MERRY CHRISTMAS to YOU & YOURS!

December 25, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

I wish you and yours a very Merry and Wonderful Christmas, filled with joy and peace, happiness and love!

manger

May God’s love be born and grow in your heart from this day forth!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!


Life As Rocket Science: Part 10, More than One Dead Animal

October 11, 2012

By:  Staci Stallings

Last time I related the story of Scout and the dead possums and how my friend with the persistently negative thoughts was like that dog who would take those dead things out and play with them rather than leave them buried.

A few days after this revelation, my friend wrote back to say that she had been doing very well and had thought the dead possum was buried.  Then she went to this thing and this situation happened, and all of a sudden THERE was a very similar dead possum.  “What’s the deal?  I thought I was doing so good.  I thought I had buried that!”

Ah.  Yes.

In life it is very frustrating when this happens because what’s the point if that dead possum just won’t stay buried.

But I told her that maybe there wasn’t just ONE dead possum in her “yard.”  Maybe there were also dead hamsters and dead cats and all kinds of dead critters.

Now seriously, what would you do if you came home and found your yard littered with dead animals (I know, bad thought!  Work with me here!)  What would you do?

My first thought would be to call my husband and tell him to get out the shovel!

I certainly would not leave them in the backyard.  They are stinky and gross.  Plus they lead to disease and are not safe.

Same with your negative thoughts.

Maybe, like my friend, you have one persistent line of negative thinking, but it crops up in many different forms.  Like let’s say that you feel less than.  So in school you compared your grades with Peggy’s and there was a dead possum.  You didn’t realize that though so you just left it lay there.  Then when you went to college, you should have been happy, but Yvonne went to a better school–and another dead possum showed up.  When you got out, you got a good job, but Kathy made more money than you, Suzy married well, Jane too and then had a child… Suddenly here are all these dead things all over your yard.

Now, let’s say years later, you get the concept of burying your feelings that you aren’t good enough, and you’re doing a good job.  Then one day at the grocery store, you run into Kathy and her son is going to a great college.  Yours is already struggling in high school.

Do you see how quickly those dead things that you never buried can suddenly be front-and-center again?

It happens so quickly, and you’re left with this feeling like you’re even a failure at trying not to be a failure!

Once again, stop it.  Don’t moan and groan and complain because you found something else dead.  Bury it and go on.  Give it to God.  Bless the lessons you’ve learned about being who you are and not comparing yourself to everyone and MOVE ON!

Really.  Seriously.  It’s time.

*~*

“A truly inspiring novel!”

Cowboy

Amazon Top-Rated Christian Romance!

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only $2.99!

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THE PRICE OF SILENCE… 99 cents for the weekend!

December 2, 2011

Just thought you might like to know that The Price of Silence is on the 99cent-99hour sale for the weekend.

Loads of fun stuff… 9 authors, 99-hours, 99cents each ebook through the weekend (Dec. 2-5, 2011).

Also, Staci is featured at http://www.tracyruckman.blogspot.com/2011/12/god-moments-with-staci-stallings.html talking about all the puzzle pieces God put together for The Price of Silence to even be written.


Use What You Have

November 3, 2011

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!
*~*

One man.
One woman.
One night that changes everything…

Lucky

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

Buy your copy

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Read an excerpt!


Sick Leave

May 7, 2010

By: Dennis Bates

I will be having knee replacement surgery next week so I don’t know when I will be getting back. However, when I do know that when I come back I will have two legs to stand on for the first time in quite a while. Prayers are appreciated. Be nice to Staci during my absence. Thank you.


A New Command

May 5, 2010

By: Dennis Bates

When Jesus said He had a new command for the disciples: Love one another as He had loved them, what did He really mean when He said it was a new command? After all, he had already told one of the rulers that the greatest commandment was to love the Lord your God with all you heart and all you soul and with all your mind and with all your strength and your neighbor as yourself. Furthermore, when you strip everything to the barest of bones the Ten Commandments themselves are merely a call to love our families, friends and neighbors.

So what’s new about this command?

In one of His last appearances to Peter He asks Peter three times if he loves him and Peter replies almost indignantly “yes”. Jesus then tells him to feed His lambs, take care of His sheep and feed His sheep. To me, what Jesus is saying is, “Peter, if you love me, then do something about it. Show me.”

Staci and I have had some great discussions about the difference between love as a noun and love as a verb. Love as a noun relates to emotions, feelings, and definitions. On the other hand, love as a verb acts. It proves what it is by showing what love is through actions. A person who is loving as a verb may not even use the word, but you know by their actions that they love.

Jesus tells Peter to use love as a verb. I think He is telling the other disciples the same thing. Show me your love. That’s my new command to you, make love a verb, not merely a noun.

It has always amazed me how the Hebrew people kept getting things wrong even after God showed them over and over how to get things right. It was the same with the disciples and it is the same with a lot of Christians and churches today.

The heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is learning to use love as a verb, not a noun. Yet, we continue to try to make rules and creeds and doctrines that prove we are Christians. That’s exactly what the Pharisees did. There is no freedom in that, nor is there any Gospel.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is so simple, so easy, but at the same time demanding. It demands that we quit defining love and that we start showing it. That’s the new command Jesus gave His disciples and all of us. In essence, He challenges us who say we love Him to feed His sheep, and by doing that we will make love a verb. It is so much more powerful that way.


Edgy Stories

May 4, 2010

By: Dennis Bates

I belong to several internet writing forums. One of the most interesting to me is one started by a woman named Michelle Sutton. It is http://edgychristianfictionlovers.ning.com/. and it is exactly what it says it is, a place where writers who are Christians can come together to discuss writing about topics that don’t usually see the light of day in traditional Christian publishing houses.

Explaining what Christian fiction involves is hard enough, but explaining what edgy Christian fiction entails is somewhat daunting. Still, Michelle has become one of my heroes for daring to try, and I recommend the site without reservation. I feel free to express myself there without fear of judgmental, holier than Thou recrimination, and that alone makes the site invaluable to someone like me. On the other hand, if someone disagrees, they tell you so, straight out. What a novel concept: sharing out beliefs, our opinions, and even our disagreements freely and openly in a loving way. Who’d da thunk it?

Edgy is different things to different people. However, paraphrasing one of the regular posters on the site, when all other explanations fail, edgy is trying to make things real, not candy coated, and that means telling a story the way it would really happen to keep the story authentic. That can involve telling passionate love stories, realistic stories for young people, or mysteries that are mysteries, not just dumbed down versions of a haunted house at the fair.

They are also stories that are told by a writer who writes from an overall Christian world view. There is, in fact, a difference between a Christian writer and a writer who is a Christian, and there is definitely a place for both. All of us don’t fit on both sides. I am one of those writers. I believe strongly that Jesus Christ died for me and that by believing in Him I am assured of eternal life. That is all it takes to be a Christian. I also believe that Jesus told us that all of the commandments are summed up in one “new” commandment, which is to love one another.
While trying to do  that makes me a Christian as far as I’m concerned. It does not make me a writer. Only writing does that.  And, although I don’t start out to purposely write edgy stories, I usually end up with one when I’m finished. Since I write love stories, my edgy side usually involves passion, romance and yes, s-e-x. I simply cannot write any other way.

But here’s the thing. My hope is that I can get people talking about these historically taboo topics, and talking through a Christian filter, even if my stories aren’t all overtly Christian. There are boundaries, limits and absolutes. I just want the reader to help define what they are. None of us has all the answers alone.

I want the reader to say, “There was something different about that story. What was it?” If I can accomplish that, then I have done my job. Opened the door just a crack. And given both Christians and non Christians something to think about and discuss. I’ll leave the rest up to the Holy Spirit. He can and will take it from there.


The Right to Privacy–Part 2

April 28, 2010

By: Dennis Bates

To recap briefly. Yesterday I wrote about the right to privacy. The right has developed from interpretations of cases before the United States Supreme Court. There are some state laws as well. There are no express words in the Constitution that provide a right to privacy like there are for many other rights. The right to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures guaranteed in the Fourth Amendment is an example of express words that are found in the Constitution.

I won’t try to examine the different aspects of the right to privacy here. I have a simpler point to make. To some degree we as individuals determine any right to privacy we may or may not have. Whether something about us is private or public depends largely on how we  view it and whether that personal perspective is reasonable or not.

Let me give you an example. If we tell our best friend or our spouse some intimate secret in the privacy of our own home we share something private. We probably have a clear expectation in that case that our secret is safe and will remain just between the two of us. If we tell three, four or a dozen people that same information, the reasonableness of our expectation becomes less clear. After all, it is questionable that we intend to keep the information private if we are willing to share it with large numbers of people.

Our expectation of privacy would be equally questionable if we shared our secret with one or more people in a public place, such as a restaurant, where there is a good chance that people serving us or sitting around us will be able to hear what we are talking about. The expectation becomes even less reasonable if we pass the information along in what my mother used to call my outdoor voice so that people around me can’t help hearing what I am saying.

All of these factors are exacerbated by technology. Let’s just limit this discussion to technology that we have control over, like text messages and social networking on the Internet. For now we won’t discuss the eavesdropping devices depicted in so many movies and television shows.

If a person is going to put intimate details about themselves on social networking pages, or, worse , if a person is going to send risqué pictures of themselves via those networks or cell phones, it seems to me that any expectation of privacy is illusory at best. I am not a technically savvy person, but even I could retransmit emails or pictures to a large number of people in less than five minutes. People that know what they are doing can have a video complete with background music transmitted worldwide within that time.

Yet, every day we read stories about the most intimate details of people that have been posted  on the Internet. Frequently some of the subjects of those stories and videos complain that they never meant for those videos to be used for anything but private consumption by the person to whom they were sent. Forget for a minute about why that matters and why anyone, let alone a teenager, would make and transmit that kind of story and/or video. Let’s assume there is nothing wrong with that, even though it stretches even my sense of propriety.

Would you give that story or those embarrassing pictures of yourself to someone who could post them on the Internet in seconds for easy access by a few million of your newest admirers? That’s the risk you take, and in my opinion, there is no reasonable expectation of any right to privacy in situations like that.

Two rules: Don’t do it to begin with, but if you do, don’t validate it by sharing it. It isn’t private.


The Right to Privacy–Part 1

April 27, 2010

By: Dennis Bates

This may come as a shock to some of you, but there is no Constitutional Right to Privacy. Those words do not appear anywhere in the Constitution, and yet that phrase is given more reverence and awe than many rights there are actually part of our Constitutional guarantees. Ironic, to say the least.

Some studies have shown that the Bill of Rights would never survive a popular vote if it were not identified, and even then, it might have difficulty. Yet it is safe bet that the so-called right to privacy would have far less difficulty even though there would be heated discussions about what it means.

The right to privacy is  a product of the legally controversial penumbra doctrine that dates back to 1871. That doctrine basis it’s authority on powers and principles which are implied by the Constitution and statutory law. In other words, the authority is not specifically delineated in law or the Constitution, so the court created  what it wanted by analogy.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who is one of the few Justices to cite the doctrine, called it that “gray area where logic and principle falter.” For some reason he felt that gave him creative license to develop ubiquitous, illogical doctrines based upon faltering principles.

I’m being sarcastic.

Enter the right to privacy. It is a relatively recent creation, coming from a 1965 Supreme Court case. (Griswold v. Connecticut)  Whether you are a conservative or a liberal, it is no surprise that the majority decision was rendered by Justice William O. Douglas, one of the more controversial Justices in modern times.

Since 1965 several cases have refined and interpreted the privacy concept. One of the refinements has more and more application in today’s world of text messaging, Facebook, Twitter, and who knows what else? Briefly stated the court has ruled that this no right to privacy in situations where there is no right to expect privacy.

As if that isn’t enough, there are two different tests to determine whether that expectation exists. One is subjective and the other is objective. The same exact conduct may carry a reasonable expectation of privacy in some situations but not in others. In other words, it depends.

Tomorrow, I will elaborate slightly so that you can at least have some idea what you are subjecting yourself to when you have discussions on Facebook or other similar social networking Internet sites. It surprises me how little some people really know about what they are doing in some of those situations. You may be surprised too.


Wait

April 20, 2010

By: Dennis Bates

Sometimes the most profound thing we can do is wait on the Lord. Ponder His Word. Listen to His voice in the silence. That’s where I am today. Words don’t work. All I can do is keep quiet and wait. I invite you to join me as we meditate on two of my favorite scriptures.

First from Isaiah 40, verse 31:           

            but those who hope in the Lord

                        will renew their strength.

            They will soar on wings like eagles;

                        they will run and not grow weary,

                        they will walk and not be faint. 

Find some place quiet and clear your mind. I like to close my eyes. Tell the Lord you will wait for Him to come to you to renew your strength, and then imagine that you are an eagle. Soar with it. Ride the air currents. Feel the freedom you have with all your earthly problems so far below and nothing but God’s beautiful blue sky all around you.

Feel the peace that is yours soaring and remember, eagles don’t just fly. They soar. Majestically in ever broadening circles wherever God’s breath takes them. If you have ever watched an eagle soar as I have, you know there is nothing more graceful, powerful and amazing than an eagle in full flight. You can be part of that and never tire from it.

It’s God’s plan for all of us. His gift. His promise. To soar like a mighty eagle in His sky.

Then, while you still feel full of energy from soaring with the eagles, turn that energy inward and take Philippians 4, verse 8 to heart.

            …whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is admirable…think about such things….And the God of peace will be with you.

 That will bring you back down to earth and focus you on what is important. You will have enough strength and energy to do what needs to be done in the peaceful spirit of God.

Soar, feel the flight. Meditate on the right things and wait for God to lead.

He will. He promised.

 


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