challenge–even if in that challenge we see opportunity, it’s the risk that scares us.
What I’m learning about change is that if you look at it incrementally–in small bits and pieces, the fear often is at least manageable if not mitigated.
For example, let’s say that you want to change how you eat. Now you could very well go cold turkey with everything, stop eating junk food, start eating only vegetables, but my guess is that wouldn’t last very long. Instead, think of changing your diet as a process not a one-time decision. So today, you don’t drink 5 sodas, you drink three. That’s change. Tomorrow you realize you did all right with three, maybe you could do just two. Next week, you decide to chop that down to one.
Or maybe instead of giving up a bad habit, you want to build a good one. Let’s say instead of committing yourself to reading the Bible for 15 minutes every morning, you start by getting it off the shelf and dusting it off. Lay it on your desk, so you will see it in the morning and commit to opening it and reading one verse. The next morning maybe it’s two verses, the next five.
And if you fall off the transformation truck, don’t worry about it. None of us are perfect!
Get up. Dust yourself off. Take a breath and congratulate yourself on the changes you have made.
Now take another step in the direction you want to go.
There are three keys to making any positive change:
1) Going in the right direction.
2) Taking the small steps to get there.
3) Being flexible and forgiving when necessary.
I once heard a speaker say that transformation is change over time.
So when you’ve decided to change, to transform some facet of your life, realize that it’s going to take time. That’s okay. Keep going in the right direction, taking the small steps, and being flexible with yourself for all the times you don’t do it perfectly. And you will be amazed at where you will end up!
~ DEEP IN THE HEART ~
I want to take a moment today and tell you how very grateful I am to all the loyal Staci Stallings readers. To those who have read the books, followed the blog, or anything else I have done over the years… THANK YOU!
May God bless you richly for the love and support you have given me! You will never know how much it has meant.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
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By: Guest blogger, Sarah Witenhafer
“For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.” Isaiah 48:11
Have you ever considered being thankful for God’s jealousy? Chances are the mere mention of that particular character trait makes you wince. Jealousy is usually a base emotion in man. We lump it in with insecurity and covetousness. And there’s nothing less appealing than a green-eyed, grasping woman or man. But God’s jealousy is altogether different and in fact, it’s one of His kindest traits. Without the jealousy of God, we would be forever condemned to the futility of our own idols.
Life sucking, purpose robbing, powerless idols.
But of course that’s not how we see them. We drool after the worthless things, running after them like dogs in heat, or trading what’s precious for another fix. The adulterous spouse, the workaholic parent, the writer who entertains every mental fantasy (Zing!), or the mom who “just wants her children to behave” perfectly, these are modern followers. And God is jealous because He sees what we deny.
He knows there is no life or profit or power in an idol, and describes them as oxymorons.
“Mouths that cannot speak. Eyes that cannot see, ears that cannot hear, feet that cannot walk.” Psalm 115
“Lovers who despise you and seek your life.” Jeremiah 4:30
“Broken cisterns, which hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:13
What amazes me is that while God is justifiably angry over our misplaced affections, He continues to have our best in mind.
He warns against walking after what is empty and becoming empty in the process – walking after things that do not profit. He calls us to walk with Him that it may go well with us, and with our children after us, in order that we may live. But if we do not turn back, God will teach us a hard lesson. “Your own wickedness will correct you, and your apostasies will reprove you. Know therefore and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God.”
It is for our good that God will not share us. In fact, in Jeremiah 7:19 God asks these powerful questions, “Do they spite Me? Is it not themselves they spite to their own shame?”
A lesser god would leave us. Certainly pagan gods didn’t care. It hardly mattered to them whether a soul was faithful to one or 500 gods. And personal holiness was optional as long as the right sacrifices were made. God is the only God who sacrificed His own blood to give us a new heart, one that would never turn away from Him. He did this so His people would be a living testimony to His glorious wisdom and grace. He did this so we could worship His beauty forever. There is no God like ours. Jealous is His name.
Join Sarah Witenhafer, Staci Stallings, and 8 of their author friends at WoMen’s Literary Cafe’s Christian Book Launch, December 13-15. Ten authors will discount their ebooks to just 99 cents. Buy 3 get 1 FREE! http://www.womensliterarycafe.com/content/december-2011book-launches
But don’t wait until then! Check out Sarah’s book, “Tamed” here: http://www.amazon.com/Tamed-ebook/dp/B004MYFNKC
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By: Staci Stallings
I live with three children. Okay. They live with me, but sometimes it feels the other way around. My temperament likes to sit and write and read and think. That doesn’t always mesh with theirs.
The thing that drives me the craziest is the fighting. True story: My sister and I did not fight at home. We honestly didn’t. We had one fight that we both remember which resulted in her stomping out of the room and slamming the door. That was it.
Somehow that cool, levelheadedness did not make the generation jump especially with my youngest two.
Now maybe I’m being too hard on them. Maybe they are just immature in their social skills but they fight more than any two people I’ve ever been around on a long-term basis.
And they fight over goofy stuff that makes no difference at all. In fact, sometimes I think they fight just to fight!
That’s why when I heard something today it clicked. It wasn’t a long something, but it was profound. It was about our emotional state and how when we live and make decisions from an emotional state, we are literally handing over the remote of our reactions to someone else.
Have you ever sat down to watch television and someone else had the remote? Then you probably can relate to this lesson.
No matter what you want to watch, if you don’t have the remote, they will annoy you. Guaranteed.
At commercial, you may want to flip over and see something else–the score of the game or how that flambe is turning out on the cooking channel. They don’t change the channel. Or worse, they change it to something else–boxing or baseball. Or worse, the football game that happened six years ago.
This is exactly what happens when you choose to operate solely from your emotions. Everyone else can push your buttons at will.
I believe this is what is happening with my kids. They know how to push each others’ buttons. It might be something as simple as an eye-roll or a shake of the head and off we go. They magnify through their emotions the action of the other person. They take the action, think the worst thing possible, and the fight starts.
Are you like that? Do you live through your emotions? Can someone set you off just by ignoring you or not doing what you want them to do? Maybe it’s time to take a little emotional check and take back the remote control.
When someone does something you don’t like, remember YOU have the choice how to react. YOU get to decide how to respond. YOU do. Not them.
Don’t let someone else hold the remote control of your state, or you will be in for a very long and miserable time. In fact, better than you holding the remote, why don’t you give it to God? let Him decide how to respond. Let Him filter the situation through His Love and show you what to do about it.
I’m telling you, that is a WHOLE lot better than being yanked around at the whims of others or at the white-knuckled grip of yourself.
So who’s holding the remote control of you life?
COWBOY by: Staci Stallings
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By: Staci Stallings
I’ve been thinking a lot about the Dr. Lee A. Simpson information I’ve been posting and something occurred to me the other day. He’s missing a step!
Not a step in the process necessarily but a step at the end. Because after you’ve started where you are, used what you had, and maximized that state, then what?
Well, let’s take my pumpkin pie example.
I started where I was… pretty much clueless how to make a pumpkin pie from a real pumpkin and not terribly excited about learning. However, my daughter wanted to. So we used what we had–a downloaded set of instructions from the Internet, every pan, bowl, and bit of counter space in my kitchen, and the pie crust I bought at the store. And we maximized our state and made a pumpkin pie.
Very good. But looking beyond that initial pie, there is more to the story!
You see, we didn’t stop there, and neither should you. If you stop after your first attempt, you will never get good at anything. The last step is, now that you’re on a new level of understanding and skill, you analyze what you did–what worked, what didn’t. Then you gather new information, refine your process and start over at the next level.
So we looked at what worked–the pie was terrific. What didn’t–took WAY too long (7 1/2 hours!) and made way too big of a mess. We share our result–I called my mom and told her the story. She shared how she used to make pumpkins in the oven. We took that advice and refined our process.
Now we were at the NEXT LEVEL. We were no longer pumpkin pie neophytes!
We started over. We started where we were with our new information. We used what we had (an oven and a new pumpkin). We maximized our new state.
The only problem was according to my mom’s directions, we were supposed to cook the pumpkin at 250 degrees for two hours, but when we checked, it wasn’t even close to ready. So we increased the temperature and let it go another hour, at which time it was closer to done and nearly time for bed, so we went with what we had.
What did we do after the second pumpkin? Well, we started over… starting where we were with all of our accumulated pumpkin making knowledge, we used what we had, and we maximized our state. We set the oven hotter and knowing that when the pumpkin skin looks burned, it’s done, we knew now how long to cook it.
We had entered the next level!
Now we figured out that our oven doesn’t cook evenly. So 30 minutes into the cook time with the last pumpkin, we turned it around. PRESTO! That worked.
Get it? That’s how you learn to do anything.
Start where you are. Use what you have. Maximize that State. Learn and move to the next level.
So what are you learning to do that you’re going to use this on?
DEEP IN THE HEART by Staci Stallings http://ow.ly/7booS
On sale now for Kindle and Nook!
By: Staci Stallings
I will be the first to admit I am not a good cook. You can ask my husband and my kids. They would agree with me. Truth is, I can mess up TOAST!
So you’ll understand why my middle daughter strikes fear into her mother’s heart.
Well, she’s a bit like her great grandmother, though she probably doesn’t know that. You see, I remember my grandmother. If she didn’t have something she needed, she would make do with something else. When she sewed, she didn’t tend to many details like clipping corners and other such time-consuming issues. If she was going to sew, she was going to sew. (I’m a lot like her in that respect.)
And she wasn’t terribly afraid of trying things. If something was to be done, she did it or figured out a way around whatever obstacle showed up.
Now my middle daughter is just like this with cooking. She thinks of some fun thing to cook, and she wants to try it. For my part, I try to talk her out of it, put it off hoping she’ll forget (she never does!), or conveniently “forget” to get the ingredients.
Thus our story begins back on October 8. That was the day of our school’s Halloween Carnival. For decorations, they got pumpkins. LOTS of them! And at the end of the Carnival, they were giving them away and begging people to take them. So each of my three kids got one and my husband got one. Then my youngest had the “brilliant” idea that along with jack-o-lanterns, we could make a REAL pumpkin pie! So they got three more!
I see you snickering over there, but just wait, it gets better.
All seven pumpkins relocated to my kitchen floor. Now these weren’t little pie pumpkins, they were the BIG, GIANT things you can carve more easily. And the begging started, “Mom, can we make the pumpkin pie NOW?”
Okay. The only pumpkin pie I’ve ever made came out of a can, and three years ago, I even abandoned that as too much work and started buying the thing frozen. So I was decidedly NOT excited about making a pumpkin pie from a real pumpkin.
First of all, I didn’t know how to get the pumpkin out of the pumpkin. Second of all, it sounded hard. Third of all, was it really worth that much effort? You get the picture.
Well, finally one Sunday the inevitable happened. My daughter decided that she was going to make this pumpkin pie with or without me. She downloaded very detailed instructions from the Internet and set to work. She decided that steaming it made the most sense, so she selected a pumpkin and got started. Within twenty minutes she had summoned the help of little brother, father, and me. She pulled out every pan I had and had pumpkin strung from one end of the kitchen to the other. (And it’s as bad as canning corn! Stringy and sticky! What a MESS!)
The good news is, she did eventually finish her pumpkin pie. The bad news is, it literally took 7 and 1/2 hours. No wonder our ancestors were so thin!
So, why am I telling you this great saga other than to whine? Well, there is a point you’re going to like so stay with me.
Remember we’ve been talking about how to change, and it requiring three things: #1 Start where you are #2 Use what you have #3 Maximize your state.
Well, there is more to the pumpkin story, and I think it illustrates these points perfectly.
You see, after that first pumpkin pie was made, it was so good, she decided to do another. That’s when I called my mom and found out a better way to cook a pumpkin than steaming the thing. You cut the top but leave it on, put it in the oven at 450 degrees for about one and one-half hours. It will burn the outside which will then just peel right off!
Now I didn’t know this when the great pumpkin saga started on that Sunday. I had never thought to ask. The first time we started where we were with what we had–tools and knowledge. We made some mistakes and then, afterward, sought advice on how to do it better.
The second pumpkin was far easier. The third easier still because we learned not to put the chunks of pumpkin into the blender–rather mash them first and then put them in the blender to puree.
We will do our fifth pumpkin tonight (we’re freezing them as we go), and I dare say we’ve almost become pumpkin experts!
But had I required myself to know what I know now before I ever started, I would never have done the first one.
So, what are you wanting to learn to do or trying to learn that you need to take the leap and just do? Doing is also called practice, you know. And if you practice enough, you just might find yourself a “pumpkin” expert too!
Houston firefighter, Jeff Taylor is a fireman’s fireman. No situation is too dangerous to keep him sidelined if lives are on the line. However, when control freak Lisa Matheson falls for him, she quickly realizes she can’t control Jeff or the death wish he seems to have…
To Protect & Serve
The Courage Series, Book 1
To save others’ lives, they will risk their own
“To Protect and Serve will hold you prisoner to its pages until the final one is turned. Prepare to cry, laugh, wish, love and maybe even cry again as you become enveloped in the hopes and feelings of Lisa and Jeff.”
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By: Staci Stallings
We have been talking about Dr. Lee A. Simpson’s workshop on maximizing your state in life. The three steps to doing that are these:
1) Start where you are.
2) Use what you have.
3) Maximize your state.
Dr. Simpson says that your “state” is condition or position you are in at a particular moment.
So you’re state right now might be happy, or angry, or frazzled, or meditative. The state of your life right now may be chaotic or tranquil, haphazard or organized.
Right now, please write down three words to describe the state of your LIFE right now.
Okay. Take a look at what you wrote. Are there changes to be made in any of those areas?
Let’s say that you wrote “stressed.” That would be an area that you need to see some change in. After all, you don’t want to maximize stress, you want to live a maximum life–an optimal life.
So if you’re stressed, let’s go back to #1.
#1 Start where you are. “I am stressed.” Be honest about it. Don’t say, “Well, yes, but look what I have to be stressed about.” Are there things to be stressed about in your life right now? Almost certainly. But do you have to live “stressed”? No. You don’t. But be honest that that’s where you are.
#2 Use what you have. One of the things you have is the ability to breathe and to pray. No matter what the situation, you can choose to breathe for a moment, close your eyes, and invite God into this situation. USE IT! When things are ratcheting up and out of control, consciously STOP. Take a breath and ask God to come in. When you do this, the situation that was out of control comes down a notch–in your heart if nothing else.
#3 Maximize your state. Living stressed out is not maximized living. It is existence at best. So if you’re living stressed, maximize those times of quiet and peace. Maybe it’s for five minutes just before you go to sleep. Maximize it. Shut off the television and focus on relaxing. Stop watching those violent shows that ramp up your blood pressure and adrenaline just before you go to bed. Drink something soothing. Take a warm shower or a warm bath. Give yourself some me time–even if it’s just five minutes. The stretch that to six minutes the next night.
Whatever your situation, whatever state you’re in that you don’t want to be in, there is a way out. Start where you are by being honest about it. Use what you have and enlist help if necessary and possible. And make the most out of what you’ve been given. When you do this, you begin to see that you don’t have to live the way you were living. There is a different way, a better way, a more abundant way.
Ask God to show you His best for you. What does He call maximum in your life. You will be amazed how different things feel after you do this!
Ben Warren is footloose and fancy free, and that’s how he likes it.
Then one night the unthinkable happens.
What happens when this playboy suddenly has to grow up?
Find out in…
“Incredibly moving and poignant…”
By: Staci Stallings
Last time we talked about Dr. Lee A. Simpson’s three steps to maximizing your life. They were:
1) Start where you are.
2) Use what you have.
3) Maximize your state.
Last time we talked about the first one. (Start where you are.)
Today, we turn to using what you have.
Now this is going to seem elementary, but hear me out. You cannot use something you don’t have.
If you don’t have a rake to rake the leaves, unless you can borrow one, you don’t have one to use, right?
And yet how many times have you heard people say, “I’d work harder if I had a different job.” Or, “I’d be a better husband if I was married to a different woman.” Or… “If I had more money, I would start giving to the church.”
I’m sorry, folks, but it doesn’t work like that!
That goes double in the spiritual realm. You can’t use patience if you’ve never bothered to learn how. You can’t use love when you go around angry all the time.
All you can use is what you have.
But here’s the cool thing. When you’re a Christian, you’re not limited to YOUR amount.
For example, let’s say that the situation calls for wisdom. As a Christian, I am not limited to the wisdom I have (notice the little w). I can call upon my Father and His Wisdom! I can say, “God, I don’t know what to do here. I don’t know what to say. Please do this and say this through me.”
And guess what?
HIS Wisdom shows up in the situation!
Remember when we talked a week or so ago about being a channel of God’s love. This is that same point. As a Christian, you have everything you need for whatever situation God puts you in (notice I did not say whatever situation YOU put yourself in! Use some discernment here). But let’s say that God wants to speak some words of comfort to a grieving mother. On your own, you may not have the words (and even if you do, let God talk, He always says it better than you ever could!). Ask, God for the words, and He will give them to you.
In the physical realm, if you don’t have something you think you need, look around. Maybe God is going to give you a revelation of something else that you already have in your possession that you could use.
If you’re broke, for example, God may not miraculously put $20 in your pocket. But He might have you walk by a place that’s hiring.
God will either give you what you need or point you to something you have that you can use.
So, don’t sit around whining and in fear, determined not to move forward until you get this thing you think you need. Take a step in the direction of your dream with what you have. Take a step in the direction of what you want with what you have. By doing that, God will see you being faithful to the calling on your heart, and He will put the right things in your path that you need at the right time.
Next time we’ll talk about maximizing your state.
Until then, have a blessed life!
Book 2 of The Harmony Series
Some books are entertaining. Others challenge our faith and inspire growth. And still others touch our hearts on a deeper level. Then, there are the rare books that do all of the above. Those are the great books. Lucky by Staci Stallings is a great book. Staci has woven this love story like a fine tapestry.
– Chandra Lynn Smith, http://chandrasplace.blogspot.com
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