Tuesday, April 22, 2008

New Home & Book

Well, there have been a lot of changes around my life in this last year. I know some of you have probably gotten lost in the shuffle, but if you're interested, I'll give you a GREAT reason to jump on over to my new home.

It is the blog for my publishing house, Spirit Light Books. You can go to www.spiritlightbooks.com to sign up for the new blog (it will come to you just like this one did and feature me in addition to some other awesome authors!).

As a thank you for making the jump, you will get a free Staci Stallings' e-book that is brand new to the whole world.

Fellow Spirit Light author, Dennis Bates says of the new e-book Deep in the Heart, "When Maggie moved into the mansion, so did I. I found myself feeling and seeing what she felt and saw and Ms. Stalling's seamless story telling and dialogue carried me through this book in one sitting, keeping me in my chair until I finished it. This is real romance, full of faith and encouragement with real characters. Bravo!"

Deep in the Heart follows the story of Maggie Montgomery, a young woman fresh out of college who takes a job being the nanny for Conrad Ayers, a billionaire oilman, in Houston. Although clinging to God to keep her from being completely overwhelmed, Maggie's got secrets which could get her thrown right off the premises just when life is starting to look livable again. Then she meets the estate handyman who's got some secrets of his own...

To sign up for the blog and to get the free e-book, just go to: http://www.spiritlightbooks.com and fill out the short form at the top.

Thank you so much for following me this far! Your support and encouragement mean more than you will ever know!


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

My Absence

You've probably noticed I haven't posted in a while. My last post was on March 30, 2007 the day my life changed. My older brother who had been battling what we thought was depression for almost two years had just been diagnosed as bi-polar. We were grapling with this new diagnosis, trying to figure out what it meant for him and his family going forward. He too, was struggling, seeing life as he had known it spiraling away from him. In the early morning hours of March 30, he gave up the struggle and took his own life.

To say these last two weeks have been traumatic would be an understatement. The grief and heartache at first were overwhelming for my family and for his wife and kids. As we progressed through the week--with seven individual wake services for him, the love that was expressed to my family was incredible. Some who approached me said, "I'm sorry." Some said, "You have my sympathy." Most simply said, "I love you." It was what I told my mom and dad when I called them after finding out on Friday. "I love you."

I ask your prayers for my family, my mom and dad, my brother's wife and kids, for my sister and her family, my family, and his in-laws and friends. It has been a difficult time for all as we sort out what went wrong, why nothing we did or tried worked, and how and where we go from here. It is one of those times in life that I become very grateful for the amazing friends and family that I have. They never let me forget that I am loved, and that is making all the difference.

Tell someone today... RIGHT NOW that you love them. They need to know, and you might not have tomorrow to tell them.

Peace to all,

Staci Stallings

Friday, March 30, 2007

Lessons at the 11th & a Half Hour

(c) Staci Stallings, 2002

Learning is not for the faint of heart. Just ask the thousands of students who are trying to learn but just not getting it. They aren't bad kids. They aren't stupid. For some reason there are certain points for which they need more help.

However, because it seems like they aren't trying, no one helps them, and they begin to believe (erroneously) that they really are the problem.

Parents who see their children slamming into these types of obstacles in school usually choose to employ one of two tactics: 1) Look the other way and hope for the best, or 2) Ground the child and punish, punish, punish until the child relents and changes his or her ways or fails entirely. As a former teacher and current parent, I can tell you with almost perfect certainty: Neither of these approaches works.

Although also true in the realm of peer pressure and friends, this is especially true when it comes to schoolwork. Many parents are at a loss, however, to figure out alternative measures to get their kids turned around and headed in the right direction when something goes awry. Even parents who really care often become frustrated when threats and punishment don't work. How do I know? Because I have the immense honor of being an aunt to a great kid who taught me just that.

A few years back this young man was enrolled in a Freshman Honors English course. Unfortunately his teacher believed that because the kids were "honors," that meant that she could give them work, and they could do it-with no teaching required. Now this young man was a smart kid, but English was not his best subject. Further, he had never bothered to learn grammar. When he got into this class, the teacher gave worksheet after worksheet in which the student had to identify the classification-noun, verb, adjective, adverb-of each word. He tried, but with no further instruction and lacking a good background in this process, he was stuck. When he asked for help, the teacher told him she didn't have time. Neither Mom nor Dad knew how to help him, and so for a whole semester he floundered.

Then two days before the final, facing a grounding from Mom and Dad not to mention summer school, he came to see me. I suppose I was a last-ditch effort. In fact, I don't think he really thought it would do any good.

So it was at the 11th and a half hour that we started over at the beginning. Did he know that every the, a, and an were adjectives? No. He had no idea. Bam. Thirty points in the plus column on every paper without more than ten seconds of teaching. Every sentence has a noun and a verb. Find those two next. Bam. Another twenty points. And so it went.

We worked two hours the first night, four more hours the next day. At the end of the second day, I asked him, "When we started, what did you think you would make?" "A 20 if I got really lucky." "And now?" "Now, I will be hacked off if I don't get a 90."

A 20 to a 90 in four hours-after he had spent a whole semester being frustrated. Needless to say, he passed the test with enough points to get him un-grounded and out of summer school. Truth is, he never had to be in that position in the first place, but it got to that point because the teacher wasn't helping and his parents didn't know how to help. My question now is: How many other students out there are in this same position? How many are simply giving up on themselves and on life? How many give up and take the grounding-believing that it really is their fault? In my mind, one is too many.

We need to find a way to help these kids before the 11th and a half hour. We need to find a way to help them before we jump to the conclusion that they are just not trying. Parents, teachers, people who care. We need to find a way to help them. Period.

Check out Staci's website. http://www.stacistallings.com You'll feel better for the experience!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Let's Compare . . . or not!

I'd like to welcome my special guest, Tricia Goyer, with thoughts I needed to hear today!

(c) Tricia Goyer

Today, do you feel discouraged? Do you see others having success at all levels and wonder when it will be your turn?

We all know we are special creations, unique and precious to God. Yet why do we struggle with comparing our lives, our bodies, our kids, our talents (or lack of talents) with others?

I do this with my writing. I look at the best-seller's list with longing. I consider the "big" advances and media fan-fare that some authors receive, and sigh.

I do this with myself. How come my friend can eat anything she wants and stay slim? Why do I have to walk and watch what I eat just to maintain?

I do this with so many areas of my life, "How come?" "What if?" "Why?"

In reality, we (me included) need to look past who we "dream" to be and consider God's dreams instead.

In God's word, we read: "God-of-the-Angel-Armies speaks: 'Exactly as I planned, it will happen. Following my blueprints, it will take shape," says Isaiah 14:24 (The Message).

The word "planned" here is translated "compare." It's as if God has weighed the different possibilities, looked at them from all angles, and then chose the best way.

He makes the blueprints . . . then He constructs them into our reality. The life we have is the one constructed for us. It's not the life, body, health, or circumstances we wished we'd had. Or the perfect life we can never attain. But the blueprints and the form He is transforming into reality.

"Remember your history, your long and rich history. I am God, the only God you've had or ever will have-from the beginning telling you what the ending will be, all along letting you in on what is going to happen, amazing you," we read in Isaiah 46:10-11. "I'm in this for the long haul, I'll do exactly what I set out to do." (The Message)

It's okay to have longings. But even before we worry about what we desire for our lives, the first step is to not let our dreams motivate us, but instead let His.

God has longings for us even greater than we imagine, and He's willing to tell us these things as we seek Him out.

Will you seek Him today? Pray. Open your heart. And dare to listen to God's dreams for you.

Looking for a great read? Check out Tricia's new book, A Valley of Betrayal, at: http://www.triciagoyer.com/ "The words we write can make a difference in transforming our world. Our difference in the world can equally transform our words." --Tricia Goyer

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

My Timing is Perfect

(c) Staci Stallings, 2003

"Make me know Thy ways, O Lord; Teach me Thy paths."
--Psalm 25:4

There are days when I get really frustrated with man's place in religion. It probably has to do with how and where I was brought up. In a little town with only one church and one faith practiced, I didn't often see the edge of the power of change that the hierarchy of a religious community can wield. Church was the same; believers were the same; God was the same no matter where I went. That's probably why all the changes the Church is making now upset me so much. Growing up, my religion was as solid as my faith. Now, however, I realize that the ideal I had always believed in back then simply does not exist.

No, in this world people want excitement and challenge. One way to stir excitement is by making changes. Make a change, and suddenly everyone is compelled to take a stand on the issue-for and against. The hierarchy then gains power by holding fast to the change they have decreed. Eventually the multitudes surrender to the change, which confirms who has the power. Until, of course, someone new comes along and needs to make a change to reassert power, and the whole process repeats itself.

In the last few years, my religion has gone through many changes. We've been told that instead of kneeling at one part of the service, we are now to stand (then we went back to kneeling). We've been told that instead of only receiving Communion on the tongue it is now acceptable even encouraged to receive by hand. We've been told that children should no longer be Confirmed at 15 when they are able to make their own choice, it is now better to have them make their Confirmations as 8-year-olds because Confirmation cannot be "learned or earned."

Of course my mind which had to study for a year to be able to pass the test on the religious teachings of the church in order to "earn" Confirmation wonders how we have suddenly gone so far in the other direction. This concern was intensified when my eight-year-old daughter arrived at this juncture of her life. I had hoped and prayed, literally, that the rules would be changed back-as some had said they might be. However, during our first meeting for second grade parents, we found out it was not to be. The second graders would be Confirmed as per the decree of the hierarchy.

For weeks I vacillated between fury and bewilderment. I didn't understand why the religion I had grown up with looked so different than the one I was passing on to my child. I argued with people, asking why this change was made, and what my options were in going forward. I couldn't figure out how I could ever be at peace with myself if I took the central decision of my life away from my child. But I also couldn't figure out how I would be at peace if it was God's will and I stood in the way of that.

Then one night after a meeting, my heart hurt so badly that I was near tears. I held my daughter's hand as she drifted off to sleep and looking at her, I finally begged God, "Please, I don't understand this. I know You know that I want what's best for her, and I know what's best for Her is Your will. Please help me to know what that is, and help me to be at peace with whatever happens."

Instantly a voice in my head said very patiently, "My timing is perfect for each child. She is Mine, give her to Me, and whatever happens will be what I had envisioned for her." With tears rolling down my face, I did just that. I let go of the control I had been gripping so tightly. For the first time, I had true peace about not just Confirmation but about her whole life.

She's God's child, and God will guide her life the way it is supposed to go. I'm God's child too, and God's timing, if I let it be, will always be perfect for me just as it will be for all of us-no matter what changes men make in the rules.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Tricia Goyer!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

You Can Come To Me

(c) Staci Stallings, 2005

The sitcom set-up was easy enough. In fact, I could follow it while carrying on an in depth conversation with a friend of mine about the amazing love of the Holy Spirit. The set-up amounted to this: The father, a widower, was being pressured into "getting on with his life." Realizing that he was hanging on, he decided his friends were right, and he took off his wedding ring. He determined to go on the date. As he was on the date, however, his two young daughters, upset by the thought of their father dating again, got into a fight and inadvertently knocked the wedding ring down the sink.

In true sitcom fashion the situation quickly deteriorated all the way to the two girls trying to take the sink apart to get the ring out. Of course, by the time anyone found them, the bathroom was flooded and there was a huge mess. At about that time, my conversation with my friend wound to a close, and we stood to go into the television room. The show had come to the high point. The father sat down with the oldest girl, and he said, "You know you can come to me with anything."

With her head down, the young girl says sadly, "I know I should've come to you right away, but I panicked."

Isn't that exactly what God says to each of us? He wants us to come in our most difficult times. In fact, He wants us to come before we've flooded the bathroom and made a real mess of things. He wants us to trust His love enough to be able to come to Him and let Him help us. However, too often, we are like the young daughter, "I know I should've come to you right away, but I panicked."

Don't panic. He loves you, and He wants to help. Go to Him. Tell Him what happened. He won't get mad. He won't throw you out of His house on your ear. No. He won't. Remember the parable of the Prodigal Son? He will be so glad you turned around and came back, He won't even let you get through your carefully prepared speech about what you should've done, could've done, would've done... He loves you so much He'll throw His arms around you and throw a party!

In Him, you've got an ally like no other. Don't panic. He's on your side. He wants to help. The only question is, will you let Him before you've made a total mess of things? It's your choice.

Tricia Goyer will be Staci's special guest Wednesday, March 28th. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Being a Magi

(c) Staci Stallings, 2006

A long time ago I read a book that said, "There is a reason you notice the things you notice. They come into your sight to tell you something." (paraphrase) I took that to heart and began actively noticing. That is, I notice when I notice something. Rather than going through life oblivious to the signs God is putting in my path, I either actively seek them or at least I get it with only a couple of occurrences.

Much like the man in the flood who was standing on his porch as a boat went by. The people in the boat told him he could come with them. He shook his head. "God will save me if He wants to save me." Several hours past, and now he was hanging onto an upstairs window. A second boat came by. The people in it said, "Come on with us!" But the man replied, "No, I love God, and if He wants to save me, He will."

Hours past, and it grew dark. A Coast Guard boat with a search light found the man clinging to his chimney. "Come on! Get on!" they yelled. But the man refused. "I love God, and if He wants to save me, He will." An hour later the man appeared at the Pearly Gates.

St. Peter looked at him incredulously. "What are you doing here?" The man shrugged. "I guess it was my time. God didn't save me." To which St. Peter said, "That's weird. We sent three boats!"

After I heard this story, I once heard Oprah Winfrey say something similar. She said (paraphrase), "To get your attention, God will send a breath. Then He will send a pebble, then a brick, then a boulder, then the whole house will come crashing down!"

Let me just say, for myself, I prefer to catch what God's telling me at the first boat, the breath, or at most the pebble. So, I am very conscious of the messages God sends to me. And they are everywhere!

In music, books, the Bible, conversations, on billboards, in magazines, sometimes even in dreams. Recently I've been preparing a project that is very close to my heart for which God has given many signs and messages since it was first conceived. For this one project I have received messages ranging from videos depicting the story, songs, email messages, and even a tour bus following me down the road!

The ultimate (so far) message was that just before I mailed the project in, I was praying over it in the Post Office, and my oldest daughter said, "Look, Mom." When I opened my eyes, she was holding a piece of paper about five inches from me in my direct line of sight. It said, "Your talents will be recognized and suitably rewarded." I just started laughing because I get signs and messages, but most of the time they take at least a little bit of interpretation.

As I was recounting these events to my sister, she laughed. "You are such a Magi." To which I said the only logical thing, "Huh?"

She went on to explain. "The Magi were astronomers. They spent their time looking for signs in the sky, signs of a new king, signs of a shift on the earth begun in the heavens. That's what you do!"

I'd never thought of it quite like that, but I've got to say, it's great fun to be a Magi. You should try it sometime.

Looking for a great read? Come on over to Staci's site and check out the first three chapters of her two latest books at: http://www.stacistallings.com/Previews.htm You'll feel better for the experience!

Friday, March 09, 2007


(c) Staci Stallings, 2004

Funny how God sets things up-even when we don't take the time to notice. My biggest concern was leaving my children for three days to go on the retreat.

Now, I knew they would survive three days without me. I also knew they were in good hands. That wasn't the point. The point was that I wanted to be there to put them to sleep, to wake them up, to sit in the chair and snuggle with them every morning. I wanted to hold them and remind them that I love them just in case they had forgotten since the last time I told them. Instead here I was missing them and wondering how I would ever make it three days without them.

I was at peace, knowing that God would keep them for me, but I still knew I would miss not having them right there with me. I went anyway, heavy heart and all.

When I got the key to my room, I dutifully memorized the number even as I carried and walked with my kids down the hall so they could see where Mommy was going to stay. 128. 128. 128. Stefani's hand in mine. Andrew in my arms. Kayla holding onto my pantleg. Together, we all stepped into the room, looked around, and then it was time to go.

The evening passed. We separated as I kissed them. After a few activities, we were allowed to go back to our rooms. I took out my key and saw "128" stamped on it.

128. Why did that number sound so familiar and why had I been assigned that room and not say 122. I've come to know that when I notice something like that, it's usually because God's trying to give me a message through it. I had noticed, so I knew there was a message there that God was trying to point out to me.

As I looked at the key, I thought, "Huh, Stefani is 8. Maybe that's why it sounds so familiar." Then I looked a little closer. " Andrew's one! One and eight. Andrew and Stefani, but where's Kayla?"

Number sense training kicked in at that point. I knew there was a 5 there somewhere, but that 2 was all wrong. Then I saw it.

1 + 2 = 3 and 8 - 3 = You guessed it! FIVE!

So I got the right room. I know because God gave me the key I needed to hold onto all weekend. It was a nice reminder that He's watching out for all of us-me and my kids. If we ever doubt that, I know without question that He will put a key in our hand to remind us.

Peace to all! Have a safe Spring Break! Remember to spring forward your clocks!


Wednesday, March 07, 2007


(c) Staci Stallings, 2005

I've always loved rainbows, so this lesson was a little hard for me to learn. A few friends and I got together to sing-one of my favorite things to do. One of the songs we pulled out was about chasing rainbows. It said in effect that we're all just chasing pretty rainbows, but as pretty as they are, when we get there, they aren't what we thought they would be. Of course in the literal world, this is true. If you've ever tried to capture a rainbow, you know you can drive forever and never catch it. It changes, it moves, and then it disappears.

The concept of chasing pretty rainbows stayed with me as we continued to practice this song over the next several weeks, and I began to see how many rainbows I had been chasing. There was the rainbow of publication. The rainbow of success. The rainbow of achievement. The rainbow of others' approval and acceptance. Sometimes I got close. Sometimes I actually swiped my hand right through one. But always they would change, move, and then disappear.

Nearly instantly a new rainbow would appear on the vast plain of my life, and I would think, "Oh, I get it. It wasn't THIS rainbow that I really wanted at all. It was THAT one. Now if I can just figure out a way to get over there, then I'll be happy."

We all know about these rainbows. One is called education. If I just get through high school, then I'll be happy. If I just go to college, if I just get my masters, if I just, if I just... Then those rainbows start looking pale, and new rainbows appear. If I could just meet the man of my dreams, then life would be fabulous forever. Then it moves. If we could just get married... Again it moves. If we could just have kids... If he would just get this job, if I could just stay home, if we could just make enough to afford, if things weren't so busy, if we can just get through Christmas, if I just had enough work, if I didn't have so much work... Always those rainbows move.

First they are to the right and then to the left, backward, forward. But somehow those rainbows are never right here. Father Robert Barron? Calls it being scattered, and that's a very good word for it. Wherever you are, over there always looks better. Most frustratingly, sometimes over there is in several different places at once. You scramble, and you scrape to reach that other rainbow so life will get better.

The truth is all of those rainbows are illusions. Getting a rainbow will never make life better. The only way life gets better is to have the Maker of the Rainbows with you right now. When you have Him, chasing rainbows that the world says are important becomes far less important to the point of non-existent. You realize that the rainbows will not make you happy. In fact they keep you frustrated and scattered as long as you believe they are the treasure you are searching for. Only He can bring you the peace you are so desperate to find.

Chapter Verse tells the story of the man who found a great treasure in a field. He went and sold all he owned so he could buy that field. The truth is the great treasure is Christ, and giving up all you own involves giving up striving for all those things the world says you have to have, all those pretty rainbows. The only true rainbow is the Rainbow Maker. So seek Him first, and all the other rainbows you most need will be added unto you. The best part is they will not require vast amounts of effort to reach. They will be "added" to your life.

It will be as if your whole life is filled with rainbows you never stopped long enough to really notice. The rainbows of the world are as smoke-inconsequential and hollow. The rainbows of God are real and eternal.

So which kind of rainbow do you have right now? Which one do you want?

Visit Staci's website, http://www.stacistallings.com You'll feel better for the experience!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Just for You

(c) Staci Stallings, 2005

We noticed the moon on our way to our vacation spot. It was hard not to notice it. It was like an eclipse without being an eclipse. There was only a sliver of the shiny part like a lopsided smile at the bottom. However, the outline of the entire orb was clearly visible. Very cool indeed.

Now, normally I don't make it a point to notice the moon. Occasionally, if it's interesting - orange, for example - I do see it. And honestly, I see it more than I give myself credit for. It's just I'd never noticed that I noticed. You can be sure that I will for forever after this weekend.

You see, God sent me five and a half hours away from home and set it up just so He could show how much He loves me and make me smile at the same time. While on vacation we attended a small church in a tiny community. The readings were ones God had pointed out to me over the past few weeks, which was cool.

Then the priest got up to give the sermon. He began talking about how God doesn't just want service from us. He wants a personal relationship with each one of us.

Strange how that was the exact message of everything I'd been reading. Then he said something that really surprised me. He said, "It's like the moon. Do you realize that God put the moon right there just for you."

It's like God saying, "Hi there!" in the sky. I look at the moon and frankly a lot of things differently now.

Thanks God, for that lesson - five and a half hours from home.

Check out Staci's Shoutlife page: http://www.shoutlife.com/stacistallings You'll feel better for the experience!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The GOOD News!

(c) Staci Stallings, Feb. 26, 2007

I finally get it. Okay, it took me a while, but I finally understand why the Gospel is called "The Good News." This morning my church burned to the ground. Thankfully, the adjacent building was saved because of the awesome fire department, but the sanctuary is a total loss. At approximately 5:30 this morning the roof caved in, and everything that wasn't already destroyed by the fire was demolished. Interestingly as I sat and watched the building I have grown to so love burn to the ground, I couldn't help but be so grateful for The GOOD News I have learned there, and The GOOD News is this...

This is Friday, pure and simple. Friday was full of anguish and mourning as Christ carried that cross up the hill and was nailed there for all to see. It wouldn't have been good news if that had been the end. If that had been the end, suffering and mourning like today would have been all we could have done. That would have been anything but good news. Ah! But that wasn't the end, and thus it is truly The GOOD News! Because of the gift given us by our Gracious and Loving God, we know... we KNOW that even in the depths of the pain of Friday... Sunday's coming. Sunday, the Resurrection, Christ glorified is coming! And so even in the midst of sorrow for the old, even in the midst of the pain of saying good-bye to what was, we know that what is coming is infinitely better than we ever could have imagined! Now, let me tell you, on a day like today, THAT is GOOD News!

So, if you are suffering through a Friday in your life. If yet another bill has found its way into your mailbox, if yet again you haven't made the sales you had hoped, if yet again you are left to mourn what appears to be the death of your dream... TAKE HOPE! Take JOY! Rejoice! Because The Good News says, "This is only Friday. You must let Friday die so that Sunday can live, and never ever forget that Sunday's coming! That's right all you toilers who think 'What's the use?' The use is SUNDAY'S COMING, and it's going to be better than you can even imagine!"

What a day, God. What a day!

Be sure to visit Staci's new Shoutlife page at: http://www.shoutlife.com/stacistallings As always, you'll feel better for the experience!

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007


(c) Staci Stallings, 2003

"Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
-- The Our Father

The most perfect prayer. The one Jesus told us, "When you pray, pray like this." Ever since, we've been praying the words He taught us. In fact, we've prayed it so often that many of us don't even think about what we're saying anymore. We run through the words almost unconsciously - memorized to the point that we no longer have to concentrate on what we're saying.

But let me tell you, saying this line without really thinking about what it means is a scary proposition. Why? Because you are asking for exactly the same treatment you've been dishing out. So the question becomes - what have you been dishing out?

Are you judgmental? Do you judge situations and people without really getting to know them? Do you practice quiet prejudice - boxing people in and labeling them because of some outward characteristic? Then when you say "as" you've just asked God to judge you on the same scale. Are you petty? Do you watch for the faults of others and then make sure to point those out to everyone within earshot? Then you've given God permission to pick out and point out each and every one of your faults. Are you jealous? Do you judge actions without bothering to learn the whole story? Are you exacting? Harsh? Impossible to please? Do you brush by people because they have the wrong kind of jeans or the wrong accent or the wrong personality?
Think about what you're setting up for yourself. By saying "as" think about what you've told God to do when you stand before the Throne.

The good news is that "as" works just as thoroughly in a positive direction. Do you have mercy on those around you? Do you forgive? Put the past behind you and truly move on? Do you bless those who have hurt you and pray for those who hate you? Do you actively look for the good even when it seems buried?
If so, that is the scale God will use for you. It's a smart thing to remember the next time you blithely say "as I forgive those..."

Hey, something new and cool... check out Staci's Shoutlife page. http://www.shoutlife.com/stacistallings You'll feel better for the experience!

Friday, February 16, 2007


(c) Staci Stallings, 2005

One of my Holy Spirit friends is teaching Sunday School to 7th grade girls this year. When she first started, my friend was a little lost as to what to teach and what other resources were available, so she innocently asked me if I could help. Little did either of us know where that one simple email would lead.

First, it was just figuring out what song she could use as an opener and then as a closer. I'm a music fanatic, so that wasn't too taxing. Then as the year progressed, we began working through what it means when things don't work out the way you thought they should. We discussed lessons-she is the consummate "activity guru," and I added in insights I've gleaned from my writing ministry. Together, we made a pretty good team.

Just after Christmas she came over to discuss her newest lesson. She had decided to do a lesson on the light of Christ coming into our world at Christmas. She had already gotten candles to use and everything. We worked out the activity-turning off the lights to start in darkness and then explaining with a single flame that Jesus came into our world and brought light. He gave His light to the early Christians, who passed it down through the generations to us, and now we have the opportunity to give His light to others.

The idea was that the first girl's candle would be lit from the Jesus candle, and then each girl would light the next girl's candle until all the candles were lit. We thought it was a pretty good plan-and then she got to class and had two girls instead of 14. She didn't do the light ceremony but did do the other activities she had planned to go with it.

When we talked again, she still wanted to do the light ceremony, but now she needed new activities. She told me that she was thinking about letting the girls take the word LIGHT and see what acronyms they could come up with. I agreed that it sounded like a good plan.

Then the Holy Spirit stepped in. Being a word freak and having some time on my hands as I drove to school to get my children, I started asking, "What would LIGHT stand for to me?"

I came up with some good ones: Love In God's Heart Today. Live In God's Hope Today. Then as I got closer to home, I looked down and noticed a fortune from a cookie we had gotten over the weekend lying on the seat next to me. I picked it up and read it. The word "Luck" jumped out at me because the book I am currently working on is called "Lucky."

Because I had been looking for "L" words, I immediately thought, "Hmm... Luck... How would that work in the word LIGHT?" Then a thought went through my head. "Luck Is God's Help." Instantly I got excited, but then I realized there was not "T" word. So I said, "Okay, Holy Spirit but what does the T stand for?" Instantly the answer came... "Luck Is God's Help... Trusted."

You might think I came up with that. I didn't. It's too perfect. It's too Holy Spirit!

The cool thing is that for years-literally-people have told me that I was lucky. I always said, "Yeah, and I work darn hard to get that luck to work out." Up until the middle of last year, that was completely accurate in my life. I did work darn hard to be so "lucky." And it was work.

However, about the time my friend started teaching, I started putting things in the Holy Spirit's hands, and life has not been the same since. "Luck" has started literally pouring my direction. So much so, that when the title "Lucky" showed up for my new book, I knew it was perfect because the main theme is putting life in God's hands and how it works so much better when you do that.

Well, you can be sure that I couldn't wait to get home and call my friend. Thing is: She called me first with awesome news! (I love the way the Holy Spirit works!) Just before Christmas she had taken her teacher's certification test, and at the time she commented that it seemed that "everyone else is freaking out, but I'm
not worried. I know whatever happens, it's what God meant to happen."

Then today she calls to tell me that she had gotten her scores in... A 91! 73 out of 80 questions right! That,
for those of you who don't know, is a slam-dunk on a really challenging test!

Now some people might say she got lucky. But there's no doubt in my mind that she and I both know that "luck" came because she was living in the "light." Luck Is God's Help Trusted... It's such a cool way to live!

Visit http://www.stacistallings.com/Previews.htm to read the newest chapters of Staci's books! You'll feel better for the experience!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Thoughts on "Losing" the Kairos Prize

(c) Staci Stallings, 2007

I used to think the point of a disappointing outcome was so that I could learn to DO better next time. I'm beginning to think it has nothing to do with learning to DO better. It has to do with learning to BE better-being a better person, a more gracious person, a more loving person, a fuller person who knows what it is to be disappointed so I can appreciate the joy more when it comes. But even as I appreciate it, that I can be truly compassionate with those who have had their dreams put on hold once again as I have now.

I could well spend my time now trying to learn to DO better-to write a better script, to write a better pitch better, to write a better synopsis or a better logline. I think instead I will spend my time learning to BE better. To be a more loving person in everything I do, to show God's love more intensely and more fully to everyone I meet, to understand that He has a plan, and even though I do not see it or understand it, that still I can trust its work in my life and in the lives of those around me.

This then, is not defeat. It is ultimate victory for I have learned a new lesson in a new way and begun a new day as a new person in Christ. He has a plan, and I'm so very grateful for that-not just for the plan but for the deeper knowledge that when the waves overtake me, that He will be there to reach down and pluck me out. And then, with that loving smile of His to look me in the eyes and give me a lesson to help me BE better next time.

It is a lesson I will cherish forever.

Yes, I didn't win the contest, but I want to thank you all so much for your prayers and good thoughts! They mean the world to me. Please pray for those still in the contest--for the finalists and for the winners. May God's light shine through their work into our darkened world!