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

Read more!  Click here!


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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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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on BN Nook


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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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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