In or Out?

a2z the letter “n”

IN sounds like “N” so go with it.

I’ve had a rough few months in the writing game and spent some time talking with author Staci Stallings. I told her I was afraid. She responded with, “You’re like Peter.” After listening to her I asked her to write a post about fear and Peter. Read it once, then read it again. Staci has shared a lot of wisdom through this piece.

In or Out?

If you’re a Christian, you’ve surely heard the story of Peter out there in the boat on the wind and waves.  Then out from the waves there comes a figure–walking.  At first Peter and his friends think it’s a ghost, and they freak out.

Through the wind, they hear a voice call out:  “Don’t be afraid!”

Okay.  I’m a scaredy cat.  Truly and honestly. In fact, me and fear go way back.  So I can tell you if a ghost came toward me, walking on the water, and said, “Don’t be afraid!” I would probably veer toward afraid even more!

But Peter didn’t.

Why?

Because Peter knew that voice.  It was the voice he had heard many, many times.  It was the voice of his best friend, Jesus Christ.

Have you ever heard that voice?  Maybe it was a whisper in your heart.  Maybe it was someone talking about a dream that’s been on your heart, but you’ve not really listened because it seemed so very unattainable.

Then out there from the waves, the voice calls to you, and you think you recognize it just like Peter did.  So Peter tested the voice (ever done that?).  “Lord, if it is You, tell me to get out of the boat.”

And Jesus says, “Come.”

Come.

Oh, it sounds so simple! Right?

At our church we’ve done this scene in VBS a couple of times, and when Peter starts to get out of the boat, the other disciples FREAK OUT!  “Peter! What are you doing?! You’ll drown!  Don’t Peter! NO! Don’t go!”

Have you ever been there?  Wanting to strike out and follow what God’s put on your heart with your family and your friends trying everything and every way they know how to talk you out of it?  In fact, maybe you are even good at talking yourself out of things.

“Well, I don’t have the money.”  “Well, what will other people think?”  “Well, it probably won’t even work.”

You know Nike’s slogan…  Just Do It?

Clearly you are not alone in this indecision because that campaign slogan is one of the most successful in all of advertising.

Peter made the decision.  Just do it.  Just get out of the boat.  Listen to Jesus. Don’t listen to all these people who are not Jesus.

And now we come to the pivotal moment that trips so many of us up… getting out of the boat.

I’m sure the first touch of his tooties on that water made Peter seriously question his own sanity.  “Wow! Is that water cold!  Maybe this isn’t a good idea.  Maybe being in the boat would be better.  At least there, I’m safe.”

Have you ever been there?  Half in, half out?  Have you ever wanted to get out of that boat so badly you could feel your heart dragging you, and yet…

And yet…

Here is a spiritual nugget of wisdom.  The most dangerous moment of all for Peter was being half-in, half-out of that boat.  With the wind and waves picking the boat up and dropping it, he very likely nearly capsized the whole thing.

What happens a lot is, we as Christians get to this moment and freeze.  Our decision become indecision. Our faith becomes doubt.  And we stop, clinging there.  Half-in, half-out.

I want to encourage you today not to stay there.  Do not let analysis-paralysis set in because it’s a cancer that kills dreams.  Your dreams.  And God’s dreams for you.

Listen to the voice. Make the decision.  Breathe and realize that yes, there are going to be challenges.  This will not solve everything.  But if it’s on your heart to do, God is the One Who put it there.  If you believe through the wind and waves, the fear and the doubt, that this really is Jesus calling you out of that boat, then it’s time to Just Do It!

Take a breath.  Make the decision.  And get out of the boat.

Image credit: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/photo_18853347_hands-and-foot-hangig-from-the-boat.html'>arocas / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Don’t stay in that most dangerous moment any longer than you absolutely have to because it truly can and will drown your dreams and you just as surely as staying in the boat will.

The boat will not save you.  Clinging to the boat with one foot in, one foot out will not save you.  The only way to truly be saved, to be truly free, is to be out dancing on the water with Jesus.  He’s calling to you.  He’s waiting for you.  What are you waiting for?

In or out?  Which will it be?

 

Copyright, Staci Stallings, 2013

Love to be inspired? A stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, #1 Best Selling Christian author, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from.  Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again.  Every title is a new adventure!

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“To Protect & Serve”

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Healed Parenting

Healed Parenting

In this life we often make two mistakes that cause immense amounts of pain.  The first is to believe we are separate from God, thus rendering our lives void of meaning.  The second is trying to find or gain that meaning from something outside of God.

We do this in many ways–trying to build up our bank account, buying or building a bigger house, getting a better car, and even serving ourselves into the ground trying to prove our worthiness to God and others.  None of these work.  But I think the most tragic way we try to gain meaning is through our children.

You know the scenario.  The marriage isn’t happy, so the solution is to have a baby as the baby will give meaning to the loveless, lifeless marriage.  When that doesn’t work, unhealed parents begin to strive to live out their failed dreams through their children.  They put them in every camp, class, and activity that they themselves always wanted to be in–or were in but never quite succeeded at.

Then they begin to push and demand far too much from the child.  Every misstep the child makes is met with condemnation and an order to do better (conditional love).  I actually know parents who have taken their child out to practice for hours on end “to make them better.”  Oftentimes doing so against the child’s will or better judgment.

Why?

The answer lies in the parent’s strained relationship with God.  That parent, pushing their child beyond their limits in a sport or activity the child doesn’t even want to be in, is trying to gain meaning through their child’s accomplishments.  The parent doesn’t realize that something “out there” — i.e. their child’s success will not give them the peace they so desperately seek.

The only thing that gives that peace is seeking God, falling on Him, and letting His love and acceptance flow through your life–not because you deserve it but just because He wants to give it to you.  Until you find that, nothing “out there” will ever fill “in here.”

So if you’re a parent who is yelling at refs, forcing your child to be in an activity they neither want to be in nor like, or demanding your child excel for your benefit, it may be time to take a few steps back and ask if you are doing this for your child or for yourself.

Sit and talk with your child, ask what they want in the situation and in life.  Do they like this sport or activity?  Would they do it if you let them choose whatever they want?  You see, their life is also between them and God.  Their meaning in life is God–not pleasing you.  But if you set it up so that they are trying to please you instead of God, you have set yourself up as an idol for that child.

Parenting is absolutely one of the hardest, most challenging callings on this earth.  Just don’t make it harder by trying to do it unhealed and searching for your hope “out there.”  Give your child the gift of putting God first in their lives, and give yourself the same gift.  It can make all the difference.

Copyright Staci Stallings, 2012

Staci Stallings, the author of this article, is a #1 Best Selling author and the co-founder CrossReads.com a new website that gives Christian readers and authors a place to meet and fellowship. With a newsletter, a blog, a forum, and other exciting, inspiring areas to visit, CrossReads visitors can find fabulous Christian books they never knew existed.

Come over on Feb. 12-14, and enter to win one of 169 virtual baskets of ebooks, gift cards, and other prizes!

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What is Success?

Welcome back Staci Stalling to Home in My Heart. Readers Staci is sharing her thoughts on Success and she is giving away her book free today!
 

What is Success?

Everyone wants success. People talk about setting goals and positive thinking and getting to the top. However, most of these same people never really define what success means to them. 

author, woman with brown hair and glasses
Staci Stallings
Instead they think only in terms of the next big promotion or the next raise or climbing the corporate ladder, but few ever stop to really look at where these goals are taking them.

World-renown motivational speaker Zig Ziglar says that to define success, you should stand on the goal line of life and look into the end zone. What you want to see there sets the parameters for your definition of success.

In other words, ask most people what they want from life, and they will say, “I want to be happy.” That’s great, except for two things: they seldom know with any certainty what happiness actually means to them, and secondly, they never actually plan to be—nor take the time to be—happy.

Instead of taking the time to be happy now, most people fall into the when-I-get-over-there-then-I’ll-be-happy syndrome. If you look, you see these kinds of people every day—maybe even when you look in the mirror. “When I get that promotion, then I’ll be happy.” “When the kids are back in school and I can do this, then I’ll be happy.” “When we get out of debt, then I’ll be happy.”

Problem is, it doesn’t work that way. If happiness is your goal; if having been happy is something you really want to see in the end zone of your life, then you have to start being happy today. Not tomorrow, not in a week, not when “X” happens—TODAY.

So, how do you do this?

First, you must seriously ask yourself, what makes you happy? What makes you feel alive and completely in touch with the essence of yourself?

Maybe it’s hiking or skateboarding or baseball or running. Maybe it’s painting or music or writing or dance. Maybe it’s something as simple as taking a cup of tea out to the porch to watch a sunset.

Immediately you say, “I don’t have time to do that stuff. I’m busy making a living. I don’t have enough time as it is.” And then you wonder why you aren’t happy.

If happiness is a goal you have, then you must schedule time every day to do something that makes you happy. As Annie Dillard, the author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

The question to you then, is how are you spending your days? The reality is that what you have right now is exactly what will be in that end zone on your last day here. Is this what you want?

If so, congratulations! If not, you can start right here, right now to make a new ending. Decide today what will be in your end zone, and then make the changes to get that in your life today. You deserve it, but don’t put it off. You don’t have a second to waste.
Copyright Staci Stallings 2003

 

Staci Stallings, the author of this article, is a Contemporary Christian author and the founder of Grace & Faith Author Connection. Staci has a special surprise for you today and tomorrow only…
FREE ON KINDLE TWO DAYS ONLY!
August 15 & 16
Staci’s “Amazing!” novel:
To Protect & Serve
book cover, man and woman, fireman and flames, to save others' lives, they will risk their own
To Serve and Protect
 “Reading To Protect & Serve, I’m taken away to another world, a world I want to be a part of and never leave. Staci’s characters are real with real everyday problems. I love that.

Oh, and the firemen in this story, they’re smokin’ hot! Especially the hero!”

–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 of Jeff or the death wish he seems to have…
Available as a free download from Amazon!
Thank you Staci, you made a lot of good points. 
Reader’s don’t forget to get your free book. 
In the comment form please tell us what makes you happy.
 

My Father’s House

Welcome back Staci Stallings! 
My Father’s House
Years ago my Saturday nights were planned long before we ever got to Friday.  My friends and I would go to church, go out to eat with my parents and then go to my house for a long night of 
 whatever the game of the season was.  We would stay up long into the night playing Michigan Rummy, Pictionary, Guesstures, or Scattergories.  More than once a worried parent called to check up on a child and make sure they were at my folk’s place and not up town running around.  They were always there around that kitchen table laughing and having a great time.
 
I don’t really remember how the tradition got started, or who the first friends I invited over were.  However, over the years there were a long line of them.  Theresa. Elaine. Kirsten. Lorelea. Michael. Damian. Mike. Eventually my younger sister’s friends joined us, and there were very few Saturday nights that our house wasn’t an all-out party.
Now mind you, my parents were always there.  In fact, my mom seldom went to bed before everyone left as she was often the last challenger standing no matter what the game was.  My dad, on the other hand, had to be up at 5 a.m. on Sunday morning to go out and milk cows.  More than once, he rounded the corner, one eye half-opened to stare at us and ask what we were still doing awake.
We had a lot of good, honest fun in that house, and my friends never balked at going there instead of driving around looking for trouble.  It was simply more fun than anything else we could be doing.
Recently I’ve been looking at my life and realizing that one of my goals is to point as many people to Heaven as I can through my writing and through my life.  For awhile it bothered me that maybe I was saying in that goal that I thought I was the one through which they were going to get to Heaven.  Of course that wasn’t my intent, but there was a nagging thought that maybe that’s how it would be interpreted.
It didn’t take a genius, but it did take some soul-searching, to realize where that thought came from—Satan, the number one instigator of doubts of all time.  Max Lucado once said that “Satan doesn’t want to convince us, he just wants to confuse us,” and that was certainly true in this case.
It wasn’t until I thought back to my high school years and how much fun we had at my parents’ house that I finally put all the doubts aside.  You see, I don’t think I’m the reason others end up going to Heaven—that is their choice and their business. However, I amthe one who can invite them to come with me to my Father’s house.  I figure we’ll all be better off in Heaven than out on the streets somewhere, so once again, my plan is to invite as many people as I can to join me for a joyous time in my Father’s house.  It worked once, I hope it works again.
Copyright, Staci Stallings 2004
Staci Stallings, the author of this article, is a Contemporary Christian author and the founder of Grace & Faith Author Connection. Check out Staci’s brand new release…

Houston firefighter, Jeff Taylor is a fireman’s fireman. No situation is too dangerous to keep him sidelined if lives are on the line. However, when control freak Lisa Matheson falls for him, she quickly realizes she can’t control Jeff or the death wish he seems to have…
To Protect & Serve
The Courage Series, Book 1

To save other’s lives, they will risk their own
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“To Protect and Serve will hold you prisoner to its pages until the final one is turned. Prepare to cry, laugh, wish, love and maybe even cry again as you become enveloped in the hopes and feelings of Lisa and Jeff.”
-Cindy Reiger

The Goliath of an Author’s Life

Welcome Staci Stallings. So tell us about marketing.

Let’s face it. Most of us authors did not take marketing in college. Many have no background in technology or social media. Almost no one has a full publicity team behind them to do promotions for them while they sit back and write their next blockbuster.

No. Good or bad, most of us have to do at least some of our own promotions–especially online.

So what’s our solution? We do what we hear about. We set up a blog, try to post interesting articles hoping like Kevin Costner that if we build it, they will come. When they don’t, we’re not sure what to do next. Sometimes we tweak our content. Sometimes we branch out into Twitter or Facebook, Google+ or Christian Chirp.

Only to find the learning curve for each one is steep and bending upward.

About the time we learn one, there are another five waiting there like temptations saying, “You can have it all if you just learn to do me!”

However, none of us have time to learn everything and do everything and keep up with everything. It just doesn’t work. Worse, we’re on our own to learn these things with no one to ask and no one to show us how.

Can I get an “Amen”?

If you’re like me, you’ve tried many things to market and promote your work–whether that’s books or your blog. Unless you are a natural (or really have taken classes), you’re probably frustrated that no matter what you do, they don’t seem to be coming.

I feel your pain, so after years of living with this make-shift marketing “strategy,” God showed me a new way. It’s called “Grace & Faith Author Connection.” In this all-Christian group, members agree to help promote others’ work on Twitter, Facebook, and across the social media spectrum.

No longer are you tweeting to your 500 followers. Now, 3 other authors can see your post and retweet it to their followers as well! 500 becomes 2,000. But maybe it’s not just 3 who see it but 5 or 10 or 20. We have over 60 members, so who knows how far that message will go.

Plus, when you join G&F, you’re not alone trying to figure all of this stuff out. We have tutorials to help you learn to do Twitter posts. Mondays on our blog help you make the most of promotions. No longer are you at the mercy of a social media Goliath.

Through the simple stones we show you, you can vanquish this Goliath once and for all–and all in the presence of people who believe and trust in God and His wisdom and strength as much as you do.

So if you’re ready to go from haphazard to happily ever after, check us out. We might be just what you’ve been praying for!

Staci Stallings is the founder of Grace & Faith Author Connection. To join the group, send your Name, Email Address, Twitter handle (if you have one), and/or Facebook page to staci_stallings at hotmail dot com (altogether!) with the subject: G&F New Member, and Staci will let you know what your next step is. I hope you will join us for this new and exciting marketing adventure!