Leave it All Behind…

December 17, 2012

By:  Staci Stallings

Over the next couple of posts, I simply want to share some thoughts about the song, “The Well” by Casting Crowns.

The opening words are haunting, especially in their repetition.  “Leave it all behind… Leave it all behind…”

Those words beckon us, weary travelers on life’s path, away from the hustle and bustle of our busy, over-crowded lives.  In them Christ, through the lyrics, calls us out, away, and apart from those things that tie us down, weigh us down, and make our lives feel so very heavy and hard.

When was the last time you left it all behind?

When was the last time you took even five minutes that wasn’t filled with thoughts of bills to pay, kids to pick up, how to fix that, how to do this, who needs what tomorrow, and how am I ever going to get that done today?

If you’re like me, it’s way too easy to wake up in the morning, sit up and start processing.  Who needs to be where today?  What do I need to get written?  Who do I need to call?  What do I need to finish?  What do I need to start?

It’s like this whole long army of thoughts and to-dos that never quite seem to end.

I think that’s why those opening words are so very powerful to me.  In a way, they call me to be Mary rather than Martha, when the truth is Martha is so much easier to be.  They call me to yes, leave the cares and worries and STUFF behind, and come and sit with my Savior.  It is a call away from chaos into peace, a call away from myself into the One Who makes everything make so much more sense.

It is easy as I hear these opening words to think of leaving everything behind, if only for a moment, and going to visit Jesus at that well.  It is so enthralling to think of Him waiting there for me, a fresh drink of Him and His love waiting for me.  Not because I got everything done on my to-do list.  Not because He’s got five other jobs I need to do.  But just because He wants to spend some time with me, and I want to spend time with Him.

I don’t know how you spend time with God, or even if you do.  But in this crazy busy, often chaotic season… the one in which we work so hard to be able to celebrate peace, take a few minutes today to leave it all behind, to just go and sit with God, to listen, to slow down, to just be.

It will be an awesome gift.  I guarantee it!

*~*

WK 1

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What I’m Writing… Blog Hop!

December 12, 2012

By:  Staci Stallings

Welcome, blog hoppers!  Last week I got tagged by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer *…stringing 26 letters into stories*  So this week I get to answer the questions and then send you to five of my writing friends!

Enjoy….

Introducing my soon-to-be-out ebook

“True Power & Real Peace”

True Power and Real Peace

Where did the idea come from?

True Power & Real Peace was written backward.  Some of you have read “A Light in the Darkness.”  In that book, the hero, Gabriel reads a book about God.  When I wrote “A Light” I realized that I couldn’t have him read something that’s already been published.  There were two problems with that.  First, I couldn’t just copy whole tracks of someone else’s work.  Second, there wasn’t one book I could find that would speak to each issue he was having throughout the book.

So the only thing TO do was write the book he was reading in the story as if it was a real book.  To do that, I had to write whole sections of a “real book” that wasn’t real.  After “A Light” was finished, I went back and read it and it struck me how easily “True Power & Real Peace” COULD be a real book.  I did a little work on putting the pieces together and filling in the in-between places, and that’s how this book was written.

After “A Light in the Darkness” came out, I had several readers write to say they had been looking for the book “True Power & Real Peace” and hadn’t had any luck finding it and could I tell them who it was by or how they could get a copy of it.  Well, it was by me, and the only copy in existence was on my computer.  That’s when I decided to publish it.

Genre: Spirituality, Inspirational, Christian Living

What actors would play your character in a movie version?

The actors for “A Light in the Darkness” are Meaghan Jette Martin and Adrien Grenier.

HollyGabriel

Short Synopsis

I’ll do the synopsis of “A Light in the Darkness”

Holly Jacobs can run from her mother’s past no longer. She is unceremoniously summoned to her mother’s new fiancé’s home in Napa Valley. The place is wonderful, but Holly can’t enjoy it because she knows that just like all the others, it can’t last. When her mother begins pushing Holly to make permanent plans with a young man Holly has no interest in, Holly takes off, never expecting to find a light in all of her darkness.

The final chapter of the Faith Series begins…

 Publisher:  Spirit Light Publishing

How long did it take to write the first draft of “True Power”?

Well, the first-first draft was written inside “A Light in the Darkness,” and that book took about four months to write.  The actual first draft of “True Power & Real Peace” was a lot harder because I had to take the pieces that were already written and put them into logical order (Gabriel reads them out of order in the book). Then I had to write the pieces around it.  Also, I was in no hurry for that one because I didn’t think it would ever really be published. So I’m honestly not sure how long it took to write.

What other books in the genre compare?

Two of the books referenced in “True Power” are John Ortberg’s “Love Beyond Reason” and Marianne Williamson’s “A Return to Love.”  So those two definitely would compare although Ortberg’s book is more mainstream Christian and Williamson’s has more New Age overtones to it.

Any  other in this genre?

I’ve never written in this genre before.  In fact, I’m in the process of asking what genre it would even fit into because I’m really not sure.

Anything to add?

“True Power & Real Peace” is BY FAR the most personal book I’ve ever written.  It gets to a depth of how I live that I don’t think I would have even attempted to write but for the crazy way it came about. My life has been rocked by some pretty intense storms during and since writing this book including–the suicides of two very close people in my life and my son’s dyslexia, not to mention the countless storms that come up each day while being married and raising three kids. 

This is honestly a book about “how I do it,” how I have and maintain a deep relationship with God through the storms and in the quiet times.  It’s also the key that kept me sane when I had everything I ever wanted and I was still miserable.

Still, how do you put all that into words?  How do you dig way beneath the surface and fashion those feelings and experiences in a way that is understandable to others?  I don’t know.  Maybe I didn’t, but this would have to be considered my attempt at doing so.

The ebook will be out very soon, and you can judge for yourself how well or poorly I did.

I sincerely hope you enjoy it as we move into the New Year!

True Power Ad 2

Be sure to visit my friends’ blogs to continue the “What I’m Writing” blog hop…

Mary Campagna Findley

Naty Matos

Suzanne D. Williams

Shelley Hitz

Laura Marshall


Chunking Down

December 4, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

This lesson is a great one for the holidays because let’s face it, we have overcrowded lives already, and then you add this HUGE amount of baking, buying, wrapping, decorating, packing, driving/flying, celebrating, and then cleaning up on top of it.  It can get to be WAY too much.

The essence of this lesson is very simple:  Don’t try to do a whole task, especially an overwhelming one, all at once.

Chunk it down.

What does that mean?

It means instead of trying to do ALL of the Christmas cards in one sitting, do 10 of them and then go do something else.  Rotating through 3 or 4 different tasks, for me, makes things go faster and I don’t get as frazzled.

I do this with my books.  Obviously you can’t write or edit a 400-page book in one sitting.  So I chunk it down.  I set a goal of say five written pages or 10 edited pages.  When that amount is done, I then have the option of doing a few more or going to do something else.

I often do this around the house too.  Instead of saying, “I’m going to clean the kitchen” when it is an absolute mess.  I say, “I’m going to put 25 things into the dishwasher.”  Often by the time I get to 25, there are only a few things left, and I can finish it with no trouble.  If there are a lot of things left, I do something else for a few minutes and then do 25 more things.”

This one lesson has kept me from going crazy because I don’t look at the overwhelmingness of what I’m doing–I do what I CAN do and come back later to do another little chunk.

So what do you have that is overwhelming?  Maybe it’s cleaning out a closet.  Do one shelf at a time instead of all of it.

Maybe it’s a school project, chunk it down in to smaller pieces and do one or two small pieces.  As you do a few smaller pieces, the whole thing will stop looking so overwhelming until the point when you just say, “I’m going to finish this” or to the point that finishing it looks doable.

Good luck chunking things down!  And I hope your holidays are happy and filled with peace and joy!

*~*

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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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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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Questions that Make You Go, Hmmm… #2

October 29, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

Here is our second question that brings up soul answers that get to the bottom of everything:

Are you noticed, valued, and loved?

Our first question was about God–who we really think He is and how that shapes our perception of our relationship to Him.

The second question is both about our God relationship as well as our relationship with ourselves and with others.

I used to go at this question backward, and it created a lot of turmoil for me.  Instead of seeing the question primarily about my relationship with God, I instead saw it in relation to others, then myself, then God.  This created all sorts of havoc in my life.

Let’s face it.  People don’t really and consistently worry about you.  They are too worried about their own bad hair day!

So when you break your neck to get that business proposal in and your boss yawns, it might be because she got no sleep the night before.  However, if you are looking at this question and trying to answer it from how she sees you and the feedback you’re getting from her, you’re in trouble.

I was like this with teachers.  I had a radar for what they wanted and how to give it to them.  That worked for awhile until the drug of their approval stopped working to give me that “high.”  It began to take more and more and more to get that same “I’m okay” feeling.

I looked to everyone in my world to answer this question–parents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, friends…

If they made a big deal over me, the answer was good.  If they were busy with their own lives, the answer was bad.

I got a lot of bad answers.  Not because they were bad people and not because they didn’t care.  Because I was not the center of their universe! (I know, shocking… right?)

When I finally flipped this equation and stopped looking at others to answer this question and instead looked to God, things finally began to be peaceable in my soul.

God always notices me.  He is always right here.  I can always look to Him when I’m struggling, and He always has time for me.

And He loved me enough to die on a cross so that I could be with Him forever.

So for me, the answer when I look to God for this question is, “YES!”

What is it for you?  And how do you go about trying to get it answered?

*~*

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Questions That Make You Go Hmmm… #1

October 25, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

Every year I think I’m doing great getting finished with the raffle at my son’s school.  I always think, “If I can just get everything done through that date, I’ll be in great shape.”  And every year, that date comes and goes, and life goes on after it… without me.

I don’t know what it is.  Maybe it’s that last frantic week trying to count and sell 4,000 raffle tickets.  Maybe it’s the day of the Carnival and the 9 straight hours of adrenaline-pumping panic.  Or maybe it’s having to get up the next morning and teach Sunday School like I’m awake and functioning.

Whatever it is, I always get to Monday morning and crash!  Then I get up and scramble trying to get bills paid that I’ve put off so our electricity doesn’t get turned off and creditors don’t start calling for my husband’s business.  Long about the time I get those done, I notice that I can’t see the floors nor any cabinets in my house.  And the fact that my kids still think they need fed and have help with homework doesn’t help matters.

This year was particularly challenging because I now have multiple other ventures going as well.

So all that to say, “Sorry.”  I didn’t mean to go MIA on you.  It just happened.  I’ll try to get a bit more organized in the future. :)
Today we’re going to turn our attention to questions.  I’ve been reading a book that delves into symbols and spiritual lessons.  One of the most fascinating things about this book for me are the questions, both that it poses and that strike me as I’m reading.  So we’re going to talk about some of these questions.  Feel free to answer them in comments if you feel so led.

Most of them are not “answerable” like yes, no, true, false, etc.  They are what I would call “soul questions”–questions that when you answer them in your soul, you get a road map to how and why you do what you do in life.  For example, if you’re angry, you may find at the bottom of one of these questions an injustice you suffered that you’ve never gotten past.  If you’re holding onto other people’s approval, you may come to realize through these questions that God holds the key to letting that go and being free.

Here’s our first question.  Read it, and write your answer before you read my take on it:

How is your belief in God and what He is and who He is working for you?

 

As I stumbled on this question, I marveled because I used to see God as a harsh, judgmental employer.  I was the servant, He was the Master, and I’d better get everything done right or else!

I was scared of God, of His power, of His wrath… of what I saw as His capriciousness.  He could wipe out a village with a tsunami or He could spare a farmhouse from a tornado, and we were powerless–aside from begging and performing “well enough” to affect any of His decisions.

My belief this way affected everything.  I felt like I never did enough, and never did enough right.  I was constantly on the lookout for things He might judge me for doing or not doing.  I was on a tightrope that I was destined to fall off of, but that I had to stay on or I was worthless, and worse, worthy of condemnation.

It was a sad, small way to live.

Then, my understanding and belief in God and who He is changed drastically.  Over the course of about two years, I came to know that God wasn’t a capricious, vain employer, but a loving wonderful friend.  He didn’t cause bad things to happen, but He was right here with me when they did.

I learned I could rely on Him in the little things and the too-much-to-carry things.  I learned He really does love me–when I’m doing His Will and even when I mess up.  He’s right there to pick me up, dust me off, forgive me, and help me to forgive myself and move on.

The transformation in my life has been huge.  The way I used to see God was not working for me at all.  This way works wonderfully, sometimes mind-blowingly well.  I can finally relax and enjoy life–rather than rushing around trying to prove something.  I can be excited about opportunities rather than desperate about them.  It’s a cool way to live.

So if you’d like, please share what thoughts struck you with this question.  I’ll be back next time with another one!

*~*

“An unusual story by a masterful author!”

Jonathon Danforth has a plan.  Take the class his sister signed him up for.  Attend a couple classes and then quit as soon as possible.

Plans change!

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