Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Most Wonderful Day of the Year

This is my favorite time of the year. I love Christmas with all the pretty decorations and the opportunities to see the smiles of friends and family members. I love giving gifts and blessing others. But, very soon, it will be my absolutest, most favorite, bestest day of the year. January 1st.

It has been said, in this blog and in many offices and households which I frequent, that I am a perfectionist. I will grant you that this is not always a compliment, but overall, for better or worse, I have to own it. And there is something about January 1st that makes the perfectionist in me giddy (is that spelled right? Anyway...).

I spent today doing end of the year stuff in my office. I filed some finished projects, printed the end of the year budget report, created some new files for next year, and basically got my office cleaned up in readiness for the new year. It is my hope to do something similar tonight and tomorrow to my house...and my car. It's time to start anew.

I even gave this blog a new look!

2011 will also be the beginning of a new project for me. Becky Higgins' Project Life. Project life is basically a scrapbooker's dream and an OCD, photo-a-holic's nightmare. The goal is to take a picture a day documenting your every day life. You then use a very cool, color coordinated album kit to organize your photos with appropriate journaling tags, dividers, and so forth. By the end of the year, you have a (rather large) completed scrapbook of things that are important to you that you probably wouldn't have taken the time to scrapbook if it weren't for the project. I can't wait to see how it turns out. And, I can't wait to get together on a regular basis with several friends who are also doing Project Life.

I know that once 2011 has started, things will pretty much be the same as they are now, but there is something about the first day of a new year that reminds me that things can change. I don't think I am alone in that either. If I were, there wouldn't be millions of resolutions made on the first that probably will not make it until thirty-first.

So, in keeping with the spirit of the awesomest, bestest day in the whole wide world, here is my list of resolutions for the new year. :)

  1. I will complete my Project Life album.
  2. I will not freak out the first time I realize I forgot to take a Project Life picture on a given day.
  3. On a similar note, I will not get out of bed for the sole purpose of taking a picture so that I do not miss a day of Project Life.
  4. I will read at least two books a month.
  5. I will actively participate in the Scripture Memory Challenge with the women's ministry at my church.
  6. I will keep my car cleaned out enough that I can drive my friends to lunch on any given day without embarrassment.
  7. I will finish my Serbia scrapbook.
  8. I will finish the journaling and get my box of partially completed pages in a scrapbook.
  9. I will get my children's scrapbooks caught up to their current year of school.
  10. I will endeavor to schedule at least 12 family/couples/friends get-togethers - just for fun.
and on a more traditional note:

11. I will work toward having a more consistent, focused quiet time.
12. I will lose weight. (Goal is set, but will not be disclosed on this blog until it has been achieved.)

So there you have it. These 12 goals, along with continuing to work through personal issues while maintaining a positive attitude and strengthening my faith, and dozen or so other home and work related resolutions are the hot spots for 2011.

Even as I write this, a scripture verse is running through my mind...

In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the LORD establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9 NIV

There were many things in 2010 that did not go according to my plan, and there were many resolutions broken, but I also know that I would not change where God has taken me throughout this year. I am most excited to see where He will lead me in 2011. I hope that you will walk with me on that journey. :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

An Ah-Ha Moment

I don't know what else to call it. Something just clicked.

If you have been a reader of this blog for long, you know two things about me. I love my job and working for my boss (that's one - it's compound), and I battle insecurity (that's two). The first one I don't want to change. The second one, I didn't know how to change.

If you haven't read my last post, you might want to stop here and catch up. I'll wait...

You know God's timing has always amazed me, but this week, He has blown me away. I knew when I heard Sunday's message that God was trying to get my attention again. I had grown so much in such a short time in Serbia, and I had done a pretty good job of living in that new reality. But Sunday, I knew that God was ready to take me to the next level if I was willing to let Him.

I scheduled a meeting to talk with Eric on Monday. (Having a pastor as a boss can have it's benefits. :) ) I shared with Him my struggles with my shiny bricks and that I really didn't know how to move past them. He told me that he had sensed that there was something holding me back, but he had never known what it was. That took me a little off guard. I had thought I had done a pretty good job of hiding those pesky bricks. He called it a speed bump, and as I started to share a little bit more about my past, I hit that speed bump like a shiny brick wall (Kinda ironic, isn't it?)

I pressed through it, though, and as Eric and I talked, he reminded me that God has been with me through it all. God saw the good and the bad. He felt the hurt. He has worked through those situations to make me who I am today.

I did a lot of processing yesterday, and last night God and I had a long, tearful chat.

I realized through my conversations with Eric, with Amanda, with God, and through my reading that much of my fear is based in past hurts - those stupid shiny bricks. I am afraid that if I let someone get too close, they will abandon me. I associate relationship with risk. I long to be protected, but in most instances, the people whom I trusted for that protection were the very people that hurt me in the end.

But then I read a quote from Beth Moore in her book So Long Insecurity, You've Been a Bad Friend to Me:

Believe that He loves you and has you covered
and takes every one of your hits
as if they were aimed at His own skin.

God isn't like my earthly father who left after the divorce and chose not to be a part of my life. God isn't like the broken relationship from my freshman year of college. God isn't like the fiancée who chose to end the relationship rather than stand up to his mom. God has felt everyone of those hurts. He has been, and will always be on my side. Will I screw up? Absolutely, but He will still be looking out for me. He always has.

I believe that God has also shown me that some things that I have taken as symptoms of my insecurity are really just a part of who I am. I don't like to disappoint, and that is okay as long as I don't see my value in my successes. I don't like to be the center of attention, which is okay as long as I am not using the shadows to hide. I can be who I am without guilt. It's an exciting concept.

I am trusting that today has been a turning point for me. I believe that God has indeed taken me to that next step, and I hope that I have finally been able to scale that speed bump. I know that I have been able to let go of that bag of shiny bricks, and I am praying that I will have the courage to leave them in God's hands where they belong.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

More than I can carry...

I have been mulling this post around in my head most of today. Well, not actually the post, but the thoughts, and I say most of the day because I took a rather lengthy, albeit unexpected, nap this afternoon.

I know that I have written before that I am blessed to work at my church, but have I ever told you how blessed I am to call Pathway my church home. It's not a perfect church, but I believe the leadership has a true heart for being obedient in their own personal walks with Christ and that ebbs over into the ministry. It's a great church.

One of the problems with being on staff at a church is that sometimes you can get caught up in the day to day functions as a staff and get a little, for lack of a better word, casual about the worship service. It's not that you don't attend, you can just get a little "distracted." Confession is good for the soul, right? :)

I have to admit that today was one of those days for me. Our senior pastor is doing a series on forgiveness. Last week I ended up missing most of the service because I wasn't feeling well, so this week, I was noticing all the decorations in the sanctuary, thinking that I should tell our worship arts what a great job they did. I was busy looking up the scripture passages on the new Bible I had downloaded to my NookColor which I am still learning to use, and in all honesty, I was only partially listening to what was actually being taught. And then he said it...

..."and we end up trying to carry more than we can carry"...

Those words, along with his visual of carrying bricks covered in shiny wrapping paper, struck a chord and reigned me in. From then on, he had my full attention.

I realized that is exactly what I have been doing. I have hidden each and every hurt that I have faced in pretty, shiny wrapping paper and carried it with me rather than dealing with it and leaving it at the foot of the cross where it belongs. I realized too, that I can't do it anymore. The weight that I have been carrying is more than I can carry.

I have to admit that I am not exactly sure what the next step is - and no, it's not because I wasn't paying attention. :) I am sure that there is forgiveness involved, but I don't know how to go about forgiving when the person I need to forgive is me. I just know that the weight of all those shiny little packages is overwhelming. I can't carry it any more.

The opening question for today's message was "What gift are you going to give yourself this Christmas?" I think it's time I gave myself a chance.

Several weeks ago I made the decision to lose some weight, but today, I realized that physical weight is only part of the problem. I need to figure out how to drop all those extra shiny pounds in a place where I will not be tempted to pick them up again. I need to live in the forgiveness that Jesus paid for through His death on the cross. I need to be free.

Today was one of many days when it feels as if my senior pastor preached a message just for me, and I am thankful for his obedience to speak from what God puts on his heart. God knew just what I needed to hear. He did his part through Ron. Now it is up to me to do my part. Whatever it takes.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Now, our God, we give you thanks,
and praise your glorious name.
“But who am I, and who are my people,
that we should be able to give as generously as this?
Everything comes from you,
and we have given you only what comes from your hand."
1 Chronicles 19:13-14

I broke a tradition this year at my house. Until this year, I have been pretty set against any decorating or listening to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. It just seemed wrong.

Last year; however, I have to admit that I really didn't enjoy Christmas at all. It was nice, but I never experienced the peace that is supposed to be so much of what the holiday is about. We hurried to decorate and rushed from here to there, and we gave gifts (which is my FAVORITE part of the holiday - not the receiving but the giving). But the joy was lost in the to do.

This year, we have already started decorating our home (just a little bit), and I have enjoyed listening to, and singing along, with the Christmas music that some of our local radio stations have been playing to start the holiday season. And you know, that is exactly what it is...a holiday season.

As a culture we have no problem going from basketball season to baseball season to soccer season to football season. And these seasons each consist of more than one game, right? So why can't our holiday season contain more than one holiday? There is overlap in our sports seasons - just ask any mother. So why when it comes to celebrating all that God has done for us, are we so adamant that there has to be a very distinct difference. In fact, as Christians, aren't we supposed to be thankful and celebrate what God has done for us every day of our year?

But today, instead of writing a letter to Santa, I would like to write a Thanksgiving letter to God, and I would like to share it with you.

Dear God,

I wanted to take a minute or two today to thank you for who you are and for all of the blessings that you have given to me, and my family, and my friends this year. I know that we do not deserve any of them, but in your grace and mercy, you have chosen us to be part of your family, and I think that is pretty cool.

I am thankful for my family, both close and extended. I have thought many times this week about how they have impacted my life and made me the person that I am today. Some good - some not so good, but each a part of me.

I am thankful for my friends. Many of them have faced obstacles this year that I cannot imagine, and yet you have been with them, and continue to walk with them, through it all. I am thankful for that. I am also thankful that you allow me to be part of their lives. They are all unique, and I love each one of them.

I am thankful for the blessing of my home and my country. I know that I am sometimes frustrated and discontent, but I know deep down how very blessed that I am. And I know as a nation that we are not walking a path that you approve, but I am thankful for your mercy.

I am thankful that you walk with me every day. I am thankful that even in the times when I struggle, you are always there. I would like to say that I am thankful for the struggles, but I really can't. I hope that they will ultimately make me a better me than I am now; and I am thankful that you work all things for good in me as your child, but it would be a lie to say that I am thankful for the struggles themselves. Because of that, I am thankful there is forgiveness.

I am thankful to be blessed that my job is part of my ministry, and I am blessed to work with an awesome staff of people who love you and who want to serve others. I am thankful for the blessing of Eric and his leadership. I am thankful for the blessing of seeing you through his leadership and commitment to serve.

I am thankful for Amanda, Melanie, Chris, Pam, Becky, Sue, Susan, Denise and Annette. I am thankful that you have brought each of these people into my life in a meaningful way. That you have used them to support and encourage and to, at times, kick my butt, in my walk with you. I am thankful to you for the gift of their friendship.

I am thankful for Jay and the boys. Michael, Ryan and Jaron can drive me to the edge of insanity at times (as can Jay :) ), but they are gifts from you, and I am thankful for the opportunity to watch them grow and develop into the men that you have created them to be. I am especially thankful for the glimpses of maturity I see in each one of them from time to time - the promise that they are yours and that I have not totally screwed them up. I am thankful for Jay, for his love and support. For his dedication to providing for his family and to being there for us.

I am most thankful for Your Son. I cannot imagine what it was like to for You to send Him to earth to die for a people whose every inclination was to turn away from You. I am thankful for Your sacrifice. I am thankful for His willingness to die for me, and for Your persistence in drawing me closer to You. I am blessed.

Thank you for these things and so many more that are too numerous to count. You are amazing and awesome and holy and righteous and just, and I am thankful that I am Yours.


Regardless of the decor around your table today, I hope that you will take a few minutes to reflect on the true meaning of this holiday season - God's best gifts given to you. I am thankful that I can share my random thoughts with you. Your willingness to read my ramblings has helped me to process many things that until this blog I had been unable to put into words. So whether you realize it or not, you have been a blessing. And, I am thankful.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Who am I?

Sounds like a pretty simple question, doesn't it? One would think so. And, I would think that I would be the best person to answer it; because, who would know me better than I do? Right? I wish I knew.

This has been a difficult few weeks for me. In my Points post, I mentioned that I had set out on a plan to get healthy, and it has been going really well. I have lost weight each week (although I did struggle last week) and instead of cutting back on the caffeine, I have given it up altogether. I have yet to really see a difference in my appearance (although others have said they can tell that I have lost weight) and I still struggle with my lack of caffeine. I know that very little of it is a physical struggle though, it is an emotional one.

I fully believe that I am at a crossroad - not so much with my decision to live with or without caffeine - but at a crossroad that will determine whether I win or lose this battle with insecurity. The circumstances of the last few weeks have brought me to a place where I see myself reverting to the old me. The one that disconnects and hides to avoid being hurt. The one I promised myself I would never be again.

I went for a long walk tonight, and while it was cold, it was quiet. The sky was clear and the stars bright. I had hoped it would clear my head. Instead, I wrestled with my inner demons. I know that I am a child of God. I believe with all my heart that God created me to be who I am. I believe that He has a plan for me. I am good with all of that. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and that one day I will be in Heaven. Again, all good.


When I look in the mirror, I see -
  • the chubby girl - a giant who struggles to fit in.
  • the ugly girl.
  • the burden.
  • the reason for Jaron's disabilities.
  • the failure.
I share this not in a "woe is me" kind of way, but in a "this is me" kind of way. I want to live in the freedom that comes with knowing that I am loved unconditionally. I want to be secure in who I am in Christ. I want to be confident. I want to be this amazing person that I am not. I can put on the mask and sometimes see a glimmer of who I would like to be, but the real me is a mess.

I have a great support system. I am surrounded by Christian friends and family who encourage me and who pray for me and who are pulling for me to win. I am surrounded everyday with a group of authentic, talented people with whom I get to serve. I am blessed - and yet I struggle. It's crazy.

So who am I? I am really not sure, but I believe that the choices I am making right now, which road I choose to take, will make the difference between becoming who I want to be and continuing to be the girl in the mirror. It's a scary place.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Kindred Spirit

Disclaimer: The views shared in this particular blog post may cause you to be concerned about the life of the author as she is this passionate about an idiom. You may wonder if she even has a life as she knows that it is an idiom and what an idiom is. She does indeed have a grammatical soap box, and this is one of the times that she will boldly step upon it. It is her hope that you will read on, though, because she has learned a very valuable lesson that she would like to share.

Definition: Someone who feels and thinks the way you do.

I think that sometimes we take the meaning of kindred spirit a bit too flippantly. We think, for instance, that because we share the same taste in coffee shops with someone else we are kindred spirits. It is quite possible, however, that maybe we just haven't been introduced to the next best coffee out there. Once that happens, we will leave our kindred spirit in the dust and find another with whom we share our deep love of coffee.

I am sure that I have been guilty of using the term in this way, but this week I believe God opened my eyes to what a true kindred spirit is. It is Amanda.

I have been friends with Amanda for several years, but recently I asked her if she would be willing to be my accountability partner. I love spending time with her. I thought that she was someone that I could confide in and learn from, and I hoped that in some way, maybe I would be able to speak into her life as well. Plus, she has 4 adorable children whom I would love to spoil, three of which are GIRLS.:)

This week we were able to spend much of Thursday together. It was so much fun. We talked about lots of things. She taught me how to make home made laundry detergent. We talked about work and family stuff. I shared some things that I had been struggling with, and then an odd thing happened. She asked me a question with such detail that I thought she had read my mind. It was something that I had never shared with anyone, and yet she knew EXACTLY. It was almost word for word the thoughts that I deal with on a daily basis. I asked her how she knew, and she said that she used to feel the same way.

This isn't the first time that Amanda has shared something with me that struck a chord deeper than I could have imagined, so I am not sure why it came as such a shock. Although in some ways our pasts are similar, in many ways they are very different. Yet, we deal with the same personal struggles - and in much the same way. Amanda truly understands who I am in my scary places - and she is still my friend. That is my idea of a kindred spirit.

I am so thankful for Amanda. Her friendship has been a blessing to me in more ways than she could possibly know. I love that we can be honest with each other. I know that she faces her own struggles, and I hope that I can be the strength for her that she needs as she has been for me. I am also thankful that she will not let me stay where I am but that she encourages me to grow.

Do we like our coffee the same way...yes, but I believe our friendship runs way deeper than coffee. It has its foundation in Christ. And, I believe that He will continue to guide our friendship as we each grow closer to Him in our spiritual walk. I am blessed to have an accountability partner, a kindred spirit, and a friend in Amanda.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Day Off

This Thursday, I will be taking my final vacation day of the year. It's not that I have a special getaway planned - or that it will actually be a "vacation" - but my youngest son doesn't have school on Thursday, so in the interest of not going to jail, I am choosing to stay home. Just kidding - kind of...

If you have read this blog before, or if you know me at all, you know that I LOVE my job. I am a ministry assistant at my church, and I believe I have mentioned a time or two that I believe I truly have the best boss in the world. :) Is he perfect? No. (Sorry Eric. :)) But he is an excellent leader, and it is a pleasure for me to serve as his assistant.

The problem with loving your job and having a great working relationship with your boss is that it can be easy to become a workaholic - something (contrary to popular opinion) that I would like to avoid.

I knew that being a pastor was a 24/7 proposition; but I never really thought that it would extend to administrative staff - and maybe it doesn't for some. For me however, it is such a joy to serve, that I can get lost in doing for others at the exclusion of some pretty important things - like home and family and friends.

I will admit that when I first realized that I would need to take Thursday off, I was frustrated. Having a limited number of days off can make one quite particular about how those days are used. I had visions of using it to get away and do something special - maybe take a trip, or spend the day shopping, or spend some needed quiet time by myself. Pretty selfish, huh?

The more I thought about it though, I started to embrace it for what it should be. A day to be at home. A break from work. A day to spend with my own personal SpongeBob who has a day off from school.

I often remind my children of the following:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,
as working for the Lord, not for human masters,
since you know that you will receive
an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.
It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:23-24

I love having the privilege of serving in the church as my job. I love working for Eric, and I want to serve him well because I am called to do everything I do as for the Lord. But, I love my little SpongeBob, and his siblings, and their daddy, and I want to give my all to them as unto the Lord as well. They are the first priority. Unfortunately, I think sometimes the latter feel like they are lost in my ministry to do list.

So Thursday, I am going to take a step back, regroup, and try really hard to take a break from being a ministry assistant to be the mom that God has called me to be first. I already know that I have God's (and Eric's) blessing. Now it is up to me to let go of those workaholic tendencies and enjoy it. Who knows, maybe SpongeBob and I will do a little shopping. :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Although I have never had the gift of prophecy, I would like to come forth at this point and let everyone know that I may well be the first person in the history of the world to die from the decision to start living a healthier lifestyle.

I have always struggled with my weight. Until recently I have been able to carry a bit more weight than others would have guessed, but now that I am old, it's a little (read "a lot") harder to keep some things hidden - weight being the most obvious example. A few years ago, I did a popular low carb diet and lost a lot of weight. In fact, as I was looking at my scrapbooks one day, I was actually taken aback by how small I was in the pictures. Unfortunately, I really like pasta and Mt. Dew, so the whole low carb thing - not so good.

Enter Serbia - bet you never guessed that was going to come into play, did you? I realized along with many other things, that while my weight has been a source of insecurity, it has also been a sort of security blanket. It has been a reason to not put myself "out there."

This has worked well for the most part with one glaring exception. My position at Pathway (and ironically my trip to Serbia) has provided me with several opportunities to be in videos shown during our Sunday services. Did I mention that we have a really big screen? I will leave you to your own visual - and for that I am sorry. :)

So, recently, I decided to join the myriad of people holding one another accountable for their weight by watching their progress (whose name I will only subtly not mention). I have had a long standing issue with this particular plan because the rebel in me doesn't want anyone watching my weight, so, of course, I joined on-line. Ha!

With the coaching and support of a couple of good friends who have been very successful with the program, both in class and on-line, I started my journey on Tuesday. My records day is Friday, and as of Friday, I had a successful week. Go unnamed plan!

There is one major drawback though. I began my long term relationship with caffeine when I was in college. I basically had to retake an entire semester of classes because I slept through them. Yes, I did party, but no, that is not the reason. I have incredibly low blood pressure. My doctor at the time gave me two options. I could pay a lot of money for a pill that would basically put my body into a state of fight or flight, or I could drink soda. Hmmm.

I really, really tried to like Diet Coke - or diet anything for that matter, but I just didn't feel good when I drank it. I found out much later that I am allergic to formaldehyde which is what aspartame becomes once your body ingests it. Yum. So, I moved on to Coke, then Pepsi, and graduated to Mt. Dew. Just as an FYI, I took the Pepsi challenge, and yes, I can tell the difference as any true connoisseur can.

So now, as I begin my journey toward a healthier lifestyle and less caffeine consumption, I remembered something that I have not thought about for years. When I have limited amounts of caffeine, I have limited amounts of blood pressure as well. One of those is a good thing. One - not so much.

I plan to continue my trek toward healthier living, even if it kills me - which it might. I have really struggled this week as I realized what a hold caffeine has on my body. I want my dependence to be on God, not on a drug. It's another friendly captivity.

I believe that God created me as I am - with low blood pressure and all, but I also believe that he calls me to a life of dependence on Him, not caffeine. So, I will seek to find the balance between Point A and Point B. And while I may falter at a few points in between, I will continue my journey in faith. You see, I also believe that the points that those watching my weight see aren't the ones that really matter. It's the points that God wants to teach me along my path that do. And, I always want my eyes to be open to what He wants me to see.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Finding Staci

Did you ever have a time when things did not go according to plan? Or should I say, YOUR plan? That is kind of where I have been this weekend. It began as a busy, albeit, fun weekend and ended with a fun, albeit, very different weekend than originally anticipated.

It has been good, though. We had a couple of events cancelled or changed due to various circumstances, but because of those cancellations, we were able to do other things that we had not been able to do in awhile. For instance, we had a date night, and we were able to have a spur of the moment get together with friends that we had not seen in awhile. Even today, we were able to go out to lunch with another family that we had not seen in what feels like forever because they popped up at our church service. It has been a great weekend.

The amazing thing about it is, although I have been busy, I have had down time. And, only once have I felt the pull of the to-do list. This is huge.

Our pastor of adult ministries spoke this morning. He was sharing the many ways that we can knock God off of the throne of our lives and replace Him with something that revolves around us. It was kind of painful. It seemed like I could relate with most of the objects he presented - not so much the Twilight...or da Bears...but most - and that is NOT a good thing.

What is good is that I had already recognized some of the traps that I had fallen into and had begun to make changes to break free. That was very encouraging to me.

There is an old hymn that proclaims "I stand amazed in the presence..." That is exactly how I have felt this weekend. As I have stepped back, honored the boundaries that I have set and have been set for me, I have been amazed at the peace that I have had. The to-do list is still there; and this looks to be a busy week at work, but I can look at it as something I do and not who I am. (I am sure that some prayers have been answered with that realization. :) )

It seems like I have gotten lost a lot lately, and it's frustrating. I want to be the woman of God that He has called me to be and yet I am so easily led off course. So easily distracted by the noise. The cool thing is, as I do get off course, and as I try to do it all on my own, and as I lose myself in the parts of me that God is still working on, there is a verse that I can always count on.

In his heart a man plans his course,
but the LORD determines his steps.
Proverbs 16:9

He is my shepherd. He won't let me get so lost that I cannot be found. He will gently, or not so gently, take His staff and bring me back to His arms where I am safe. I love that.

No, this weekend didn't go according to MY plan, but I believe that it went according to His. I am looking forward to rescheduling those missed events, but I am confident that the peace I am feeling today is a direct result of the shepherd. I was lost, and I may still be a little lost, but I have found my shepherd, and He is all I need.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fight or Flight

Pursuit. It's kind of a catch 22 word. It's a word that can have positive and negative meanings. I have always kind of seen it as a positive word. A romantic at heart, I love a story where someone sees the value in someone else and pursues them with a passion. The kind of pursuit where even if the person can't be with the one they are pursuing, they are in the shadows looking out for and protecting the object of their pursuit. I LOVE that.

But, there is another kind of pursuit. This is the pursuit that we often see in movies and TV. The Jason Bourne kind of pursuit where Jason is being pursued by whoever it is that pursues Jason Bourne. It is an edge of your seat, frightening kind of pursuit. A life or death kind of pursuit.

Recently I have kind of felt that I have been caught up in the latter kind of pursuit. I really don't think that there is anyone out there with a sharp shooter aimed at my head, but I think that the pursuit that I have found myself in is even more deadly. I have an enemy that is pursuing my heart.

I have blogged before about the changes that took place in me in Serbia. I came face to face with the insecurities and fears that I have dealt with for my entire life, and I won a battle. I was able be honest with myself and others for the first time in recent and distant memory. I was able to live in a new reality that was amazing.

Fast forward to today. The last few weeks have been very busy for me. We launched a church-wide campaign this past weekend that has required a lot (read A LOT) of preparation from Life Groups. For awhile, it felt as if I would be swallowed up by black folders, labels and copies - lots and lots of copies. Add to that attendance at the Catalyst Leadership Conference in Atlanta and a scrapbook retreat - both of which were very good, but required time away from the project.

In the midst of it all, I lost sight of the me that I met in Serbia. I fell into the familiar patterns of perfectionism and self-doubt. I took every thing that was said, unchecked, and allowed it to drive my emotions and my security. As I look at it now, I realize it was craziness. But at the time, I was consumed by it, and I was frightened.

Add to this my new Bible study - the study of Daniel. A-ma-zing. It is my first ever Beth Moore study, and I am soaking it up like a sponge. I love the depth, and it has already brought the book to life in a way that I have never experienced before. It is SO relevant to today. I don't know why I never saw it before.

In the study, Beth refers to "friendly captivity." At first, I couldn't relate. I think I have a fairly decent world view. I am aware of how blessed I am. I may not always feel it, but I know it. I know there is another world to come that is the ultimate goal. This world is temporary. I am not a captive.

Duh! The very first session, God revealed that I have willingly walked right back into the captivity of my perfectionism and fears. The world thinks its great, but it's not. I can never live up to my own expectations, and God has been showing me that over and over and over again in the last couple of weeks. He has been pursuing me in what feels to me like a Jason Bourne kind of pursuit.

It's a scary place to be. Part of me fears "letting go and letting God" because I don't know how to live in that world. It is frightening and inviting a the same time. I miss the me I was in Serbia; and God has shown me that it can be a safe place, so why am I so afraid?

I am also terrified of the alternative. If I cannot take that step of obedience to live in God's reality, I will be forever mired in the insecurity, fear and doubt that characterized my life pre-Serbia. And, the enemy, who is ever pursuing me in a Jason Bourne way, will win.

I have more than once in recent weeks found myself in state of fight or flight. And thankfully, I have made the right choice. It has not been easy. I want to be obedient to God's word. I am passionate in my desire for integrity (which is pretty funny considering how often I hide behind the walls of my insecurity).

I don't want to lose this battle, and I know that God doesn't want me to either. There is so much at stake. And, I realized something as I was writing this. As I have been living out my own Jason Bourne pursuit, God has been pursuing me with the love story type of pursuit. He has been protecting me even when I am not aware. He has never left my side. It's definitely a catch 22. And while, I really have no idea where the term catch 22 came from, I know with certainty that God's pursuit of me will never change. I am hopeful that will be the catalyst that will help me to make the choice to fight and not "flight" when I come against my next Bourne moment.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Old Times - New Ammunition

It's been awhile since I posted. I haven't forgotten that I have a blog or anything. I am not really sure why I haven't shared my thoughts. Part of it may be a processing issue. The weeks immediately following my trip were overwhelming for me. My heart was torn. I loved my time in Serbia, and I miss my friends very much. I still think of them often, and I smile each time I see one of them post on Facebook - even though most of the time I have to use a translator to figure out what they are saying. :) A part of my heart is missing.

Culture shock also probably played a factor - not theirs, but ours. Obviously, nothing really changed here, but the busyness and excess has taken its toll on me a little since our return. I know that our camp schedule was different than "real life" in Serbia, but I sensed a different focus in the people there. For the most part, they were content with what they had, and they were happy just hanging out and being with each other. I miss that more than anything else.

I shared in my last post a little bit about what God did in me while I was there, but I am not sure I did it justice. When I shared that God had freed me from insecurities and fears that I have faced for my whole life, it was a BIG deal. It truly had been a struggle that had left me with an irrational fear of failure - and that fear isolated me in many ways.

I had a minor setback this week as schedules have been out of control, and there are some big projects on the horizon. In my quest to do my best, I allowed a bit of perfectionism (okay, probably more than a bit, but this is my blog and I get to say how much) to set in which in turn ramped up the fear of failure and brought back all the emotional weight that I had pre-Serbia. I was frightened. I was frightened not only that my failure would affect relationships that I value but frightened that I had lost sight of all that God had taught me in Serbia. I was feeling alone and lost.

BUT...God is in His gracious humor gently brought me back to reality. You see, the night BEFORE my insecurity attack, I had download a couple of albums onto my I-pod. I hadn't really chosen them for any specific reason. I just felt like downloading something new.

As I listened to them that afternoon, I was amazed to see that God had provided all that I needed - a gentle reminder that I was not alone. Song after song spoke to my heart in a way that I can't even describe. It is like the artist had lived my life.

One song in particular caught my attention:

I tried perfecting myself

Would You love me more without my mistakes

I tried not to ask for Your help

Cuz I didn’t want to scare You away

Yeah I was always worried

I was gonna let You down

Oh, it felt like I was standing

In between the lost and found

Till I got to know You, You

I was at a place when You found a way

To break through

It’s true

I was just a skeptic

Till I got to know You, You

And it’s hard accepting Your grace

In a world where nothing’s free

For so long I was afraid

That You’d only see the worst in me

Yeah, I was always worried

You were gonna figure out

That I wasn’t what You wanted

Wasn’t worth being around

Till I got to know You, You

I was at a place when You found a way

To break through

It’s true

I was just a skeptic

Till I got to know You, You

And you have always been on my side

I finally see it

It took so long to believe in it

Cuz I was always worried

I was gonna let you down

Till I got to know You, You

Till I got to know You, You, You

Till I got know You, You

I was at a place when you found a way

To break through

It’s true

I was just a skeptic

Till I got to know You

'Till I Got to Know You by Sanctus Real

I could have written the song. Well...I couldn't have because I was afraid to voice any of it... but I have lived it - time and time and time again. I lived it out in my relationship with God, and I lived it out in my relationship with people. It wasn't until Serbia that God was able to break through, and I was able to see the hold that it had on me.

I realized this week it is the ultimate tool the enemy will use to get my eyes off of God and derail my Christian walk. Thankfully God also placed friends in my path that day that held me accountable to what I had learned on my trip and reminded me that I am not that person anymore. I could have chosen to let the setback defeat me (as it has every other time), or I could choose to get back up, right my thinking and move ahead in the grace that God (and my friends) offered. What an amazing feeling.

I would like to say that I took the right stand and am now totally back on the right track, but the enemy continues to put traps in my path that throw me right back to that scared little girl who boarded the plane to Serbia. This time though, I have a new weapon. Actually, I have a couple of new weapons. First, I am not alone any more. God has taken down my barriers and allowed me to share “the real me” with several close friends who are willing to gently hold me accountable when I start to fall. And second, I know that I have the power to choose what affects me. I may not be able to prevent the attack, but I can choose not to participate in it. Those are some pretty powerful sources of ammunition when the battle begins.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Adjusting to Reality

First, let me apologize for taking so long to get to this post. I have had so many thoughts and feelings to deal with that I haven't really had a moment to put my thoughts together in any semblance of a blog, but I have not forgotten. I just want to be sure that what I write is truly how I feel because a lot has changed since my last post.

First of all, I have fallen in love with Serbia and it's people. I could go on and on about the warmth and hospitality shown to us by our national team, our host families, the students and all of the Serbians with whom we were in contact, and it still would not give you a vision of how much we came to love them. I could show you the 1000+ pictures of our new friends and the Serbian countryside and it still would not give you a glimpse of how much places like Opovo, Ljutovo and Subotica mean to us.

We were also blessed with international friendships with people from Romania, Britain, Ireland and Australia. We even made a few friends from the States whom we didn't know before the trip. Those friendships literally span coast to coast. There is no way you could understand the impact that these people had on us unless you were there. It was an amazing trip.

And God showed up and showed off.

It began with me. Before camp began, He brought me to a place where I saw for the first time how much my insecurities and fears had held me captive. In His loving mercy, He took me out of my comfort zone so that He could show me that it wasn't a comfort zone at all. It was a prison. He brought me to a safe place where I could begin to live in the reality of who I am in Christ. He surrounded me with friends who held me accountable and reminded me that who I am is okay. It was an amazing transformation.

He also did amazing works at camp. The students were awesome. They came to learn English, but their hearts and minds were open to all that we had to say - whether they believed it or not. They shared their lives with us. They befriended us. They loved on us - and we loved on them. They stole our hearts.

So many things have changed in me since my last post, and I am still learning to live in my new reality. We sang a song every day while at camp called "Never Going Back to OK." I know one thing for certain, I will never be the same again - and that isn't OK. That's awesome.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

One Week and Counting

Today officially marks the one week countdown to my trip to Serbia. The last few weeks have been a total roller coaster of emotions, but most are not even trip related. It just seems there has been distraction after distraction after distraction ad infinitum.

I am really excited about the trip. I haven't started packing yet, but I have started a little pile of stuff that needs to go. Some friends and I are getting together tomorrow to knock out some of the shopping that we need to do. That should be fun. Our team is awesome. It has been fun getting to know them as we have prepared, and I can't wait to work with them at the camp.

I got to meet our Serbian contact via skype last week so I have another little picture of what to expect. I know that I really can't anticipate all that the trip will be until I am actually there, but having a few little glimpses has helped me to feel a lot more confident.

Our team dinner is on Sunday and our luggage weigh-in day is Tuesday. I have a feeling the next seven days are going to fly, but I am looking forward to stepping on that plane Wednesday and opening my heart to the Serbian culture on Thursday. It's going to be awesome!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Catching a Break - or Not

I realized tonight that is has been several weeks since I have posted. Actually, I notice that each time I bring up my internet; because I have it bookmarked in an effort to remind me to update it periodically, but I am usually too busy or two distracted to do much about it.

Tonight is only slightly different. I actually logged on to get a few things off my to do list, but it is quiet. And, since I have a few minutes alone, you get to be the recipients of my ramblings. Hopefully at some point you will be blessed and I will get my head on straight. That my friend, would be a win-win. We'll see.

Lately it seems that God is determined to teach me every lesson I ever need to learn BEFORE I go on my trip. It's kind of an "if it can go wrong, it will" type scenario at our house. Jaron's class in Carmel is going really well. He has already begun to make some progress in his coordination which is really exciting for us. It is taking a ton of money in gas, and I don't know what day of the week it is most days, but I am so glad we are taking advantage of this opportunity.

Since we have started these classes:
  • Jaron has had pneumonia.
  • I have had/have bronchitis.
  • My mother has sold her house and has 60 days to find a place to live.
Add to this work, curriculum planning for the trip, planning for the trip in general and lots and lots of time on the interstate. We have lost power and had siding blow off our house during a storm. The CO detector started chirping (turned out to be only a dead battery in the power outage), and Jay has Jaron at Redi-med because he is not feeling well again, possibly due to an infection in a scrape on his knee. This has all happened in less than 14 days!

I have been reminded on numerous occasions that God is in control, and I believe that. I really do. He has given me an incredibly strong support base of people who are watching out for me and praying for me. They are amazing. They are the definition of true community, and there is no way I can ever repay them for all that they have done for me in recent days. I just really don't like being so high maintenance. I like to serve others and be there for others and encourage others. It's actually kind of hard being on the other end of the continuum.

So, as I continue to work toward my trip, and work out the final details of curriculum, and what I need to pack, and as I serve in my ministry to Eric and Journey Groups, and as I do all that I can to help my mom get herself situated, and try to be the best mom and wife I can be to the boys and to Jay, I will continue to press on. I don't know why everything happens at once, but I do know that everything happens for a reason. I may not understand it. I may not like it. But, I know there is a bigger picture.

I have a post-it on my desk. I think I blogged about it once. One of the statements is "ruin me." I kinda feel like God might be answering that prayer. He's taking away everything that says I can do this on my own, and He's asking me to trust Him and Him alone. It was a scary prayer when I contemplated it, and it is even scarier as I see it played out. This is new territory, and I think I am as frightened, if not more so, of the vulnerability that is coming out than I am of the individual situations in and of themselves.

One of my favorite passages of scripture is Philippians 3:12-14: Not that I have already attained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own, but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (ESV) I can only trust that on the other side of the finish line, I will be the woman that God has called me to be all along. And that will be worth it!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Let the Chaos Begin

This is going to be a crazy summer for our family. (Stop laughing. I know it is ALWAYS chaos with our family, but this summer there will be even MORE chaotic than most.) :)

Thanks to the prodding of a friend, we think we may have found the missing piece to Jaron's issues at school. His inner ear. We have learned that the inner ear is not only responsible for balance, it is a key element in all types of processing done by the body.

Through that same friend, we were introduced to the Minds in Motion Center for Vestibular Integration. After some initial testing, we found that Jaron has a significant visual processing issue, and while that may have been devastating news to some, it actually brought us a sense of hope. We finally have an answer, and it is an answer that makes sense with all that we know about Jaron and how he operates. And, the best part is, they do not believe that it something that we will "just have to live with" as we have been told in the past. Study after study has shown that the therapy they offer can help correct processing issues.

The drawback...the program is only offered in Carmel, Indiana and Louisville, Kentucky. Carmel is two hours from where we live, and the summer program is two hours daily for four weeks. We didn't feel it was optional though. If this is something that can help Jaron, we felt we needed to make the commitment. So, thanks to the flexibility of my boss (I told you he was the best boss in the world) and my mother-in-law's willingness to help with transportation (also a major sacrifice), we will be participating in the MiM program for the entire month of June. Keep in mind that June 30th, I leave on my missions trip for two weeks.

I am so excited about what the future holds for Jaron. I can't wait to see how his world opens up and how he develops over the summer. And, although I am not terribly excited about driving 4 hours total for a two hour class every day, I am glad that I have the opportunity and resources to do so.

It is just another reminder to me that even at times when I think I see what God is doing in my life, it is only a small part of the tapestry that He is creating. I was focused on what I sensed was a snag in the thread, but He had a plan all along. It was evident by the way this whole thing came together. It was nothing short of a God thing, and for that I am grateful. It will be a strain, no doubt, but I am trusting in God's promise that He will not give me more than I can bear in Him, and I am stepping out in faith.

I don't believe that God is a God of chaos, but I think sometimes He allows seasons of chaos so that we will learn to hold on tightly to Him amidst the storm. And, without a doubt, close to Him is the best place to be.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Shhhh. Don't tell.

Shhhh. Don't tell anyone that I am blogging. I am supposed to be working. Not on work stuff, I promise. I am supposed to be preparing for our team meeting tomorrow. Doing important stuff like looking over curriculum and memorizing the Roman's Road. I thought the Roman's road was only about 5 or 6 verses so that it fit into a cute little booklet (tract). But apparently the road is much longer an includes verses in Corinthians. (How exactly does that happen? - Probably the same way there is a verse in chapter one several verses in. Detour maybe?) I hope I don't get lost!

I also need to balance my checkbook and do a couple things on the internet. I have a weeks worth of e-mail in my in-box. I think I have actually dealt with all of it on my phone, but I haven't gotten computer savvy enough to figure out how to get my phone to tell my computer that I did. It's scary to think that my friends think I am good with technology. No, really. Scary.

I am about to get busted, I hear the rumblings of family headed for bed, but I just wanted to say "Hi." I miss doing things just for fun. Like blogging. I did however have a great time visiting with a friend tonight at the Mall. (Thanks for meeting me Amanda!) And, last night I had fun with Betsy. (Thanks Betsy!) I need to do more of that. Doing stuff just for fun! I realize it sounds like I do it a lot, but it has only picked up recently because I made it a priority. I wish I had done it sooner.

Well, I am off to tackle the Romans because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Wait...that is Philippians...must have taken a wrong turn at Corinth.) Anyway...for anyone reading these ramblings, thanks! I hope you have a great weekend and make it a priority to do something fun. It will make you smile. :)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

An Art Form I Could Live Without

"Perfectionism is insecurity as an art form." (Beth Moore)


Yesterday, I attended a Beth Moore simulcast on her new book, "So Long Insecurity - You Have Been a Bad Friend to Me." This was a huge step for me in more ways than you can imagine. First of all, I have not been a fan of Beth Moore. (I can hear the collective gasp from those familiar with her studies, but hear me out.) It's not that I wished her ill or anything evil like that. She just reminded me of another speaker whom I once watched who seemed extremely Bible-based at the time, but now is the leader of a movement that it would be safe to say is a cult. There was nothing Beth had ever said or done to make me believe that she might go down the same path. It just concerned me that they seemed so much alike, and Beth already had such a huge following. I never even gave her a chance.

It was also a huge step because I knew if I went that God would expect a response - a response that I am still not sure that I am able to give. As I listened to Beth speak, totally loving every minute of it, by the way, I saw in myself so many of the things that she shared. And, I couldn't help but be convicted by what she said, because it is my life. My conflicted life.

Beth shared that insecurity isn't an "issue", it is unbelief. And, as much as I would like to say that isn't true in my case, it really is. If I believe the Bible, and that it is the infallible word of God, then I have to believe the parts about God's love for me and about how important I am in Him. I have to believe that He has a plan and a purpose for my life, and most importantly that He created me to be who I am in order to use me for those purposes. If he created me to be who I am, why am I so insecure? Why am I so afraid of what others think?

I still don't really know the answer to that question. What I do know is when Beth said that insecurity is unbelief, I was convicted. It is one thing to say that I am insecure as a person, it is an entirely different thing to say that my life is characterized by unbelief. That is frightening.

So, while I still do not know exactly how to get past my insecurities, I know that something needs to give. The life I have been living, driven by fear, has got to stop. God has blessed me with an awesome life, an awesome family and awesome friends - and He created me to I still want to do what I do well, but I don't want it to be for the wrong reasons. And, I never want my faith to be called in to question because of my unbelief in myself.

Who knows, you might even find registered for the next Beth Moore Bible study. My friends just might be on to something big. :)