Monday, January 09, 2017

What is Your Word of the Year?



For a number of years now, I have selected a word for the year as a theme. This year, I was delayed in settling on a word. Evidently I'm not alone. I have talked to several friends who said they didn't have their word of the year by January 1.

After much deliberation, my word for 2017 is grace.

"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Corinthians 12:9
 
Pastor James McDonald says:

"You never really experience the grace unless you see the need for it—and even that realization comes by grace. The power of Jesus' grace is not fully seen until weakness is fully acknowledged. The moment you are overwhelmed with your absolute helplessness is the moment you are ready to hear Jesus say, I’m all the grace you need."

Without God we'd all be sunk, in general. But there are times in your life where you desperately need something from God in increasing measure. I desperately need more grace for the days ahead and I know there is more for me.

One of my grandmother's favorite songs was, "A Very Special Grace." She listened to a recording of Pastor Dan Betzer singing it over and over again. I learned the song through being in her home and hearing it so many times.

A very special grace in times of trouble.
A very special grace, to see me through.
A very special grace, to heal my heartaches.
Now Jesus wants to give, that special grace to you.

I am thankful for His grace and have a lot of it on special order for 2017.

Grace, grace, grace, Lord.

Now, what is your word for the year?  It's not too late to choose one.


Tuesday, January 03, 2017

When You Write Something and Experience Loss as a Result



Writing about some things can cause you to lose everything, or nearly everything.

I've written a lot, and I've lost a lot.

I've also gained.

But the losses tend to stick in your mind more with anything. So we avoid loss if possible. It's called "loss aversion" and it's real.

Reading about some issues is rare simply because people are scared out of their mind about what will happen if they write openly about it. If you dare to write about some challenges in a public setting, the consequences can include loss of relationships, job, income, and a lot more.

I'm going through a challenge at this time in my life that is quite common. Although it is normal, I hear it is one of life's greatest challenges. Due to not wanting to experience further loss that what I'm already experiencing, I'm not going to share what the issue is. But I will say this. I've combed through Amazon to find even one book about it. I have surfed the internet. And there is not one book about it. Not ONE! At least that I can find, and I'm a pretty good searcher. Meanwhile, millions of people are trying to navigate the same thing I am.

How could this be?  How can millions of people struggle with something that not one person is writing about? And so I asked my wonderful assistant Erika who is also a friend I confide in, "Why is nobody writing on this? Is it not a need? Am I alone?" She responded that it's a huge need but nobody wants to write about it because they don't want to lose more than they are already losing. And she said I could probably write a bang up book about it and get a ton of readers, but also agreed -- I'd lose big time. Neither of us felt the loss was a good idea. So...

On some subjects I've written about I've "taken one for the team" so to speak and been the person who braved the inevitable loss enough to help other people. I gained a lot in catharsis and readers, and yet the losses were so painful.

I don't believe any writer is called to lose everything over and over and over again. You have to choose carefully what you risk everything for.  I've taken risks to write and I'll do it again. Just not about every subject that comes along. But here's what I want to say about this today... 

When writers take a leap of courage to write on any sensitive subject, we need to appreciate them. When a writer takes one for the team, those whose lives are changed by their writing are one of the main rewards for all the loss they inevitably face. Not the only one - but one of the biggest. So when someone writes about something that requires tremendous bravery, let them know what a difference it has made for you.

Somewhere, there is a woman at her computer right now daring to write her story about going through and overcoming the current struggle I am also facing.

She is weighing the consequences.

She desperately wants to help people.

And yet she fears the aftermath.

She is in the process of making the choice to press forward to write about it.

I can't wait to read her book.

And, I am eager to write my letter of thanks.

I hope my note of appreciation for her taking the hit for all of us who need her words will be just one reason she smiles and says, "it was worth it."





 Photo credit: Deanna Shrodes, taken at the Hemingway House in Key West. In Hemingway's writing studio.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

5 Things to Do After a Big Event


THRIVE 2016 is now over and what a time it was! I am trying to be a better leader in the area of what to do AFTER an event that I lead.  For most of my years in leadership and ministry, I would scarcely celebrate or focus at all on what just happened and would go bolting head first into the next event at 500 miles an hour. A few years ago I asked myself why. There was an urgency to get things done and get busy on the next thing. BUT, I realized I was doing myself and my team a disservice by racing into the next thing without celebrating the last thing.




This season is particularly challenging because I am leaving in two weeks with members of our team for Africa for 16 days. I feel an urgency to race ahead but I am holding myself back from doing that.

Here are five things I've found it's important to do:

1) Celebrate

I have observed that Pentecostals in particular seem to be not-so-good at this. I think part of it is the admonition that is banged into all of our heads to "give all the glory to God." Do we need to give God all the glory? Yes. We do. At the same time, God's people need to celebrate what He has done. And that includes celebrating what He has done through His people. We need to say, "Yay God!" and "Yay team!" and revel in the amazingness of what just happened. Don't rush the celebration. We were meant to enjoy God. To enjoy leading. To enjoy our team. To enjoy the results.  It's okay to get excited and go a little crazy.

2) Take time to thank people

The larger the event the more time it will take. You won't thank everyone appropriately on the last day of the event or even the day after. Take time to write notes over the week or two following the event. Post on some Facebook walls and give kudos. Text and make phone calls. Nothing outstanding happens without teamwork, so appreciate your team.



3) Rest

In years past, I got up at the crack of dawn the day after and showed up to church or the office the next day at regular time. It's getting harder and harder to do that at the speed I'm running and quite frankly it's a bad idea. So this time I made a change. Aside from two debriefings, I slept most of the time for the next 48 hours.  That was necessary to gear up for the season I'm getting ready to walk through. If you want your leadership to be for the long haul and not a sprint, this is essential.

4) Solicit feedback 

You won't sort through it all right away but start asking for it and prepare to listen and make appropriate changes. People who are afraid of feedback won’t reach their destiny. Can they be successful? Yes. But they will not reach the potential for which they were destined. If you aren't afraid of feedback and you will take it seriously, you are unstoppable. 

5) Know what's normal for this time

Do you feel a little depressed? That's normal.

Do you feel like you want to get away from people for a while? That's normal.

Do you feel a little "snappy" or irritated when people ask you for things before you've had rest? That's normal.

Take care of you, so you can gear up for the next big thing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

I Will Not Be Surprised if a Bear, A Lion or an Uncircumcised Philistine Show Up At My Office Today!



God knows my name.

And on strategic weeks like this one - the week of the THRIVE Conference,  I feel like every demon in hell knows my name too.

 Every year at this time, things come seemingly out of left field and pelt me until I feel like a wrung out dishrag. Souls are in the balance. The enemy is fighting hard. Last year at THRIVE over 50 women made decisions for Christ, several hundred women were filled with the Holy Spirit and there were too many healings to count. Believe me, satan (I refuse to capitalize the loser's name) is not happy about this. Our team has fasted for 30 days this year just as we did last year.  I am not surprised that the hordes of hell seem to know where to find me. 

Fortunately I have some prayer warriors on speed dial. There is none greater than my Dad.


My Dad and Me
My father is a person who gets up really early every morning and goes into his "prayer room." (When the movie WAR ROOM came out, I told him, "Dad there's a movie that just came out where the lead character is just like you, only she's a woman named Miss Clara...") This past year for Father's Day I got him a little "Armor of God" soldier to go in his prayer room. He loved it. He begins every day 365 days a year with bible study and prayer.  I'm really glad especially on weeks like this one that I know my Dad is diligently praying for me.

Yesterday after his early morning prayer time he sent me this message:


Deanna,

In warfare preparation is 90 % of the battle. We must think like the enemy... where is he going to hit? Where might he attack? How do I prepare for the attack? 


Elisha, David, and Joshua are three examples of the importance of preparation. When David was a lad he killed an attacking bear and lion to protect the flock. Then he heard of a 13 foot tall giant. He must have been thinking,"God helped me kill a bear and lion and he will help me kill the old uncircumcised philistine!" We have to understand new levels new devils! David was anointed three times.. a prophet, a priest, and a king! (1 Samuel 16:13, 2Samuel 2:4,  2 Samuel 5:3)

Elisha was a farmer who gave up all to follow Elijah. He was Elijah's servant. He was fully prepared and received a double portion of Elijah's anointing. Although we find ourselves in a long war, we can get stronger while at the same time, the enemy gets weaker. 1 Thessalonians 1:8 Stand fast in the Lord! We can stand because of His grace Romans 5:2. 1Corinthians 16:13 

Standing in the battle includes watching, being courageous, and being strong. 

Know God has this and YOU! 

Love Dad


 No matter what lands on my doorstep at home or work today , I know God has it and He has me.

God has you too.  I asked my Dad to pray this morning for anyone reading this who may be facing a battle today. He said he would be glad to pray last night and this morning for all of you.

Know that someone cares, and you are covered.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Everybody is Losing Something

Me with our dog, Maddie. We lost her last year.

Pick a person. Any person.

Have their name in mind?

Now, consider what they recently lost. It could be a job, a family member, a pet or a home. They may have experienced a miscarriage.  Perhaps they are staring the empty nest in the face.  Their beloved co-worker may have retired or transferred. The office will never be the same. It could be something as simple as their daily routine being lost. There is the loss of the familiar and comforting rhythm of the day. Perhaps the worst losses are sudden ones.

Everybody is facing a loss of some kind. And it's hard. Life is filled with loss after loss.

I know there are gains.

And yet there are still losses.

You say..."Well, don't focus on the losses...be positive." We need to be positive and at the same time losses still have to be processed. If we don't handle them right we can actually get sick in more ways than one.

Be kind. Everybody out there is losing something and it hurts.


Proceed today with the understanding that the whole world needs hugs and lots of them.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Apparently "It's going to be okay" is code for "You're Not Going to Die" (Unless you do and then there's a response for that as well...)




"It's going to be okay..."

This phrase has been said to all of us.

But what is "okay"?

I've come to believe it means, "You're not going to die."

Other challenging things may take place. Your body or your (emotional) heart may be crushed into a million pieces...BUT...at least you're not going to die.

Except when you die. And then people change directions. "It's okay! He/she still wins because they are with Jesus." And, "They are actually MORE than okay because now they are walking on the streets of gold," etc.

I understand why people say this. For the Christian, it's true. And at the same time, it's hard when people tell you that it's going to be okay and it doesn't feel okay, at least for a while. Maybe a long while.

That is the reality for some people at this very moment. Their pain cannot be explained away by a Hallmark card ("Everything happens for a reason...") or some Christianese. ("God never puts any more on us than we can bear...") Did you know that people actually feel the pain of depression in their body?

What would it be like if, when it's not going to be okay, people would put an arm around you, hold your hand and say, "You're right, this is going to be hard, but I'll be right here with you."

What would it be like to have someone simply hold you through the storm?

What would it be like to have someone tell you the truth no matter how painful it is, and then walk through it with you?


Saturday, October 15, 2016

When Your Problem Doesn't Budge No Matter How Hard You Work


Sometimes we face a situation that doesn't move forward not matter how hard we work. This is frustrating for a leader. (Everything can be solved by working hard, right? lol ) There are some things we can't work out - we just need to walk them out and wait them out.

This week, I came upon this quote about waiting:

"Teach us, O Lord, the disciplines of patience, for to wait is often harder than to work."  ~ Peter Marshall  

It's so true! It's much harder for me to wait than work.  I don't mind work - in fact I love it. I could work all the day long and if all my problems could have been solved by working they would have been solved long ago.

So...regarding the problems that appear stuck in the mud of life,  I have to ask, "What is to be gained in all this?" God must be accomplishing something in me during the wait. It is the Word of God, so I believe it and...for my own sanity I believe it.

Whatever it is that I'm supposed to learn - may I learn it as quickly as possible.

I come into agreement with the psalmist who said, "I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage. Wait for the Lord!" Psalm 27:13-14

My heart goes out today to anyone reading this who has worked tirelessly on a problem that will not budge. I pray that God does His work quickly, that you learn what you must, and that the problems are opportunities that open marvelous doors. 


Monday, September 12, 2016

Leaders: These Two Things Matter a Lot!


1) People are the way they are for a reason.
2) People are where they are for a reason.

These are two principles you can count on.

Some people may disagree with me and say, "But what about grace and mercy? Doesn't that have an affect on the way people are or where they are?" I've taken that into account with these two principles. 

Regarding #1............

Watch others closely and you will discover why people are the way they are. Particularly if you observe their passion, you will find out. For instance, I'm really passionate about leadership health. Anyone who talks to me for more than about five minutes about leadership will find that out. Dig deeper and you'll discover that my parents were/are both leaders in the church whose marriage crumbled in dysfunction. That affected me in a big way and now leadership health is something I'm relentless about. I want leaders to be healthy personally, behind closed doors so that they can have a God-honoring family and make the biggest impact on the world.

Observe people and you'll see...there's an underlying reason why they are the way they are.

Regarding #2............

People are where they are for a reason.  Because of the amazing grace and mercy of God, we don't always get what we deserve for the choices we have made. There are times we don't bear the full ramifications for what we do. However - what we repeatedly choose to do matters. Daily habits matter. (Everything from punctuality to reliability to using wisdom with our finances.) Small daily decisions make a big impact.
 
If you have made wrong choices, no matter how far you have veered off from God's plan the moment you make the right choice, He starts orchestrating things on your behalf to bring you to where you are supposed to be.

However -- it is undeniable that daily choices matter. What we choose to repeatedly do or not do has an effect on where we end up. 

Keeping these two principles in mind, we would all do well to ask ourselves what we are repeatedly doing.

The opportunities that will come our way in life and responsibility and trust we are given is greatly determined by what we repeat.


Thursday, September 08, 2016

What Do You Think You Don't Need?




Before we left for our recent vacation I was perusing Amazon, purchasing a few books to put on to my Kindle. I came across a book that lots of friends had recommended and my immediate thought was, "that's not for me." For some reason I was convinced that all the advice this author gives couldn't possibly apply to me in my current season.

 It's a good thing I had second thoughts and bought the book anyway. Here's something to think about. Whatever it is that you think you don't need in many cases is EXACTLY what you need. Whatever you think couldn't possibly apply to you is EXACTLY what applies to you many times. Whatever you think you don't need to talk about is EXACTLY what you need to talk about.

Whatever it is that you are resisting so hard...it's probably long overdue for you to do something about.

 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Are You Open or Closed? (Your Future Depends On It!)

"I'm about to say something..." my assistant Erika said apprehensively, as if to warn me of something I didn't want to hear. What followed was something she thought I needed to hear for my own good. She was right, but I would have been fine with her telling me long before this conversation we had last week.

"You could have already told me that! Why didn't you speak up sooner?" I said.

She was relieved.


After letting her know I was grateful for the input and was going to change things, I became concerned that maybe there was a deeper issue. I thought maybe Erika thought she couldn't tell me the things I need to hear. So I brought it up again later saying, "Did you not think you could tell me that?" She said she did feel that she could tell me things like this without a problem, but she appreciated the conversation.

Andy Stanley says that leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say. I believe that's true.

An important point to make is that it isn't wise to listen to just anyone. Wrong voices lead to wrong choices. It is prudent to choose well and then listen to those who surround us. If we are wise we will listen not only the people who lead us or those with authority -- but those who work with us and for us.

Erika and I have had some deep conversations about what various people's lives would look like if they were truly open to hearing what about them needs to change. What would a person's potential be if they were willing to hear about any weakness or blind spot without offense? What could their future look like if they stripped themselves of insecurity and pride and allowed someone to speak into their life and then made a change?

I made some significant changes last week due to Erika and another leader in my inner circle speaking into my life. I'm better for it today. My only hope is that next time they tell me sooner so I can listen sooner! What about you?