Congratulations to Veronica Sternberg and Abbi Hart who won their choice of a book by Susan Page Davis.
This week we get write to the point with Staci Stallings. This is a great interview, Staci really shares we heart. She also has unique giveaway, so read to the end.
Tell us about yourself, family, where are you from, how long have you been writing?
I say in my bio that I’m a stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids, and a writing addiction, and that pretty much sums up my life. I also have 3 businesses, 3 blogs, a house, and 2 schools. I’m the founder of two groups for authors. I teach Sunday School and direct plays for VBS over the summer. I also have two large extended families who get together multiple times a year. So “busy” or “crazy” might be two words to describe right now in my life.
As for writing, writing and words have been with me as long as I can remember. My grandma used to read Cinderella to me at nap time when I was very young, that and the story of St. Stephen were my two favorites. So romance and God were already interwoven into my heart even when I was four. I wrote all through school, high school, and college. In college, I was a journalism major and worked on the university newspaper.
After college, I taught English, journalism, and typing at the high school level for three years, and then quit to have my first child. It was when I found myself at home with this tiny baby all day with four channels on television and nothing to do that I went back to my original love of writing. That was in 1995.
Yes, I would say you are busy. God is definitely using you.
How did you come to know Jesus as your Savior?
Unlike some people, there has never been a time in my life that I didn’t know Jesus. I was baptized at 10 days old. I went to church every Sunday. I sang in three choirs, ushered, and served in the youth organization. I could probably count on two hands, not using all of my fingers the number of weekends I haven’t been to church in my life.
But when I was 35 years old, I really started seeing how empty I was inside. I worked and worked and worked–on the books, with my family, for the church and schools, etc. And yet there was this huge void. I didn’t understand it, and then God shook everything up with two books that hit my life like a one-two punch. Grace Walk by Steve McVey and The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. The gist of these two books was, “Stop trying to do it on your own. Stop trying to ‘please’ God. It’s not about earning Heaven. It’s about accepting what God’s already done for you. He loves you just like you are. No need to prove anything. Breathe and accept His love for you. Then just love others through the overflow of what He’s doing in your life.” That’s when my life really changed.
I still go to church every weekend, but now it’s not a duty. It’s going to spend some time with my best friend. And that’s made all the difference.
Tell us about your latest book(s). What do want your readers to take away after the last page?
My latest book, “Eternity” is probably my least directly religious book. At least one of the characters is Christian, but it’s pretty much in name only. It doesn’t really affect her life or the way she lives. There are going to be a lot of Christians who get mad at me for this, but I think that’s the way a lot of Christians live. They say they are Christian, but it doesn’t really affect their life.
The crux of this book is the world trying to tell young people that sleeping together is normal and acceptable–that you are some kind of freak if you choose to not sleep around. It’s just that the message in this book comes in a very practical form rather than a very religious form. You see, to me, God gave us the “rules” because they make sense in a practical way. People who don’t like the rules tend to argue against God and religion without seeing that leading a life of purity really does make things easier in the long run. It really does make a huge difference in the relationship of a couple. It’s not God rules vs. practical. It’s God being incredibly practical and wanting what’s best for us long term, not just doing what feels the best in the moment.
I think you are right on, Staci, there are too many Christians who use that title as a ticket into Heaven instead of wanting all the God has for us, which is more than we can ever imagine.
How often do you blog and what do you cover in your blog?
Oh, goodness. Well, I currently have 4 blogs. I have my own blog Spirit Light Books, which just moved over to my new site at http://stacistallings.net This blog is my Christian living blog and my personal thoughts and challenges on life’s road. Then I have a marketing blog that I put together last year to walk new authors through how to make social media work for them. http://www.stacistallings.net/category/marketing/
I also have Grace & Faith 4U, a blog with authors from that group who share about their journeys–writing and otherwise. Finally, I’ve just started the CrossReads blog with a bunch of other authors. Right now I’m writing on that one a lot. As CrossReads gets going, I will probably step back in a more advisory role on that blog. All of my blogs are a work in progress!
What are you reading right now?
Lately I’ve been so busy with launching CrossReads, I haven’t had a lot of time for reading, and what I do read, I read a small part of and then six months later, I’m like, “I really should read some more of that.” Books I have read that I would recommend include: Having a Mary Spirit, anything by John Ortberg, Forgiven Forever by Joe Beam, and How People Change by Timothy Lane.
Can you share with us a Genesis 5020 in your life?
The hardest thing I’ve ever had to walk through was my brother’s death from suicide back in 2007. With three young kids and a wife, he seemingly “had everything,” and then depression set in and bi-polar took over. As the depression got worse and worse, he and I spent hours on the phone trying to find good again. He was struggling, trying to right the boat on his own. I was just learning to trust God and breathe. It was really, really hard.
When I got the call, March 30, 2007, I knew life would never be the same again. First, there was my brother’s young and fragile family. Then there was my parents and the devastation they were feeling. I was now the oldest, and my younger sister was just in pure anguish. My three young children and husband were reeling as well. It was incredibly difficult.
After the funeral and the initial shock, I began to see life and others much differently. I began to see how hard we are on ourselves and on each other. I began to perceive how much God wants to help, and how often we take it as a badge of courage that we’re going to do it on our own. I began to see that the only real difference in the road I went down and the one my brother ended up on was learning that I can’t but God can. Total surrender to God and His Will, His plans, and His promises.
I learned a compassion for people and myself that I never had before. Oh, I wanted to love them, and I did. But this was so different. I learned how deeply people are hurting and how seldom they let you know that. I learned how important it is to be gentle with others and with yourself. I learned that certain words can be devastating to the hearer even if the speaker is not aware of it. Words like suicide and death and divorce and unemployment. Words like cancer and hospital and terminal. Words that will go through you, stabbing you in the heart until you can’t breathe and you think you might not live to the next minute.
Finally I learned the real meaning of the Prodigal Son. That you can go completely off-the-rails, do the worst thing that can be imagined, and love still prevails. I’ve watched my dad stand with other families in the midst of tragedies because he knows how important that is. I’ve watched my mom hold babies and mamas and daddies because those fragile people need to know someone is on their side. And I have, myself, walked some very dark valleys with some very awesome people who had tried and tried and tried, and who felt rung out, burned out, and on the verge of giving up.
I can’t explain to you why this happened. Why my brother. Why then. What I can tell you, is that if you can open your heart to God’s true and abiding love, His love can change even the most heart-breaking situation into one where His love can come into the world through a heart that’s changed because it’s been broken and tenderly put back together again in a new shape that looks like mercy and grace and hope and peace.
Powerful, Staci. Thank you for sharing that.
Do you have a life and/or a ministry verse?
Lots of them actually. Here are a few:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
“You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.” — 2 Chronicles 20:17
and probably my favorite…
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1
Where can we find you on the web?
My new home: http://www.stacistallings.net/
and the all new…
Is there anything I didn’t ask that you would like to add?
God is truly awesome! The more you learn that and just let Him love you, the more life will become what you have always hoped it could be!
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!