Three Ways to Talk Yourself Out of Anything

July 29, 2010

By:  Staci Stallings

Good things.  Specifically doing good things.

Oh, we all say we want to do good things, and sometimes we even do.  But then there are those other times.  Those times when we know what the right thing to do is, but we just can’t get ourselves to do them.

Well, just for those out there who are looking for a really good excuse to get out of doing something good, here you go.  Three ways to talk yourself out of doing anything good:

1)  Why is this my problem?

If you’re like me, you see them–the people who need help all around you.  Some are small problems.  Maybe someone needs help getting picked up for services, or maybe someone else needs a babysitter for the evening.  It doesn’t really matter what the problem is.  The solution to getting out of helping, is one little question:  Why is this my problem?

The truth is.  It’s not.  It’s their problem.  And you have no obligation to help anyone.  Someone else will probably help, and even if they don’t, you won’t have to worry about the consequences of not helping.  So, when you’re faced with someone needing help, go ahead, ask yourself, “Why is this my problem?”  It’s not, so you don’t have to do anything about it.

2)  What’s in it for me?

Probably nothing.  In fact, the greater the need of the other person, the less chance that there’s something in it for you.  We all know that if there’s nothing in it for me, there’s really no use doing it.  So, now you have a back-up to Question #1.

3)  What’s the very minimum I have to do?

If all else fails and you find that despite your best efforts to avoid helping, this question is for you:  What is the minimum I have to do?  If they say come for two hours, can I show up 10 minutes late and leave 15 minutes early?  After all, it’s the face-time that really counts.  If they need a Sunday School teacher, can I tell them I will do it and then show up… oh, say 3 out of 4 times?  If they need food, can I bring something store-bought, frozen, or maybe just napkins?

/snark off

Okay.  Maybe I’m being a little harsh, but too often, I find myself using these three questions to get out of doing something good.  Now I know there are people pleasers among us (you know who you are) who say yes to everything, including things they know they cannot hope to accomplish.  However, some of us go to the other extreme.

If any of these sound like you, do a simple heart check.  Make sure your actions are lining up with what you profess to believe.  After all, I really can’t see Jesus asking any of these questions.  Can you?


SLW: Right Counsel & Fortitude

July 27, 2010

By:  Staci Stallings

Now posted at Spirit Light Works, from The Gifts:

Right Counsel


And don’t miss Thursday’s Final entry on Piety & Fear of the Lord.  Subscribe to Spirit Light Works today!

Nature vs. Nurture

July 26, 2010

By:  Staci Stallings

The other day I went to my son’s gymnastics class.  During the class several of the mothers began talking about their children, how they learn, how different parenting is than what they expected.  Two of the mothers had only one child.  A couple of us had multiple.  One of the Moms (I’ll call her Mom A) was talking about how she had taken psychology classes and how they had talked about nature (how a child is born) vs. nurture (how a child is raised).  She said in college, she would have argued that nurture was the most important factor, but when she became a parent, she realized that nature is (as she said), “90% of the equation and we have this little sliver of influence.”

Of course we all laughed because as mothers we know how innate and powerful nature is.  Some children are born laid back and docile.  Others want to go screaming with their hair on fire as soon as they can roll over.

The others talked a little about potty-training (I’m thankfully beyond that stage!), and then I spoke about reading.  How each of my kids is so different in the challenges they faced when they started reading.  The oldest was a slow reader, not that she had a lot of trouble, but she just couldn’t read very fast.  My middle one could read the whole library in an afternoon (an overstatement, but wow!  I never had to explain reading to her AT ALL.)  Now my youngest has dyslexia, and that has opened a whole NEW set of challenges.

But as we were talking, I said something profound that I don’t think I came up with.  I said, “The problem is you have to nurture each nature so differently.”

I think THAT is the crux of parenting.  Learning to be there for that particular child in the way that he or she most needs.

The problem is:  Every one is so different!

My oldest is INDEPENDENT.  I mean her picture is probably listed as Example one in the dictionary under the word “Independent.”  And she always has been.  When she was first having trouble reading, I tried to help.  Big mistake.  She did not want my help.  She didn’t even want me to offer my help.  What I learned is the value of PEOPLE BESIDES MOM.  She will gladly listen to Grandma, her teachers, her friends, even her dad.  So if I want her to get help, I send her to those people.

My middle one is a Mom Kid.  She loves to do things with me.  We went shopping one day recently and spent… NINE HOURS shopping.  And it was FUN.  Now anyone who knows me, knows I don’t shop.  I don’t like to shop.  I don’t want to shop.  I don’t shop if I don’t have to.  But shopping with her was a breeze and actually a lot of fun.  She loves to read also, and she loves to read what I love to read, so we read little, teen romance books and talk about them.  She loves to watch movies and football.  She also has this thing about being perfect in music and sports (don’t know where she gets that. HA!).  So there is nuturing about playing to enjoy not just to win.

Then we get to my son, the kid who has no concept of not being able to do something with his hands and head.  He called my husband one day with the following question, “Okay, Dad.  I’m out here in the well house, and the four-wheeler won’t start.  I’ve got the seat off and the battery charger out and ready.  All I need to know is which one to hook up to which post.”  He’s 7!!!!!  (In my defense, I didn’t even know he was out in the well house until my husband called me.  Okay, maybe that wasn’t a good defense!)  However, he is also really soft-hearted.  He likes to earn days out (bowling, swimming, etc.).  He doesn’t like to be pushed to do things he doesn’t want to do, and he will fight you.  But he will do just about anything to get to do something he enjoys doing.

The more I think about it, the more I think the Holy Spirit was right saying that.  You do have to nurture each nature differently.

Then I think how much harder God has it with us.  He doesn’t have three kids.  He has billions.  And we’re all different.  Some of us are really independent.  Some turn up our noses at doing anything He says.  Some need someone to give us direction.  Some just really need a shoulder to cry on.  Even more, most of us need and do all of those things at different times.

What I love so much about God is that if you really watch, you will see HOW He parents each of us just the way we need to be.

Not a bad lesson.

I Wish

July 21, 2010

By:  Staci Stallings

My son has gotten into strange and profound questions lately.  I don’t know why this has happened.  Maybe because his mind is now free from having to memorize every single word in the English language TWICE–once to read it, and once to spell it.  Whatever the reason, he’s gotten back into probing the depths of who I am, what I think, and why.

It reminds me a great deal of two conversations we’ve had in the past.  The first occurred when he was about 3 1/2. We were driving, and he wanted to know if everyone has to have parents, who were Adam and Eve’s parents.  Well, I tried to explain that God created Adam and Eve.  They didn’t have parents.  But that wasn’t good enough.  If everyone has to have parents, then Adam and Eve certainly had to as well.  So who were they?  We talked around and around and around that point until he was screaming at me to just tell him who they were!  I finally told him he was going to have to ask God that question because I didn’t know.

Then a couple years ago, he asked another question that I didn’t know the answer for, and I told him he was going to have to ask God.  He got very serious and asked how he was going to remember all of these questions when he got to Heaven.  He told me flat out that he couldn’t write them down because he couldn’t take them with him to Heaven.  I told him that maybe God would send an angel to get his list if he made one.  Then he started asking more questions, like, “Why couldn’t the people after Adam and Eve get into Heaven?  Were the gates closed?”  “Yes, they were.”  “And there was no way in?  Not even if you jumped really high?”

Yeah.  No kidding.

Well, this morning he came up with another.  It’s one I’ve heard before, but haven’t thought about for me in a long time.  “If you got 5 wishes, what would you wish for?”

I was honestly stumped.  I used to say things like a million dollars.  Now I see that money doesn’t buy everything.  I used to wish for a new car or a house, but I have a house and I like my car, thank you very much.  So I wasn’t sure what to even say.  World peace, maybe.  Or inner peace for everyone.  For my kids to have a good life.

Then I came in here to look for something to write for today, and I was overwhelmed by the number of books I have started!

I’m reading three on dyslexia, one for fun, several God-type books, one of my own that I’m editing, and I got two more in the mail today that friends had suggested.

So I know what one wish would be… that I would be able to read all the books I would like to read, get every nugget of good out of them, and not feel so behind as I put good stuff upon good stuff in my mind.

Another wish would be for my son’s decoding system to kick into high gear.  Oh, it’s getting there, but it’s the slow progress things that can drive me bonkers.  Not to mention that school starts in a (shhh!) month, and I would like him to be caught up or nearly caught up.  I think that’s possible.  I just wish we had a bit more time or could make a bit more progress faster.

So there’s two.  The other three I’m going to have to think about.

How about you?  What are your five wishes for today?

I’ve decided the best I can do is to commit to making a little progress on each wish each day.  Who knows, maybe the wishes will come true with or without the genie.  And who knows, maybe the genie is just God’s plan and my willingness to follow it.

SLW: The First Three Gifts

July 20, 2010

By:  Staci Stallings

The Gifts:  Living in the Light Bible Study Chapters:

Knowledge & Understanding


Fear, Feat, Feet

July 19, 2010

By:  Staci Stallings

As I reported on Friday, I’ve been working a lot with my son on reading.  One of the exercises we do is use letter blocks and change one letter or group of letters at a time to make new words.  This helps him connect that we take individual sounds and blend them together into words–as opposed to each being a whole unto itself like he used to think.

So it was funny that I picked up a book I read a few years ago about how difficult but important it is for us to stop clinging to our boat, to believe in what God can do, get out of the boat, and trust that God’s going to do what He said He would do.

I often write in books when I read them.  It’s kind of like “talking back” to the book, or interacting with it, having a conversation if you will.  I’ve found when I don’t do this, passages that have great meaning to me when I read them just float into the haze of living and life.  By writing in the margins and highlighting, I can go back, sometimes years later and read a passage and see what I thought at the time.

One such entry in this particular book struck me as funny, poignant, and particularly useful to me now.

It went like this fear -> feat -> feet.

I think we use (or let) fear stop us.  To go forward in the face of fear is truly a feat.  It takes a leap of faith and courage to do it anyway.  I heard someone once say, “You’ve got to learn to do it scared.”  I think that’s true.  We sometimes think those with courage don’t have fear.  That’s not true.  They do have fear, but they have found a way to do it anyway.

That’s why I think doing it anyway is such a feat.  And such feats happen everyday, if we’re atuned enough to see them–in others and in ourselves.

When faith conquers fear, it is a feat that often turns into feet… that is action.  It’s like your heart throws you over the bar and the rest of you follows.

I think this week, I will be working on fear to feat to feet.

How about you?  What’s fear stopping you from doing?

Learning Different

July 15, 2010

By:  Staci Stallings

When I was in my 20’s, my sister-in-law decided to teach me to crochet.  Oh, I wanted to learn so I was motivated enough, and I was pretty good with my hands–having sewn and cross-stitched and embroidered.  So we sat down one afternoon, and she proceeded to show me how.

Now I’m one who usually learns quite quickly.  Yeah.  Not that day.  She showed me, I tried.  She showed me again, I tried.  But the stitches kept slipping out and away from me.  For about an hour we tried, and I had learned pretty much what I had known when I sat down.  My “potholder” looked pitiful, and sis-in-law and I were both totally frustrated.  Then my other sis-in-law showed up and asked what we were doing.

“Trying to teach Staci to crochet, and it’s NOT WORKING.”

Second sis-in-law watched for a moment and then she said to me, “I didn’t know you were left-handed.”  “I’m not.”  “Oh, well, there’s your problem.”

You see, first sis-in-law IS left-handed, so she was teaching me the only way she knew how to do it.  Now, I’m sure her way would have worked like a charm for anyone who was left-handed.  For me, it was just a frustrating disaster.

For any of you who have been following the blog for awhile, you know that back in November and December my son went through a really frustrating time in school.  He was struggling mightily to learn to spell and read, and it wasn’t working.  We ended up at the doctors with seizures and trying some alternative things, which helped, but the schoolwork was still a struggle.

In April, I decided to do Hooked On Phonics because his reading skills were so poor.  We did that for two months, and for the first 6 weeks, it looked like it was helping.  And then, we started going downhill again.  He could read the lessons on the 3rd or 4th pass through them, but each lesson seemed to weigh him down more and more.  He got whiny and defensive and totally frustrated.

Then came that fateful Monday about two weeks ago.  I had previously talked with a mom whose daughter is dyslexic, and she talked about how her daughter “moves” when she reads.  Well, that Monday as we sat trying to read, my son was “moving.”  Up.  Down.  Leaning on me.  Laying on the floor.  Holding a stuffed thing.  Putting it down.  It was like his attention was everywhere but on the words.  Something in me clicked, and I knew we needed to find solutions to dyslexia.  It was the only thing that made any sense–although I still couldn’t wrap my mind around how this bright, intelligent child could have trouble reading.

The next 48 hours were like a bolt from the sky into my life.  I found a website by a woman whose nephew was dyslexic.  She got into the field to help him, but she ended up helping us!

The first thing she explained was why a person is dyslexic.  Their right brain is bigger than their left.  (In most people left is bigger than right.)  Well, right there, that set off a million bits of understanding in me.  I’ve studied right brain/left brain.  In fact, I used to say it was the difference between and English person and a Math person–with the math person needing step-by-step and the English person being, “just start somewhere.”

The right brain is your creative center.  It allows you not just to think outside the box, but to think as if there were no box in the first place.  It sees things intuitively, even though it can’t always tell you how or why.  It is immensely curious and creative.  In fact, I think it is a direct link to our spiritual self, the self that knows without knowing how it knows.  I’ve always had great respect for the right brain as it is also the storehouse for artistic ability and musical ability and kinesthetic ability.

As I researched this fascinating new way of learning, I found that children who access their right brains to understand their worlds think in pictures.  They don’t think with words so much or even at all.  That was news to me.  I think in words, and then if I have to in pictures.  Not right-brain dominant kids.  They think in pictures so much that to them words ARE pictures.

When they see the “word” CAT, they don’t grasp that it’s made up of C  A  T.  They see cat–one unit, and they memorize THAT word as if it has no connection to any other word on the planet.  And they have an incredible memory.  That’s why at first things with my son made no sense.  He could “read.”  Only he wasn’t reading, he was memorizing… EVERYTHING!

This became obvious though I didn’t understand it as we did the HoP program.  He would be able to “read” a word on one page, and then have no clue on the next (because he was using context clues on one, and the other had no context clues).  When he would hit a word he knew (had memorized), he would say it, and he would be right until we “learned” a new word that looked like the old word.

So for example, he would see bag, and say bag.  Now to him at the time, bag was “starts with a b, has a little letter and then a long letter.”  Then we’d “learn” beg.  So when we’d get to beg, he would say “bag I mean beg.”  Well, when you add bog, boy, and bay to the mix, he was shuffling cards in his mind’s Rolodex on nearly every word!  Some words, he only knew by the letters present.  So “of” might end up… “for”  “from”  “off”  “Oh, I mean ‘of’!” Or “on” might end up “no, not, on.” He was stumbling through every lesson, and the more new word pictures he added, the more he had to sort through them when he read.

One of the things they talked about on the Bright Solutions website was how these bright kids learn to use context clues and any other clues and then when all else fails, to guess.  That night as I lay in bed with my son, I started asking him some questions.  “Reading’s kind of tough, huh?”  “Yeah.”  “Do the other kids read better then you?”  “Yeah.  They brag a lot.”  “How do they brag?”  “They say, ‘Look, I can read this.'”  “How does that make you feel?”  “Kind of bad.”  Then I asked, “So when you read, do you ever guess at the words?”  To which he looked a little perplexed and said, “Mom, that’s all reading is–a lot of guessing.”

NO WONDER!  No wonder.  He had been trying to memorize EVERYTHING.  Then he would guess which of the things he’d memorized the next word was!

So I got the program, learned about it, put some of my own together, and started afresh working with my son.  I can honestly say that in five days he has learned more than in two years!  He is now reliably sounding out words.  Many have become automatic already.  In fact, yesterday we started two-syllable/both closed words (like tomcat and traffic).  I showed him how to split the word, splitting the vowels first and then the middle consonants.  We did the first one and he said, “Oh, cool!”  As if he never knew you could break apart longer words to figure them out.

What I’m learning is that kids who have dyslexia simply learn differently.  They don’t intuitively grasp that each letter has a sound and when you put them together, they form a word.  They look at a word and think it is a word–whole unto itself, having nothing to do with any other word on the planet.  In fact, my son was so cute the other day.  He said, “Mom, how many words ARE there anyway?”

“Millions.  Okay.  Not millions.  Thousands.”


I could just see him in his mind saying, “And I was going to try to memorize all of those?!”

My thought exactly.  The “bad” news is, my son learns differently.  The GREAT news is, now I understand HOW he learns and I can help him learn that way.  We’ve got about 5 weeks until school starts.  We’ll see, but yesterday he read a piece that was at the end of the first grade year in the HoP program with only a couple of stumbles.  Somehow I never thought we’d make this much progress in this little time, so who knows where this is going.  Further, who knows how many kids might benefit because my son’s mom had to search out a new way to teach him.

I don’t.  But God does.

God is so cool.