Sunday, December 31, 2006


Leviticus 26:9-11 " 'I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you. You will still be eating last year's harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new." 

Here is the final word from the Lord for me in these last hours of 2006. I need to be packing for vacation and cleaning but I simply had to reflect for a few moments on closing out the 2006 year. If there's anything I want to close my year out with, it's writing. Because, WHAT A YEAR IT HAS BEEN. If every year was like oh my.

We have been so blessed. What a year of harvest. The final count at the church is 122 souls saved for 2006. We had a salvation and one rededication this morning in service. And onward we go. Of course the most important thing has been salvations, however there has been so much MORE. I see blessings in my family, in our church families, in our church as a whole. In my life personally...I could just go on and on with pages and pages of the blessing of God.

This verse describes where I'm at perfectly. God has poured favor upon us. He has made us fruitful and increased our numbers. So here we are still eating last year's harvest and God is saying, "MAKE ROOM, I'VE GOT A BUNCH MORE!!!"

It was prophesied a few years ago that we would have "a ridiculous harvest at the church..." and more recently it was prophesied one night that we were getting ready for a Holy Ghost Tsunami in our church. I've never forgotten his message and the Word he had at the conclusion of the service for the church. It was really powerful. That night I had a migraine and felt as sick as a dog however I pushed through it and hung on to every word he said because it was so powerful I didn't want to miss a thing. At one point I was basically laying across Larry's chest during the service because I was so sick but I just HAD TO BE THERE. God was speaking to us so mightily. Then after the service at the back table, the evangelist said, "I have a word for you personally, but didn't want to give it during the service..." and he went into some stuff he said God was ready to download in my life in this next year. GOOD STUFF. I can't wait.

Great things are in store. At the same time I know the enemy is not happy. New level, new devil. Every time we take a surge forward, Larry and I need to brace ourselves for cancelling the enemy's next assignment. What a butthead he is. He actually thinks Larry and I are going to get discouraged enough to quit at times. You think after 20 years he would know to leave us alone. We're never giving up or giving in.

This past year so many milestones happened. God gave us a dream team staff. I blog on here ad nauseum about it so I'll stop there on the staff issue for now. (Operative phrase: for now.) I turned 40 this year. Reclarified my life, my personal mission, vision, core values, and life goals. I read Jim Denney's book a few weeks before my birthday, with tears streaming down my face and realized all over again why I've personally been put on the planet. My family greatly prospered this year. By this, I mean in all things but particularly spiritually. I can't thank the Lord enough for how far my boys have come and a large part of that is the leadership he has provided. For this I am ever grateful. To have kids who love the Lord? Nothing is greater. Larry and I prospered in our marriage this year. We are in our 20th year and crazier about each other than ever. How much better does it get than THAT? So much to be thankful for. On top of all that, God gave us the greatest missionfield ever, and the greatest church family ever.

This is the first year in forever that we haven't had a new year's eve party. But I knew with getting ready for the trip it was unwise. To do it like I like to (up right), AND get it cleaned up properly, AND get packed properly -- would have been insane. So, here we are on a quiet night, just waiting for Matt and Linds to eventually come over after the see they ball drop at their party.

Every time we go away somewhere, I have the last ceremonial "enjoying of my house and neighborhood." It sounds crazy, but being home is my greatest relaxation most times because I've made it a haven. I work hard, but I come home to a life I have created which gives me the downtime I need.

Despite having little sleep last night I woke up extra early to sit on my back patio and drink my coffee this morning while the sun was coming up. I just didn't want to miss it. So I got a shower, put on my bathrobe, got my coffee, went out on my swing and watched the sun come up while I talked to the Lord about the morning service and how glad I was to start my day with him. Moving right along we had a great day at church. Went to Moe's with a bunch of people for lunch and I realized once more how much I'll miss them all while I'm away...but this trip is necessary for my family and for me.

Dropped Savannah D. off at her house after lunch and came home to get in my exercise clothes and leave on my bike. I decided to stay out a long time since it's my last time for a week. I didn't want to come home it was so wonderful, but when I saw the street lights coming on, I knew it was time. :-) I listened to some new worship stuff I loaded on my mp3 while riding with the exception of listening to Frank Sinatra's "Come Fly With Me" at one point. So the last ceremonial bike ride of 2006 and for the next week is...done. Pastor Lindsay and I will be doing our workouts at the resort now in TN, and we WILL be faithful with it. Let me tell you, after this coming year, people will not be singing, "Don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?" but instead they'll change their tune to, "Don't you wish your pastor was hot like mine?" (ha ha!) 

On that note, I'd better quit while I'm ahead...

It's been a phenomenal 2006 and I can hardly wait to see what God has in store for the coming year. I sense Him lining things up for something RIDICULOUS!

Ten things that will NEVER change about me

Times change. Seasons change. Feelings change. But some things NEVER DO. Okay, so scripture tells us that the Word of God will never change, never fade away. Most things in this life you can't count on staying the same, in fact very few things. However today I'd like to share with you ten things about me that will NEVER CHANGE.

1) I love Jesus with my life, not just my heart. A lot of people can say they love something/someone with their whole heart, but does what they do with their life reflect it?

2) If I say I'll be somewhere, I'll be there. (If not, call 911 because something is REALLY wrong, such pulse has stopped. )

3) If I commit to do something, count on it. (Again, the 911 rule applies)

4) I'll always like pink.

5) I'll always savor my coffee and tea. (Not just in the morning but pretty much all the time.)

6) Writing to me is as essential as breathing.

7) Sunday School is a close runner up to that. If I couldn't write or teach Sunday School, I wouldn't want to live. (Yes, I'm serious.)

8) I love snuggling with my family.

9) If I don't show up at church...again there's that 911 thing. Either call 911 or come visit me at University Community Hospital. I either need an ambulance or that's where I already am if you don't see me, other than my official vacation time. (Which btw, I always go to church on vacation as well. Great opportunity to see what's going on in other houses! We already have our church picked out for this vacation...and I'm so excited. Looks like a great innovative place. (I'll let you know how it goes.) By the way, if I do happen to miss church and I'm in the hospital for some reason and not on vacation, please bring me some food. I would like that more than flowers. Make it some "sinless cake batter ice cream" from Coldstone or something like that. As I am rarely sick, this may only cost you about $4.00 or so (five bucks at most) every decade or something like that for each time I get sick. (Thank you, in advance.) 

10) I get knocked down, but I get up again. (hey, somebody should write a song about that!) :-)

Invincible future

"You shall not go out with haste . . . ." As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, forgetful delight, nor with the quickness of impulsive thoughtlessness. But let us go out with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us. Our yesterdays hold broken and irreversible things for us. It is true that we have lost opportunities that will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past rest, but let it rest in the sweet embrace of Christ. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Leave the broken, irreversible past in His hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him.--

Just starting this last morning of 2006. It's 6:45 and I'm just quieting myself here with a cup of coffee getting ready to leave for church. And, getting ready to step into the invincible future.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The path

Proverbs 4:18 says, "The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn that shines brighter and brighter until the full day."

I know my path was planned ahead of time by God but I sure wish he would have told me about my schedule today last night. I planned on being at home ALL DAY doing nothing but getting ready for tomorrow's service (last minute stuff) and then cleaning and packing. No dice. But that's alright, I am used to leaping tall buildings in a single bound. Remember, it's all about keeping the plates spinning, and balls juggling! THIS I know how to do.

Larry and Jordan had the men's golf tourney. Larry's team won which happens most times. Jordan did real good though. He's talented no matter what sport he tries. Got a call late afternoon to pick up Dustin from work...and to take him and Savanna for haircuts. Basically this took me 1/2 my day once I got on the road. But that's alright. Somehow despite being gone half the day, and not getting home til' almost 5...everything will be ready. See photos from golf outing and kids new haircuts, above. 

I'm so excited for vacation I can hardly stand it!!!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Life is good here

It was a beautiful day in Tampa today. Wednesday it was so cold I wore my leather coat all the way through our dinner out. Today it was so hot I wore shorts and a tank top. Upon coming home from riding my bike I couldn’t wait to get in a cool shower. I got all cleaned up and picked out some more summer clothes to wear. Here I am – above - sitting on my back patio on my swing. Also a couple of pics with Larry and Savanna by the lake in our backyard.

We still had more returns to do tonight from Christmas. Returns and exchanges – after tonight they are OVER! I needed to take my Mp3 back before vacation to make sure I had enough tunes/podcasts to last me for a 10 hour ride plus exercising in the workout room. Also had to return Savanna’s sneakers and get a bigger size. She is a LADIES 7 and ½ now. That’s unbelievable to me for her age. She’s the tallest in the class and she also has larger feet to go along with it. All this means…she may just be the next Tyra Banks? Who knows. I tell her, it’s good to be tall. We spent more of our Christmas money from family/friends and I got a pair of killer jeans. Savanna says, “Momma, you’re in the juniors section again…” (Shhhhh…don’t tell anybody, I usually shop there…the clothes are much more exciting.)

I made a big pot of soup today and had it simmering on the stove most of the day today. Larry wanted to use one of our gift certificates we got for Christmas though, and go out while we were out doing returns and exchanges. It was just him, SR and me. The boys are still off on their jaunts with their friends. And now it’s back home again for a quiet evening, still washing loads of clothes, getting packed, sharing meals, cleaning house as we go along, and spending time together.

Life is good here in Tampa, Florida.

Unashamedly Resting

"Wow, that's a lotta rest you're getting there, Pastor Deanna..."

Yep, you're right. I'm unabashedly, unashamedly...RESTING. (Except for services this week, and any emergencies...and, knock on wood, we haven't had any emergencies this week so far.) For those reading who have never been aware of what we do here at NS this husband and I close the office down from December 26 until January 2. Staffers only have to come in and be prepared for regularly scheduled services, necessities that can't wait like bank deposits, etc., and we are also on call 24/7 for emergencies. It is not our actual "vacation time" because we still prepare for and do services and "must do paper work" or things like our ezines, plus we stay on call. The only difference is, we don't keep office hours. But it's a wonderful gift we all have, to move at a slow pace and be home with our families, excepting these other few mandatory things. It's always a week we all cherish. When there are no emergencies, it's just awesome. Even with emergencies, it's usually not too bad because even one of those sometimes only takes a few hours to attend to depending on what it is.

This year is especially awesome for our family & Pastors Matt & Lindsay, because we're going on vacation together on the heels of this week. Yippee!!! We are going to take one of our actual "away" vacation weeks and go to Tennessee where we are going to play in the snow and spend time in the mountains. For anybody planning to toilet paper my yard or anything while I'm away, just know that Pastor Aaron and Geena the Wonder Dog will be living here and guarding it 24/7! :-) But back to down time...

Oh how great it is. Today I slept in and my darling Larry brought me breakfast in bed. Now, how much better does it get than that? The boys are visiting with friends 24/7, either having them here or going over to their houses. Steven (above with Dustin) has been living here a lot this week, which is always nice. Savanna (above pic of her just a few minutes ago) is getting ready to go ice skating in about 15 minutes with her friend, Savannah D. (We always have to call her Savannah D. to distinguish the two...they are in the same class and I imagine the teachers have a challenge too since they are always together....Savanna S., Savannah D., and Winter. What a beautiful name!)

I think today I'm going to work out (hey, I've lost 4 pounds since Christmas day! I told you, I got saved again, alright?!!!) and maybe even ride my bike at least an hour. I have to go take my Mp3 back that I got for Christmas. It won't work. Bummer. I have to hurry and get another one b/c is makes my workout so much faster. I'm going to start listening to podcast sermons while I ride my bike each morning. I can't wait!!!

I have been packing for TN for 2 days now. Why? It's going to be a challenge with the luggage restriction Larry has given us. I'm packing, re-packing, re-deciding what I'm going to take. I actually don't have many winter clothes at all. I got rid of 99.9% of them when I moved here. But the issue is, just two sweatshirts takes up a major amount of room in my suitcase along with all the other stuff I want to take. Winter stuff just takes up so much room. Another reason I'm glad I moved to Florida. Oh how blessed we are.

Oh how blessed I am for this time, to be unashamedly RESTING!
When we get back it's gonna take off like a rocket, this 2007 year. So I'm trying to gear up all I can. What a fabulous year this is going to be. If last year is any indication...we're headed for something miraculous. I am blessed with THE most beautiful place to live, THE greatest church family in the world, THE most awesome staff ever, and I live with four people I love more than anything in the world. Sometimes you have to take a serious rest, even with all that.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

I really hope...

I really hope our church keeps growing next year at the same clip it is now!
I really hope I reach my next weight loss goal.

I really hope Whitney Houston really goes through with her divorce from Bobby Brown.

I really hope Cold Stone Creamery keeps their "sinless cake batter" flavor. (it wasn't there last week. WHAT'S UP WITH THAT?)

I really hope my husband stays on weight watchers with me. (He's doing so well. He was a fine man before...but look at him now!) 

I really hope I can be a part of changing many lives in this coming year.

I really hope to be in the best shape of my life in 2007.

I really hope I get enough sleep with Dustin having his own car and all now.

I really hope I make some major strides in writing this year.

I really hope Rosie O'Donnell gets fired from The View and any other network show where America has to put up with seeing her face or hearing her anymore.

I really hope Sawyer and Kate stay together on Lost. If either one gets killed off, I just won't watch it anymore.

I really hope I can personally help more people cross the line of faith this year.

I really hope I can stick closely to my life's mission and vision this year and not be distracted by things the enemy puts in my path.

I really hope the time I'm taking off this year energizes and revitalizes me for a fantastic working year.

I really hope things on staff keep going the same. What a banner year!

I really hope everyone in my life knows how much I really do love them.

I really hope...for so much more. What can I say, I'm a person who believes, hope is not lost!

I got saved again today

Today in My Utmost for His Highest (Oswald Chambers):

" . . . unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven —Matthew 18:3

"These words of our Lord refer to our initial conversion, but we should continue to turn to God as children, being continuously converted every day of our lives. If we trust in our own abilities, instead of God’s, we produce consequences for which God will hold us responsible. When God through His sovereignty brings us into new situations, we should immediately make sure that our natural life submits to the spiritual, obeying the orders of the Spirit of God. Just because we have responded properly in the past is no guarantee that we will do so again. The response of the natural to the spiritual should be continuous conversion, but this is where we so often refuse to be obedient. No matter what our situation is, the Spirit of God remains unchanged and His salvation unaltered. But we must "put on the new man . . ." (Ephesians 4:24 ). God holds us accountable every time we refuse to convert ourselves, and He sees our refusal as willful disobedience. Our natural life must not rule— God must rule in us."

Ah yes, letting God rule in me. This is the story of my life. I'm getting saved every day. I am "working out my salvation" as the scripture says, and trust me, this is quite a work for me. Was I already saved? Yes, but every day I have to make a renewed commitment to living this way. Because when anything in my life is stressful or not working...I want to give rule to something else that is so much a part of my natural self, like emotional eating or perfectionism. I know this is a process of me being "continually converted" to be more like Him and less like that carnal part of myself.

Like Oswald said, "Just because we have responded properly in the past does not mean we will do so again." How well I know that. Take eating last week, for instance. I had several days of doing just the right things -- doing all that was good for me. Then again I had a day where I ate a Johnny Rocket's burger. A day where I had a piece of pumpkin pie (yes, it was Christmas, but still...), a day where I ate some pure out junk, like regular potato chips. Okay, so I'm getting saved from that all over again. :-) Some people might laugh at that, but I'm serious. This for me is a very spiritual issue. Either the Lord rules in you, or He doesn't. Many times in my life 7-Eleven ruled. Seriously. I was addicted to Slurpees. Friends laughed hysterically the other day when I confessed to them that one time I ate an entire BOX (yes BOX) of Sam's chocolate one sitting! Why? Stress. But no matter. Does the Lord rule over stress, or do Sam's eclairs? That is the question. In the past, whatever happened to be in front of me at the time ruled. If nothing particular was in front of me, I would plan what I would get in front of me next.

Well, as I said, here I go, it's December 28, and I am saved once again for another day. And I'm on to my next weight goal, and my next life goals. These are not just pipe dreams for me...I've seen quite a few of my goals come true these last few years.

It really helps in achieving your goals if you decide to get saved every day.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Day

The best part of Christmas day for me is...relaxing. Having a little bit of time off. I love work, but the older I get and the more I work the more I grow to value down time.

When my kids were babies, they never slept. They were up every hour or two for the first few years of their life. We never slept it seemed. Now they are making up for lost time. They all LOVE to sleep and I'm so glad about that. For the past few years we have had to wake them up and say, "Aren't you wanting to come get your Christmas presents?" It's not that they don't love Christmas, they just also really love to sleep.

We didn't get rolling on opening Christmas gifts til' 9 and we took it slow and enjoyed it. The kids were very surprised at everything and have been sharing with their friends all day about their presents. I made their favorite sweet rolls and they ate them sitting around the Christmas tree opening their things while I sat on my rocker and drank my tea. I never thought I would come to the point in my life where just rocking by the Christmas tree drinking tea would seem so wonderful to me, but it truly is. So much of my life is fast paced that a day like this? Heaven!

Steven's here already as usual. :-) He really might as well be Steven Shrodes. Interesting that we almost named Dustin Steven!!! I don't think we've ever told him that. We were going to name him that because Larry's Mom's side of the family are the Stevenson's. But then I liked The name Dustin so much we went with it rather than a family name.
Well, I've got to get going...I'm so busy -- relaxing and loving it!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

'Twas the night before Christmas...

at the Shrodes home! And I'm so excited, I can hardly stand it!!!
We had a great day in the house this morning at church. A packed house, and we have added 90 more chairs to the sanctuary in just the past year. It's amazing. God is so good! We are getting ready to break through our next attendance barrier.

Tonight was Christmas Eve communion. It was much nicer with five staff couples, we had three communion stations, one couple greeting, and one got to take a break every 30 minutes. So we all had 2 and 1/2 hours of serving, and 1/2 hour rest. It was good because standing and serving that long can get difficult on your feet, especially dressed up.

After praying and taking communion together as a staff, we exchanged gifts with those who couldn't go to dinner with us, then went to dinner with the rest and exchanged more.

So we headed home and I've been putting the finishing touches on everything for tomorrow morning. As I can't wake up to any mess without being depressed, I cleaned anything that was out of sorts. Made the breakfast rolls for in the morning (the kids favorite) and Larry got all the stockings out. We rearranged the furniture in the living room and got everything ready for morning. Oh yes, we did let the kids open one gift tonight. Dustin didn't care about it and wanted to talk to his friends on the internet, so I'm certainly not going to force him to open a gift... pretty interesting when your kids will give up gifts to talk to a friend. (must be some friend!) Savanna opened up her Mr. Potato Head, and Jordan opened up his Superman hat. Then they watched the Little Drummer Boy while I finished up the last few things. I can't wait for them to open the rest of their things in the morning. How surprised they are going to be!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A few of my favorite things

I need to sit down and blog just to give my legs a rest. A few minutes ago I sat in the jacuzzi for about 20 min. I have literally been standing/walking all day, getting the cooking, church work, and housework done. I have cooked several meals...and I am still not done. Waiting for the next load of laundry to get done so I can finish getting the boys clothes ready for church. 

Oh well, that 20 minutes was absolutely delightful. Larry had Chris Botti on the CD in the jacuzzi for me. When I was done I sat on my swing to dry off and our sliding door was open and I could smell the pumpkin pie I was baking, and I could hear the Amy Grant Christmas special in the family room. I sat there looking at the lights and swinging on my swing and just thought, "what a beautiful night." Thank you, Lord! While there I just took time to talk to Him about tomorrow's service.

Jordan bought Savanna a dress for Christmas and gave it to her today because he wanted her to wear it tomorrow for church. How sweet. Once she got it on I realized she did not have the proper things to wear under it, however I happened to have the perfect thing for her underneath the tree. So, I pulled it out and gave it to her, which she got all excited about. We had a little pre-Christmas excitement around here today. I can hardly wait for Christmas day. Larry and I have some HUGE surprises for the kids!!! I love giving!!! I can barely stand to wait another second. I love seeing my kids open stuff. 

Tonight for dinner I made pistachio encrusted baked chicken breast. No one wanted it but me (can you believe that?) Steven was here for dinner again tonight and he wanted it, so I wasn't totally alone. They boys thought he was just being nice in taking a piece. I had also made butter baked chicken as well (I tried to re-create Cracker Barrel's recipe but I don't think I came close). Everyone else ate that. I guess I will be making the other for me when I'm by myself some night. 

Well, I have basically just been cleaning, cooking and then cleaning and cooking again today, but it was a beautiful day. These are a few of my favorite things: 

1) The smell of pumpkin pie

2) A clean bathroom 

3) Clean sheets on the bed. I sleep so soundly every time we change them, which for me I wish could be every single day but just don't have the time.

4) New books! Just got one I ordered from Amazon today. You know, I keep telling myself, "STOP GETTING BOOKS. IT'S CHRISTMAS TIME, YOU SHOULD BE SCRIMPING." What can I say, I am ADDICTED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was only an $8.00 book, alright?

5) Forensic Files (did I mention, that is my FAVORITE show?) Second runner up is Today's Detectives with Dayle Hinman. What an awesome woman. She and Nancy Grace are two heroes of mine. I love how they stay onto a criminal like a bulldog until they get them!!!

6) A clean kitchen floor. Larry is scrubbing it right now. A man is SO sexy when they do things like this!!! At least I think so. Somebody 20 years old probably would never understand that, but trust me, to someone married 20 years? Your husband scrubbing the floor is definitely in the romance category.

7) Bath tea bags. Just tried one for the first time yesterday. It was pretty cool.

8) The Message Bible. I know, you either hate it or love it, but I definitely love it.
9) A few days where I have totally eaten right - like the last few. I feel so good.

10) New folders. I got my new folders for the year and I'm so excited! (I get colorful new ones for work every new year and I like them bold and fun.)

Can't wait to see what God has up His sleeve for tomorrow. My legs have rested enough now, it's time to get up and start cleaning again for the last few hours before bed. G'night

Do you pray more than you think you do?

I had to investigate this thought recently when reading a book, Confessions of a Pastor by Craig Groeschel. He didn't talk about Pentecostals in the book, however I began to think about it from the viewpoint of my experience. Often I have leaned toward the thought that if you're really praying you are on your face before God, deep in fervent prayer and intercession, not multi-tasking, not doing anything else, just going after God 100% to the exclusion of everything else. Now I'm not so sure...

Oh, don't mistake, I think that's still important! And obviously especially as a Pentecostal pastor, I want to spend times doing just that. But I realize I have been too hard on myself about the amount of time I spend in prayer. Prayer, Groeshcel reminds us, is simply communicating with God - talking to Him. I do that all throughout my day. I ask Him constantly what to do about things, how to proceed, what to say to people. When somebody is talking to me, I try to listen to their heart but at the same time I'm saying, "God, show me right now what they need..." When I'm unsure, I instinctively turn to Him. When I have a creative burst, I realize it's from Him. I start talking to Him about all the details that start forming in my mind. I talk to Him in the car, while I'm walking, on my bike, in the shower, sometimes yes, when others are talking to me, I'm tuned out to them and tuned in to God. 

Because I was doing something else all those times, I never considered it prayer, but instead to just be microbursts of conversation with God that didn't really amount to anything significant, but just a routine sort of thing. I now realize, what usually takes place - most of the biggest things that have happened in my life spiritually have often come out of those microbursts throughout my day with God, and not what He tells me when I'm laying with my face in the carpet, interceding.

I think if most Christians looked at this aspect of their lives, they might also be set free to realize, they pray a lot more than they think they do, because prayer is simply having a conversation with God. And lots of people do that each and every day although they may not be doing "carpet time" as some call it, or going to a prayer meeting. That's a freeing thought, it really is.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Be still my soul

Psalm 116:7 (msg) "I said to myself, "Relax and rest. God has showered you with blessings. Soul, you've been rescued from death; Eye, you've been rescued from tears; And you, Foot, were kept from stumbling." 

I am SO ready for some vacation time, I can't even adequately express it with words. It has been a physically and emotionally exhausting few months. Fortunately, most things are lining up as far as getting work done that I'll be able to really do that. As far as "Christmas" it shouldn't be so difficult, for any of us, but let's face it, many times it is! Although it's about the Lord, it's also evolved in our culture to be something where certain expectations are there, even aside from the gifts, as far as gathering with people, entertaining, doing all sorts of things. People talk about the commercialization but for me it's more than that that sometimes overwhelms me, it's the activities that I have to be prepared for each time. And I feel like not doing those things is kind of "Scroogy" so I just do them. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy a lot of it, but there are a few overwhelming moments at times. 

I got the rest of the Christmas shopping done today, entirely. Larry and I were out, separately - all day. We met up for lunch and dinner, that was it. And we literally were out, he with Dustin, me with Savanna, from morning to night. FINALLY. 

I got to a point standing in a mega line in Wal-mart where I just said, "that's it, not another moment of this once I get out of here..." and I'm...finished. 

Came home and Steven was here to spend the night with the boys. I made them all a fried chicken dinner once I got home, and amazingly didn't even desire to eat any of it. Just doesn't appeal to me like it used to. Wrapped all the gifts and organized them (yes, I organize gifts in sections...they have to be "just right..." which my family thinks is funny. If they put something out I say, "no, no, no...that's not the section it goes in...") I know, I know...obsessive compulsive? Perhaps just a little... It sort of goes along with my habit of straightening salt, pepper, and sugar dispensers on restaurant tables, and straightening pictures in public places. I just can't deal with something out of place. There is divine order to things. Well, maybe not divine order to everything, but...order. 

After cooking, wrapping and cleaning I also did some organizing of my papers and stuff and then went to get my bathing suit on to sit in the jacuzzi but since it's pouring down rain I think I need to just go take my suit off and get in my bathtub with one of these new "bath tea's" that someone gave me for Christmas. They are very intriguing. I guess it's sort of a new kind of aromatherapy. (which I love!) 

It was a packed day, but now it's time to truly...REST, body, mind and soul.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Gift of Christ-Mass

Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 (msg) Seize life! Eat bread with gusto, Drink wine with a robust heart. Oh yes—God takes pleasure in your pleasure! Dress festively every morning. Don't skimp on colors and scarves. Relish life with the spouse you love Each and every day of your precarious life. Each day is God's gift. It's all you get in exchange For the hard work of staying alive. Make the most of each one!

All of the gifts are wrapped...except mine! Larry will do those whenever he wants. After making supper tonight and eating together, I decided to wrap everything left til' I was done while the guys were cleaning the kitchen. I got it all done and feel so much better. I do have some more things to buy for Jordan and Larry tomorrow, but I will come right home and wrap those and be done, done, done, done, done. Yee-ha!!! I love Christmas time, but I do stress a little bit until all the preparations are done. I'm just a "list" type person who has a little angst until everything is checked off of the list.  But despite that I do want to do as this scripture says about seizing life...taking pleasure in it...dressing festively (I like that part!)...and not skimping on colors and scarves (hey, goes right along with my philosophy that a person's least favorite color should be beige!!!) And relishing the spouse I love (I really like that one!) Yes, every day IS God's gift.  Today was a time of getting stuff done in preparation for time off. The price of time off is working real hard beforehand. I never did get all my work done today, and had to do more tonight as far as preparing a teaching, a power point presentation, and now I think I am all set for my down time! I will take the computer w/me on vacation to use in the car. I think very well there and write many of my messages, articles, and even books in the car on long trips. I usually do a major project or edit every time we go to Ft. Lauderdale. I am able to shut everything out in the car (I wear headphones if I have to) and I just block everything out, get out my Bible, get in the zone, and start creating under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Although I write on the computer in the car while on vacation I always make a point not to actually work once we get there, and enjoy the time off, for my sake, my marriage sake, and my family's sake.  We had a talk tonight at the dinner table about Christmas and the real meaning of it. Everyone needs to be reminded time and again of the real meaning of Christmas. Yesterday when talking to Rob Schenck, he said to me, "Merry Christ-Mass." I said, "to you too!" and he said that he has to say that to remind everyone around him there on Capitol Hill what the celebration is all about. They say to him, "What? What's that?" And he says, "Why do you think it's called Christmas? Because it's "Christ-Mass." Now if I can only get the kids to remember that as well.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

This miraculous gift of life!

Romans 3:21-24 (msg) The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we've compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we're in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.

I was sharing with an unchurched person the other day and gave them this verse, in this version. The miraculous gift - the pure gift - is Him and the LIFE he offers to us. Why anyone would not want it, I cannot understand. I am incapable of living this glorious life without Him, for He not only GAVE me this life I'm living, but He makes it POSSIBLE for me to continue every day, no matter what comes my way! How blessed I am to have not only eternal life, but to have HIS FAVOR upon my life right now.

It was a busy day today. I probably should stop writing that on my blogs because quite truthfully, it's a busy day in my life everyday. So that is just a given. I had the hardest time getting up this morning because last night I had a slight headache and took a Tylenol PM to go to sleep, and it didn't quite wear off before morning. I stood in the shower forever trying to wake up. A mega strong coffee finally jolted me into getting to work successfully. (That's what everyone wants to hear, that their pastor sometimes survives on drugs. Ha ha!) Right now I am working both at the office and at home on getting 3 weeks of work done in a week. This is so we (all of us on staff) can take some extra time with our families at Christmas and just be on call for emergencies, and also my family will take some vacation time after that. necessitates having 3 weeks of my stuff done in advance.

Talked to Rob Schenck today and booked him for 2007. Can't wait to have him come again. He had called Larry and I yesterday just to wish us a Merry Christmas. He had been on my heart the last few weeks actually so I was real glad he called. When I got ahold of him today he said, "I need to get down there to Tampa...I'm suffering from Shrodes deprivation." (He's so funny!) What a good friend he has been to us over the years and he tells us we're the same to him, and what an honor.

I had lunch with Sue today as well. We had our last lunch of 2006 today - just wanted to squeeze another one in. We met at Jason's Deli and caught up on everything. Susan gave me a beautiful basket of things at church tonight - a Christmas gift she has been working on for me for TWO MONTHS. You know when somebody's compiling a two month Christmas present it's gotta be some gift! It amazes me how God gives me the desires of my heart. So many things in that basket, I've either run out of (make up supplies) or, they were just "wants" I had thought about...that I now have thanks to her gift! I really believe some people are spirit led in their gift giving. It's amazing.

After church I had a quick practice, but Larry and the boys and Pastor T and his family went to the Rocky Movie. Savanna and I took Shelby home. We had a nice talk with her on the way home. We then came home and I started wrapping gifts for a while I'm tired out and SR took over and started wrapping. She is a tremendous help in doing this. I remember two years in particular we were up ALL NIGHT wrapping on Christmas eve and that was soooooo not fun. It was awful. I said, "never again." I try to wrap early but I run out of time. Now if I can only keep her quiet about what's in the packages! 

Tomorrow is my last day in the office before Christmas. So much to do, so little time. But fortunately I can also work from home which I often do, to finish up everything. And even greater than that ~ I have the power of the Holy Spirit to help me.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Why I don't lay on the floor and eat popcorn with just anyone...

Proverbs 22:11 God loves the pure-hearted and well-spoken; good leaders also delight in their friendship. (msg)

It always amazes me how some don't understand why pastors spend the most time with people who support them. Sometimes in leadership you encounter jealous or offended people who don't understand. They say, "Why isn't the leader spending all this time with ME that he or she spends with others? Why am I not invited to do more things with them?"

Could it be that the pastor has chosen to spend the most time with leaders they can actually trust?

I think of how Moses backed away from his detractors when they became disloyal. The detractors didn't understand it. Why was Moses backing away? It wasn't rocket science or anything. Leaders tend to spend more time on people who allow themselves to be led, and are pure-hearted, and...speak well of them.

I'm not currently dealing with this, although I have at times over the years. I was reading Proverbs 22 tonight and it drew my attention to the subject. I am blessed to have people around me who are true supporters and few I would describe as detractors. I am so thankful for that. I also desire to live a righteous life and be a leader worthy of respect.

Years ago there was a lady in the church who became angry that I spent time with various leaders in the church and not with her. One reason I didn't spend a lot of time with her was because she was negative about everything. She spoke badly about Larry and I behind our backs and tried to undermine at every turn. It wasn't that we disagreed. Disagreement or seeing things differently isn't an issue or a problem. That's to be expected. Creating division in the church is an issue, however.

She ended up confronting me about the fact that she heard that I gathered with some of our leaders and did fun things outside of services. Among those activities was watching funny movies at our house, laying around on the floor eating popcorn and laughing. She said, "I want to do that! Why haven't you asked me to join you?" I said, "There's a problem. You aren't for me, and I'm aware of it. You aren't supportive of Pastor and me, and you are trying to create division in the church. Why would I want to have you over to the house, lay on the floor and eat popcorn and watch movies with you?"

She was shocked that I had the nerve to confront it. But still, she didn't grasp it. She never apologized. She only justified her divisive actions. She never said,"No, I don't feel that way about you, Pastor Deanna..." or, "I'm not trying to hurt you..." perhaps because she knew I was right and could produce witnesses who could testify to her undermining. Despite her behavior, she continued to believe it was wrong of me not to spend the time with her that I spent with others, who were truly for us. And she ranted to those in the church who would listen. 

People who behave this way are usually carnal Christians who have been exhibiting this behavior long term. In other words, they know the Word but just don't obey it. A baby Christian usually doesn't do stuff like this, because they are too full of Jesus. New believers are typically very teachable people. 

The same lady tried to throw a guilt trip on me for where my time was spent as a pastor and said in passing, "I know you don't spend the time with me that you do some of the others..." and I simply said, "You're right, I don't," and went on to change the subject.

I have discovered that explaining does little good. Your supporters don't need to hear it from you anyway (because they already believe in you) and those who aren't a true supporter won't believe you anyway. So let it go. Spend time with those who are moving forward with you.

Time is too short to surround yourself with carnal toxic Christians, Why would I waste my time eating popcorn with somebody in the church who isn't happy that I'm their pastor?

I have learned, everyone who is "with" you is not "for" you!!!
Pastors often endure spending time with mean people who really aren't for them but crave their attention for some bizarre reason.

I just don't see anywhere in the Word where Jesus says, "Hey pastors...gather up the mean and divisive people in the church and hang with them." (On the contrary the book of Titus says to warn a divisive person once and then after that have nothing to do with them if they keep it up.) 

The bottom line is, there are way too many wonderful people who really want our investment in their lives. They are honestly craving what the leader has to give and it's a matter of wisdom to give to those who are truly receptive. 

10 things you may or may not be wondering about

If you were independently wealthy and could do anything in life, what would you do?
The same thing I’m doing now. Except I would spend a lot of that money on book publishing.

What one thing about you would people really be surprised to know?
I once played on a sports team. (soccer) And no, I don’t like playing team sports, in fact I detest it. 
 But I do love being on a church pastoral team.

What is your least favorite way to spend a day?
Housework – but I try my best to find ways to make it fun.

What was your favorite TV show as a child?
The Partridge Family.Be honest…if you have children, do you have a favorite?
Honestly they are all my favorite in some way, not just saying that to get out of this question! Dustin is my favorite because of his obedience. Jordan is my favorite for his affection and tenderness. Savanna is my favorite because I can do girl things with her, and enjoyed our time together so much from the day she was born.

What is your idea of the perfect date?
Dinner in a high rise hotel – on the top floor in a restaurant – overlooking the lights of the city. Restaurant would definitely specialize in seafood. Going straight to the hotel room after dinner.

What is your idea of the perfect vacation?
So many ideas, but above all would really like to stay at an “all inclusive” resort on the beach, where I have nothing to do but relax and have fun.

When have you been the happiest in your life?
Right now.What is your favorite TV show right now?
Forensic FilesWhat is something that really bugs you that people do in stores?
When they put an outfit back on the wrong size rack and I get excited about it and then realize it was a size 4 put back in the wrong place. Sometimes you have to pray in the spirit for an hour to get over something like that.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Work and rest

II Thessalonians 3:5-7 (msg) "Our orders—backed up by the Master, Jesus—are to refuse to have anything to do with those among you who are lazy and refuse to work the way we taught you. Don't permit them to freeload on the rest. We showed you how to pull your weight when we were with you, so get on with it. We didn't sit around on our hands expecting others to take care of us. In fact, we worked our fingers to the bone, up half the night moonlighting so you wouldn't be burdened with taking care of us. And it wasn't because we didn't have a right to your support; we did. We simply wanted to provide an example of diligence, hoping it would prove contagious." 

Today we had the last staff meeting of 2006. Then we celebrated by going to staff lunch at Five Guys, and then Coldstone Creamery. Yes, we really "blew it out" today when it came to the fat quotient in our diet. Wowza. I don't want to think about it. :-) I had a special holiday flavor of ice cream - dark chocolate mint. So fattening was really good!

Well, once again I'm so blessed to be working with the people that I am with. II Thessalonians 3:5-7 is one of my favorite scripture verses. I know it sounds kind of crazy to some, but I have "stood on it" through some hard times of working with some real sluggards. Reading scriptures like that let me know that what I expect out of myself (an an example of diligence) is also what God expects not just of me but of others. Many people are comforted by the Psalms. I am too. But strangely enough scripture such as the aforementioned has actually been like a soothing balm to me when I have been struggling and wondering if I was the crazy one. I would read it and know, I was on the right track and someday I'd have the joy of people walking alongside me who also were walking the same track.

With our team we have now we can see that an example of diligence DOES prove contagious. Just look at what has happend in 2006! It's amazing. We're going to look totally different this time next year because we are headed for something more than any of us can imagine.

Well, speaking of hard work, I'm needing some rest. No, I'm not writing this as a complaint. Not at all, and in fact I always hesitate to even approach the topic when I am ever tired because well meaning (but ignorant people) say, "just quit..." or crazy stuff like that. Usually people who tell me to slow down, scale back or quit are people who just don't have the wherewithal to be diligent themselves, so I'm careful of even getting into conversations like that.

Actually, I don't understand my fatigue. I purposely slept 8 hours last night but I'm still beat. I woke up that way and Larry says it's just the after effects of a Sunday on my body and emotions. Larry and I were listening to a leadership teaching on the way home and I was leaning on his arm and fell asleep and never heard the last four points of the thing. When we got home he agreed to do some housecleaning (praise Jesus!) and let me rest so I would be coherent enough to spend some quality time with him [translation: intimate time] before I try to sleep another eight hours tonight. I'm going to take a nice hot bath and relax for a while even though I have Christmas wrapping to do and I really should have gone out tonight and finished the rest of the Christmas shopping, I honestly just do not have it in me. I started early this year, I really did. And I am with these loose ends still abounding...

My goal next year is to be done shopping by Dec. 1 and just enjoy the month. Until then, I'm going to enjoy lighting the candles, getting in the tub, and getting some rest tonight.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Just another manic Sunday...

First let me start by saying, it has been such a warm weekend. I was actually wishing I had worn lighter clothing today. Today it truly felt like a tropical Christmas, at least IMHO. I'm thinking about wearing a tank dress to the office tomorrow if the weather's the same!

Well things were pretty crazy today from start to finish. I was prepared. Despite a busy week going 90 to nothing, I would say that I was totally prepared for this day, but many things out of my control happened. In looking back I said to myself and to Larry, "How could I have changed this or that?" (I can control myself so that's always the first thing I look at changing the next go round.)

Well, I can honestly say, there's not much I could have done to prevent the things that went wrong today. I could change myself all I want and the things that happened would have still happened. I even gave myself lots of extra time before church to get things squared away and I was at the church before 7:30. Still, it was a manic day. It seemed nothing went right for me.

On the way to lunch the Lord had prepared a DJ with exactly what I needed to of those moments I was certain was "just for me." A Yolanda Adams song was playing that literally reached down into my heart and spoke to the core of me. I know it's just a recording but I could feel the anointing of God just descend upon my car. That was it. It got me through.

There will just be days like this occasionally where it seems like everything goes wrong, but there are times like the previous two Sundays that make up for all that. And let's hope next Sunday, Christmas Eve, is one of those type days! (Especially with all the visitors we anticipate. Larry is taking every single sanctuary type chair that we have on the property and fitting it into the sanctuary somehow.) 

Took the staff women ("leading ladies" as I call them) to lunch today to Miracles Tea Room. We had lunch and I shared some things on my heart with them for the coming year. Wanted to do this before 2007 even started and get us on course for the coming year. It was a good time together and I think they also really liked Miracles. It's one of my favorite places to go to just let down and relax. I am so blessed to have the women we now have. (Thank you, Jesus!)

Speaking of relaxing, never have I been so glad to come home and sleep tonight. I am anticipating climbing into my bed which just has to be THE most comfortable in Tampa, possibly in the world. As tired as I am I still can't wait to spend some time with Larry tonight. Excepting my relationship with the Lord, nothing makes me happier than that. 

It has just been an exhausting day all things considered. Tonight was the kids Christmas concert. The children did very well. Savanna sang in a trio - I was very proud of all of them but of course there's nothing that makes you feel the way you do when your own child does something. She loves to sing. I actually hear how good her voice is when she has headphones on and sings out strong and doesn't worry about who may be listening. Tonight she was in the car and had Kelly Clarkson on in her headphones and was belting out, "Since you've been gone! I can breathe for the first time!" Always funny to hear a kid singing something like that because of course they had no idea why someone would even sing a lyric like that. It means as much to them as April 15. (ha ha! NOTHING til' you're an adult!) But she sounded really awesome. Now if I could just get her to do that in church on a solo. But I don't push her. She'll come around in her own time.

Anyhoo, they had a reception afterwards with cookies and punch and the children's ministry raised $1,000 and Pastor T ended up having to get a Mohawk. You know, it actually looks AWESOME on him, at least I think so. I think it looks fantastic on him and I heard several people say the same. After coming home from there we headed over to Bernie and Lisa's for some fellowship. Good times. Sat out on their lanai together and enjoyed the time catching up.

You know I said many things went wrong for me today and quite truthfully that's the case. However ~ despite all that, God really spoke through His Spirit this morning in our service and said some things some desperately needed to hear and the Lord ministered in a deep way to those individuals. And for that, I would just say - no matter what else went wrong, the Spirit of God was present - hope was brought where people felt hopeless. And that, after all - is why we're here.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

We GET to do this!!!

II Timothy 1:6 (msg) And the special gift of ministry you received when I laid hands on you and prayed—keep that ablaze! God doesn't want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.

Tonight we went to the Ruiz family's house for dinner and enjoyed a great Spanish meal. Isa made salad, roast pork, yellow rice, and cheesecake. So good!! The conversation and time spent together was even better. What wonderful people. Savanna decided to stay the night with Chelsea, so it was just the guys and I coming home. The pictures above are of Chelsea and Savanna when Chelsea spent the night a few weeks ago and then Larry took the girls to the Ybor Christmas parade. The city had actually brought in snow for the parade and then they had ice skating. They had so much fun!!!

You know, some pastors don't spend very much time with their people, and I have never understood why. I "GET" to do this! How incredible. It is my privilege to do life with our church family. I do not consider it a drudgery to spend do life. Why some pastors totally isolate themselves (even amidst the hurts that come - I know them all too well) I don't understand. Despite the occasional hurts, to be isolated hurts even more. To join our families together for sharing and fellowship is one of the great loves of my life and I can't understand how any minister thinks they can build a church without it, unless their goal is just to draw a crowd, but not grow a family of believers. I've seen those people who simply grow crowds and not families and it seems years later something comes crashing down. Either the pastor, the church or both end up in disaster some way. That's because we're to build a body of believers, a household of faith - not simply a crowd. I really do think that's possible no matter how big you get.

I have noticed over the years that so many ministers and spouses have this idea of "the church" being the enemy and something they have to separate from their family, They fight to make sure "the church" doesn't take over their lives. So many try to put "church time" and "family time" in a box, but quite frankly I don't think the most successful people do that because priorities quite frankly depend on what's going on. I've had some very wise people tell me that who have been in this thing for many decades and have successful marriages, families, and churches. 

Things don't just fit into neat little have to go with the leading of the Lord every day. You hear about these people with priority lists - you know, like 1) God 2) Family 3) Church or 3) work and 4) church, but things don't always work by lists. Sometimes "life" happens. Stuff happens I don't expect with the kids, with the church, with anything and everything. There are times that are definitely ordained with you to be with your partner, your kids, or church people exclusively, and there are other times there is a blending of things. I think the blended lifestyle is the one we have embraced the most. 

Dr. Lee once said he raised his family "in the ministry" and he and Sis. Lee included their kids on everything they ever did in ministry because as he says "the ministry is all involve your family in it and you'll end up spending a lot of time together..." That's been more of the route we have taken - they have been raised in the house of the Lord, not observing us, but DOING the work of the Lord along with us. I think it's great for kids to see their parents enjoying the house of the Lord, and God's people. Kids do more of what you DO than what you SAY anyway. Mine have literally been raised in the church. We even had cribs for them there when they were little. (Yes, really!)

Many families talk about how they have to go to great lengths to get their teens/kids to there is fighting and arguing, and they have to force them to go. Amazingly, in 17 years of having kids Larry and I have never had that problem. They have never asked if they had to go, or bellyached about it. Most of the time they have a lot of ministry responsibilities to do that they know have to be fulfilled and people are counting on them to do them. They are either scheduled to play an instrument, run the powerpoint, do kids church or something. Rarely are my kids just sitting. They also tend to really enjoy the people of the church, probably because Larry and I have always enjoyed the people of the church. Even when we have had problems over the years and certain individuals have been an issue (a negative one) there has always been the majority of the family that has been enjoyable, and that we've continued to not only do ministry with, but do life with in general. Rarely have we not had a houseful even on holidays. Our kids are used to the fact that 50 people may be over at any given time. And they like that.

Like I said, I can't imagine why pastors don't want to spend time with their people. I enjoy some solitude on my day off, and I always need a few hours to myself each week and a date with Larry. BUT...aside from that, Larry and I and the kids like to connect with as many people as possible. It's our privilege, our honor, a miraculous GIFT the Lord has given us.

Tonight while at the Ruiz's I noticed that they have our family picture on their Christmas tree.  When I walk into our people's homes and I see things like that it makes me realize we truly are "family" and in each other's hearts not just on Sundays or Wednesdays, but all throughout the week.

What a joy to not only be the parents of three natural children here on earth, but to be the spiritual parents of a wonderful church family. There is no greater honor. So why don't some people "get" that they don't HAVE to do this, they GET to do this? Wow, I never lose the wonder, even with some crazy stuff happening over the years.

The Pursuit of Happyness

Yesterday on our day off, Larry and I went Christmas shopping all day until we were too tired to shop anymore and then we went to see The Pursuit of Happyness. It was really good. Right in line with my belief that if life does not give you the circumstances you want...create them. Extremely inspiring. Life truly is what you make it, despite what circumstances may be thrown your way. Dustin and Jordan went to see the movie just a few hours before we did, then Dust went to spend the night at Steven's and Jordan went to spend the night at Keith's because they went surfing early this am. Savanna spent the night at Morgan's. So...that made it nice for Larry and I because not only did we have a date at the movies last night but we had some time to ourselves both out, and at home. :-) Which is ~ always welcomed and taken advantage of. "Maximize the moment" is my motto, or at least one of them.

Today we slept in but I have had to get my teaching ready for tomorrow morning. It was the last thing on my initiative list that I did not have done, so as soon as I got out of bed I started finishing it. Right now I'm teaching on what to do when under spiritual attack. It's a good series, I think. I'm starting to develop it a little bit more and by next week we should be flying! We had odds and ends to do all day to wrap things up for tomorrow. I really have more housework and wrapping Christmas stuff to do today - actually a whole lot of it. But it's probably not all going to get done until at least Monday evening. I want to keep the focus on the service tomorrow and make sure our game is on. We're headed for another great weekend, I do believe.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

It was a busy day in the neighborhood

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for neighbors...would you be mine? ~ Mister Rogers

It was a busy day in our church eighborhood today. It was a good day. Nothing "WOW" to report, just an all around good day with a ton of stuff to do. I got all but one initiative done, so I still have some loose ends to wrap up Saturday, but we'll get there - no problem. Finished our message and powerpoint today for Sunday's "It's a Wonderful Life" message. I feel good about it. Planned out sermon series for the first few months of 2007 and working on the rest of the year. We should have that done by next week for the upcoming year. I am very close to having the 2007 church calendar done. What a bear this year. It's 11 font, and 6 pages, count em, 6 single spaced pages! I know, that's crazy. Things are so busy because we have so many ministries on the move now, doing so many incredible things. No complaint here! I'm just trying to be the "air traffic controller" as I call it, to make sure we don't clash too bad as far as facilities, whose got what booked and when. We've got tons of stuff going on all at once now, just a matter of making sure nobody needs the same room at once.

We came home and Larry made chicken for dinner, and Jordan was catching up on episodes of LOST to be ready for the new season in February. I watched it with him again...just wanted to see the last episode with Kate and Sawyer again. I've been waiting for that since episode 1!!! I had big plans to get a lot of stuff done tonight but aside from dinner, watching LOST with Jordan, and having a wrestling match with Larry on the bed and snuggling, I haven't done a thing. But you know what, I really don't care. I'm enjoying the fact that I worked hard this week and now it's time to let down a little bit.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

63 Things You Never Cared to Know About Me

1) How old do you wish you were? I’d like to stay right here where I’m at right at this moment. Although I know life has to move on, I’m loving where I’m at! Every day is a treasure. 

2) Where were you when 9-11 happened? In my bedroom, at home. As soon as I heard about it, I hit the floor and started crying out to God. I went back and forth between speaking in tongues and then the next minute yelling,

3) What do you do when vending machines steal your money? Usually bang them with my hand real hard at least once and then walk away in disgust. 

4) Do you consider yourself kind? Yes, most of the time.

5) If you had to get a tattoo, where would it be? Or if you have a tattoo, where and what is it? I don’t have one and never will. I believe as we grow, we change so much. I’m a totally different person at 40 than I was at 20. And that’s good, believe me. Well, a tattoo is permanent. I wouldn’t want to have permanent anything. I like to change my hair color every month at least slightly. I never wear the same nail polish two fills in a row. How boring. I like to change things about myself and having something so final does not appeal to me. Plus, when they are young women get things like cute butterflies tattooed above their butt but when they are like 60 they will have nothing bug a saggy butterfly on their butt. Uh, no thanks. 

6) If you could be fluent in any other language what would it be? Definitely Spanish. Are you kidding? Spanish chicks have it made. They have a big party thrown for them when they turn 15. They basically have two weddings but only have to actually marry one guy. I mean, I not only want to speak the language, I want to BE at least an honorary member of the Spanish culture. 

7) Do you know your neighbors? Yes, I do. I think they all like me. I take them bread when I make it homemade. This tends to help out when I have dozens of cars parked down our street for a party. (Supposed to be against the laws in my neighborhood but nobody reports me.) I think they are afraid I’d take away the bread. )

8) What do you consider a vacation? Aren’t all Floridians on vacation all the time? Ha ha. Seriously, anywhere alone with my husband for more than 24 hours. Love to have my toes in the sand…love to stay in bed all day…now THAT’S a vacation! 

9) Do you follow your horoscope? Never.  Jeremiah 29 basically tell me everything about my future.

10) Would you move for the person you loved? I have. But I'd never want to again. Fortunately I think I won't have to.

11) Are you touchy feely? I don’t like to refer to it as that. It sounds kind of creepy. I’m affectionate, very affectionate yes.

12) Do you believe that opposites attract? Definitely. I’m married to my opposite. 

13) Dream job? I’m living it.

14) Favorite channel(s)? Lifetime 

15) Favorite place to go on weekends? Church, shopping on Friday (day off), to the beach when there’s time.

16) Showers or Baths? I usually take both once a day, usually shower in AM, bath at night. I’m a really “clean” person. When I was a kid I used to squat in the dirt so I wouldn’t get any on me. My kids think it’s funny that I have anti-bacterial wipes with me all the time. Although I'm not obsessive/compulsive, I am a stickler for things being clean.

17) Do you paint your nails? My nails are painted at all times, both hands and feet. It’s very important to me.

18) Do you trust people easily? No.

19) What are your phobias? Having my head underwater.

20) Do you want kids? I’m still deciding. (ha ha!)

21) Do you keep a handwritten journal? I used to but now I keep an online journal, it’s easier and a lot safer.

22) Where would you rather be right now? No where else – absolutely no where.

23) What makes you feel warm and safe? Sleeping with Larry.

24) Heavy or light sleeper? Depends – if I am listening for the kids/worried, then light, if I’m tired and very comfy and everything’s cool with the fam, I zonk out.

25) Are you paranoid? No, not most of the time. I try not to be.

26) Are you impatient? I would have to say probably a lot of the time, yes.

27) Who can you relate to? Very few people on an intensely personal level but other ministers who share my values, more than anyone. 

28) How do you feel about interracial couples? I think it’s great. As long as you are with the person God wants you with, who cares what race they are? 

29) Have you been burned by love? Yes.

30) What's your life motto? I have so many it’s hard to pick one… “Anything worth doing is worth having fun doing.” And “I’ve been chosen to change the atmosphere.” “Think Big or GO HOME” just to name a few. 

31) What's your main ringtone on your mobile? The theme from Wonder Woman.

32) What were you doing at midnight last night? I don’t think you really want to know the details of that.

33) Who was your last text message from? My husband

34) Who's bed did you sleep in last night? My own.

35) What color shirt are you wearing? Burgandy tank top. (I live in FL, remember?)

36) What are you listening to right now? My husband has a game on ESPN as usual. It’s sort of the backdrop to our life, except when in the bedroom, I insist on Heart XM there.

37) Name three things you have on you at all times? Wedding ring, that’s about all I have on me 24/7, but usually a cup of tea or coffee is very nearby and my cell phone, as much as I hate it, it’s a necessary evil.

38) What color are your bed sheets? White with pink roses.

39) How much cash do you have on you right now? None. I never carry cash. I’m a debit card kinda girl.

40) What is your favorite part of the chicken? Crispy skin but I have tried to give that up since losing 40 lbs. Otherwise…probably the thigh. 

41) Whats your fav city/place? TAMPA!

42) I can't wait till . . . Larry takes me away for our anniversary this year.
43) Who got you to set up a blog? Nobody really had to convince me, I’m a writer at heart. It sort of seems like a logical progression to me…

44) What did you have for dinner last night? Chicken noodle soup.

46) Have you ever smoked? Not regularly but I did try a cigarette once and I don’t recommend it to anybody.

47) Do you own a gun? Yes

48) Tea or Coffee? Definitely both! My kitchen is decorated in a coffee/tea theme.

49) What is your secret weapon to lure in the opposite sex? I’m not trying to lure anybody but the man I’m married to, and it’s not too hard to lure him. Just walk into the room, and bam, that pretty much does it. 

50) Do you have A.D.D.? I’ve never been tested, but maybe.

51) What time did you wake up today? 7:45 

52) Current worry? Getting Christmas shopping done.

53) Current want? I don’t really “need” anything. But if I could “want” for anything it would probably be for the staff to take a trip together. 

54) Favorite place to be? Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay with Larry.

55) Where would you like to travel in the future? I would like to go on a Carribean Cruise.

56) Where do you think you'll be in 10 yrs? Tampa.

57) Last thing you ate? Chips and salsa 

58) What songs do you sing in the shower? Whatever is playing on XM Heart Channel, which plans in our room pretty much 24/7.

59) Last person that made you laugh? The staff members at lunch.

60) Worst injury you've ever had? I have had various illnesses and stuff that would be worse than this, but the worst “injury” as in accident or whatever – that would have to be my horse bite. 

61) Does someone have a crush on you? I sure hope he does. I think so. Tonight he told me (quote) “I love you immensely.” :-)

62) What is your favorite candy? Dove dark chocolates.

63) What song do you want played at your funeral? Theme from Wonder Woman

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Life is fun

We did the piano and vocal today for "Breathing Room." It's a very simplistic, "unplugged" CD. But I believe it will really minister to people. Keith and Kristina and I had a long day with Barry (his Dad) and got so much done it was amazing. Barry was amazed at how quick I bang things out. That's good or bad, I guess, depending on whether you like the CD! Keith is finishing the cover now and Barry is going to mix the CD this week. And I'm just...waiting patiently. Can't believe we did this at Christmas. The time is flying.

Time flies when you're having fun! That's something I do well. I believe everything we do should be fun or we shouldn't do it. Now before you say, "Some things have to be done, and they are not fun, and you just need to face it..." I don't agree with you. I'm the person who does my housework while blasting T.D. Jakes on the TV (I Tivo him) I don't want to just walk around non-chalontly doing housework, I want to have an experience while I'm doing it. If it's not T.D. Jakes, then I've got something on XM radio like salsa. Ya gotta get moving and enjoy life. It's just the way it should be. Decide this day that you will not scrub your tub one more time in boredom. 

Ecclesiastes 8:15 NLT says, "So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people to do in this world than to eat, drink and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them." I think that's why we are so bent on having fun with our staff. I don't want to go to a job I find boring nor work with people I don't like. Life is just simply too short. Yesterday as we were leaving to go to lunch the guys went on to the van ahead of me and I ran out the doors excitedly hollering after them in one of my goofy moods. They hardly flinched because it's just common behavior but a telephone repair guy was out working on one of the poles outside the church and he came out looking at me like I was having a mental breakdown. Which...made me laugh even harder. 

Today when I was done recording Barry asked me, "Did you have fun?" I was really intense most of the day he probably could hardly tell whether I did or not, but I honestly did. There's nothing more fun and exciting to me than creating.

Creating sermons...
creating songs...
creating table centerpieces...
creating babies.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Breathing Room

Well, tomorrow is it...the day I record my CD, or should I say...the day I begin recording my CD at Keith's Dad's studio in St. Pete. I feel differently about this personal project than any other I have ever done in my life (and by that I don't just mean musical project, but any kind of ministry project.) It's difficult to explain, but to endeavor to a bit...

This is probably THE most different type of CD that you have ever heard of. And although I'm not striving for it to be musically deficient, quite truthfully I don't care much about whether it sounds like award winning music. It's a lot bigger than that to me. I never thought anybody was going to hear these songs when I wrote them in the first place so I didn't really worry that much about musical excellence when I wrote them. Years ago you would have never heard me say that but today is a different day.

Whenever I'm upset about something I can usually be found late at night in my living room at the piano. Sometimes I'm there at 2 or 3 am. Song writing has always been one of my coping mechanisms. Sometimes when I'm just overcome with stress or grief, I'll just sit down and play hymns at night in the darkness. A few years ago when I went through one of the darkest times of my life, I wrote a collection of songs that were just between the Lord and I. Throughout most of these, I sing a verse of my own song, and then you'll hear a few lines of a comforting hymn woven through it...something like, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" or "Be Still My Soul". Then it goes back into my own heart-wrenching cry to God about my own personal feelings. These are songs of intensity that anyone who is dealing with depression, grief, hurt, betrayal or anxiety would really relate to. But I didn't write them to relate to anybody. I wrote them because I was hurting so bad I thought I would die. It was just my own private musical journal. These songs got me through.

Fast forward a few years later, I'm on the other side of all that pain, and here I am at our church here in Tampa and one Sunday morning the person who was supposed to sing for the offertory backed out. The music pastor here at the time said, "Why don't you fill in and do something this morning?" (Knowing I can pretty much just turn around on a dime with a song and nobody realizes I never practiced...)

I felt the Holy Spirit speak to me in that moment to do one of these songs, rather than one of my customary sound tracks or something more "church service" know, something that sounds more "TBN'ish", which is fine with me, that's cool too. So, for a minute I thought, "nah, this is a bad idea...people will think I'm suicidal or something if they hear this music..." But the voice of the Spirit was clear. So I decided to do, "He Can Handle It". In the middle of the song, I see a woman sitting in the back of the sanctuary, with her head in her hands, just sobbing. Looking across the congregation, I see many kleenex's coming out of purses. After the service, I lost count of people coming up to me saying, "how did you get inside my head? That's exactly what I'm dealing with right now!" People begged me to do more of these songs, so I did. Several more of them and each time people would tell me how it ministered to them, how it changed their life. So one day in prayer, God told me, "put this collection of songs on a CD for people who are depressed and feel they have no hope...for people who think there is no light at the end of the tunnel...for those who are ready to give up." And then He also directed me to add a prayer to the CD at the conclusion, praying for those listening who don't even have the strength to pray for themselves, who need someone to stand with 2 am, 3 am, when they don't know who to call.

I asked the Lord, "what will we call the CD?" A few weeks went by, I was still waiting for His answer when I was reading the Message Bible one night, and the the title of the CD stood out..."Breathing Room." 

"God, the One and Only -- I'll wait as long as He says. Everything I hope for comes from Him, so why not? He's the solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul..." Psalm 62:5,6 

When we are depressed, hurt, hopeless...waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel -- we can WAIT on Him, knowing that He is our Hope and He is the One who gives us "breathing room" for our soul when we feel that this thing, whatever it is, is suffocating the life out of us! When we feel it's going to kill us, we can stand firm and wait, knowing He is the solid rock underneath our feet and He has a plan. He's already in the future, just waiting to show us around. I'm on the other side of my pain now, and these songs are now a testament of what He has brought me through. I was "singing the right song on the wrong side" as I call it, and now living on the right side, LIFE IS GOOD.
The CD will have an "unplugged" feel to it. I'm hoping people will feel like they can identify with me sitting in the dark in the living room, just me and the piano. Basically after this is done, people will hopefully get the CD for their friends who are at a place in life where they have lost hope. My prayer is that somebody out there who doesn't know where to even start, what to say, where to go, what to read...someone who has perhaps LOST THEIR SONG, will pick up this CD, listen and go, "I can make it...I'm going to hold on." My prayer is that somebody who is getting ready to end it all will pop in this CD and change their mind. 
I know it's Christmas time, and life is on warp speed, very busy. And I need something else to do besides my normal church schedule as much as I need a hole in the head. Not only do I have my regular schedule, but it's Christmas! Only 2 weeks left and I am so far from being ready for "the big day." But...we've been trying to book this for months and this is when the time finally opened when we could get the studio time, so we're doing it now. God has a reason for everything and His timing is perfect. 

My prayer for this is not anything musically grandiose. I am not trying to make a musical statement or have anyone walking around humming these songs. I just want to see people decide to press on instead of give up, and believe God for the abundant life that He has out there waiting for them if they will just hold on. Everywhere I go and speak there are women in particular who are so depressed. So many have lost hope.

This is basically a CD for depressed people. A crazy idea? Perhaps. But I know it's God.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Work like it depends on you, pray like it depends on God...

"The natural can be turned into the spiritual only through sacrifice. Without this a person will lead a divided life." This is what Oswald has to say today in My Utmost for His Highest. (My favorite devo)

I believe that in order to get to the supernatural we have to do the natural - to step out and work like it depends on us, but pray like it depends on God. My goal is to do that every day. To not only give an "honest day's work" but an EXCELLENT day's work. A "next level" day's work. Those two things together - praying and working, IMHO, are the keys to a miracle. Larry always says, "Expectancy is the breeding ground for a miracle." I believe that's true but I believe part of expecting is doing something while you're expecting.

Tonight was our Christian Education Christmas Banquet - a very special time at the Currie's. Very "next level" - as everything else has been in this 2006 year. With every day that comes and every thing that happens, I realize how far we have come. And...I can't wait to see what God has in store for 2007. We are at "the tipping point" that's for sure. I feel like we have actually had many mini-tips this year but we are getting ready for a Holy Ghost Tsunami in 2007, I can just feel it! The staff better get their surf boards out because we are getting ready for THE NEXT WAVE.

Other than the banquet tonight, I have been steadily working literally all day long, on the open house for tomorrow. It takes me at least 2-3 days to get ready for it each year, with everything that must be done. So much prepping to do. I try to do a "super cleaning" beyond the norm, and Larry works more on the yard each year. This year he wanted to do lights around the entire house, not just the front, and add another tree in back. So most of his day was spent on that. Aside from my 30 minute workout today (which I determined not to miss no matter what!), I have been prepping non-stop for the open house, cooking, cleaning and the like. Every year it's a ton of work, but every year I love it!!! I never regret doing it. This is part of what I thrive on.

This year I decided to get a few people to help me 2 hours before hand, to do all the "last minute" stuff, being that is when I go into frenzy mode. :-) Making sure every "i" is dotted and every "t" crossed. Some people tell me they wait all year long for me to make certain dishes that I do for this event each year. I am still not done...after church tomorrow I'll be working right up til the time that everybody arrives, but when they do...what a time we'll have! We have 72 people invited...our pastoral staff, admin staff, ministry leaders/dept. heads, and vision team members. It's a time when our house is packed out, and I have little "food stations" with the most scrumptious things you can possibly imagine, and beautiful Christmas music playing. Basically it's like this...I work like a crazy person for 2-3 days to get everything ready but once they get here I go into "June Cleaver" mode and act like it was all a piece of cake. And when they leave I can't wait to do it again next year!