Today Thinking

November 29, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

So how do you stay in Today Thinking?  If power is found in today thinking, how does that look in a life?

I’ll give you an example:  Me!

I have a lot going on.  A lot of times I think of myself as lazy, but the truth is probably more that I have so much going on, I stay behind most of the time and often think, “If I could have just gotten that done last week…”

For a long time I drove myself absolutely NUTS with lists and timelines and schedules.  All that did was make me a stressed out mess.

Worse, I wasn’t any farther ahead than I ever was before.

With today/this minute thinking, God has shown me how to maximize what I’m doing and minimize my stress.

So what does this look like?

Let’s say I start my day with the following list of things that really need to be done:

Apply for Credit for husband’s company so we can buy materials for the next job
Decide who will get which articles for free day campaign (25 articles)
Write 100 tweets for free day
Write blog for Spirit Light for Monday
Get books ready for book signing
Edit next book
Finish For Real in print
Get oil in van
Daughter’s basketball game
Get son and take to gymnasics
Pay bills
(Yes, that really was my list last week)

First I would look at this and ask which is critical–must be done in 24 hours or we don’t eat or someone has to sleep at school.  Those are put at the top and when it’s time to do that, I quit whatever else I’m doing.

Next, what is most pressing in say next 72 hours?  That would be paying bills and oil in the van (so it doesn’t leave me on the side of the road and kids have to sleep at school).  Is there anything I can do while I wait for the van?  Yes. I can edit the next book if I bring my laptop.

So I go and wait and edit while I’m there.  When the van is done, editing more will have to wait because it’s not critical or most pressing.

Back home, I look through the list… most pressing pay bills.  So that’s next.

Next is Needs to be Done within 5 days.  That would be the blog and applying for credit.

Finally is needs to be done within 2-3 weeks.  I do SOME on that, whittling it down so in a week or two when it moves up to critical, I don’t have the WHOLE thing to worry about, just some.

Now, one thing that really tripped me up before was that in the middle of something, the phone would ring and it would be my mom or my best friend.  Before I would get frustrated, but now I consider these my Godly Scheduled assignments.  That means God Assignments take precedence 99% of the time.  Only if something is SUPER-CRITICAL do I ask to call them back.  Otherwise, I take the call knowing I’m on God’s time, not mine.

The beauty of this is that I don’t worry about the other ten things when I’m doing one.  I’m doing them in most critical order, so the things that HAVE to be done will be.

I’ve also added into this one other thing.  Every morning now at 10 a.m. I take a break to eat a power bar and drink some good-for-me stuff.  I go in, sit, and watch HGTV and during commercials, I clean.  I can get the living room, kids’ bath, son’s room, and dining room picked up and the kitchen dishes running.  And I don’t feel like I’m being punished with cleaning.
Now my system of today/right now thinking might not work for you, but if it sounds like it might, try it.  If it doesn’t, feel free to try something else.

The point is to learn to stay focuses on one task for a time, then another task for a time without feeling like everything has to be done now and you’re so overwhelmed you just want to quit.  Don’t quit.  Do one thing right now!

*~*

A Work in Progress

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The Power of Today

November 26, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

One of the biggest issues people face is not facing issues.  And one of their most readily available ways of distracting themselves is not thinking in terms of TODAY.

We all know people who are stuck in the past.  What he should have said.  What she should have done or not done.  Wish I could go back to… when the kids were little, before the kids, before the house, before college… etc.  These people think in terms of “yesterday,” pining for a life that can never be again.

An equally destructive thought pattern is “tomorrow thinking.”  I’ll start the diet on Monday.  Next week when I get the bills paid… When we get the house paid off… When the kids get out of school… When the kids go back to school… When I get a new job…. When we retire…

I know.  You have no idea what I’m talking about, right?

The problem with both of these thought patterns is they rob you of the power of today.

You don’t have tomorrow to work with (and you might never have tomorrow to work with).  You cannot fix nor change the past.

What you have to work with is today.

Does that jar you?  Does it scare you to think in terms of today?  Is tomorrow much more hopeful or yesterday much safer?

Well, it’s time to break out of thinking that way because those are merely excuses that will keep you from making today all it needs to be.

People ask me a lot of times how I get so much done.  With a husband, three kids, two schools, two businesses, a house, teaching Sunday School, volunteering, writing the blogs, marketing the books, publishing new books, writing more new ones, etc.–how do I not go completely insane?

I honestly think my secret is maximizing today.  I do make lists of things that need to be done, but I don’t let that overwhelm me.  I focus on right here, right now and do as much as I can in any given moment.

I’m not looking back and wishing it was yesterday or five years ago (though there certainly are things I could do that with).  Nor do I look ahead much into what I want to do or be in the future.  I’m too busy doing and being right now.

So for today, look at your thought patterns.  Do you spend a lot of time not right here and now?  Do you daydream about tomorrow, or fret about (or pine for) yesterday?

Today I challenge you to harness the power of today.  Doing so can change your life!

*~*

White Knight

“Expect the Unexpected!”

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Happy Thanksgiving!

November 22, 2012

 

From me and mine

To you and yours!

Happy Thanksgiving!

May God’s blessings be with you always!

Staci Stallings


Questions that Make You Go Hmmm… #7

November 19, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

We are, by nature, an outcome driven people.  To win the game, we will spend hours practicing.  To have a comfortable retirement, we will work and save for 65 years.  To be successful, we will go to school, then to college, then get a job and work endless hours.

Outcome is what drives us.  We want to see results.  If the prize is big enough, we will drive ourselves half crazy to get it.

So it’s no wonder that many people’s prayer life is results oriented.  We don’t pray to get closer to God, we pray to get things from God.  We pray like this:

“God, if you will just let me get that car… or that job… or that husband… or these bills paid….”

Whatever is our immediate concern is what gets prayer.  And there is always a “result” we are seeking.

Here’s the problem with that.  It doesn’t work.

I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you that, but it doesn’t.  You don’t pray for the result to get the thing so that you can relax, be at peace, and be happy.  You are happy, at peace, and relaxed and the blessings show up.

So our final question is this:

Are your prayers too results oriented?

This is a hard one because it’s both how we’ve been taught and how we’re conditioned.  It’s not bad to have some of your prayers be results oriented.  I mean, if Grandma is sick, you should pray for her to get well again.  God wants you to take your problems to Him.  However, if that’s all you ever do, you’re misreading the kind of relationship God wants to have with you.

Do you spend time in prayer, for example, simply “being” in the presence of God?  Listening for His voice to tell you that He loves you?  Or do you rush through memorized prayers followed by a list of “how You could make my life better if You really cared” prayers and then get on with life?

If so, maybe it’s time to rethink the role of prayer in your life.

One of my favorite prayers growing up has this line:  Thy will be done today…

THY WILL.  Not mine.  Not what I want, what You want.  I want what You want, God.  Do you?  Do you really?

Or are you a little afraid of what He might put into your life if you give Him that much leeway?

If you find that your prayers are too results oriented, I challenge you today to take one minute and just BE with God.  Just sit, and listen.  See what comes up.  Then do it again tomorrow and the next day and the next.  As you do this, I believe you will start to see peace return and hope spring anew in your heart.

Want what God wants, give Him all of everything in your life.  Otherwise, you will be so focused on getting what you want that you may miss completely the blessings He has in store for you.
*~*

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Questions that Make You Go Hmmm… #6

November 15, 2012

by: Staci Stallings

This was not one of my planned questions, but God planned it for me.

98% of the time, I’m with God.  I mean, we’re a team.  We drive together, write together, clean together.  There’s hardly a time that we’re not together.  Then every-so-often something happens that totally throws me into “Me Mode.”

Have you ever been in “Me Mode”?  Mad at the world or someone specific?  And your anger is justified, I tell you… JUSTIFIED!  And you are just going to be angry, and you don’t really care what God or anyone else thinks because you’ve got a RIGHT to be angry…

Well, here’s in a nutshell what happened.  Hubby called about noon to find out if I wanted to eat lunch.  He was working across the street.  I said that I could, which would mean stopping what I was doing, but he was home, so okay.

Well, they weren’t quite finished yet, but they would be in about 30 minutes if that would work.  Actually that would be better so I could finish up what I was doing.  In fact, we could then go down to the little cafe and have lunch, which we haven’t gotten to do in awhile.  Great.

So far, so good.

Thirty minutes passes.  Then forty.  Then forty-five.

Hubby calls and says his worker is having issues and it’s going to be a little bit longer, is that okay?  Yes.  That’s fine.  Just let me know.

Well, the issues don’t magically disappear, and now it’s 1:15.  He calls and says he thinks we can go.  Okay.  Great.

I finish up.  He comes home.  Now it’s 1:30.  He’s going to go separate so he can go into town and get some wood he needs.  By this point, I’m going to have to go get kids at 3:15, so I might as well figure I’m not coming back either.

So I get in my van and head to the cafe, which is about a 10-15 minute drive from our house.  When I get there, my cell phone rings.  It’s hubby.  Still back at the house.  He hasn’t left yet.  Apparently someone is emailing something that he needed in order to get the wood.  (I know, ladies, but that’s how he operates.)

Can I tell him how to print something off the email.  Now my husband can do a lot of things.  Computers are not among them.

I talk him into the email program, but there is no email.  We wait.  He hits the download button.  Nothing.  Now it’s 1:50, and I’m getting really hungry.  He calls the person who is supposed to be emailing it.  They have the wrong email address.  So finally they get the right one, and the email comes through.  Now we’re making progress.  I might get to eat before Christmas.

He gets the thing opened, and it opens in some camera application program that I’ve never heard of.  “Okay, look around and find Print.”  No print.  Can’t find it.

Finally I just decided to go home and do it myself.

Now, please picture me.  I’m hungry.  I’m tired. I’m stressed, and I’ve just wasted more than an hour.  I was NOT a happy camper!  I was MAD!  I was LIVID!

It was then on the drive home that this question occurred to me, and to be honest, I didn’t want to hear it.  But let’s see if you know what I mean….

Do I like who I am when I’m not with God?

See, I knew I wasn’t with God.  I knew I didn’t want to forgive.  I didn’t want to remember there was a reason.  I didn’t WANT to breathe and be reasonable.  I WANTED to tell someone what lake to go jump into.

By the time I made it home, the question had almost eroded my anger because the truth is, I don’t like me very much when I’m not with God.  I’m kinda mean and certainly not very nice. I think bad things and I can get really harsh with people I love.

If you find yourself in “Me Mode,” feeling like God is not there, take a moment and see honestly how that feels.  Is it fun?  Is it pleasant?  Do others want to be around you?  Do YOU want to be around you?

If being without God isn’t fun, consider going back and asking for forgiveness and starting over.  He really will let you… no longer how long you’ve been in “Me Mode.”

*~*

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Questions that Make You Go Hmmm… #5

November 12, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

So far we’ve examined some interesting questions about God and our relationship to Him.

If you’re like me, there are days I so feel God’s Presence and days He feels very far away.  I know from my studies and personal experience that when God feels far away, He didn’t move. I did.  Thus we come to this very important question:

What is between me and God?

Let’s say that you and a friend are at a party, but neither knows the other is there.  Let’s also say it’s a rather large gathering that’s divided into sections or rooms.  Now, you might, of course, get fortunate and run into your friend, but it is equally likely that you miss each other altogether.  Why?

Well for one, you’re not looking for your friend.  You don’t know they are there.

Two, if they are in a different room than you the whole day, how are you ever going to see them?

I think the same thing happens with God.  For wont of a better metaphor, we put up walls between ourselves and God and then get mad when we don’t feel Him.

What are these walls?  Oh, they can be lots of things.  Worries, doubts, fears. Activities, meetings, schedules.  Sheer busyness is often a culprit.  Stress can be too as well as impossible expectations of ourselves, our God and others.

In short, anything that separates us from God is what is between us.

The thing to know, however, is that it is never God that put up the barrier.  Once we are saved, the barrier is removed and the only way it goes back up is if we put it there.

So what is between you and God?

Maybe it’s the events of the world that plunge you into fear.  Remove them by taking your gaze off of them and putting it on God.  Spend more time in prayer and in seeking Him.

Maybe it’s personal stuff–the death of a loved one or an illness.  Again, learn to see “through” those things to God who is right there.

I know after my brother’s death, my emotions were in a swirl of chaos, never so bad as at night. I would lay there, and fear and anger and sorrow would just about overwhelm me.  It was in those moments that I learned to say over and over, “God is here and He loves me.”  When there was nothing else to hold onto, I held onto those two baseline truths.

What I did, repeatedly, was to consciously remove every other barrier between me and God.  I held onto Him, clung to Him, pulled Him close and refused to let go.

So if you’re in a state of loneliness, fear, or worry, work on consciously removing any barrier that stands between you and God.  You can remove them by casting Satan and his minions out by the Blood Jesus Christ.  You can remove them by conscious focus on prayer to God.  You can remove them by taking your eyes off of those things and fastening them to God.

Doing so is an act of will, but it is also an act of faith.

Try it.  See how much difference it makes.

*~*

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Still hurting from watching her best friend marry someone else, Melody Todd has given up on dating, guys, and herself. In fact, when Blaine shows back up in her life, she does what she always does with the eligible guys who look her way—she sets him up with someone else. But Blaine soon proves to be much different than he at first seems. Too many things are not adding up the way they are supposed to, and the more Melody digs, the more she sees that the Blaine she knows is not the real Blaine at all…

“Very moving story. Absolutely fabulous!”

Get your copy today at:

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Free Ebook Thursday & Friday ONLY!

November 8, 2012

Taking today off from blogging to let you know that my #1 Christian Romance Best Seller, TO PROTECT & SERVE is FREE on Kindle!

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Romance of the purest and sweetest kind…”

Houston firefighter, Jeff Taylor is a fireman’s fireman. He’s not afraid of anything, and no situation is too dangerous to keep him on the sideline if lives are at stake.

Lisa Matheson runs a semi-successful ad agency that’s on the brink of falling apart. Her employees are incompetent and her schedule has become exhausting. When she takes on a client with a brilliant idea for a big conference, she thinks that maybe, finally this is her lucky break. However, the fire station wasn’t what she had in mind for finding conference speakers. When she falls for a handsome but shy firefighter, it’s possible that life might just be going her way for a change. The only problem is she can’t quite get control Jeff and the death wish he seems to have…

“Staci Stalling is like an artist, and she really paints a beautiful picture. There are few books that can glue me to my seat and with every Staci Stallings’ book, I am glued. In ‘To Protect and Serve,’ you will smile with them, get angry with them, and you’ll also cry when the characters are hurting. In this novel, Staci shows that love does not only encompass emotion, but to love, we need to trust, to accept and in some instances, surrender.” 

–Amazon Reviewer, Rhonda Aberdeen

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Questions that Make You Go Hmmm… #4

November 5, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

Human beings seem to be hard-wired to go for something.  It might be to win.  It might be to succeed.  It might be to be the best at something.  It might even be to grab as much pleasure as possible by doing as little as possible.

It also seems that we are hard-wired to not just want to go for whatever it is, but to be the best at it.  To be the chief of it.

Zaccheus knew all about this hard-wired human drive.  You know how I know that?  Because the Bible says Zaccheus was the chief tax collector.  That means he was over all the other tax collectors.  That would be like being the manager of the tax collectors, the supervisor.  He wasn’t just some newbie, rookie who was working his way to the top.  He was at the top.

Now you also have to understand what being a “tax collector” meant at the time to understand the depth of Zaccheus’ “top” mentality.

Tax collectors worked for Rome, and the Jews hated Rome.  Think the Boston Tea Party before there was a Boston or tea.

This was the forerunner story of taxation without representation.

The Jews pretty much paid taxes to Rome for the express reason that Rome owned the Jews and their land.  And the Jews held great animosity for Rome just taking their money via taxes.

Add to that, the tax collectors got paid by taking more money from the people than Rome demanded.  So if your tax was say $20 (I know, but let’s make this easy).  Then the tax collector would come and collect $22–$20 for Rome and $2 for himself.

But here’s the thing.  If you decided not to pay the Roman tax, you could be thrown in jail–possibly for a very long time, leaving your family, wife and children, to fend for themselves.  You couldn’t say, “Come back tomorrow.  I’ll pay you then.”  You couldn’t put it on a credit card.  You either paid it, or you went to jail.

So let’s say for a minute that you are a Jew back in this time, and the tax collector is coming.  How much fear do you attach to that arrival?  After all, you may know what Rome will charge, but what will the tax collector add on top of it?  What if you can’t pay that?  Worse, tax collectors became much like extortionists in that they began to “collect” as much as they could get away with.  Instead of $22, maybe he would charge $30.  And if you didn’t have it, off to jail.

Do you see why this man, this chief tax collector (who probably collected taxes from the tax collectors in his “downline”) was so hated?

Long story to get to this question.

What are you “chief” of?

When we become “chief” of something, like Zaccheus, we can take our eye off of people.  We put it instead on the goal–on the money or the prestige or on ourselves–what we want, what will look best for us, what will give us power.  We forget to be servants.  We forget to have compassion. We forget about love.

And this chief mentality can creep in some very subtle and sinister ways.  For example, I’ve seen it in church choirs, where a choir member is told they are not good enough to be in the choir by the chief.  I’ve seen it in schools where the chief leaves others out on the playground simply because he or she can.  I’ve seen it in organizations where the chief refuses to listen to anyone else’s ideas.  I’ve seen it in relationships–parents to children and between spouses–where one opinion always wins, and no one else gets a say.  I’ve seen teachers with a chief mentality and bosses with a chief mentality.  I’ve seen managers with this mentality–lording their power over workers who must comply risk getting fired.  I’ve even seen this mentality in esoteric situations like writing–where certain authors set themselves up as “chiefs” and dictate to others what can and can’t be written.

I’m sure you have many other examples.

I think that Jesus’ answer to the chief mentality was best displayed when He washed the feet of the disciples.  In Jesus’ Kingdom those who want to be first must serve, not be served.  You don’t acquire a high seat in the Kingdom.  You don’t get to be chief because you understand that God already is, so that is not even your goal.  Your goal is to serve as many people as possible.  Forget about being “chief.”

So the question, “What are you chief of?” should make us stop and think, “What am I pouring my life into trying to be a worldly chief?  And how can I turn that around and instead be a servant?”

In the work place, maybe the manager calls everyone in and says, “I want us to be a team.  So you tell me what you need to be able to work better?”  Maybe an organizational leader says, “Tell me your best ideas” and then listens and incorporates those ideas.  Maybe the parent says, “Let’s sit down and work out how we can make this work for both of us” rather than me dictating everything.

In fact, I just had a conversation with my 13-year-old the other day.  I said that years ago I heard someone say that when you’re a parent, you start as the hands-on worker with the child.  The child’s schedule is determined by you.  What the child eats, what they wear, everything is determined by the parent, and that power is seductive.  The problem begins when a parent needs to move from manager to supervisor and then from supervisor to consultant.  If as a parent you don’t or can’t make that switch, you will have an extremely contentious relationship with your child.  Put another way, as the child gets older, you are no longer the “chief.”

The truth is, the older you get on this cycle, the less “chief” you will be.  You will have even less of a managerial position with your grandkids than you did with your kids.  You will have even less with your great-grandkids.  Each generation, you are required to relinquish more control.  It’s a lesson I think that is woven into the very fabric of being human.  So learn to let go of being “chief.”  Let God take that position in every situation in your life.  I guarantee you, it will greatly reduce your stress level!

*~*

Sneak Peek!

For Real

The third book in

~ The Courage Series ~

Official release is Nov. 14, but you can get your copy NOW…

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“For Real will show you how you can lay those things that are preventing you from loving Jesus at the foot of the Cross.

It will inspire you and give you hope.”

—Amazon Reviewer, Myrna Brorman


Questions That Make You Go Hmmm… #3

November 1, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

It’s amazing how basic these questions are and how very wrong I got the answers for oh, so long in my life.

Not only did I see God as a vindictive employer, I also answer that I was worth something only if I performed well.  Those two questions were bad enough, but this next one really sent me into a tailspin.

Do you accept what God is trying to give you?

Now, seriously.  The easy answer to this one should be, “Yes.”  But for a long time, my answer was no.

I couldn’t accept that God loved me just as I was because clearly I wasn’t good enough.  I couldn’t accept His forgiveness for the things I’d gotten wrong because… well, I wasn’t perfect.

Of course, I knew Jesus hung on a cross and died for my sins.  I knew that gave me admittance into Heaven, but that didn’t have much to do with now or with how I felt about myself and what I was doing with my life.

Please go back and reread the last two paragraphs as you do, carefully count how many “I”s “myself”s “my”s and “me”s there are.  Now count how many “God”s, “Jesus”s and “He”s there are.

And no, I didn’t do that on purpose.  You see, I can easily remember what that time was like before I finally accepted what God was giving me.  I remember how lonely it felt, how depressing, how isolating.  I remember thinking everyone else was looking at me and judging me.  I very well remember trying to walk the tightrope of doing enough perfectly enough to please God while simultaneously keeping that from others who would judge me for trying to be perfect.

Then, a miracle happened.  It really was and is a miracle I live every day.

God knocked on my heart and said, “I love you, just as you are.  No more is needed than My love.  Come rest in Me.”

I’m not going to tell you that was easy, and it wasn’t a one-time-and-it’s-done deal either.  At first it took real, conscious effort.  At first, I stumbled in that walk more often than not.  I had gotten so conditioned to look inward for my validation that it was hard not to berate myself when things didn’t go perfectly.

But what I found as I accepted what God was giving me was that when I fell, I was the only one in condemnation mode.  He was not.

His eyes, ever soft, ever forgiving simply held out hope and a love for me that I never could have imagined.  As I experienced that, my heart softened–yes, toward Him, but more toward myself, and then to others.  I saw how much others were hurting just like me.  I saw how they were asking, just as I was, to feel important and loved.  I saw how tragically low so many of them felt about themselves and how very far from God’s love they felt.

Life suddenly became about reaching out rather than looking inward with the whip.  Interestingly, the more I just let God love me, the more I could love others.  Deeply.  Profoundly.  Not in a “what can they give me in return” way.  Just lavishly.  Because I was already full.  I didn’t need them to fill me.

So, where are you with this question?  Do you let God love you?  Do you feel His love?  Or are you striving to gain it?  Do you accept the love and forgiveness He is holding out to you, or are you keeping yourself from it until you feel you’ve earned it?

Trust me, you will never feel like you’ve earned it.  And even if you can get there for a little while, it won’t last if it’s based on what you’ve done.  It has to be based on HIM, never on you.

But if you can get that right, wow, does it change EVERYTHING!

*~*

“Lucky is a book that makes you feel like you are there as the characters struggle through what the world lays before them.”

“It will renew your Faith in Love…God really works in mysteries ways.”

Lucky

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