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.