And the winner of Cowboy by Staci Stallings is…

Wow! A huge thank you to everyone who entered to win a copy of Cowboy, the contemporary romance book by Staci Stallings! And a huge thank you to Staci for being my guest.

And now for the winner, who was chosen at random…

Brendabh!

Congratulations, Brenda! Staci will be in touch with you soon.

If you haven’t already entered, be sure to leave a comment at https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/interview-and-giveaway-with-author-zeke-lam/ for a chance to win Author Zeke Lam’s book.

I’ll be hosting guest Jennifer Slattery on my blog on Thursday, and coming up in a little while today, I’ll be bringing you some laughter with a humor post. Have a great week everyone!

Special guest and book giveaway with author Staci Stallings!

Today I have special guest, Author Staci Stallings, on my blog. Staci is giving away a copy of her fantastic contemporary romance  book Cowboy.  (Your choice of a Kindle download or the paperback version). Below is the blurb:

Life has done its best to knock Beth McCasland to the ground, and the truth is: it’s done a pretty good job of keeping her there. Stuck in a minimum-wage job with a young daughter counting on her, Beth does her best to stay standing under the weight of it all because she knows God is on her side. Then one night she gets the chance to be an angel to another of life’s weary travelers. For once hope has never looked so real.

Cowboy is a grace-filled story about the power of giving everything to God and how a simple act of compassion can change lives forever. Emotional, soothing, and heart-wrenching, Cowboy is infused with the message that no matter who we are and no matter what life has thrown at us, we never have to walk alone.

I recently read Cowboy. You can read my review here: http://www.amazon.com/Cowboy-The-Harmony-Series-ebook/dp/B0049B2E82/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&qid=1326343386&sr=1-1

As always, anyone can enter (U.S. residents only, please) by leaving a comment for Staci. Don’t forget that confirmed subscribers receive two entries! The giveaway ends on January 19, and the winner will be chosen at random.

And now, a special devotional by Staci that I know will bless you…

The Power of I Can’t

by Staci Stallings

We sometimes tend to think we know all we need to know to answer these kinds of questions–but sometimes our humble hearts can help us more than our proud minds.  We never really know enough until we recognize that God alone knows it all. (TMB 1 Corinthians 8:2-3)

Let’s be honest.  Our culture today worships the individual who succeeds.  We hold up as our role models those who are tough, who fight through adversity and come out on the other side, those who know the most and do the most.  It’s an intimidating culture to marinate in.

We have been told almost from birth that any situation you face should be met with a “can do” spirit.  “I Can” is verily tattooed to our birth certificates before we exit the hospital.

In schools, administrators busily design programs that foster “self-reliance” and “self-respect.”  They teach children to believe in themselves and work toward their goals.

I suppose from a worldly perspective that’s about all we could ever hope for.  After all, without God, who else are you going to rely on?  There is a song that talks about no one is going to have your back when you fall.  That’s the juice we are all steeped in.  We hear it in commercials and on the radio.  We even hear it from each other.

“It’s okay.  You can do this.  I know you can.”

But here’s the thing:  None of this is Biblical.  None of it is based on a relationship with God.  It is all based in self, which ultimately is the very sin Adam and Eve got thrown out of the garden for committing.

So I invite you for a moment to take a good, hard look at these messages that sound so good and so right, and see them for what they are:  lies of the Enemy.

That may sound harsh, but speaking as someone who practically gorged herself on this kind of thinking for 35 years, I can tell you that this way of thinking is not just sin–it is deadly.  When you rely on yourself, what happens when you are weak?  What happens when your doubt overtakes your faith?  What happens when you’re walking on water with a friend who really needs you, and you suddenly sense that you can’t do this?

I’ve felt the panic that rises at this very thought.  I have fought it.  I have tried to shout it down with platitudes and positive thoughts, but the sad truth is, on my own I’m not capable of handling the depth of brokenness in this world.  Sometimes I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to do, I’m swimming and swimming, but I sense that at any moment I’m going under with no way to find up again.

That’s often what happens when God puts you out into deep water with the emotional issues of others–family, friends, those we work with, our children, and spouses.  There is a depth to the need that none of us can quite meet.  No matter how much we want to.  No matter how much we try.  We simply can’t because as humans we are limited.  We have limited understanding, limited wisdom, limited patience, limited everything.

But here’s a secret that Satan never wanted you to hear.  When you think you can’t, you’re right.  Now that doesn’t give you license to give up.  It is, instead, a call to stop trusting yourself and start trusting God.

Jesus is walking on that water with you, and He knows you can’t.  He never meant for you to.

I know, that’s radically new thinking, but it’s true.  God knows you are human.  He knows you don’t have all of the answers. He doesn’t expect you to.  What He wants is for every one of these occasions of “I can’t” panic to be cause for you to call out to Him, to ask Him into the situation, to reach for His help, His love, His strength, His wisdom, His peace.  He wants nothing more than to come to your assistance, but you have to recognize your own need for Him and make the choice to ask.

There is power–God’s power–waiting in the words “I can’t” so long as they are followed by, “but He can.”  Rest in that power.  Reach for that power.  For He is always right there ready and willing to do what you can’t.

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.  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!  That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading.  Staci touches the lives of people across the globe every week with her various Internet endeavors including:

Spirit Light Books–The Blog
http://spiritlightbooks.wordpress.com/

Facebook Author Page at:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spirit-Light-Author-Staci-Stallings/266593276699576

Staci’s Bookshelf:

http://stacistallings.wordpress.com/

Or…

Follow Staci on Twitter @StaciStallings