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

 

Day 1 of the Days of Christmas Book Giveaway Celebration with Staci Stallings & Sarah Witenhafer

Welcome to  day one of the Days of Christmas Giveaway Celebration! Each day for the next several days (excluding weekends), I will be hosting your favorite authors in a variety of genres for a chance for you to win their books!

Here’s how you enter…just leave a comment for the authors – it can be an encouraging comment or, please feel free to share your favorite Christmas memory or tradition. You can enter to win on as many days as you wish! For example, you can enter to win the two books for today and also the two books I’ll have on tomorrow’s post and the two books on any other day. Remember, anyone can enter, but subscribers to this blog (who have confirmed their subscription) receive two entries.

A winner will be drawn for each day at random using random.org. All winners will be announced on December 19, just in time for Christmas!

We have two wonderful books up for grabs today…

Product Details

Tamed is an action-packed Christian novel.

Cowboy by Staci Stallings is a love story that will tug at your heart and have a special place on your own book shelf.”  For more information, please see http://ow.ly/79VkM

And now, for fun, here are Staci and Sarah’s favorite Christmas memories/traditions!

The Great Tumbleweed Christmas by Staci Stallings

West Texas in December means tumbleweeds. Rain in the summer will make any field not plowed for a crop grow thick with iron weeds.  When winter hits, the iron weeds wilt and wither.  Then the wind starts, breaks the stems, and off they go.

When I was a junior in high school, we had a wet year–perfect conditions for growing tumbleweeds.  Now my mom had this thing about flocking our real Christmas tree every year. She would take the tree to the barn and cover it in flocking.  However, that year for some unknown reason she had an idea…

Why buy a Christmas tree when she could take two tumbleweeds, tie them together and flock them?   Funny.  I never thought of my mom as particularly crafty, but she put her heart and soul into that Tumbleweed Christmas tree.  She flocked it green (yes, they have green flocking… why?  I don’t know!).

Then she reflocked it white.  Well, all that flocking made the thing extremely heavy.  Plus, a tumbleweed stem was never meant to go in a Christmas tree base.  (I’m not even sure how they got it to stand up in the living room at all, but they did.)

Christmas Eve was always when our family celebrated Christmas because Christmas Day was spent at Grandma’s house.  My sister and I were old enough by then to “know” things about Christmas, but for the sake of hanging on for one more year, Mom and Dad sent us to our room. With my brother’s help they commenced putting gifts under the Tumbleweed tree.

That’s when we heard the crash!  My sister and I ran out only to find Mom, Dad, and my brother sprawled with the presents under a giant tumbleweed that had lost most of its flocking in the topple from its perch in the corner.

The moral?  Texas tumbleweeds were never meant to be flocked and decorated!  Leave them in the fields where they belong!

Favorite Christmas Tradition by Sarah Witenhafer

Like many people, Christmas as a child was not the happiest time for me. So when I began my own family I stuffed the season things to make it memorable. My kids were going to get enough traditions to convert any Grinch.

On the list to buy each year: Christmas mugs, Christmas books, Snowbaby ornaments, Christmas candy to stuff the advent calendar, more candy to decorate the gingerbread house, Christmas snow globes, and of course – a new Nativity set – let’s not forget Jesus! We did Christmas crafts for friends and stamped cards. Then there was the baking, twenty different types of cookies, at least six dozen of each, made ahead of time and frozen so we could feast on them Christmas Eve.

Added to all of this were the Christmas events I thought were a must – Zoolights, Nutcracker, and such. Needless to say, I had our Christmas budget blown before we purchased one gift! Plus, I was exhausted from chasing away ghosts of Christmas past. That’s when my husband, Dale, and I started to reevaluate.

We ended up dropping the shopping spree. No more mugs, snow globes, books, or Nativity sets. How many do you really need? We scaled back the candy, and we limited the cookies to twelve different kinds.

And what we kept became sweeter. Christmas Eve is spent in candle light, singing hymns, reading from Luke and eating cookies. We break bread together, reminding ourselves of Christ’s mission: He came to save us from our madness, to free us from our past, and to bring peace with God into every season. May God rest you this Christmas.

Join Sarah Witenhafer and 9 of her author friends at WoMen’s Literary Cafe’s Christian Book Launch, December 13-15. Ten authors will discount their ebooks to just 99 cents. Buy 3 get 1 FREE!

Link: http://www.womensliterarycafe.com/content/december-2011book-launches

Don’t forget to enter and join us tomorrow for authors Amanda Beth and Lisa Mukkove Johnson!