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Romans 12

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I read an article today about what new mommy’s need. The writer’s remarks were witty and spot on. It inspired me to think about what a life of love and service looks like.

Paul wrote, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Ro 12:10)

“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”

We are called to a life of service—to think of others before thinking of ourselves. “Outdo one another”

But how do we do this? How can we serve willingly and selflessly? How can we know what people actually need?

By following Paul’s appeal at the beginning of what we have labeled “chapter 12″:

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Transformation is key. We have to let Christ change us—to open our minds and hearts to what is true and right and good so he can fill us with his love. His pure, unselfish, untainted love.

“Let love be genuine.
Abhor what is evil;
Hold fast to what is good.
Do not be slothful in zeal
Be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Rejoice in hope,
be patient in tribulation,
be constant in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the saints
And seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice,
Weep with those who weep.
Live in harmony with one another.
Do not be haughty, but
Associate with the lowly.
Never be wise in your own sight.
Repay no one evil for evil, but
Give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Christ “emptied himself,” “made himself nothing.” Because he lived this kind of life, he was sensitive to the needs of others. He was able to empathize, not just sympathize. He was able to live the life we are challenged to live in Romans 12. He loved purely. He loved without expecting or needing anything in return. He loved without strings.

We love because he first loved us.


Introducing Scotlyn Naomi!

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On July 11, 2014 at 10:50PM our “wee bear” was born! In just two short months Scotlyn Naomi has captured our hearts. We feel incredibly blessed to have been given such a beautiful and delightful little lady to love.

In other news: my new album is almost done! For real! I have one more vocal track to finish and there are just a few tunes left to mix. If you didn’t catch the sneak peak over Easter you can listen HERE.

More news: we are heading back to SCOTLAND! Expect us in the first two weeks of December, Scottie friends! (God willing, of course!). Since last year’s Christmas tour was interrupted by illness we have decided to cross the pond again . . . HOPEFULLY with a different result (prayers much appreciated for safety and health for all three of us!). We are still confirming our bookings and have one or two dates available so do not hesitate to contact us if your church/ministry/organization would like to host.

That’s all for now!

Peace & joy,


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“Trusting God With Your Tomorrows”

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David Wilkerson passed away after being in a car accident two years ago. I miss him. I miss listening to him share his heart. If there is ONE thing I would say that I learned from him it is this: Trust in the Lord. He is and always will be faithful.

It sounds too simple, “What’s so special about that sort of message? A lot of people say that!” But if you know about David Wilkerson’s life and the many things he and his family suffered/still suffer, you would understand why those words run deep.

Yesterday a young man who has beaten cancer and has just learned he may again be facing treatments soon shared this message. I am sure I heard it years ago but it was such an encouragement to listen again. I have been a bit down about not being able to complete my “to do list.” Sometimes it seems I will never accomplish what I need to . . . there’s always one thing or another that delays or hinders. Sometimes my records take two years to complete and it’s usually due to unforeseen circumstances or sudden illness or injury. Those seasons make me feel “imprisoned” and can lead me into dark periods of discouragement where I wonder what God’s purpose is for me if he is allowing me to be shut away instead of out sharing what he’s put on my heart.  This message reminded me that even Paul experienced delays. He was also hindered. He was imprisoned—sometimes for years at a time. He too experienced seasons of great discouragement and felt defeated. But he pressed on. He continued writing and doing his best to encourage his brothers and sisters in Christ to trust in the Lord no matter what. (Little did he know that God was using him to write much of the New Testament!)

If we have given God control of our lives we must trust him in every circumstance. We don’t see the big picture, but he does. No matter where we are or are not, what we are doing or not doing, whether we are well or sick, God is faithful. He is ALWAYS moving behind the scenes, preparing a way for us and preparing our hearts and minds for the next phase of the journey.

I hope you will take some time to watch or listen to this message.




Guard Your Joy

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We are getting closer and closer to the arrival of our sweet baby girl and while the ache from our first loss due to miscarriage is still fresh in my heart I am so filled with joy at the thought of holding my daughter for the first time. In my case, the pain of loss is not stronger than the joy of anticipation.

I am thankful I have had the opportunity to carry a child. I do not take this miracle of life for granted as I know there are many who are aching to be able to experience pregnancy and parenthood.

Pregnancy isn’t easy—it isn’t supposed to be. As new life begins, the new mother realizes that she will never be the same again. As a child grows and develops and becomes everything it is meant to be, the mother is also transformed. She not only carries the life, she is changed by what is happening inside of her. Her body, mind, and spirit are affected—most of the time without her even being aware of it. It’s a perfect picture of what happens when we ask Christ to live in us.

As I look back on the past 9+ months I wish I could say all I have experienced was joy. But life doesn’t usually go that way. As I type this I am reminded of a beautiful young woman who is about to give birth to her first child (also a baby girl). She has Lupus and she and her husband just learned yesterday that his cancer has returned. As the proverb says, “Even in laughter the heart may ache . . . “ (Proverbs 14:13)

There have been moments in my life where I have asked, “Why, Lord? Why can’t we just experience JOY without it always having to be mixed with grief and pain?” It seems like something or someone always has to come and put a shadow over what is meant to be beautiful and good. I guess the best way to handle these situations is to cherish the joy. We must choose to embrace and cling to what is lovely. I remember a friend of mine saying to me earlier this year, “Guard your joy.” Wise counsel.

“Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world . . . “ (1 Peter 5:8-9)

The enemy of our souls wants to rob us of joy—he wants us to focus on everything that is negative and painful. He wants us to lose heart so that we will falter in our faith. Sometimes he succeeds by convincing us the pain is stronger, but it isn’t—at least, it doesn’t have to be. We can choose what we focus on. We can choose to trust and to hope in God. It’s hard, but it’s possible. It’s no wonder the apostle needed to encourage us with these words: “. . . whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Life is filled with joy and sorrow . . . so guard your joy! Don’t let anything or anyone or any circumstance rob you of enjoying the lovely blessings God sends your way. Cherish them. The blessings will be a special grace to help you get through everything else.

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

Made Alive

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Easter was just a few days ago. Do we still remember what we were celebrating?

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Newness of life is not a “someday” thing. We were made to LIVE now. Christ promises us more than a ticket to a far off place we call “heaven”—he offers us life and peace and strength and hope . . . now.

A couple of years ago I wrote a song about this called, Crucified.  I am so passionate about the message of the song (because it has changed and shaped my life) so Erik and I have  shared it wherever we have played around the world. It has finally been recorded and is waiting to be mixed.  Meantime, here is a video of us playing a simple version of it in Edinburgh, Scotland during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Lyrics will be posted below.

Words and Music: Stephanie Staples—Rostad

In your final moments of humanity you chose
To cry out for your father to forgive us
Broken for our weakness, your delight was to make known
The way that God had chosen to redeem us

The depth of your compassion
The selflessness you showed
Proves beyond all reason
You had given up control

You had a life inside you
Conquering the death
That separated us from the beauty we had known
You became, in that moment, everything we are
Crucified, now we’re alive

Those precious final moments became our remedy for pain
You showed us how to love one another
Broken for the breaking, delighting to make known
The way that God had chosen to redeem us

The depth of your compassion
The selflessness you showed
Proves beyond all reason
We must give up our control

We need your life inside us
To conquer all the death
That separates love from the beauty we should know
May we be, in this moment, one with who you are
Make us alive

May your life inside us
Conquer all this death
That separates us from the beauty we could know
May we be, in this moment, one with who you are
Make us alive

May your life inside us
Conquer all the death
That separates us from the beauty we should know
May we be, in this moment, one with who you are
Make us alive

Oh the blood of Jesus
It washes white as snow

©2010 Stephanie Staples ASCAP

Here is a link to the message our Pastor shared on Sunday. If you are low on time, you can open it in the iTunes Podcast and listen at double speed—15 minutes! ;)

Easter Message

. . . Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:4-11 ESV)

Scarred & Broken – New Song!

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Beautiful Lord
Scarred & broken for us
He understands our pain
And he will carry us

Today Christians all over the world will take a few moments to remember the death of Christ. Many places of worship will hold Good Friday services, sing sacred songs, and meditate on why and how the Savior of the world suffered.

I have never liked “Good” Friday. Even as a child, I was unable to watch dramatized Easter programs without feeling utterly disturbed. When I was 4 years old, I put my head in my mother’s lap and wept, “Mommy, make them stop!”

I understand there’s a need for us to remember. But on days like today I like to meditate on everything else that happened the evening known as the night of the first communion. A room full of men sat at a table and broke bread together. Jesus had just washed their feet.

When he had washed their feet . . . he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? . . . If I then . . . have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” (John 13:12-16 ESV)

Jesus went on to say, “a new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 34-36)

 Christ’s last instructions to his followers weren’t complicated: love one another. This was and continues to be his message to us and to the world.

The apostle said, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

Communion is a sacred thing, but true communion is not just something that happens once a week at church. Communion happens every single time we sit down with a brother or sister and talk about what God is doing in our lives. We are supposed to encourage one another and make ourselves remember his death, every single day . . . because Christ’s death brought us life.

When Christ died, he did more than make a way for us to “get to heaven.” He took everything we are with him. He buried our sins, our shortcomings, our pain . . . he took away their power over us and made it so that we could have the life God intended us to have when he created us.

A couple of years ago, I was suffering from a neck/spine injury. It was the hardest thing I have ever gone through. There were moments where I actually felt as though death would be better than the endless pain. One of those moments I got up, went to the piano, and with tears streaming down my face composed a song called, Scarred & Broken. I could barely get through it. It has finally been recorded and I want to share this mix with you on Good Friday. I hope that it will remind you that God understands. This is my favorite line because it’s so true . . .

Though sometimes what you’re going through
Won’t exactly go away
His grace will be sufficient
And his love will hold you safe

Click HERE to listen and for the lyrics.

Peace & joy,


P.S. I’m so glad that even though today is technically, “Good Friday,” and most people won’t say it in my heart I know . . . he is risen! Because he lives, I live. Amazing grace.

My (current) Favorite Playlist

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I made a mixed CD for some friends (I know, I know… I’m back in the 90’s) and have been enjoying it so much I thought I would list the songs (in their proper order, of course—this is muy importante) in case anyone wants to make an iTunes playlist or a mixed CD of their own

The first three songs are a bit more “pop” sounding than my usual taste but I chose them because of their message… some of the others songs were recorded a decade ago. In my humble opinion, some of these are fantastic, especially How Loved Am I, Melody of You, and Come Rest.  I hope you will take the time to download each of these, put them in order, and listen. They are wonderfully uplifting!

The songs will probably cost around $13. total. Well worth it! And you’ll be supporting some great artists!

Steph’s Current Favs

1. Glorious Unfolding by Steven Curtis Chapman ( https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/glorious-unfolding/id686297284?i=686297285 )

2. Hard to Find by Skillet ( https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/hard-to-find/id655774977?i=655774988 )

3. Your Love Is A Song by Switchfoot (https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/your-love-is-a-song/id335664374?i=335664509 )

4. How Loved Am I by Michelle Tumes, Susan Ashton, Christine Dente ( https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/how-loved-am-i/id716550136?i=716550253 )

5. Melody of You by Sixpence ( https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/melody-of-you/id1006664?i=1006603 )

6. Broken by Lifehouse ( https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/broken/id292334393?i=292334442 )

7. Restless by Switchfoot ( https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/restless/id450987801?i=450987805 )

8. Faithful One by Brian Doerkson and Kathryn Scott ( https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/faithful-one/id217760275?i=217760493 )

9. Higher Ways by Steven Curtis Chapman ( https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/higher-ways/id724508930?i=724509160 )

10. Strength of My Heart by Hidden in My Heart a Lullaby Journey ( https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/strength-of-my-heart/id582511312?i=582511319 )

11. Come Rest by Considering Lily ( https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/come-rest/id716229982?i=716230489 )

12. What a Friend I’ve Found by Delirious? ( https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/what-a-friend-ive-found/id577805328?i=577805713 )

13. Afterlife by Switchfoot ( https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/afterlife/id450987801?i=450987802 )



It’s OK to Rest

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“It is our best work that God wants, not the dregs of our exhaustion. I think he must prefer quality to quantity.” George MacDonald

I find it interesting that our culture seems to think that only during pregnancy is it OK for a woman to admit she’s tired and to actually take time to take care of herself. I spent four years trying to recover from a neck injury and I always felt guilty for being utterly exhausted and not able to keep up. I’m sure part of the guilt stemmed from my own insecurity, but I really think our culture needs to embrace the concept of “rest”—pregnant or not.

People with chronic, debilitating pain or illness are often made to feel like they are weak or just making excuses. It’s sad that we have a tendency to reject or scoff at what we do not understand or have not personally experienced, but we have all been guilty of doing this. Unlike many other conditions, pregnancy is “common.” The risks and side effects are common knowledge, therefore they are accepted by society.

I have been keeping in touch with a young woman who suffers from Lupus. She is also expecting a baby girl and is also due in July, so it has been fun going back and forth comparing notes. Her will to conceive and to carry this child is especially admirable to me. It’s adding to her already day-to-day struggle with Lupus but she is handling it with grace. She is able to do this because she has learned what many others who suffer from chronic illness or pain have learned: it’s OK to rest. Pregnant or not. It’s OK.

I’ll be honest, there have been a few moments where I’ve almost had to step back in surprise over the concern and understanding people have shown to me since being pregnant.  While I deeply appreciate and need the support, pregnancy has felt like a cake walk in comparison to the constant, burning pain I experienced on a daily basis when my spine was inflamed. On more than one occasion I have thought back and wondered how differently I would have felt back then had I had the same amount of support when struggling with my neck.

I say all this to encourage those who suffer from chronic illness or pain and who aren’t pregnant: it’s OK to take time for yourself and to rest. It’s OK to communicate when you need assistance. It’s OK that you can’t “keep up” with the rest of the world.

To those who don’t suffer from chronic illness or pain but know those who do, please remember: there’s a light at the end of the tunnel with pregnancy—a beautiful blessing and reward at the end of the journey. But for some people, there is no light at the end of the tunnel; there is no end. Encourage your friends or family members who are suffering. Remember that they deserve and need some R&R from time to time. Remind them that it’s OK to rest.

Kindness and empathy really make a difference!

“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” (Luke 6:31)


Perspective, Purpose, & Perseverance

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It’s amazing how easily we lose perspective when we don’t carve out time for quiet.

Last night I was finally able to go to our church’s monthly worship & prayer night. The service was simple—no hype, no fancy lights, no loud praying. Just a dim room where people could sit by themselves, reflect, and just . . . be.

When I began to reflect and pray I realized, once again, that I have allowed busyness and stress to cause me to lose sight of purpose; and in losing sight of purpose, I have lost the strength, and even the desire to persevere.

What is the secret of your strength?” This simple question was asked of a man named Samson who was called to be completely and utterly committed to God. He knew his secret . . . sanctification . . . but he forsook it. He allowed his desires for other things (a not-so-nice woman) and his earthly hunger (honey in the carcass of a lion) to distract him from his calling—his purpose. He chose to walk away from what was truly important and as a result he ended up blind and as “weak as any other man.” This is what happens to us when we don’t make space for quiet reflection. We blind ourselves to the eternal and we worry about the temporary.

The things that overwhelm us to the point of despair will be less likely to cloud our vision if we carve out time for quiet. The God who created the universe is the same God who hears our prayers and is able to answer them. If we take a few moments every day to reflect on his goodness, we might be surprised to rediscover faith and find the strength we need to live up to our calling: Christ-likeness.

There is a reason there are so many passages in the scripture about perseverance. Life isn’t easy and it never has been. So, like our own Savior did, we must carve out time for quiet. We must seek who we say we believe, find our rest in God, live up to our purpose, and persevere in it.

. . . let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience . . . washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works . . .  encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

For,“Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”

But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. (Hebrews 10:19-25, 35-39 ESV)

And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:12-13 ESV)



The god(s) of this world

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For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4 ESV)

We live in an age where knowledge is available to us in seconds. If we have a question about something, all we have to do is “Google it.” This is both wonderful and awful.

Maintaining a healthy perspective on what truly matters in life is not easy when every article on msn.com offers some new tidbit on how to make our lives better, our bodies healthier, or our relationships stronger. Today I saw and sadly, I admit, read an article on the happiest and saddest cities in America (how do they really know this stuff anyway?!). Some of the information we obtain is borderline useless. We can become so “educated” that we lose all common sense.

Here’s an example: when crib shopping, I stumbled across some articles about “toxic cribs” vs safe cribs. Apparently there are many chemicals used in the stain, etc.. for cribs that can be toxic when inhaled. Ew. Not pleasant information  . . . but we must take these things for what they are: tidbits of truth, not the whole picture. Putting your child in what is considered a “toxic” crib will not necessarily harm them (though, it is not a pleasant thought).

While I appreciate any and every effort to educate the public on safety and health, I am reminded of the words of the apostle, you are not your own. No matter how much I try to protect myself, my husband, my cats, and eventually, my child, from the evils of chemicals, pesticides, GMO’s, and whatever else is the latest rage, I can only do so much to preserve and protect life . . .

. . . Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1 Timothy 4 ESV)

The epistles are full of reminders and warnings about distractions. There’s a fine line between becoming educated and taking care of ourselves and making ourselves (and our bodies and bellies) into little gods. We must remember that we have a higher purpose than self-preservation.

God divided a sea, enabled a child to defeat a giant, and rescued a faithful man from being mauled by lions . . .  these new hazards are simply that: new hazards. Danger has always been part of life . . . and God has always been the protector and preserver of life.

We should not ignore good information and we should do our best to be healthy . . . but we should spend our energy on what really matters. Christ-likeness.

. . . For to this end we toil and strive,because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

If I know the ins and outs of nutrition (but I have not love . . . )
If all the food in my fridge was grown in my own garden (but I have not love . . . )
If I always remember my reusable bag at the grocery store (but I have not love . . . )
If my sheets are made of organic cotton (but I have not love . . . )
If my make-up was never tested on animals (but I have not love . . . )
If my child never eats at McDonald’s (but I have not love . . . )

If I am not growing in my faith and understanding of Christ, if I am not learning to love my neighbors more and more, if I do not spend time seeking the God I claim to know . . . 

I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. . . I am nothing . . . I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love never ends. . . . as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part . . . but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. . . For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13 ESV)

. . . Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have . . . practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. . . .

Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. . . .

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves . . . teachings . . . require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. (1 Timothy 4 ESV)

For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly . . . with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:18-20)