Sunday, July 29, 2012

Staci Stallings "Learning To...."

Learning to...

I'm going to ask you a very simple question that is going to get you into a lot of turmoil.

If you never have to do something, how do you learn to do it?

Let's say that I am going to operate on you.  Let's say further that you need a heart transplant.  Now, the good news is that I've read a lot about doing heart transplants.  I know the Anatomy book backwards and forward.  I've looked at all the diagrams and all of the graphs and charts.  So I'm pretty sure I can do this.

How confident are you in my ability to perform this task correctly on you?

(I see those nerves springing to the surface.)

But I don't see why you would be nervous.  After all, I have read all about the history of the heart transplant, and I've even read up on the most recent advancements.

Why are you nervous?

I'll tell you why... because I've never actually done a heart transplant, right?

In fact, truth be known, I'm really squeamish at the sight of blood and would probably pass out the second the incision was being made!  And in all honesty, I would not in good conscience even think I could do such a thing.  It takes years of practice to be able to even consider doing such a thing.
But the truth is we do this type of thing all the time in the spiritual realm.  In fact, we get indignant when a practice-session comes our way.

After all, we've read in the Bible that we're supposed to forgive.  7 X 70 times.  But what happens when our neighbor borrows our wrench and forgets to return it?  Or when such-and-such said something about us, and we heard it?

See, much like that heart surgeon who doesn't just read about heart transplants and thinks he or she just knows how to do them, we have to be presented with opportunities to test if we can forgive.  We need that knowledge to move from our heads to our hearts and through our hearts into our experience and our world.  Until we do that, we are as helpful as a surgeon who has read all the books.

And how do surgeon's practice?  Most of the time, they assist under a more skilled doctor for many years.  That's why they do internships and residencies before becoming doctors because they need to have the book knowledge move through them into their actual experiences!

So when Jack shows up, and he broke your mower blade... again.  Or Suzy made that comment, or Jill is mad, or Stan said...

Remember, this is how you learn to forgive and to love.

God's not mean for letting these people be in your life.  He's helping you to learn to be the person who doesn't just read the words but lives them.

Staci Stallings, the author of this article, is a Contemporary Christian author and the founder of Grace & Faith Author Connection. You can check out one of Staci's Best-Selling Christian Romances...

White Knight
~ The Courage Series~
Book 2
"Expect the unexpected..."

"Through a series of entertaining twists and turns and a lot of suspense, two very unlikely people find in each other a reason to laugh and love and live." 
--Amazon Reviewer, Myrna Brorman
The hardest part is losing the person someone else loves... 
Buy your copy today for:
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Copyright Staci Stallings, 2012

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Why We Watch

I gotta say, I'm a sucker for the Olympics (less than 24 hours to go! Notice the London phone boxes in honor of the Games). The pageantry, the memorable moments, the sportsmanship. It's not just about seeing Michael Phelps kick butt in 2008 (though, with a sick toddler that summer, I was up late at night and was able to watch every single race live). It's not just about seeing the Stars and Stripes raised and the Star Spangled Banner played. It's about more than that. It's about teaching my son what true sportsmanship is.

Every single Olympic athlete knows how hard their opponents worked and and how much he or she sacrificed to be there. The early-morning practices, the hours in the weight rooms, the doing every flip, every jump, every shot, every hurdle, every stroke again and again and again until it seemed as if their body was doing it on its own. Unlike in professional sports, you rarely hear or see trash talking, name calling, or bullying at the Olympics. Not even directed at that one swimmer who is always three lengths of the pool down when everyone else is finished. Those are attributes that I want my son to emulate.

In May, the reigning gold medal winner for time trial bicycling, Kristin Armstrong--whose home happens to be less than 40 miles from mine--was in a crash at the Exergy Tour that resulted in a broken collar bone. After such a painful break, no one would have blamed her for sitting at home with an ice pack on her shoulder and watching the Games from her couch. But she worked through the pain and ended a race in Oregon early so she could focus on preparing for the Olympics in London. And who (at least, those of us who can remember the 1996 Atlanta Olympics) can forget Kerri Strug? Her second vault--which ended up winning the USA the gold medal--was done on an ankle she had broken during her first vault. Run, run, run, run, flip, boing, vault, flip, flip, perfect landing. All during what had to be excruciating pain. The video (and having to explain it to my son) still makes me cry. Not because, through her, all of us won a gold medal, but because it's what I want for my boy. To know that no matter what happens, pain--be it physical, emotional, or mental--can only take one out of contention if one allows it to.

Olympic athletes rarely give up--another attribute worth emulating. No matter if they see every single one of their competitors 50 meters in front of them in the 100-meter race, they still keep running. Already taken down two hurdles? Still never gives up. Race is over? Still gonna finish it. Even when an athlete is so far behind in the decathlon that there's no way he or she will medal, they still do not drop out in frustration and leave the track and field pitch and return to the Olympic Village.

Respect. Determination. Perseverance. Those personality traits are woven throughout the stories of the Olympic Games. And that is why I love them. The sports are fun to watch, it's wonderful to see people who have worked so hard do well, and it's fun to root for the country of your choice. (And, watching the Olympics with a globe handy is also a wonderful way to teach world geography.) But the Olympics are not simply a set of contests of strength and endurance. It is so much more than that. Yes, without a doubt, NBC will be on our TV pretty much from sunrise to long after dark for the next 16 days.

Go Team USA. Make me proud of you once again.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

From Fear to Love

 My friend Precarious Yates has released Book 1 in The Heart of the Caveat Whale trilogy. Congrats, Precarious! Please enjoy this guest post from her, explaining why she set her new fantasy trilogy in her most-feared environment: the Ocean.

From Fear to Love

When I was a child I was terrified of being under water. Fear would swallow me the moment I was submerged and would last until I was safely back home again. At times, the fear was so strong I couldn’t even look at pictures of underwater landscapes, and if there was any program about fish or, God forbid, sharks, I would close my eyes and hum until the underwater scene was over.

So what was I thinking writing an epic fantasy based on an underwater world?

Slowly, as I began to write this book and research coral reefs, dolphins, squid, barnacle, tuna, sharks, and even the way bodies would move under water, I became less and less afraid. When I could, I would go swimming to do some firsthand research. And in the midst of facing this most paralyzing fear, I began to really like the water, especially the ocean.

As I faced my fear, and as I researched and wrote, I began to fall in love with the ocean. These days, I enjoy a documentary about sharks. No more closing my eyes and humming ;).

And all the while, as I journeyed from fear to love, the Lord was doing something in my heart. My fear of people dissipated. My fear of heights began to crumble. My fear of the dark was swallowed by His most marvelous light.

When He said, through the Apostle John (1 John 4:19) that perfect love casts out fear, He wasn’t even remotely kidding. Every step toward courage was one that I took with the Lord, laying my heart and my fears bare before Him. It was His perfect love that drove out each one of my fears.

Also, I considered this: the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. He was the one who created the oceans, and mightier than any crashing wave, the Lord on high is mighty (Psalm 93:4). God is so big that the oceans are tiny droplets in comparison. And God loves me, what do I have to fear?

I invite you to come investigate this underwater world I created. Dive in! The Captives: The Heart of the Caveat Whale (Volume 1)