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!


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.


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

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!”

Buy it today on Kindle



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.

Click here to see this title @ Amazon!

Now back on Nook!

Life As Rocket Science: Part 9, Burying Your Dead Possums

October 4, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

It’s amazing to work with real people who have real problems.  It’s fascinating to watch God at work on their hearts and how they are learning lessons they don’t even know they are learning.  I love being just objective enough to “see” what they are missing and help them see it too.

My friend, the one of the horse-training thoughts (see the Oct. 1 post) was the inspiration for this one as well.  You see, there are some thought patterns in her life that are so persistently negative that they have practically taken over her life.  She has learned through our conversations that those thought patterns have to go if she is to find and live in joy and peace.  The problem is, WHAT do you do with them?

She wrote one day to say that once again that same old, tired, depressing thought pattern had cropped up again, and it was getting old that it just wouldn’t go away.  That reminded me of a true story from my recent life… the story of our dog Scout and the dead possums.

Now Scout is only a year old, very active, medium-sized, outdoor dog.  She is also our only dog, so unless she plays with the cats, she’s on her own most of the day.  So she runs and plays with our swings in the morning and can be seen running the perimeter of our large backyard.  She can’t get out of the backyard, but she has the run of that area.

One day my kids went out there to play and came running back in the house in horror.  Scout had KILLED two possums!  And she wanted to “give them” to my children!

Needless to say this was worse than that knitted sweater with three sleeves that Grandma wants to give you at Christmas.

They did not WANT this “gift.”

But oh, was Scout proud of those dead possums.  She would play with them and drag them around, and paw at them and drag them around.

Finally we buried them, and what did she do?  Dug them up of course!

She played with them so long, they were in pieces.  So we gathered the pieces and buried them in the FRONT yard where she couldn’t get to them anymore!

I told my friend this story and then said, “That’s what you’re doing with these negative thoughts.  You’ve got all these dead possums–depressingly bad thoughts–strewn about your “yard,” and you take them and play with them and pull them apart and put them together and think about them and mull them over.

That is NOT helping!  You’ve got to BURY them, by giving them to God… and then leave them buried!

How many dead possums do you have in your “backyard”?  How many tired old times have you let your thoughts tell you the same old depressing things?

Well, stop it.

Bury that thought.  Give it to God, and move on!

Seriously.  It’s time.


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Life As Rocket Science: Part 8, Training Your Horse

October 1, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

A friend and I have recently been talking about turning your thoughts from negative to positive.  So many of us fall into the trap of thinking whatever happens to come into our head. And most often these “random” thoughts are in one of two categories:  busyness thoughts or negative thoughts.
Busyness Thoughts sound like this:  “Oh, I have to get to work by 7:30 this morning…. I can’t forget that file.  Where did I put that file?  Wonder what they are serving for lunch today. Maybe I should bring my lunch.  No.  I’ll just swing by McDonalds on my way to pay that bill that’s due by 5…”  And the commentary just goes on and on, usually revving up to a pace that would make a Nascar driver fear for his life.

Negative Thoughts go something like:  “I don’t know WHY Jenny can’t pick up her shoes when she comes in the door.  Every time I have to pick up her shoes.  What am I, the maid? I’m late again.  Well, what’s new?  Always late for something.  And look at this mess.  I am so sick of this mess, I’m about to scream.  I’m tired, and now I’m left here, trying to do the laundry and cook supper.  This is so old!  When did I sign up for this…”
You get the picture.

Now if you’ve been following my writing–especially the nonfiction stuff–you know that I was raised on positive thinking.  My parents had every Zig Ziglar tape out there, and I knew most of them by heart.

What I have learned since really beginning my relationship with God when I was 34 is that without God at the center of it, positive thinking doesn’t work all that great because it’s simply YOU trying to battle the busyness thoughts and the negative thoughts on your own consistently and permanently!

Anyone as tired as I am when I say that?!

Well, as my friend and I were talking, I said that your thoughts are like riding a horse.  Stay with me here, this is good.  Your thoughts are the horse.  You are the rider.

Now if you know ANYTHING about riding a horse, you know that without good instruction, you could wind up about anywhere if you just let the horse go where it so chooses.

In fact, my sister when she was about 10, had a horse that threw its bit.  The bit is the part of the bridle that fits in the horse’s mouth.  When you pull the bridle right or left, the bit puts pressure on the horse’s mouth and the horse will turn the way you want to go to make the uncomfortable feeling go away.  It’s a very simple system really.  Except that she had a bullheaded horse that had learned to throw the bit.

The second the bit was out of its mouth, she lost control and went for the ride of her life–holding on because she couldn’t control it!

Now, just for a second, I want to share something else that’s going to sound like it’s out of left field, but it’s really not.

The other day I heard about a fascinating study they have done on the brain.  The scientists were able to pinpoint the area of the brain that carries out decisions.  However, there is no part of the brain that “lights up” in any of the scans to show them what part MAKES the decisions.

In the New Age/meditation realm, the first chakra is actually pictured ABOVE the head, meaning that it is not the brain that is doing the “thinking” at all.  It’s “something else.”

To me, this is our soul, our “higher self,” the part of us that lives on even when the body dies.

So it is THAT part that is making the decisions, and it is our brain that is the “horse” which is carrying out those decisions.

But here’s the fascinating part.  Most of us let our brain, our “horse” do whatever it wants to do!  We don’t “guide” it.  We don’t “direct” it.  We just follow along with whatever it happens to come up with, and then we wonder why our lives are a mess.

Here’s a new thing to try:  Start being the one guiding and directing your thoughts!  “Take every thought captive.”  “As a man thinketh, so does he live.”  That’s what these mean!

Think of your thoughts not as random or out of your control.  Rather, think of them as a horse that YOU put the bit in its mouth, and YOU (and God) guide.

When you start hearing busyness thoughts, take a moment to breathe, slow your thoughts down.  This is not a track race to see whose thoughts can go the fastest.  Spiraling or zooming thoughts is a sign that the horse is controlling YOU, not the other way around.

When you start hearing negative thoughts, realize that you have the ability to stop those, to pull them up short, and to turn them to something more productive.  So if your horse starts, “I’m such a failure. I never get anything right…”  Pull that up and say, “I’m not perfect, but that’s okay.  God didn’t make me to be perfect.  He made me to love me.  NOW, what in this situation can I do to make it a LITTLE better?”

Learn to ask good questions like:  What is God wanting me to learn here?  How can I make this a little better?  What CAN I do?

And most of all, give all the negative thoughts and the busyness thoughts to God.  “God, I need help to quiet my thoughts and breathe.  Please help me.”

The other fascinating thing is that my friend had recently read something by the Reverend Billy Graham, who after all of these years being with Christ and preaching the Good News, STILL has to consciously guide his thoughts away from fear into faith, away from selfishness into love, away from freak-out into control.

Further, this is a personal thing.  No one else can do it for you.  In fact, reading the stories of both Billy Graham’s daughter and Zig Ziglar’s daughter, you realize that just because their parents had learned to be successful and positive, didn’t mean they naturally were.  It wasn’t until they got their own horse under control and learned to do this for themselves that life became more peaceful and doable.

So practice training your horse.  If it’s too fast, slow it down.  If it turns a direction you don’t want to go, learn to guide it in a better direction.  Most of all… God will help!  Let Him!


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To Protect & Serve

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–Debra, Amazon Reviewer

When control freak Lisa Matheson falls for handsome but shy firefighter, Jeff Taylor, it’s possible that life might just be going her way for a change. The only problem is she can’t control Jeff or the death wish he seems to have…

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Life As Rocket Science, Part 7: Christian Walking

September 27, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

So far we’ve covered a lot of different kinds of experiments you can do with your life–weight loss, homework, life, etc.

Today I want to look at how the concept of experiments works in our Christian walk.

I think we have been conditioned to believe there is “one right way” to be with God.  We think it involves praying a certain way for a certain amount of time at a certain time of day or day of the week.  We think it involves doing certain good things and avoiding certain bad things.  And we believe if we will just “do all of that,” our experiment called the Christian life will be a success.

Here’s the thing though… Much like my son with spelling, no two of us are exactly alike.  So what works for Janet down the street might not work for you at all.

However, we get trapped in thinking that doing it “right” has nothing to do with our way of doing it.  So we keep doing what doesn’t work for us because it looks right to someone else.

I recently read something that said, “Pray as you can, not as you can’t.”  I’m not sure if that’s from the Bible or not, but I know it’s true.

My sister was a good example of this.  She had been doing her praying, reading, meditating before bed each night, and it was working great for her.  She is not much of a morning person AT ALL .  Her children and husband all are.  So her mornings were filled with noise and people needing this, that, or the other thing.  Waking up earlier than them was not possible nor even advisable for her.  That would only have made her more irritable and less awake and able to deal with things.

So she was enjoying her nightly time with God.  Then she got a book that said the way you are “supposed” to pray is to get up early in the morning, an hour before everyone else, and sit in the quiet and pray.

Immediately she felt like a complete failure in her prayer life!  She called one night sounding really defeated.  “I just don’t know how to do that.  If I try, I’m just going to be exhausted…”

Pray as you can.  Don’t pray as you can’t.

I have a friend who hit the same wall.  She went to a retreat and at the end of it, the liturgy director invited us into her “living room” one morning to pray with her.  It was very peaceful and wonderful.  My friend decided THIS was what she should do.  So she did an experiment (okay, she called it “what I’m going to do from now on”).

She got up earlier than the sun, sat in her chair and read and prayed.  The first morning this worked.  The second morning, she nearly fell asleep.  So she decided to have her coffee with her prayer.  That worked a little better until about the fifth morning when she really did fall asleep and was very nearly late for work!

She called… also sounding completely defeated.  “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.  It worked so good for Carrie.”

Pray as you can.  Don’t pray as you can’t.

I’m the third example.  From the time I was very small, we prayed the rosary.  My grandmother was a huge rosary pray-er.  She loved it.  Me?  Uh…

Oh, I had the best intentions.  But when I’d start praying, my mind would wander–mostly to the beads.  “Was that #7 or did we already switch beads?  I don’t remember.  Am I behind?  Or ahead?  Maybe I should switch beads now…”  The thing you have to know is my sister loves the rosary, and she would expound on how wonderful it is.  So I would hunker down, determined to get this.  It still didn’t work.

Then one day at a retreat I was praying it behind a wall, waiting to play music at the end.  I got really frustrated with myself.  Why couldn’t I keep my mind on the prayers?  Then the Holy Spirit gently said, “Just hold the beads.  Don’t count.  Just hold and trust the person leading… Me.”  I literally lost it, bawling so hard I thought they would surely hear me.


Because I’d finally found what worked for me.  And all I could think was, “Thank You, Jesus.  Thank You for letting me be me and loving me anyway!”

So stop trying to pray as you can’t and start praying as you can.  That’s what God put in your heart to pray like!  If you love gardening, garden!  And don’t let anyone tell you that something else is the only way to pray.  If you love a set of prayers, pray them!  If you are called to work with the elderly, don’t get roped into working with pre-K because that would be more “holy” or “worthwhile.”

I know that sounds crazy, but it happens all the time to people of good faith, people who are sincerely trying.  And their light slowly gets dimmer and dimmer because they are trying to be in a place they were never meant to occupy!

Experiment in your Christian walk.  Find what works for you, where your spirit is released and relaxed and open!  It’s a great place to be!

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