Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Solve for Y

Solve for Y
by Staci Stallings

My mother never particularly liked math, but I remember one thing she always told me when I was younger about algebra.  When kids would say, “But algebra?  When are we ever going to use this?”  My mom would say, “I use it every day.  Algebra says, ‘Let x stand for the unknown,’ and let me tell you, there’s a lot of unknowns in my life.”

The other day I was reading a book about how to make a quality school or a quality classroom.  As I read, the author kept saying how it is critical to get a student to understand why they need to learn whatever you are teaching. He said the failure to do so is one reason students get burned out and tune out.

The famous question, “When am I ever gonna need this?” comes to mind.  If kids don’t see the correlation between what they are learning and what they are going to need later in life, a few might learn it.  Most will learn it and then promptly forget it.  Others will never bother to learn it at all.

We see this as adults in people we work with.  They show up to work.  They even do some work.  But they do it half-heartedly and can’t wait for five o’clock to show up so they can go do something that really means something to them.

Unfortunately we also see this in our families these days too.  Couples get in a rut of going through the routine of days until the routine has become the relationship instead of the relationship setting the routine.  With our kids we have short fuses and even shorter attention spans.  It’s ever so much easier to set them in front of a Playstation and forget they exist than to make an effort to connect with them and get to know them.

I think the main issue behind all of this “opting out” of life goes back to algebra.  We are not solving for y.

Why am I doing this?  Oh, we ask ourselves that in a fit of frustration, but we never really bother to answer it. 

Why am I raising this family?  When we get to the end, what do we want this family to be, and are the moments we have now pointing in that direction or some other entirely? 

Why am I at work?  To earn a few dollars that will be gone in a month or a minute?

Why am I alive?  To “get through”?

I don’t think God’s answer to why is about surviving or getting through or just anything… I think God’s answer has to do with abundance of living.

If we are “just getting by,” why are we settling for that?  Of course, we don’t have to make wholesale changes like quitting our job or moving to a new state.  We can simply shift our understanding of why.

Why am I raising my family?  Because God granted me the gift of these children and this spouse.  No, they are not perfect, but even God doesn’t require perfection.  My job is to love them, to guide them, and to support and encourage them the best that I can with God doing most of it through me.  That is my y.

At work, the answer is much the same.  I’m not working to be top dog because if I am, someone is coming up very quickly to knock me off of that spot.  No. I’m at work to share Christ’s love—not necessarily by evangelizing but by loving those who work with me.  I can pray for them.  I can help them.  I can support them.  That can be my new y.

I plan to ask my Sunday School class as we start a new year to solve for y.  Why are you here?  Why do you come on Sundays?  Why is this important?   

So now I ask you that question:  Why are you here--on this planet, in this family, in this situation right now? 

Solve for y.

It makes a difference.

Copyright Staci Stallings, 2008

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... 

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Love Triangles - Would you stay?

It's discussion number 4 in the Finding Romeo discussion series and today we'll be talking about love triangles.

Love triangles are quite interesting things. Most times, the legitimate partner has no idea that he/she is in a love triangle. However, every once in a while, you find a partner in a relationship who knows without a shadow of a doubt that their loved one is enjoying love from someone else.

Today's question is this:
- Why remain in a relationship even after you find out that your partner is cheating?

In Finding Romeo our dear Daynia is not sure that her beau is cheating, but there is certainly enough evidence to give her a reason to investigate, yet she doesn't. I've heard people say that as long as their significant other comes home to them at night, then they don't really care about another man or woman. I've heard others say that after being in a relationship for some time, it's just best to leave things be. Others say they will stay because there are children involved.

For me, as long as my trust has been betrayed, it is VERY, VERY hard to be regained. That isn't to say that I cannot forgive the behavior but, I do know that to go back would mean a lifetime of wondering where my mate is during every second of every day. It would be a lifetime of wondering who he's with and just what the true nature of any relationship he has with a woman might be. That means that this relationship would be a constant night of worry for me. Not healthy for either of us, so my best bet would be to bow out.

What about you? Can you forgive and move on with a partner who has betrayed your trust? What if the person has cheated only once (a one night stand)? Would it be easier to forgive and move on? Can you see yourself staying in a situation where your partner is blatantly having another relationship outside of yours?

Feel free to post your comments below, let's have a hearty discussion.

To purchase Finding Romeo in kindle format or paperback click the image below

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What is worship?

Is worship the thing you do on Sunday morning with your hands raised high in the air? Is worship the process of singing songs of adoration out loud?

Many of us get the concept of worship wrong. We box our worship into a two hour church service on Sunday morning, when win reality worship should be part of our everyday lives.

We really aught to worship God with every aspect of our lives. We worship God when we obey his commandments. We worship God when we love one another and treat each other with respect. We worship God with the way we live. The lip service that we give n Sunday mornings should serve only as a direct outward expression of what we have already showed to Him. It's sort of like a husband telling his wife "I love you" after he has prepared her breakfast in bed. The act of preparing the breakfast already tells her of his love and commitment to their relationship but those three little words at the end seals the deal. It's the same with God. Sunday morning lips service says that we love him, but coupled with our actions he definitely knows that we love him.

Each part of our expression is important but actions speak louder than words. So today, make a decision to no longer just give Sunday morning lip service. Worship God with you actions throughout the rest of the week because true love is displayed by what we do and not what we say. Think of it this way, what if your significant other says "I love you" whilst giving you a black eye, what are you inclined to believe?

For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in Spirit and in truth.
John 4:24

This devotional post and others like it can be found in one book (both kindle & paperback) for your convenience.
To purchase your copy, please click the link below

Monday, July 23, 2012

Should you take him/her back?

About two weeks ago, we spoke about a woman who would choose to stay with a man after years of physical abuse. We know that it's something that happens all the time and even though it doesn't make sense, it happens. Today however, we're going to discuss another side of things.

Today's question is this.
Would you return to a relationship where your partner treated you badly even though he has apologized and seems repentant?

In Finding Romeo our heroine Daynia faced this dilemma. The love of her life claimed that he was changed and he wanted a second chance:. In fact, everyone around Daynia was convinced that Richard was a changed man, but even though she could see the changes, she struggled with the decision to open her heart to him again.

That is a very understandable situation. When someone breaks our trust, a normal reaction is to banish that person from our lives forever. However, from a Christian perspective we are taught forgiveness. Does forgiveness mean that you have to take the person back? Does it mean that you should even talk to the person again? Does it mean that you must open your heart again to someone who has basically treated you like crap?

My take on this situation is and always will be that forgiveness does not mean that I should give an individual another opportunity to hurt me. What it does mean is that I should no longer concentrate on what an individual has done yo me in the past. It means that must no longer hold a grudge. It means that I must treat the person with kindness and love. It means that I must not be reproachful. It does NOT mean that if I am not sure that the person is truly genuine that I should make room for them in my life again.

From a Christian standpoint, my answer to the original question is this: if you love someone and you are sure that you can see God working in the lives, give them time to mature and if it is the way you are being led, then by all means go for it.

What's your take on the topic? It is discussion Monday so feel free to jump in.

To purchase the book, please click the image below. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Friendly advice isn't always Good advice

A few weeks ago, God gave me a task that I really dread doing. There's something I need to do that requires a lot of bravery on my part and it also requires that I become the "better person". How on earth was I going to do that? I had no idea where to start, so, I called a friend.

That was mistake number one. The friend was very supported and started offering me lots of ways to climb the wall that I was just afraid to approach. "Just do it", he said. "How?" I asked over and over. I just don't know howSo then came the slew of suggestions. "How bout you do it this way, or that way, or this other way." In my mind, none of those things would work. As a matter of fact, his suggestions made the wall appear taller and scarier each time.

I couldn't do this. I told God the wall was way too tall for me to climb so I just was NOT going to do it.

Then.... I stopped listening to my friend. Somewhere in the cloud of my mind I heard the still small voice again. "I didn't ask you to do it the way your friend wants you to do. I just asked YOU to do it. Do it the way you feel comfortable, one step at a time, the wall doesn't need to be climbed in one day."

Wow, suddenly the way became clear and I figured out my first step.

Sometimes when God asks us to do certain things, we tell our friends and they try to "help" us do it. They tell us that it needs to be done this way and that. They tell us that we need to do it now, later or tomorrow. They mess with our thought process so much that we end up afraid to do the thing God asks us to do that we thought was totally possible. Now, after all the wonderful advice, we find the task impossible.

Our judgment has been clouded by people with good intentions. Sometimes, when God is asking us to do something, it's a good idea to wait for Him to tell us the when and the how. Whilst our friends can be wonderful sources of inspiration and comfort they are also excellent sources of confusion. They can drown out God's voice and help us make choices that we should not have made.

In this situation, I almost became a Jonah and pulled "a Nineveh" on God. I'm NOT going to do it I said and got on board the next ship that would take me as far away from this thing as possible. Then came the storm and I ended up on my way to Nineveh in the belly of a fish.

So, here's my little snippet of advice, the next time God asks us to do something, wait for His when and how. Don't tell your whole clique. If you need help, find the one person who will direct you to wait for God's push. We all have one of those friends, one who will say "so what is God saying to do?" Find that person and they will hold your hand through the process. Don't let someone else make you believe your task is insurmountable simply because they want you to do it their way. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

How far will you go to make someone love you?

This is the second post in a series designed to help readers understand the underlying themes and motivations of our heroine Daynia in Finding Romeo and to give you an opportunity to discuss it.

How far are you willing to go to make someone love you?

In Finding Romeo, we see Daynia, our heroine, behaving in a manner that most would call completely foolish. She is desperately in love with a man who, quite obviously, is not interested in returning her love. Yet, over and over, she compromises herself and her beliefs. So the question is posed, how far are you willing to go to make someone love you?

Is it okay to be the one in a relationship always making the changes, always apologizing, always trying to make amends? Should we make drastic changes to ourselves (changes that YOU don't like) just to get our partners to notice us? Should we always feel the need to fix ourselves to gain his or her attention?

These are several issues that point to an unhealthy relationship. Whilst there is certainly nothing wrong with making changes to unhealthy behavioral traits, or changing a hairstyle to maybe spice things up a little, eyebrows must be raised if these things must be done to gain a partner's love or even just their attention.

In the book, Daynia cooked, she compromised her values, she sat back and waited whilst being totally ignored, she knew she was being cheated on, but she stayed, she was stood-up over and over, she chopped off all the hair that she was in love with and still when the love of her life didn't notice her, she waited. Wow. Talk about desperation right? Or maybe just stupidity? Which is it?

What's your take on the issue?

Finding Romeo is already available in kindle and paperback formats. 
Click the image below to purchase.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Do people treat you badly because you allow them to?

This is the first of series of posts that will deal with the issues our herione faces in Finding Romeo. Follow me each week as we disect the real issues in this drama/romance. 

True or false? Do people only treat you the way you allow them to?

In my latest novel, Finding Romeo, my heroine deals with the hard fact that the hero has not treated her the way she should have been treated because she allowed it.

That is definitely not something you want to hear when you are going through a difficult time, you'd rather be told that the person who wronged you is an idiot and a jerk right. Well, maybe they are, but in my opinion, there is some truth in that statement.

A lot of the time, we let the bad behavior of the people around us slide the first time around. That's fine. But what happens when they do it again? And again? And yet again? Take for example a woman in an abusive relationship. Is it her fault that the man has laid a hand on her? Definitely not, there's nothing a woman can do anyway or anyhow that justifies a man laying his hands on her. However, what about the fact that he does it the fifth time? It's easy to see that there should not have been a fifth time right? What if that woman realizes her worth and leaves the abusive relationship? The hitting stops right? Yeah I know, it's not so cut and dry, there are some real crazy stalkers out there who'll follow the poor gal just so he can beat her to a pulp. There's a place in hell for those idiots.

My point however, is that you'll be treated with the same level of respect that you demand. If you're being cheated on and you stay, you'll continue to be cheated on. If you're being ignored and you stay, you'll continue to be ignored. If you compromise your values because you are in love, he'll always expect that you'll compromise your values.

This principle does not only relate to romantic relationships, it relates to every other relationship you can have. As a parent, if you don't expect good behavior from your kids, they'll run around like hooligans. As an employee, if you don't expect respect from your boss, he'll likely treat you like a doormat. As a friend, if you allow your other friends to use you, they'll use you until you have nothing left to give.

Simple relationship dynamics right?

Today I want to hear your thoughts. Post a comment, tell me what you think about all these things.

(P.S. If you grab the book and tell me your thoughts on that, that would be nice too :D)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Coming Soon - Finding Romeo

Coming Soon: 
Finding Romeo
Available for Kindle and In Paperback on August 1, 2012

Daynia lives in the number one honeymoon destination in the world, yet daily, her own honeymoon seems further and further away. Her love life is consumed by a history of bad relationships and she is skeptical about moving on. The dashing Richard changes all that though when he walks into her life and sweeps her off her feet. Or so she thought. 

Richard is haunted by his own past and is consumed with thoughts of his ex-girlfriend. Daynia is a welcomed distraction but when ex-girl Kayla returns to reclaim her beau, he's torn between the two. 

Despite all the evidence in front of her, Daynia chooses to remain at Richard’s go to girl. Follow Daynia and Richard as they duke it out in a fierce love triangle that threatens to topple them both. Will Daynia win over her Romeo? Or will Richard never realize the value of the gem he holds in his hands?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Little Things

Have you ever had an instance where God did something so simple for you that it just melted your heart? Well, today, I had one of those occurrences. I was late for church and really rushing. I had a piece the worship dancer's garments and only ten minutes to make the twenty minute walk to my church. I grabbed my stuff and dashed out of the house in a frenzy.

Less than two minutes after I left the house I stopped in mid step. I had the nagging feeling that I'd forgotten something - my cell phone. I took me less than two seconds to decide that I wasn't going back for it, so I started walking again. I took only one step before noticing something brown and white and wet hitting the pavement in front of me. I stopped and looked up. There was the culprit, a tiny bird sitting on an electrical cable quite contently after littering the pavement with its excrement. Immediately, I realized that if I hadn't stopped for those two seconds, I'd be directly in the line of fire when that bird relieved itself. Considering I was wearing a brand new white dress today, that wouldn't have gone well. I'd have to return home to change, and been even later for church.
So what, big deal. I avoided being hit by bird doo-doo. Well, yeah, it's a big deal because that bird reminded me of how much my God actually cares about me. As I passed the bird I began to ask myself how come I'd forgotten my cell phone. That's when I heard the voice, loud and clear "you didn't forget your cell phone, it's in the pocket of your bag, but I had to say something to make you stop, or else you'd be covered in bird poop."

Yes folks. That's the God that we serve. He cares about the things that concern us, even the little things like bird poop on our new white dresses. God shows concern for us in every area of our lives. There's no circumstance that he considers too small for Him to intervene. As you go through life, don't hesitate to call on Him for the small things. He loves you and he's concerned about protecting EVERY aspect of your life. 

Be Blessed.