couple sitting with backs turned to each other(This first published in September, 2018.)

I can easily fall prey to our “fix-it-quick”, culture, tossing out truths that are, well, true, but fail to hit their mark. In fact, there’ve been times when I’ve caused more harm than good. When I’ve hurt others and damaged relationships. Usually my motives were good. I desperately wanted friends and loved ones to come to Jesus. I wanted them to experience the life, healing, and freedom only He can offer.

But in my zeal (often coupled by fear), I took off running and verse touting and left the Holy Spirit far behind. I was convinced I was right. After all, I only spoke truth, and truth sets people free, right?

Besides, Jesus never shied away from hard conversations, nor did He worry about offending people. When He encountered the adulterous woman, didn’t He tell her to go and sin no more? And the “invalid” He healed by the pool of Bethesda to stop sinning?

Yes and yes, but He also told the Samaritan woman who’d cycled through men (or perhaps had been discarded by them) to go and grab her husband. And the tax collector in Matthew nine to “follow Him.”

In other words, Jesus addressed each individual individually, speaking directly to their deepest needs, deceptions, and unique stumbling blocks. But He had something you and I don’t—insight.word image Jesus knew the history, hurts, and fallacies each of them held. In fact, He knew each man and woman better than they knew themselves. So when He spoke, He always hit His mark.

You and I don’t have that insight, nor do we always invest the time necessary to gain it. At least. When engaging others in spiritual conversations, I didn’t even consider there might be deeper issues involved.

But then God reminded me of my story. Through I trusted in Jesus for salvation at a young age, I didn’t begin growing in Him until my early adult years. Actually, for a while I spiraled in the opposite direction, living a drunken, partying, throw-myself-away type of lifestyle. By the time I met my husband, I was consumed with shame and self-loathing.

Around then, pastors started coming around. Not just one, but two. One would come knocking at our door, would step inside and talk with us a bit, and then leave. Another took my husband and I out to lunch with him and his wife. I don’t remember much of what either of them said, but I do recall the warmth in their smiles and the easy way they conversed. I remember the way they made me feel—safe. Loved. Welcomed.

The interesting thing is, my husband I were living together, unmarried, at the time. In other words, living in sin. (Though my worldview was so warped, I didn’t think a thing of our lifestyle. It seemed normal to me.)

Had those men come at me with “truth”, they only would’ve deepened my shame and pushed me away. They would’ve confirmed to me what I already believed—that I was worthless and disgusting. Bad. Not just that I was doing bad, but that I was bad. I understood that I was a sinner. What I didn’t understand, what I needed to see, was grace.

That’s exactly what those pastors showed me. With every interaction, they revealed the gentle love of Christ. A love that beckoned and drew me, that healed me bit by bit, and ultimately, transformed me.

Because Jesus knew my story. He knew what was keeping me from living in His will. While it’s true my lifestyle was very contrary to God’s desire for me, this wasn’t because I was actively trying to rebel against Him. Rather, it was because I’d given up on myself.

I needed Jesus, revealed through the grace-filled actions of others, to rekindle my hope so that, eventually, I had the desire to reach for life.

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying we should never speak truth nor that we should accept or coddle sinful behavior. What I am saying is we should approach each broken, hurting child of God carefully and prayerfully, being careful to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading.

I often think of how I might talk to someone standing on a rooftop, ready to jump. I think of how alert, how attentive, how “others-focused” I’d be. My greatest desire in that moment would be not to say anything that would tip them over the edge and to coax them, ever-so-gently towards life.

That might seem like a drastic analogy, until we remember, with every interaction, real lives are at stake, lives that will either spend eternity with Jesus or separated from Him. That doesn’t mean we should become paralyzed by fear of messing up. But it does mean we should ensure, with each conversation, that God, and not our pride or our fear, is doing the leading. Only He knows when to speak truth and how much, when to listen, and when to simply say, “I love you, and I’m here.”

Let’s talk about this! Is there someone you’re trying to reach out to? How can you build trust and get to know them better—beyond surface level? Would you add anything to my thoughts? Do you perhaps disagree? Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments below.

Sometimes, when I encounter others just beginning their faith journey, I forget how tumultuous, difficult, and confusing my first stumbling steps were. I forget how tightly I held to the familiar, even if that meant staying stuck in dysfunction or pain.  And in my mess, my insecurities, and my fears, the patience of my Savior as He daily stooped to my level, took my clammy hand in His, and led me step by step, truth by truth, to spacious fields of joy and peace (Ps. 23).

Not long ago, after I’d shared some of my story with a podcast guest, he proclaimed, “How courageous you were to follow Jesus on that journey of healing.”

Only I wasn’t brave at all, nor did I have any idea where God was leading me half the time. In fact, if it had been up to me, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have moved forward at all. But in those moments when my feet became paralyzed with fear, Jesus descended to my level, took my hand in His and gently, lovingly, yet persistently led me to increased freedom.

That’s why He came. To proclaim good news for the poor, freedom for prisoners and the oppressed, and recovery of sight to the blind. His heart has always been tender toward the broken, confused, and deceived. We catch such a beautiful analogy of this, almost like a real-life parable, in Mark 8.

Jesus and His disciples had crossed the sea of Galilee and into Bethsaida, an area He’d previously denounced for its widespread lack of faith or spiritual vision. Verses 22-26 tell us, “…some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village.”

Then, He spit on the man’s eyes and asked him if he could see.

Although his vision had improved, it remained blurry. “He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” And so, Jesus touched the man’s eyes again, and this time his sight was restored.

Pause to envision this interaction, as Christ took the man’s hand and led him out of the village. Can you sense Jesus’ gentleness and tender care? I picture Him walking slowly, careful not to cause the man to trip. Taking the man to a more private location, He healed him partially, allowing those first rays of light to stream in, before shattering the darkness for good.

I wonder, what happened in that man’s heart and mind, during that process? Did threads of doubt and fear begin to melt away? Did whispers of lies rise to the surface then get swept away for good? Did the Savior’s first touch, then the second, then the third help him to heal, then teach him to trust, and then to rest?

The passage doesn’t tell us why the One whose words cast out demons and brought life to a girl, once dead, chose to heal this man in such a gradual and deeply personal way. But we know Christ’s shepherd’s heart for His sheep, for those who’ve been walking for some time and maybe have recovered most of their sight. And for those who’ve just begun and are taking their very first timid and stumbling steps. He’s bringing us all to places of unhindered freedom, nudging us ever so gently yet persistently forward.

May we remember this image the next time we’re tempted to grow frustrated with someone else’s slow progress. May we resist the temptation to shove our broken brothers and sisters forward. May we instead slow our step to patiently walk beside them, knowing God will ensure we both reach our destinations.    

Let’s talk about this! Pause to consider all the ways God stooped down to grab hold of you. Remember some of your greatest struggles, or maybe even your current battles. How does your memory of those moments impact your view of other people’s behaviors?

For those following our Chronological Bible reading plan through the New Testament …

Connect with Jennifer on Facebook and Instagram.

Breaking Body Image Shame With Rachael Gilbert Faith Over Fear

Do all the parties, cookie exchanges, and holiday meals this time of year prick your insecurities and create anxiety? Do you find yourself simultaneously enjoying home-baked treats and calculating how many hours at the gym each bite will cost? More importantly, do you ever long for the day when you don't stress about your body? In our photo-shopped, filtered, social media culture, is that even possible? Faith Over Fear guest Rachael Gilbert, author of Image Restored, says yes and shares her inside out approach to learning to feel comfortable in our skin, whatever shape it encompasses.  (Scroll down for discussion/reflective questions.) Resource Mentioned: Image Restored: Tear Down Shame and Insecurity to Experience a Body Image Renovation.  Connect with Rachael Gilbert: On her website On Instagram On Facebook On her Amazon Author Page Find Jennifer Slattery: On her website Instagram Facebook Amazon Find Wholly Loved: On their website Join the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group  Join the Private Wholly Loved Community Facebook Group Discussion/Reflective Questions: What resonated with you most in this episode? What body image messages have you absorbed from your social circle? What body image messages have you received from generations before you? How often do you put your thoughts "on trial"? How often do you check your negative thinking against the truth of Scripture? In what ways might a negative body image be impacting your relationships How might your life change were you to feel confident in your skin? What is one action step God might be asking you to take, having listened to this episode? Discover more Christian podcasts at and inquire about advertising opportunities at
  1. Breaking Body Image Shame With Rachael Gilbert
  2. Facing Opposition – Experiencing Jesus
  3. Strength to Thrive Despite Opposition
  4. How God Prepares Us to Face Opposition
  5. When Obedience Leads to Hostility – Standing Strong Amidst Opposition P. 1


Photo by stock images taken from
Photo by stock images taken from

We’ve all done it–lashed out at those we love most. When we’re overtired, stressed, pressed for time, or simply having a pull-your-hair-out kind of day, it can be incredibly hard to maintain self-control. That’s why we need to be alert to our emotions when we first sense them rising. 

How is it our children can be playing quietly by themselves, completely oblivious to the world around them one moment, then in dire need of us when we slip off to make a phone call?

Why is that one shirt of five hundred favorites suddenly the only one our child will wear when we’re running late for the most important appointment all month?

And how, oh how, can we maintain self-control when little ones are wailing and clinging to our legs while we attempt to mop grape juice from the carpet?

There are some days our kids need a time out, and there are other days when we do. 

Doesn’t that sound lovely? A time when, regardless of what you have going on, of where you absolutely woman-71735_1280need to be, you simply press pause? You’ll be amazed what five minutes–just five!–locked in your bedroom with your Savior can do. 

“But I don’t have time!” you say. “It’s Monday, the kids have to be at school, and I need to get to work.”

To which I’d say, when it comes to our kids, we absolutely have to make the time, not just for their activities and one-on-ones, but to do what we need to do to build them up rather than tearing them down. That doesn’t mean we’ll ever reach the perfect parenting stage, but by learning to pull away when we feel our temperatures rising, we’ll greatly reduce our hurtful mess ups.

Because let’s be honest–anger, frustration, snappy comments, and eye rolls hurt. Our children see it all. They’re amazingly adept at reading body language but incredibly inept at understanding the why. When we’re stressed and running around frazzled and irritated, they don’t human-753172_1920think, “Wow, Mommy must be having a bad day.” Nope. Their world is centered around one thing–themselves. (Developmentally, that’s just where they are.) Which means, they believe they’re the cause for every sigh, huff, and scowl.

And with every scowl or smile, they’re forming their view of the world and their perception of self. They’re determining whether they’re cherished or a nuisance, a blessing or a trouble-maker. A source of joy or frustration. 

When I remember that, suddenly arriving at my appointment five minutes late doesn’t feel like the most important part of my day. And besides, if I’m running late and caught up in a mess of vomit (or traffic), getting upset won’t get me there any faster. To the contrary–it’ll probably delay me further as I’m much less efficient when I allow my emotions to take control.

I also like to think of worst case scenarios. For example, when our daughter was young, school mornings were crazy stressful, and there were many mornings the stressful turned to arguing. I hated sending my daughter off to school after a mother-daughter fight. So I began to ask myself, “What happens if she’s late?” 

She’d get written up, maybe. But if her behavior was causing our delay, then it seemed that’d be a good thing, a natural consequence for her actions. Certainly better than allowing frustration to build to arguments that created constant tension between us.

Our relationship was more important, I felt, than her avoiding a tardy slip.

But let’s pull it back a little. What if, knowing I get stressed, flustered and overwhelmed when time is short day-planner-828611_1920and pressure is high, what if I started creating margins in my day? What if I planned for the unexpected milk spill and temper tantrum? 

What if I simply slowed down so I could take a time out, pulling away to listen to praise music or to pray, when things grew stressful? 

And what if I began to pay more attention to my emotions and became aware when that first spark of frustration arose? Rather than waiting until it grew to overwhelming proportions?

And what if I learned how to speak to myself in the middle of the chaos, reminding myself that God’s still in control, even in traffic jams. What if I chose to use that moment, every moment, as frustrating or hectic as it may be, as training and an opportunity to learn–to grow in character, in perseverance, and surrender?

What might I be able to model for my kids? (Because self-control is caught as much as it’s taught.)

What if, stuck at a red light, with kids bickering in the backseat, rather than allowing my thoughts to run amuck as I thought of how late I’m going to be and how little patience I have for sibling fighting, I began to pray. And surrendered that moment and all that lay ahead to Christ.

Knowing He’s working out His plan, for me, for my kids, and for my family, even in the muck, the mundane, the manic, and the mess.

Let’s talk about this! Have you ever given yourself a time out, and if so, what were the results? How does our self talk in the middle of the gunk and frantic affect our patience level and hence our words and actions? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below or on Facebook, because we can all learn from each other.


Photo by Skeeze taken from
Photo by Skeeze taken from

Keeping our spirit in tune with the Father’s heartbeat trains our eyes to see things we’d normally miss.” ~ Maria Morgan

Such a beautiful, necessary, and truth-filled statement. I shared the song last week, and due to copyright laws can’t really share the lines I love here, without sharing the song again. But the first line gets me every time and really reiterates, I feel, what author Maria Morgan is saying in this post. So, listen to this song, then read my dear friends thoughts on the Superhero within each of us. And then go visit and subscribe to her blog, because she’s such a talented author with a heart set completely on Christ.

What You have in Common with Superheroes by Maria Morgan

Have you ever wanted to be a superhero? From incredible strength and speed to x-ray vision and the ability to disappear, superheroes have extraordinary powers they use to help others.

I remember watching The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman when I was a kid. Although they weren’t true superheroes, I imagined what it would be like to have supersonic hearing and bionic legs that would make me run circles around the likes of Florence Griffith-Joyner. Silly, I know.

The miracle

Although I’ll never have the keen hearing to pick up what’s being discussed a mile away, or the speed to out-run the fastest woman in the world, as a believer, I DO possess supernatural power. When I trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior, something miraculous took place – He made me His child, and sent the Holy Spirit to live within me.

It’s nothing short of amazing to discover the things the Holy Spirit can do in my life to draw others to Christ: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you,” (John 14:26; KJV).

Good fruit

As I read and study God’s Word, the Holy Spirit aids me in remembering it and reminds me of other passages that I’ve read with similar content. As I make reading and obeying the Word a regular

Photo by Makunin taken from
Photo by Makunin taken from

part of my day, the Holy Spirit helps me produce good fruit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.

Several weeks ago, I met a friend for coffee at Atlanta Bread Company. The cash registers were down and the girl taking our order apologized for having to write everything out manually. She seemed a bit distraught and I thought about slipping her a gospel tract.

As we moved to the end of the counter, she handed me my receipt and I told her I hoped her day improved. My concern caught her by surprise.

She shared that her Dad was in the hospital with cancer and she was waiting to hear from her Mom about his prognosis. It was a heartbreaking situation that opened the door for me to pray with her and to leave her with a tract introducing her to the Heavenly Father.

Tuning in

Keeping our spirit in tune with the Father’s heartbeat trains our eyes to see things we’d normally miss. God wants to use us to point others to Him.

When unbelievers see the fruit of the Spirit in action, it causes them to stop and consider the God of the universe:

*Love gives without expecting anything in return.

*Joy is a result of putting Jesus first, others second, and ourselves third.

*Peace is not an absence of conflict, but is the product of embracing prayer and thanksgiving in the midst of the storm.

*Patient endurance in the face of suffering speaks volumes.

*Gentleness gets the attention of those who treat others with rudeness.

*Demonstrating consistent faith and faithfulness testify to a great God.

*Meekness is strength under control, someone who is free from pride.

*Temperance or self-control is powerful in an “if it feels good do it” society.

We’re able to display each characteristic of the delicious, satisfying fruit of the Spirit as we yield to the Lord Jesus Christ. When we do, He can use this fruit to powerfully impact others. Be fruitful.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this!

Is the fruit of the Spirit evident in your life? Will you yield to the Lord today? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your patience with me. Forgive me for the countless times I’ve tried to do things for You in my own strength. I know it’s not possible. Help me yield to Your Holy Spirit so I’ll be able to point others to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Good news

You can enter to win a copy of Maria I. Morgan’s latest release, 2015 October Outrageously Fruitful Cover Design for Kindle3Outrageously Fruitful, a 10-week fruit of the Spirit Bible study, by leaving a comment below!

*Contest open to US residents only

*Deadline to enter is midnight Eastern Standard Time, Sunday, December 20th, 2015. Winner will be chosen by a random drawing and notified via email.

MariaIMorgan1024x765Maria I. Morgan in an inspirational writer and speaker. She is the award-winning author of Louie’s BIG day! Regardless of the age of her audience, her goal is the same: to share God’s truth and make an eternal difference.

Photo by Stuart Miles found on
Photo by Stuart Miles found on

How often do we take God’s delay as “no”, or perhaps even lack of care. As if, because we can’t hear Him, He’s suddenly not listening? Waiting, on anything, is incredibly hard for me, and I think, if I were to get to the root of it, I’d find, my impatience stems from a lack of surrender. If you’re following our Fear of the Lord/Resting in Christ study, you may remember our discussion on half-hearted trust.

Oh to surrender our whole hearts, our whole selves, to Christ, even in, especially in, times of waiting–what peace and joy we’d have! These were the thoughts running through my brain as I read Kimberly Rose Johnson’s devotion. As you IMG_4314-2 Publicityread her devotion, think of whatever it is  you’re waiting on and how you can trust God with your whole heart, as Proverbs 3:5 urges, while you wait.

Not my Way but God’s

By Kimberly Rose Johnson

I have a bad habit of running ahead of the Lord. By nature I’m an impatient person who wants things done yesterday, but God does not work that way. I must work hard to hold back and allow the Lord to lead me, but my goodness it is a challenge at times.  🙂

In 1 Samuel 13:8-15 Saul had the same problem. He was impatient for Samuel to arrive and offer a burnt offering to God. He finally lost his patience and offered the sacrifice himself. Big mistake. Verse 13 tells us that God would have established Saul’s kingdom over Israel for all time if had he waited in obedience, but that wasn’t going to happen since he didn’t wait.

Prov3v5picI remember several times I ran ahead of the Lord without giving a thought to His plan and guess what? I ended up doing more harm than good. If I had sought His will and timing I could have saved myself a lot of grief.

It’s not always easy to wait on Him or do the things He asks of us, but when all is said and done His ways are better.


Kimberly Rose Johnson, soon to be empty-nester, lives in Pacific Northwest with her husband and their yellow lab. Island Refuge is her sixth book and the first in a series of three. Kimberly enjoys long walks, chocolate, and mochas, not necessarily in that order.

Island Refuge cover 25080381She’s the author of Island Refuge:

Five-Star-Chef Zoe Griffin walked away from her dream job. Did she make a mistake?

Her engagement off, Zoe Griffin retreats to tiny Wildflower Island in the Puget Sound. Hiding out as a cook and maid at a shabby bed-and-breakfast seems crazy for a chef who’s used to running her own five-star kitchen. And just as she starts to feel at home, her klutzy mishaps make Zoe fear her handsome new boss will fire her.

Dr. Nick Jackson is done with medicine, and owning a B&B is as far from doctoring as he can get. He needs help, but his only employee’s mistakes give him doubts. As Zoe lets her defenses down, Nick begins to see a competent and caring woman. One whose wounds are as deep as his own. But as they fall for each other, Nick and Zoe must learn the hardest lesson of all—to forgive. Only then can they heal the past and embrace the future . . . together.

Buy it on Amazon HERE.

You might also like:

When God Says Wait

And for those following the Resting in Christ study and who prefer watching videos in 5-7 min chunks, here’s part 2 of my talk.

Shoot me a message or leave a comment on this post if you’d like me to send you a copy of the 7-day study that goes with my presentation. You can also join our Facebook study group. You can do so HERE. I’ve learned so much from the other group members! It’s always awesome to talk about Scripture with other believers.

You might also enjoy this song, which talks about serving Christ while we wait.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! How easy is it for you to wait on Christ? What are some things you do while you wait? What are some ways, in your opinion, we can “Trust in the LORD with all [our] heart; do not depend on [our] own understanding” (Prov. 3:5)? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

My daughter let out a heavy sigh and scowled. “Do you have to type so loudly?”

Sitting beside her in my king-sized bed, her with ice propped around her face, me with pillows propped behind my back, I glanced at my hands poised on my keyboard and stifled a grin. “Oh, was I loud?”

“Yeah. Your nails make an annoying clicking noise. And can you quit wiggling so much?! You’re shaking the whole bed!”

Now that’s passionate typing, or a very sensitive teen. By complaint number five, I assumed the latter.

Throughout the day, I wiggled my foot, breathed to loud, shifted too often. After a rough oral surgery, followed by a few days of bed rest, my daughter was going stir crazy. Not only that, but she was overdosing on parental time.

On night three, having all the mommy-time she could bear, she grabbed her bags of ice and trudged upstairs for some much-needed space. Her reprieve was short-lived. At two am, awakened by pain, she sought me out, only to fall down the stairs with a loud crash and a high-pitched cry.

I jolted awake and ran to her, comforted her, and guided her back into my bed where I could monitor her more closely.

Poor child.

The following weekend, we went to Omaha for house hunting, which placed our now claustrophobic (her words, not mine) daughter in a 300 square foot hotel room with both parents. By this point, even a look was enough to make her teeth grind, not a good thing, considering the state of her mouth.

As my husband and I chuckled about her behavior, God used the moment to prick my heart.

I’d been the same way with Steve. Like my daughter, I’d let little things, minor irritations, urk me, only my behavior wasn’t comical. My role is to build up my home, not to tear it down, to support and encourage my husband, not to nit-pick him verbally or mentally.

This week I’m memorizing Colossians 3:12-13: Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

It’s helped. When I’m tempted to get annoyed, God reminds me of this verse, and effectively defuses my irritation. When centered in God’s Word, I realize how petty most of my annoyances are and what a treasure my husband truly is. In other words, the Scripture passage “transforms my thinking” (Romans 12:2) and “judges the thoughts and attitudes of my heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

Although we’re nearing the home-stretch with our home purchased and only one more hotel stay left (the hardest part for each of us loners), I know stress will come and pet peeves will happen, but when they do, I pray God will remind me of my comical-yet-not-so-funny, eye-opening time with my daughter. And may He grant me the patience to make allowances for dirty socks found in sheets and crumbs left on counters, or whatever minor “faults” might arise.

Let’s talk about this!

Join us at Living by Grace as we talk about all those little things that drive us crazy in a given day, and how to handle them with patience and grace.

Stop for a moment to contemplate some of your pet peeves in light of the verse above. How can you “make allowances for each other’s faults” today? And how might that change the atmosphere in your home?

Patience is not my strong point. I like to do, to know I’m moving forward, making progress, which makes waiting on God especially difficult. I often tell Him I’d do better if He’d give me a hint of His future plans. Or better yet, a point-by-point memo. In leu of that, a neon sign would be great. And yet, despite my snivelling, God continues to lead me step by step, teaching me not only how to do His will, but more importantly, to trust in Him. Today’s post, by Staci Stallings, reminds us silence isn’t necessarily a no.

God’s Timing By:  Staci Stallings

I recently shared this on a writer’s loop I’m on, but after re-reading decided to share it here as well…

I think that this is absolutely the best thing I have learned in my writing journey:  God is faithful all the time.  Trust Him, and He will lead you in every moment EXACTLY where you are supposed to be in that moment.  You may not know it or see it or understand it, but when you look back, you will see the fine and perfect tapestry He’s been weaving the whole time.

For me, this lesson comes in several ways (some more fun than others).

#1 The YES times!  This would be the moments when it all makes sense, when I see God at work most clearly, when the perfection of His Will and what He’s doing is not just a glimmer but a full-on, turn the spotlights on moment.  The completion of a book I didn’t know how to finish.  The right person showing up at just the right time.  That flash of understanding when you just KNOW how a story all ties together.  I’ve had all of these and so many more.

#2  The NO moments.  I heard a story one day about two little boys who came into their father’s house with a box.  As they headed to the basement, their father stopped them to see what was in the box.  It was their new project:  two snakes!  Guess what the father said?  NO!  Well, just like those boys sometimes my Dad tells me no, and most of the time I’m just as disappointed as they were.  But the truth is when God tells me no, I see it now as His way of keeping me from doing something that would ultimately hurt me–like putting snakes in my basement.  “No” might be a contact I thought I needed falling through.  It might be a path I thought was going to be great not working out.  It might be MY agenda not working out like I’d planned.  Do “no” moments make me frustrated?  Yes.  They do.  But when I can breathe and remember that God’s got my BEST in mind–not just a momentary good but an eternity good, I can let go of my way and grab onto His.  And He has shown me over and over again how awesome things work out when I do that.

#3  The NOT YET moments.  Oh, have there been a lot of these!  I tend to want to force things to go my way.  I get in a hurry for them to be done and get frustrated with myself when I can’t do everything.  But God my AWESOME FATHER uses “not yet” a lot–both to bring about His perfect timing and to teach me to not rely on my plans, my agenda, myself but to always rely on Him.  I get a lot of “not yet” moments when I’m writing.  I get going on something and then something else comes up (I have a lot of something elses around here!).  I get stopped on the story.  And I get frustrated with it.  One story I literally did this for SEVEN YEARS!  But when the book was finally finished, I understood why God said, “Not yet” repeatedly… because the book could not have been the book it is without the lessons I’d learned over those seven years.  I was a different person than I had been when I started writing it.  So now, not yet moments don’t throw me like they used to.  It’s okay.  God’s got this one too!

#4  The GO THROUGH IT WITH ME moments.  These, I have to say, are the hardest.  Some call them the valleys of life and of writing.  Oh, these are HARD!  And when they come up, my heart breaks, my world shatters, and I wonder “How can God make something good out of THIS?”  But I will tell you, the two most difficult “go through it with Me” moments of my writing career brought two of my best friends into my life.  One of them, not knowing me at all, edited two chapters I had sent out through my newsletter.  She bled on them and then sent them back to me!  I didn’t know what to do with that.  Should I be angry?  Should I write her back and give her a piece of my mind?  Should I be hurt?  Should I quit?  Finally, I decided to rest in God and just see…  The next month I sent out the next two chapters of my cyber-serial.  In about 30 minutes I got this message back.  “OH!  I’m SOOOOOOOO sorry!  I thought those were from my critique group!  I’m new to all of this and I edited the wrong thing…”  hahahah!  I still laugh about that.  Deb, not quite as much, though she can laugh now but it took her a long time to get to that point.  The thing is, Satan threw that at both of us to take us both out.  He wanted to undermine my following God and He wanted to take her out altogether.  Because I let GOD handle it and not myself, we became best friends, and God has worked miracles through that relationship.  I helped her with editing.  She’s now a multi-published author.  God is awesome!

A stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from. (Pick up the Price of Silence now for only $0.99! Not content to stay in one genre, 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!  That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading.  She lives in Amarillo, Texas with her family and on the internet at Find out more about her books at and

Hopefully all my subscribers have enjoyed having a week of Slattery-free blog post updates. grin. I was going to wait to post the top three of 2010 until tomorrow, but I realized I need to kick off my plans for January…

So what were your favorite devos of my top twenty? In my opinion, all the devos were awesome and drew our hearts closer to God in continual surrender. However, there were three that appeared to strike a heart-chord with you all.

By far, Edie Melson’s God’s Timing is Always Perfect, was your top choice. Apparently we all struggle with patience and faith, trusting that God is still working even when things don’t go according to our plan or timetable. You might want to read her post again, then spend some time reading through Genesis 37-45. God revealed His plan to Joseph when he was seventeen, but for decades, circumstances appeared to negate the vision he had received. He was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, taken into a strange land, thrown into prison. Could all that really be part of God’s plan? Had he heard correctly? Had God changed His mind? Not at all. God was working the entire time, molding Joseph into the man He created him to be.

Your second favorite happened to be one of my favorites as well, primarily because of the little God-moment application God gave me the night before. Who would have thought God would use taxes of all things to share His love? Thanks Gail for reminding us all of our need to be magnetic. May God’s light shine so brightly within us that no matter where we go, no matter what we do, the people we come into contact with catch a hug from God. Read her post again, Oh, To Be Magnetic, and ask God to fill you so completely with His Holy Spirit, His love pours out unhindered.

Your third favorite was Sheila Holinghead’s A Glimpse of Beauty. Let each day, each moment, each moonlit stroll and early morning sunrise be an opportunity to discover afresh the beauty of our Creator.

Join me tomorrow as I prepare for the New Year and the series God’s laid on my heart.

Lately I’ve spent way too much time staring at a blank computer screen. Normally I can pop off a scene or devotion without batting an eye. And because writing has always come so easily, and in many ways accidentally, (I didn’t start out wanting to write. My initial dream was to be a children’s Sunday school director.) I guess I’ve developed this false idea that if God’s in it, I’ll breeze through it. (I really need to listen to my pastor more. He keeps reminding me that obedience isn’t always easy.)

I think part of this comes from my huge admiration of God. I realize that nothing in me is due to anything I’ve done. God could very easily give that devotion or story He’s asking me to write to someone else. If He wanted to, He could raise up a stone, give it flesh, breath life into it, and have the stone-turned-man pen work equivalent to a Shakespearean play.

So why am I struggling? Where’s that strength of God that is made perfect in my weakness? Where’s that peace that surpasses all understanding?

Sunday I was really frustrated, and beginning to wonder if the struggles I was facing indicated a closed door. Or, more accurately, a towering brick wall. Discouraged, I set the project I was working on aside and pulled up my email account. The first message I read was from Inspirational Quotes–a feed I subscribed to some time back.

Proverbs 30:30 “A lion, mighty among beasts, who retreats before nothing;”

I wasn’t sure I liked that verse. I liked the premise–that children of God need to follow through with the tasks they are given (my interpretation when I read it.) But honestly, I was looking for something more comforting, like “Abide in Me and I’ll abide in you.” I didn’t want an uphill climb that would take determination and grit. I wanted to find that nice green pastur–to know that if I prayed a bit longer or spent a few more minutes connecting with God, the words would suddenly start to flow. So I headed to Proverbs 31 Ministries–one of my favorite devotion sites.

This is what I got, “David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.”

This helped a bit. It wasn’t the “Rest and let me write the words for you,” I was looking for, but it did remind me of God’s call for dedicated faithfulness.

I’m an endurance runner, largely because I couldn’t go fast if my life depended on it. In high school, I ran track and cross-country. Most cross-country races were just over three miles, which isn’t terribly long, but long enough to bring out a runner’s weakness. If you’d skirted through turn-out, avoiding the hill work-outs, walking on the long runs, or skipping out on the drills, come race day, it’d show. Gratification rarely came instantly. Often it wasn’t until the end of the season, sometimes even the end of your high school career, that you’d begin to see the fruits of your labor.