Rising Above the Ashes
Meet Staci Self
By Rev. Dallas Teague Snider // Photo by Liesa Cole
It’s easy to forget when it feels as though the world is falling down around us that we can find peace in the midst of chaos. Whether in theory or reality, the storms of life will come. Staci Self faced an emotional tsunami she never saw coming. The debris of guilt and shame threatened to dampen her light that was meant to be a beacon for so many others suffering in silence. Instead, she showed them they aren’t alone—and neither is she.
How do you describe an everyday hero?
An everyday hero is someone who is admired for continuously striving to be brave and courageous through the storms of life, who rises above the ashes, still speaking life into things and not letting the darkness near their hearts. An everyday hero has personal qualities that make others stop to think about their own lives, perhaps reevaluating their own situation, ultimately improving their circumstances—leading by example.
Tell us about your tsunami.
My son was born with an incurable disorder, autism, a spectrum disorder, with a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. Crushed by the news, and after my own pity party, I decided to rise above and do everything in my power to give him a quality of life—and the journey led us to hope and healing through Jesus Christ.
Were there times you felt like giving up?
The challenges we faced were more than I could handle at times. Ethan wasn’t eating solid foods at the age of three, he wasn’t speaking and couldn’t communicate. He was trying to hurt himself on a daily basis. He didn’t accept hugs. In fact, if I touched him he would cry. As a mother, this shattered my heart into a million pieces.
God stepped in when the water was rough, when the wind was tossing us all around placing every person, doctor, therapist, teacher and aid into our lives at the exact moment that my son needed it. They were strategically placed so that he could grow and heal correctly. Today we celebrate the journey—it’s more than beautiful. God is working behind the scenes whether we deserve it or not. He loves us—unconditionally!
What is your personal mission?
My personal mission today is to love people. My mission is to sew back into the world that Jesus died for. To show the love that he showed me through my son’s rocky start here on earth. He’s given me a passion for people. God’s work in my son’s life has forever changed the way we live. We live each day with intention. We have our eyes set on Heaven. We see the bigger picture, and we hope to bring people closer to God by our story.
#ThinkLoveFirst is a global human rights initiative that I am launching.
How do you #ThinkLoveFirst in what you do?
God’s love isn’t just one dimensional. There is height, depth, length, and breadth to it. I want to love like God does. It brings joy and peace to my life. We now lead small groups to help people take steps toward Jesus. He healed Ethan progressively through the years and it has sparked a fire to do his work, to be his hands and feet for others, to be his mouthpiece and to spread life into a fallen world.
What advice would you give others facing their tsunami?
My advice to someone else will ALWAYS be turn to Jesus. You can’t live this life on your own. You need your creator to help you along the way. Draw near to God and God will draw near to you. Your eyes will open and you’ll never be the same.