Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Doing all things well - making the most of opportunity

H. Jackson Brown Jr. said, "People who accomplish big things did small things well."

I have a passion for doing all things well. Today I had to do a lot of mundane catching up from being away on my trip. Lots of computer work, just every week stuff - from orders of service to calendar planning for 2007, to preparing teachings, to doing laundry, unpacking my bags, doing dishes, and getting ready to have Trinity and Misty over tonight. Although I am tired, I am committed to doing whatever I do well, and to the glory of God.

It's incredible but in a week, Pastor Trinity has lost 20 pounds, sticking to the points system exactly. (He's not undereating, he is doing everything according to what he is supposed to) Meanwhile Larry has lost 9 pounds in a week. They are both doing great. 

I got loads of candy to pass out to all the trick or treaters and Pastor T made invitations for Jam Kids Church that I will put in all of the bags with the candy. I personally feel that every Christian SHOULD give candy to the kids who come to the door. What other time during the year do a bunch of  kids come to YOUR DOOR? I will have hundreds of  kids coming to my door tonight and each and every one of them will be invited to my church to hear the gospel!!! I have decided to maximize this opportunity to reach people. I don't believe Christians should be shutting our lights out and hiding from people. Instead, we should be turning our lights on and inviting people in and then invite them to church! What a concept! I can't wait! The bible says to MAKE THE MOST OF EVERY OPPORTUNITY, especially in these last days. 

Reunited and it feels so good...

It was a wonderful thing to come home to Larry last night. I had a great time in Maryland with his parents, and my sister, her new husband Dave, and Lexi and Cody), but I did miss my husband.

I had envisioned him getting out of the car at the airport and embracing me with a strong hug, with me smelling the Curve cologne on his neck, then backing up to give him a kiss. But it didn't happen that way at all. Unfortunately somebody rang his cell phone just as he was pulling into the airport...and you know Larry, he always answers it unless I tell him not to.

Oh well... there was plenty of time to kiss him later. But I was dreaming about our reunion. I missed him so much. Darn that phone.


Alright, so I had the scare of my life today.

I took our new video camera, and still digital camera with me to my sister's wedding this weekend. On the way there I brilliantly tell my son, "make sure you don't let the cameras out of your sight this weekend. Famous last words.

When I get to Kim's wedding, I discover I'm the only one there with a video camera. I couldn't believe it. I took the only video footage of the whole thing. And I had a zillion digital pictures of the whole thing.

So it was time to fly home today and 16 minutes before the plane takes off, while we're boarding, I stand up from my chair in the waiting area, reach down to get my purse and the cameras, and I realize...I don't have the cameras.

"Oh my God!" I scream to the top of my lungs, "WHERE ARE THE CAMERAS?????????!!!

I had everyone's attention, trust me. Dustin looked at me like I was a martian.

I truly had gone into another world. Seriously, I thought my world had ended. My mind was racing...where did I leave them? Was it at the ticket counter when I checked our bags? Was it at Auntie Anne's when I got Dustin a pretzel? Was it at Roy Rogers when I got soda? Was it at the security gate? I was officially NUTSO. I said to the guy who was boarding the plane, "PLEASE HELP ME!" He called the ticket counter. No cameras. I said, "how soon does this plane leave?" He said, "16 minutes...RUN!!!" So, off we went. Dustin runs over to Auntie Anne's..."uh, did my Mom leave her cameras here?" (He was rather calm in his presentation.) I on the other hand run to Roy Rogers and through tears implore the people to please tell me if someone turned in a camera. No...no camera. So I run down to the security check in. It's packed as BWI always is. The people are busy, but I yell, "PLEASE HELP ME!" (I was on the cell phone with Larry telling him, to please pray and asking..."do you want me to stay here at BWI if I have to miss this plane and find these cameras?) A kind security guard (rare thing, they all always seem so gruff) ran right over to see what was wrong. I tearfully told him, "HELP ME, HELP ME, MY PLANE IS LEAVING AND I DON'T HAVE MY CAMERAS!!!" A woman said, "come with me..." Taking me back to what was her office there at security, she pointed to the floor behind her desk. There was my camera bag with the two cameras!

"Oh thank you, thank you, thank you!" I cried. And with that, I said, "Dustin, let's go" and we took off out of there running down Concourse D as fast as we could. All the way there I am still shaking from all this, and meanwhile he's laughing at me saying, "MOM............YOU ARE SOOOOOOOOOO CRAZY!!!" And then we get on the plane and all these kind people say, "oh, did you find your cameras?" I said yes and then went into the explanation of why it was so important to me, to the great embarrassment of my son of course... I explained, this was all of my sister's wedding pictures and video, and plus that...my husband would have a fit if I didn't bring home these cameras.

I was so busy checking in and getting my shoes back on and all our stuff, I left the bag still running through the x-ray machine as they were checking it. Dustin said, "And to think Mom, you were lecturing ME about not losing sight of the cameras. Yep, I was.

Somebody else is taking care of the cameras on every trip from now on. My heart just CAN'T TAKE ANYMORE.

By the way, Dustin is STILL laughing over this, saying, "Mom, you were so hysterical. When you didn't find the cameras under the airport chair, you screamed, "OMG, WHERE ARE THE CAMERAS" and I thought, "my Mom has officially gone psycho. Well, I guess I did there for a moment.

Thank you Jesus that my cameras were still there. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Monday, October 30, 2006

All you ask of me

Okay, so here is a view of my neighborhood that I grew up in...literally a few feet out my front (or back) door...I was surrounded by the Chesapeake Bay. This is the view from Bayfront Rd., one street over from our house. My sister's reception was right on Bayfront Rd., so Dustin took these pictures... while at my sister's wedding reception. When I was a kid I had my windows open at night many times while I slept and I could hear the sounds of the bay, and of Bethlehem Steel (pictured here) across the bay. Wow, this brought up a lot of memories while I was at my sister's wedding reception, being that my old house was just one street over.

Well, we're back now! After getting up and spending some time with my in laws this morning, we flew back. It was sad to say goodbye again but here we are. 
On the way home I was just reading and studying the Word some more and right now I'm reading Galatians in my devotions. I came across a passage that describes PERFECTLY what I've been mulling over about Christianity without Christ. 

Galatians 1:6-7 "You are already following a different way that pretends to be the good news but it is not the good news at all. You are being fooled by those who twist and change the truth concerning Christ." You know, in many ways I have good memories of growing up, but much of it was steeped in legalism and many things in the name of Christ but actually having little to do with Christ. All that comes rushing back whenever I spend time with certain people because unfortunately they are still steeped in it, while I have been set free. It's difficult to be around it and I can only be in small doses quite honestly. One minute there is strict legalism, the next something crazy like racism or...immorality, without repentance or process of discipline or restoration. I have seen that my whole life so it's something I'm used to, yet never truly "used to." How can one whose heart is tender toward God truly ever get "used to" seeing this? 

Paul goes on to say in verse 8: "Let God's curse fall on anyone including myself who preaches any other message than the one we told you about." Well, I guess that is self explanatory and God will have to judge and deal with things. I only ask Him to help me handle it while I'm around it, and have wisdom on what to say, what to do. 

Recently I read a quote by James Kent that said, "Nothing is so potent as the silent influence of a good example." I can only hope that is what I am. I try my best in the face of things like this to hold my head up, remember who I am in Christ, be confident and represent Jesus to the best of my ability. I believe that's all He asks of me.

I love my mother in law

An old yiddish proverb says that "only Adam had no mother-in-law. That's how we know he lived in paradise..."

Fortunately for me, I have a wonderful mother in law, and I don't have to cringe every time I think about my MIL. Some people live in dread or fear of theirs, but I appreciate mine and love her...and she feels the same way about me. I am truly blessed.

This past weekend was my sister's wedding so I was focused on that a lot, but this morning I got to have breakfast with my MIL before flying back. We went to Bob Evans and had a nice time. We both wished I could have stayed for longer but it was time to come back to Florida. Dad took Dustin on a few hour driving lesson this morning before we had to come home. I think he's ready now for the test. I missed home in Florida, but going back Maryland during the fall season...wow, I haven't experienced that for four years. Dustin and I couldn't stop looking at the trees. And we really miss our family, on days like today.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A beautiful day

It's official! Kim and Dave are now married! Yeah! My sister had her day just like she wanted it ~ perfect ~ and I'm so glad. She deserves it. She and Dave are truly so happy and I could not be more happy for them. Mine and Dustin's sole purpose in coming was to show our love and support for Kim and Dave and Lexi and Cody. Dustin and I did our songs and they went well. I was so proud of him and everyone could not believe how much he has grown up...."

 Kim and Dave are now on their way to Niagra Falls. I'm so happy for them!!! What a wonderful trip they will have. And, Dustin and I will get a good night's sleep and head back to Florida. Today I was so cold. Larry thinks I'm hysterical the way I react to cold weather. I wore heels to the wedding, with no hose (stopped wearing hose a few years ago - never want to wear them again.) I wanted to wear my pink heels for the wedding, but as soon as it was over and we went to the reception I put my boots on. When I walked up to Kim at the reception she said, "your shoes are different!" I said, yes but I waited til now to change them because I didn't think it was appropriate for the ceremony. She just laughed. She calls me "Julia" when I wear my boots. Dear Lord, it's 48 degrees. Standing outside on the deck at the reception I had my coat buttoned up to the neck all the way. Some people thought it was funny...they said, "look at Deanna all bundled up!" I must say I'm not used to this anymore.

Dustin and I navigated our way around today just fine. I only got on the wrong street three times. Wow, that's a record for me. It's not Sparrows Point/Edgemere/Jones Creek that I get lost in - I'm just fine with all that although some who came to the reception got lost - if you don't know the area, you definitely will. It's the major highways I have a problem with. Who knew that 151 was related somehow to 695? Not me! I had a wonderful weekend, but I'm ready to go home now. I think Larry misses me a lot. I need to call him again before bedtime. I sure do miss him. But I'm glad I was here with my sister.

Writing your passion

John Piper says: "I have always felt that the works of the famous British New Testament scholar, F. F. Bruce, are unnecessarily dry. In reading his memoirs, In retrospect, I discovered one of the reasons why. He said, "I do not care to speak much-especially in public-about thethings that mean most to me." When you eliminate what means most to you from your writing and speaking, they will be dry. For myself, I would say just the opposite: "I do not care to speak much-especially in public-about the things that don't mean most to me." Many pastors are not known for expressing deep emotions. This seems to me especially true in relation to the profoundest theological realities. This is not good, because we ought to experience the deepest emotions about the deepest things. And we ought to speak often, and publicly, about what means most to us, in a way that shows its value." 

I am convinced, if we can't be real, we can't truly disciple someone. Because Jesus was as real as real gets. And if we're going to be like Him, we have to be real. How can we truly disciple people yet eliminate what means most from our writing and speaking?

Amazingly I have had people ask me to do that. Some over the years have said to me, "It's okay for you to have a passion for this or that...just don't state it outright..." WHAT? Or, "It's okay to espouse a strong view, just don't share it..." I've been told, "if you don't share a strong view, you will escape criticism." My answer to that is, to avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, BE nothing.  (Edmund Burke)

I'm big enough to own my words.

I don't mind criticism if it's the price to pay for sharing my passion. I believe if you are not writing and speaking about your passion...why speak? Why waste words? They are so precious. Words, words, words. I love them. I collect them as some collect rocks or jelly beans. I enjoy them. I hear a new one, and it swirls around in my head a few days until I start using it in everyday conversation.

Words alter the course of history. Martin Luther (not one of my favorite people, but I like this quote) said, "If you want to change the world, pick up your pen." Writing a word, speaking a word...changes things as we know it.

Some choose to sit and make small talk about the price of gas, or the weather. I choose to talk about ideas, dreams, concepts, principles of living, spiritual things, intimate things, etc...

Why waste words on small talk? Proverbs 31 talks about the woman opening her mouth and skillful words coming out. Why are some content with words that don't mean anything when we have a storehouse of passionate words at our disposal? If I can't write about what is most important to me, I see no reason to write at all. Clearly F.F. Bruce is not the guy I would want to have dinner with, but I could sit and talk to John Piper at a Starbucks for quite a few hours.

Wow. That really sums up how I feel about being transparent with my words and honest with my life in general. Not so transparent or honest as to lose the respect of the ones you lead, but transparent enough to let passion shine through in all one does, showing an appropriate amount of vulnerability.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Wedding Rehearsal

Tonight Dustin and I went to the wedding rehearsal and dinner. Everything went smoothly, except we did get lost on the way there and on the way back. Thankfully we have free cell phone usage on the weekends, and Larry talked us both there and back and got us to where we needed to be. I'm so bad with directions -- you would think with living in Baltimore all my life I'd be okay with this, but since I'm going back and forth from Bowie to Baltimore every day...I'm just not used to it.

I was so proud of Dustin - he did a good job on our song and well...he just makes me proud as my son just in general. He is still off the chain excited about his PSP and I took him to Walmart after the rehearsal dinner to get a game to go with it since he got more b'day money tonight. We also stopped at Dunkin Donuts on the way home to get donuts for in the morning. I was going to try and be good and not eat any tonight but when we got lost and I was frustrated, I screamed, "GIVE ME THAT BOX OF DONUTS!"  

The clocks are set back tonight and I am so glad! An extra hour of sleep! I am getting so much sleep on this trip, it's RIDICULOUS! There is a little tiny church, it can't hold more than 20 people, down the street. I so wanted to go there in the morning, just to experience it. But they don't have church on Sundays. Now how different is THAT? They only have church Wed/Thurs. I have never, ever heard of that before. Dustin and I had to literally get out of the car in the dark and he walked up to the church sign to look at the tiny little numbers saying what day/time church was. Maybe that's why they only have a few members........nobody can see their church sign. Oh well, next time I'm here on vacation, I'll visit there on Wednesday night. I love going to different unique places and seeing how they worship God. 

Tomorrow, for the first time in...well, ever really, I am not focused on church but on the wedding. Since Kim is getting married on Sunday afternoon it puts my focus on the wedding. It's going to be a beautiful day!

It's been a long time

Oh how long it's been since I have seen the autumn leaves in all their glory. But I am getting a great taste of it this weekend, and we're on the road a lot back and forth for things so I really am getting a wonderful dose of the kaleidscope of color that fall brings in the north east. Do I miss it? Yes, at times. But I would not trade my life in Florida for the world. That is home now. Not just in my geographical surroundings, but my heart is with the people there who are not only my missionfield, but those I love as family.

Sleep, glorious sleep. That is what I had last night. Count it, all 11 hours of it! That's what happens when I come here. I know I am away from work - away from my normal routine - and there's nothing I can really do about anything back there so I might as well REST. One thing I love about coming here is that when I do, I catch up on sleep. My inlaws take good care of me and allow me to rejuvenate. They know the busy life I lead and they always want to help me. Speaking of that, Dustin and I are getting ready to go to the golf course and have some of Mom's good cooking...so off we go, to the Bowie Golf and Country Club which is "home" to us too. 

Friday, October 27, 2006

Christianity without Christ?

Today, I I heard a preacher say..."are we guilty of having Christianity without Christ?"

Hmm. That's good. How well I relate to that, not only in what I often experienced growing up but what I often see today, even from other ministers. I told someone today, I am weary of politics. I used to not mind it and sometimes even enjoyed that aspect of the ministry as I am a good networker. But I have lost my zeal for anything political. I have seen too much. And it hurts.

When getting into much of what goes on in "Christianity", I see how things happen that hurt God's people, God's church, and those who are honestly trying to do something to make a difference.

And I realize, Jesus is coming back. This thing is real. There's no time for Christianity without Christ. No time for religion without relationship. No time for having church without God. No time for Christian leaders who are more possessed with pursuing their image than possessed with Him and the difference He wants to make in people's lives.

I am seeing more than ever the cost of real Christianity.

The call of discipleship - being one, making them

Today My Utmost for His Highest says: "Jesus Christ did not say, "Go and save souls" (the salvation of souls is the supernatural work of God), but He said, "Go . . . make disciples of all the nations . . . ." Yet you cannot make disciples unless you are a disciple yourself. When the disciples returned from their first mission, they were filled with joy because even the demons were subject to them. But Jesus said, in effect, "Don’t rejoice in successful service— the great secret of joy is that you have the right relationship with Me" (see Luke 10:17-20 ). The missionary’s great essential is remaining true to the call of God, and realizing that his one and only purpose is to disciple men and women to Jesus."

This is the cry of my heart ~ to be a true discipler of people. I feel like so much gets in the way of that. So much stuff that I never ask for but feel powerless over. I do not mean just tactical work, but I speak of distractions that call me away from discipleship. Not planned tasks or initiatives, but the tyranny of the urgent that so often creeps in, and years later I have nothing to show for those precious hours. I am asking God to help me know what do do about that. I have a feeling it's going to come in the form of some armor bearers that will help me to keep distractions at bay.

My one purpose is to disciple men and women to Jesus - starting with my family - emanating out to the world around me. Remaining true to THE CALL.

First I do want to be more of an effective disciple myself. I know what that means. More time in the Word, more time in prayer, and coming more under the control of the Holy Ghost. I am asking God to help me to align myself with Him daily, not to align Him to me, but to bring me into perfect harmony with His desires.

I already finished reading Night. I'm giving it to Dustin tonight. We were riding to take him to the store for gadgets to go with his PSP and also to dinner, and while he was sleeping in the car, I held my cell phone up to the pages in the dark and read them. I was so incredibly intrigued by the book. Wow. This is a life changer. Why in the world did I never hear of this book before? Every American should read it. I brought Joyce Landorf book with me to read but truthfully all I want to read before bed tonight is the Word. I think I'll finish the Landorf book on the plane. Good stuff but honestly as I read it, it's bringing up painful things for me to deal with and so I'd rather take it in smaller doses, and work through it.

Dustin and I practiced a few times but I'm still a bit raspy. Things will get better by tomorrow. I'm sleeping as long a I want to. A rare luxury although Larry has given me 2 sleep in days lately to try and get my strength back. I miss him. He and Jordan are watching a movie at home and he is IM'ing me right now. I can't wait til' our next day off together. We need it. So much has been going on we haven't had a day together in a few weeks, but our time is coming. 

In the midst of all that's happening, I find myself saying, "God please make me your disciple more and more on a daily basis. Because if that's not what I'm doing, I've truly wasted the last 20 years and blown it if my goal is anything different than truly being your disciple.

Trippin' with Dustin

Well, Dustin and I made it to Maryland safe and sound. It was a 2 hour direct flight and everything went perfectly smooth this morning. We arrived and his grandparents took him to the store and got him a PSP for his birthday, which is today. And he wants to go to Golden Corral for his birthday dinner with everyone here. Which...on his birthday I'm happy to oblige...since it's his day, not mine! I will try and only eat one piece of fried chicken. :-) Still hard to believe he's 17 today.

When we were at the store, I got the book Night by Elie Fiesel. I have been wanting to read it for some time, just haven't. I am finishing it tonight and hoping Dustin will read it on the plane home. It's fascinating and I'm only on the second chapter. It's still very difficult for me to fathom that any of this happened in the 1940's. That wasn't so long ago, for such an atrosity to happen. And, for people to get away with...while the world was silent. Makes me more determined than ever...on important things, we cannot be silent. Someone once said, "well behaved women rarely make history." I don't think I'll ever have to worry about that. I have already done enough misbehaving for a lifetime. (But seen a lot of great things happen too.) It has always been the cry of my heart to be a history maker. I believe it is in the heart of everyone to be such but many just never have the courage to be different.

Dustin and I need to practice our song but now he's enjoying the PSP. I have already had some UTZ potato chips. I am going to have to REALLY work out after spending this time trippin' with Dusti! Larry and Jordan are enjoying some time together especially since Savanna's in Georgia, and...Jordan is off grounding! Yippee! That was the longest 30 days of MY life, let alone his. You know, when the kids are grounded, parents are grounded too. I personally hate it. Why oh why? That's my question. All the kids report cards were good, so praise the Lord, it's going to be a good quarter with no groundings. (Hopefully for the rest of the year.) Oh well, off to rehearse and go to Golden Corral and try to keep myself under control.

Finally ready to take off

Well, my wonderful first born is growing up...he's now officially 17. I can't believe it...I have a 17 year old. 17 years ago now I had just been out of recovery for about an hour and a half, and was being taken to my hospital room. Dustin was sleeping. Not much has changed. I'm still recovering from everything on a regular basis, and he's still sleeping. :-)

After doing my plethora of initiatives, evening came and we went out for Dustin's family birthday dinner, to Kobe...one of our family favorites. We started it when the kids were little because it was one of the places the always behaved because they would be so intrigued by the chef. It made for a very peaceful dinner. And it's still a great night out now, and one that always promises to entertain them. We took Steven with us. He hadn't been to Japanese since he was a little kid. He loved it. We had them come out and sing and bring a cake. Dustin was a little sheepish when they came out but I could tell he was enjoying himself. Here he is with the chef hat they gave him. Jordan still has his from last year's birthday.

After shopping for his jacket (he hasn't had one since we left Maryland) we dropped Savanna off at the Harts (she's going to Georgia, which she's very excited about) and then came home to pack our bags. In between packing our bags, Dustin and I worked on doing  "Bless the Broken Road" together. He's playing it and we are both singing it for the wedding. I still have not been able to practice "From this Moment On" aside from listening to it because my voice has been too raspy. Broken Road is lower, so it was workable. We'll rehearse more when we get there. It's now 1:30 am, our bags are packed, My Mp3 freshly loaded with the sound track to listen to again and again on the plane, and the house is a mess but I'll tackle it when I get back. That is the least of my worries right now. Let's just have a wonderful wedding and we'll worry about dusting and vacuuming next week. :-)

My darling came through for me

Well, he said it would work out, and it did, because...he made it work out. 

He came home at lunch and put a new battery in my car so I could go everywhere I needed to go and do everything that had to be done before I leave in the morning. Now maybe this has something to do with the fact that I e-mailed him my initiative list for the day and said, "it's going to work out? Tell me how...here's my list!!!" An hour later he was home with the battery. You know, there's not many times I want him to drop everything and help me...and I didn't ask him to. But wow, I'm so glad he did. Because now I'm ready - and confident - to go on my trip. And all because my darling cared enough to come and rescue me.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Campmeeting Days

So we've had an awesome four days of Campmeeting services, and now...it's over. (The services that is, not the fire of the Holy Ghost...) Wow, it was really good. So many great things took place. Tonight the youth band led and they did such a fantastic job. I just love their song, "The Enemy Has Been Defeated." So good, especially when praying for people for breakthroughs. It was such a great time for our staff this past week. We went out with Victor and Keila Vega  tonight after service and had wonderful fellowship though it is so late right now. So tired, but I just need to wind down. Savanna asked me if she could please stay home, she's so tired. She got her report card today and it was excellent and she has only missed one day of school so I will probably just let her stay although that will slow me down tomorrow. Sometimes a Mom just has to be flexible.

I am so tired...wish I could just rest for a few days but Dustin and I are getting ready for our trip. He's so excited. He's counting the time...tells me constantly, "Mom...in such and such amount of time we're outta here!!!" All I'm thinking is, "maybe I'll get to sleep a little bit on the plane..." Not that I am thinking we won't have a good time...I know we will, I am just so wiped out. And still have so much to do to get ready to go. One thing I have to do is get Dust a coat. He doesn't own one anymore and since we're going to frozen chosen country, he'll need one.

I wish I was more excited, but right now I am too tired to be excited. I even have a new book on my nightstand that is not exciting me. Now THAT'S pretty bad. I want a PJ day but there's too much to do.

Tempted to get stressed about all that needs to be done, however the voice of the Holy Spirit told me today, "RELAX. There's nothing to be gained by stressing, so just relax and take things one step at a time..."

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Ruined for the ordinary

Today, Oswald Chambers devo says: "A Christian worker has to learn how to be God’s man or woman of great worth and excellence in the midst of a multitude of meager and worthless things. Never protest by saying, "If only I were somewhere else!" All of God’s people are ordinary people who have been made extraordinary by the purpose He has given them...God is at work bending, breaking, molding, and doing exactly as He chooses. And why is He doing it? He is doing it for only one purpose— that He may be able to say, "This is My man, and this is My woman." We have to be in God’s hand so that He can place others on the Rock, Jesus Christ, just as He has placed us. Never choose to be a worker, but once God has placed His call upon you, woe be to you if you "turn aside . . . to the right or the left . . ." ( Deuteronomy 28:14 ). He will do with you what He never did before His call came to you, and He will do with you what He is not doing with other people. Let Him have His way." 

This goes with what Wayne Lee Jr. preached at our church service last night. He talked about being extraordinary. It was a great message. He made so many points that are always resonating on my heart...about everything from where we spend our time, to the mandate of worshipping God as He deserves...to being more than just normal or ordinary. That is the cry of my heart - to not just be ordinary - to not just be some "normal" woman making sure the socks are clean and in the drawers and supper made. Yes, those things are important, I know that. But I don't want it to be my whole life by any means. Those things are just stuff that has to get done in order to do the "real stuff" of life. In other words, it's important for all my family members to have clean socks so we can all get out there and hit the road and do what we are called to do for Jesus. If we don't have clean clothes and food to nourish us, we won't be able to fulfill God's call in our lives...plain and simple that's how I look at it. But the laundry, the cooking, the stuff of life like that is just tactical work that must be done to get to the greater goal in life which is: FULFILL THE GREAT COMMISSION.

I feel like people are forever trying to champion ordinary-ness by making sock washing the fulfillment of a great call. Believe me I've heard many a preacher bring a whole message on nothing but that on mother's day. And sometimes I think, "okay already, but I really don't want to be known at the end of my life for washing socks." Gotta get it done? Sure, but it's not what I live for. And at the heart of it, I don't know anybody that really does deep down inside. I believe everybody deep inside has a heart's cry to make a big difference in the world. I know I do.

I am...forever ruined for the ordinary...and beckoned by the call to the extraordinary.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Everything is easier with a partner

Ecclesiastes 4:9,10 "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!"

Well I started the weight watcher journey two years ago and have kept the weight off but not without incredible struggle many days.

So today was Larry's officially start date on the program, and I'm answering a million questions about point values and everything else.

Anything is easier when you are doing it with people you love. So now I won't be the lone voice saying, "uuuhhhhh...do we HAVE to go to Golden Corral?" (I hate that place now that I'm weight conscious...) Yeah! Lunch is about to get a whole lot better. Today we ate at Subway. 7 points baby! 7 points! I think I'm going to be able to get my bikini out again in a few weeks now that I have some help to stay on track.

Friday, October 20, 2006

One Worship Conference

Today is my day off for the most part. I am coming to the One Conference tonight, our youth group (Oasis) worship night... because first of all, I want to see my boys as they lead in worship, and second because I want to support the youth ministry. Of course I want to worship the Lord too, but honestly if it wasn't our youth group and our boys, I'd be taking my day off fully until midnight tonight. And, I'd probably worship the Lord by sitting in my jacuzzi tonight and looking up at the stars - talking to the Lord. :-) There will be time for that later, when I get home tonight. For now, I'm glad I'm here, getting ready to go in to the service and enjoy the evening watching these incredible young people and experiencing God's presence  Can't wait to see what is around the corner next ~ one thing is for sure, we are growing...this family is growing!

I had grandiose plans of all the things I'd do earlier today with my day off...places to go and things to see. But I ended up staying in bed until it was time to get up and come to church. I was that tired. And that's alright - sometimes you just need a day to stay in bed. Today was one such day. I have been physically and emotionally tired and needed to catch up on rest. I'm feeling much better now. Next Friday maybe I'll take time to go to all the places and see all the things I didn't see this week.

Why are there Fruity Pebbles behind the sofa?

Yesterday I was cleaning in preparation for a leadership meeting at our home. When I came to clean behind the sofa, I found a box of Fruity Pebbles hidden there.

Why would Fruity Pebbles be behind the sofa?

Being a Mom and knowing my children as I do, I instantly realized, they were there for a purpose. Those Fruity Pebbles were not just there by happenstance. They were there so that hopefully...only the one that put them there would know they were there! The hider of the Fruity Pebbles wanted them all to themselves and was undoubtedly tired of sharing them with others. I have my thoughts on who hid them, but I found the whole thing too humorous to even go there. I just put them back up in the pantry and will let them find out when they go behind the couch, that someone found them.

I got to thinking that many Christians have a Fruity Pebbles behind the couch mentality. Some people think the more they hoard the more they will have...the more they keep the more they will prosper, but that is not really true. The more we give away, the more we share -- the more we have.

The Bible says that what we sow, we will reap, but I've found the law of the harvest is that we always reap a lot MORE than what we sow. That's one reason, other just plain obedience to God's Word, that I want to be an generous sower. I like receiving. And the way to receive more is to be an extravagant giver, no matter what you're talking about. Love, joy, forgiveness, money, clothes, shoes, etc. etc. If you give, give, give, you will receive, receive, receive.

So realize, for this reason...

I will NEVER hide Fruity Pebbles behind the couch. Now a Hershey bar... (no, just kidding!)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Me and Superman

Here I am with the love of my life at Sunday night's pastor appreciation reception. 

Don't we look happy?

We are.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


"Don't let an arrow pierce your heart unless it first passes through the filter of Scripture." Erwin McManus, Pastor of Mosaic Church.

So the bottom line is this. If someone says something negative, don't ever let it enter your heart until it first goes through a Biblical test. Is it true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report? If not why are you concerning yourself with it? Ignore it.

If God through His Word speaks something to you that resonates with what the person said - take it before the Lord and make it right. But if it doesn't, let the filter handle it.

I have a filter on my jacuzzi and it keeps all the scum from taking over and makes it a continually enjoyable environment that I like to be in. So the scripture is a filter for our lives. Why do we take in so many things that people say, but God doesn't? 

Let God's filter handle things for you so you can keep your environment a pleasant one. That's how Jesus lived...everything was Word-filtered...so why not live that way ourselves?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The principles that shape my methods

If you learn only methods, you'll be tied to your methods, but if you learn principles you can devise your own methods.- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Okay, so I'm thinking tonight...what exactly are the principles of Deanna Shrodes? What are my values that shape my methods? Just a few that come to mind  (I'm writing these myself, by the way -- not copying these from somewhere else.  They are what I have formed in thinking hard about life and leadership and what it's about.) :

Anything worth doing is worth doing with enthusiasm.

There is nothing more important than the foundation of one's character.

When you are a person of character, truth always comes to the surface eventually, even when people attack you - so stay the course.

Invest an incredible amount of time into your marriage. It's the one relationship that will (or at least should) transcend your life when friends and kids come and go, so nurture it.

There are three important keys you can't do without in order to achieve success:
1) work
2) work
3) work

There is only one key more important than work, and that is the power of God/prayer.

We are placed in our children's lives to be an example - not a friend, at least not until they are adults. They need a Mom, not a pal.

We are responsible to root our children in the house of the Lord and put them in position to flourish. Our role is to have their best interest in mind, not expect them to look to our needs.

Being a Mom is the hardest thing you'll ever do but when parenting is going right, it's the most rewarding.

Don't ever expect from people what you are only supposed to get from God.

Something that will cripple a person faster than anything is a sense of entitlement.

Rest is an important item to put on your agenda.

Look for the joys - large or small - in every day life.

Focus on the positives and the joy - never accentuate the negative.

Lift people to a higher level by what you say.

Don't spend large amounts of time with negative people.

Life is too short to waste time on head games or people who play them.

You will regret the things you didn't do as much as the things you did - so go after what God tells you, and take some risks.

One can be mightily used of God at any age. My husband and I are living proof. We were youth pastoring at 19 and some of those kids from that time are in ministry today. If our example isn't enough, just look at Joash, king at age 7 in the Bible, and Timothy, the young pastor of a mega-church.

Praise will change absolutely everything in your life, so...no matter what...PRAISE!

Small beginnings often bring about large miracles.

If you don't ask...the answer is always no.

Don't be afraid to tackle the subjects that many are embarrassed by. Everyone is thinking about them, and the world is just waiting for someone with the courage to address them.

Be generous always and live your very life as a gift to the world.

Give away more than you take.

Be a person God can entrust with money and possessions.

Do things right, or don't do them.

Remember that a hug can do wonders for most people.

When someone speaks a negative word, CANCEL, CANCEL, CANCEL.

Let God promote you.

When He promotes you don't apologize for it.

Always be who you are. You're a crappy someone else.

Be the most beautiful you that you can be.

Don't be all YOU can be - be all who God has made you to be.

If you are called to lead, do it. Whenever there is a gap in leadership, someone rises up...and often it's the wrong person because the right person simply didn't discharge the duties of their appointment.

Don't complain about what you permit. Change it.

If someone doesn't want to be in relationship with you, don't cry over it. There are millions of people waiting to be in relationship with you. You are a treasure waiting to be found. So... walk across the room, introduce yourself, and stop crying over someone who is not worth your tears.

Stable friends who are not given to every emotional whim, and remain loyal and true are hard to find in this world. So when you find a friend who is worth it, hang on to them, appreciate and treasure them.

Pay your bills. 

Pay your bills to the house of God first. Someone who doesn't cannot be entrusted with ANYTHING. If you will rob the house of God, there's nothing else you won't do.

Take time to be silly.

Don't just live with your flaws. Determine to know better, do better, to be better.

Don't make excuses for your shortcomings. Simply make a determination to change and do it.

Always have an initiative list.

Don't allow yourself to "play" until your intiatives are done.

Be clean.

Respect and obey authority. One cannot be trusted with any leadership role until they have mastered this.

It takes time to get where you are going in God. Before you can receive Elijah's mantle, you have to wash it and dry it for a while. :-)

Don't try to be in a year what many people in God have taken 20 years to achieve. Those who rise too quickly always fall.

Never stop learning.

Develop a team of Godly advisors in your life and take their advice. Plans fail for lack of counsel, the Bible says.

Make yourself accountable willingly.

Never forget the power of the Holy Spirit.

If you are around negative talk, immediately remove yourself from it.

There is power in words and the printed page that the majority of people will never realize, yet continue to be incredibly influenced by.

Most people don't realize what they have until...they lose it.

Monday, October 16, 2006

For the first time, I respectfully disagree

Today is the first day I've ever disagreed with something Oswald Chambers says. In his devo today he says... I respectfully disagree.
"Is your response, "Oh, but I have a special work to do!" No Christian has a special work to do. A Christian is called to be Jesus Christ’s own, "a servant [who] is not greater than his master" (John 13:16 ), and someone who does not dictate to Jesus Christ what he intends to do. Our Lord calls us to no special work— He calls us to Himself. "Pray the Lord of the harvest," and He will engineer your circumstances to send you out as His laborer."

I believe we are called to the person of Jesus Christ. Of course! But after being called to Him in an intimate personal relationship, I believe He speaks to us and shows us his specific and perfect will for us. I believe God is a detailed God who orchestrates the details of our life from the very foundation world. I believe he knew I would be here in 2006 and He placed me right in Tampa for such a time as this. I believe he knew from the very foundation of the world that Billy Graham would be the greatest evangelist that ever lived and He called him to that special work, for Him. I believe He knew that children in Calcutta needed a couple like Mark and Huldah Buntain and called them specifically to that place. I believe He calls you to Himself and to His work.

I don't believe our God is some generic God. He cares enough about me to know every hair on my head. Surely He has a special plan that He calls each of us to. If am am not called to a special work then what in the heck am I doing here?

Just a thought.

I believe every preacher has their off days. Maybe Oswald had one when he wrote this devo. But what can I say, I'm still crazy about the guy!

So I'm still pretty much floating on a cloud after yesterday's pastor appreciation. Wow, wow, wow. Did I mention that the tables were Steeler colors and pink? I'm still smiling over that.

Today I got a few letters from people who could not be there last night and they were just so incredibly passion filled, and heart warming. 

We stayed up so late last night...had a few people over to hot tub, and wind down and it was a good time and then I stayed up with Larry for a while. That wasn't the smartest thing but I never regret it.

Had my women's ministries leaders meeting tonight and it was a wonderful time with them as usual. What wonderful women I have walking with me. Their creativity, support and love never ceases to amaze me. Tonight I made dinner for them, which I wish I had time to do each and every time. Most nights we go out. I think they enjoyed it, 

We had a good day...lots of stuff to do, I only got about 5 agenda items done today as we had staff meeting and lunch and so much to discuss it went a long time. We are planning all the events through the year's end so it is consuming to get the details ironed out. Today we were going over everything from the Thanksgiving dinner to poinsetta trees for outside to you name it.

Larry has just done the dishes after my ladies left. What a wonderful husband. He wanted me to do some editing for him on a project and I would rather edit than wash dishes any day.

I feel like I haven't seen the kids in a few days things have been so busy and they have been with friends and such. Tomorrow we go to pick out Dustin's senior portrait packages. Can you believe that my little boy is graduating from high school? It can't be possible. It was just yesterday that I was packing his bag for his first day at school and bawling my eyes out as I dropped him off at the school. What a precious boy.

Still waiting on a verdict from the publisher on my proposal. I go to the mailbox each day thinking, "could this be the day?" I know I need to prepare another proposal. Every good writer has one waiting in the wings for when the rejection letter comes. The faith side of me says, "don't do that! claim it!" The practical side of me says, "regardless of faith, realize this business is fraught with rejection and you have to be prepared for it." If I was Baptist this would not be a problem, I would just prepare the proposals and have them stacked and ready to go, but since I am a Pentecostal, faith walking, miracle believing, supernatural woman -- I sit here believing and choosing to not stack the proposals. :-)

I know some baptists would respectful disagree with me. :-) And that's okay.

Things I'm very happy about today............

1) I got a silver watch for pastor appreciation! Isn't it interesting, my silver watch just broke and Sunday morning as I was dressing I thought, "uh, I can't wear my silver watch today...I have to get a new one..." Then I go to the reception, and Susan presents me with one. HOW SWEET. I know God speaks to His people - nobody can tell me any different. He's in the details.

2) I always take bread over to my next door neighbors each time I bake it. It's been tradition for 2 years now. I am trying to be a light in their lives, show them God's love. I believe it is breaking through. I will invite Donna to the Christmas tea. This time I believe she will come.

3) My book came from amazon.com today! I love fresh reading material!

4) My husband thinks I'm beautiful.

5) There's only five more days til' Campmeeting A Holy Ghost explosion is getting ready to take place. I feel like I'm going to go crazy waiting for it. It's Monday, but Sunday's on the way!!!!!!!!!!!! (Enjoying every moment til' then.)

Thank you Jesus for my wonderful life.

I feel treasured

Today was the pastor appreciation day/reception at our church. We have the best church in the world. That's all I can say.

We are so blessed and we thank God for our precious people every day.
I can go on and say so many other things and perhaps I will blog all about it later, but right now I'm just winding down for the night...we have just read the last of the cards from the people, I've tied up loose ends at home, and I need to get to sleep...(it's 1 am) But I'll just say...it must be hard for other pastors when they come to the realization that the best church in the world is already...taken! 

Thank you Jesus, for giving it to me.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Nighty Night

Well, yesterday was my day off and thank God for it because today actually ended up to be a lot of work --- more than I bargained for. I did sleep in but then it took off like a rocket with so much to get done for tomorrow. It was kind of stressful for me because I did a lot more on my own than I wanted to. (Larry did do some things, just not as much as me...I was desperately longing for help. Somehow admist it all I did take time to cook and healthy meal and exercise. I determined...being upset w/people, nor busyness will ever make me fat again.)

I had to pick up the slack of a few things that were done wrong this past week at the church...re-fix all that stuff...pick Savanna up...make it to an appt...go to the store and pick up cups for class tomorrow (they ran out and no one took the initiative to replace them or even tell me, so thank God I checked)...bake some goodies for my class...return some phone calls that had been waiting since Thursday...finish cleaning, ironing, prepping for tomorrow (actually it's already tomorrow - I'm writing this at 1 am.) I finally finished everything but one initiative item on my list this week...I missed completing everything by one but that will be my first line of action Monday AM. Or maybe tomorrow night after church. So much to do...so very much.

Wow, I'm glad I had that day off yesterday. So glad no one can imagine how glad!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Rest is good

Today Oswald Chambers devo says: "Then the eleven disciples went . . . to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them" ( Matthew 28:16 ). If I want to know the universal sovereignty of Christ, I must know Him myself. I must take time to worship the One whose name I bear. Jesus says, "Come to Me . . ."— that is the place to meet Jesus— "all you who labor and are heavy laden . . ." ( Matthew 11:28 )— and how many missionaries are! We completely dismiss these wonderful words of the universal Sovereign of the world, but they are the words of Jesus to His disciples meant for here and now.

I am taking time in the last 24 hours to come away...take time to rest...take time with Larry...take time to talk with the Lord.

Yesterday I slept in as long as I wanted to, (my voice came back!), and then relaxed. Went to get my nails done. They had Click playing and I had already seen it. I read a fitness magazine and talked to Mai. For the first time she asked me for directions to our church and service times. I invited her to friends day but she didn't come. I have just been quietly waiting to see what will unfold, not pressuring. I think she is interested and softening up. 

We dropped Savanna off for Malibu and went on a date. Larry and I decided to go for Japanese. We got seated with a family that clearly didn't want to be seated by anybody else...or should I say the Mom didn't want to. I thought to myself, "doesn't she know this is the way it works?" I told Larry, let's make this dinner very interesting for her. So, while we were waiting, I snuggled up and would kiss him now and then...whisper in his ear... Of course they looked at us like it was very strange, especially when people see wedding rings they think..."surely they must just be new to this or something..."but no. So the whole meal I decide just to continue on acting like he's my boyfriend instead of my husband. (I enjoy doing that anyway, it's a lot of fun!) When we got ready to leave I actually felt a little sorry for her because it was evident she and her husband had fallen into some comfortable pattern and there was really no affection going on there. Seemed to be almost a business like relationship instead of a love relationship. Perhaps we gave them something to think about. Midway through the dinner the man mentioned that he was placing an ad for his business and wanted to know what paper we read. Larry mentioned to him about the effectiveness of internet advertising and also that we pastor a church. I noticed the woman's eyes got big when he said that. (Uh...not only are the married...but they are pastors of a church? I'm sure she didn't get the connection there...married-pastors-hot passionate love affair...) 

Savanna spent the night at Britney's so after stopping by Walmart to pick up grocery items, I came home and sat in the Jacuzzi and listened to Delilah, sat on my swing and talked to the Lord a while...then went in and picked up where I left off at the restaurant with Larry.

Here ut is Saturday...time to tie loose ends up for tomorrow's service... 

Friday, October 13, 2006

Larry does NOT have cancer!

Well, back on September 19 I blogged about a potential health situation in my family that had me upset although I didn't go into details. I'm happy to blog today with the results. Praise the Lord, Larry DOES NOT have cancer. To say I'm relieved??

Last year Larry had skin cancer. It took me forever to convince him in the first place that something was wrong. I saw some spots and talked to him about it. He didn't want to do anything about it. He's so stubborn about his health but friends have since told me, most men are this way. I have to drag him to the doctors for anything. He always says, "people are fine, then they go to the doctors and find out they're sick." We know that's not true - they were not fine in the first place! But whatever. Sometimes a woman just knows things. Intuition.

He kept putting things off. Finally one day I went to the library to get a book and it had nothing to do with health...it was a leadership book. I brought it home and was reading and something fell out that the last person who checked out the book had left there. It was a pamplet on skin cancer. It had about 5 photos. The one photo looked just like my husband's spots on his skin. It was another confirmation that something had to be done. I made the Dr.s appt for him and he was NOT HAPPY with me. But that's okay, sometimes you just have to let them be unhappy and make them do what's good for them. (No, we shouldn't try to control everything however there are some times you just have to take a stand.) His health is one of those times.

So Larry went to the appointment last year and sure enough, he had skin cancer. So, he went through several treatments for it, and it was completely taken care of. Halleluiah. I slept a lot better at night knowing my prince was okay.

Things were fine and I was so relieved. Then a few weeks ago, I notice a spot...

I was agonizing over it wondering if he would have to go through this again. I mentioned the spot to him and he said it had been there for a few months. Ughhhh! Men! You can't live with them...you can't live without them. I didn't wait for him to do something, I just called his dermatologist and made an appt. So he went and they removed a bunch of spots, probably five or six of them. It made me feel better that they really thoroughly checked him over. After testing, they discovered none of them were cancer. But that's alright, even though he had them removed...at least they will not turn into something, because they are...GONE.
I'm very relieved.

I was so worried about him.

He's so funny. Last year a day after he had a cancer treatment and had this huge patch on his face, he played a softball game with it on and everything. He would run and it would be flapping as he was running. He didn't care, he just wanted to play. Although I'm not a sports person myself, I enjoy seeing the joy it brings to him. And I must say, I've always found it very sexy when he comes running over, hot and sweaty after a game. He never wants to hug me because he feels yuk...but I don't care.

I am always concerned about him because many times he doesn't take the concern for himself. He just always assumes things will be fine...I'm more wary.

I'm glad he's healthy and I can relax now, although remain vigilant in prayer for him, for every aspect of his life. I'm also praying God will remove that stubborn streak he has about things he should just listen to his wife about. :-)

Today is our day off. It feels so good. I am so glad...I needed this. I am getting ready to go get my nails done. I wonder what movie they will have playing? Larry always finds it funny that I see movies at the nail salon. Tony always has a new one, whatever the lastest one is. I see most movies before Larry does since I go to the salon I now go to. Later on Savanna is going to Malibu Grand Prix with Pastor T and the Jam Kids. She's looking forward to it and getting ready now although it's hours to go. I think Larry and I will go on a date. We love dating.

This morning Savanna's friend (also named Savannah) really drove Larry and I off a mental cliff. As many times as we have told her friends not to call early in the AM (especially on a Friday) they sometimes still do. So, Savannah calls her and says, "Savanna...guess what this song is playing on the radio RIGHT NOW! Listen!" and she proceeds to put the phone up to the radio and record the WHOLE SONG on our answer machine. We are laying there and Larry rolls over (listening to the song blaring on the answering machine) and says, "Sometimes our kids friends drive me crazy." After this whole dumb song plays, Savannah calls back five minutes later. Larry picks it up and says, "Uh...Savannah, how many times has Savanna told you NOT to call early in the morning to our house?! Please don't call for at least 2 more hours..." The thing is, not only does our Savanna wake up late when she doesn't have school (she's a sleeper and her friends are not) but she wasn't even here. She spent the night at Molly's so therefore...the phone rang off the hook with her friends calling for absolutely naught. Kids!!!!! Ya gotta love em.

This is going to be a great day. Did I mention it's FUN FRIDAY?!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Prince and Me

Someone once said that the tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it. I would agree with that. I usually regret the things I didn't do more than the things I have done that caused me shame. Of course I didn't relish feeling shame! Certainly not. But what I am saying is sometimes, things that I did not act upon were more upsetting.

As for me, I want to wake up every day "fully alive" (not just going through the motions) but eeeking every drop of wonderfulness out of each day and enjoying the moments.

Last night I worked for a while on the computer and thought I would probably just drift off to sleep because it was so pitifully late...my family had been asleep for hours, but lo and behold, my prince had been waiting for me the whole time, patiently...and I found him as I tiptoed in and slid into bed. It was a delightful surprise but I said..."uh...can you get the baby ready for school?"

This morning I slept a half hour later than normal while he got her ready and took her to the bus stop. I decided to do something absolutely wonderful that I love doing and that is to come out totally 100% strip naked to the kitchen to get my cup of coffee. I love just walking around in my "all together" as some call it...and while I'm doing that, Larry comes back in the door from taking Savanna to the bus. No problem there. But moments later he goes to the boys rooms (they should have been gone hours ago) and there is Dustin in his room...he slept in AGAIN. Larry was so mad but the first thing he yells is, "Uh, Deanna...GET DRESSED!" There goes my blissful freedom of walking around like Eve before the fall. I've got a kid at home. Time to put on the clothes. It's so wonderful when I get those brief moments where I can just be free and just pretend like Larry and I are the only people who exist in the world. In Failure to Launch the Dad has "the naked room." He is so glad the son is finally launched from the nest. One day when the kids are gone, I'm having "the naked house"...and in the meantime I better make sure my kids actually ARE at school when I think they are.

Well, I got the cup of coffee...went back to my room and drew a bath complete with Ecalyptus bubble bath...and sat there for about 15 minutes savoring both. Many days I start off my day in my  bathtub instead of the shower. I know most people never take time for baths instead of showers, but I do. I need them to de-stress and renew because I know the day ahead of me is going to be crazy so I might as well take some time for myself right up front. As I expected, then the day took off like a rocket and I was working on stuff, stuff, stuff...but it's A/G... (All Good!) I love my work. When you really love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life! (I think it was Mark Twain that first said that brilliant line.)

The day was busy...we did take time for staff meeting (a good one) and had lunch with T. How hysterical. He was trying to explain to us that C-sections are rather simple and he could probably do one himself if he had to, and I laughed so hard I could barely contain myself. He's a brilliant man but sometimes he says the funniest goofy things. I tried to explain to him how SERIOUSLY major a C-section surgery is. He talked about how the C-section was done so long ago and it was a rather simple procedure. I'm going to have to research that one. We had to go buy a bunch of stuff for the church after lunch at Lifeway.  

Ordinary Times

Today, Oswald Chamber's devo said: "The true test of a person’s spiritual life and character is not what he does in the extraordinary moments of life, but what he does during the ordinary times when there is nothing tremendous or exciting happening. A person’s worth is revealed in his attitude toward the ordinary things of life when he is not under the spotlight (seeJohn 1:35-37 and John 3:30 )."

So we got all the copying done today on my bookorders to ship out .

There is no bike ride in the morning because I have Zumba tomorrow night. I'm looking forward to it. I am so ready for my day off. It'll be a bit different this week because the kids are off, but I'm still claiming some time to myself. Because they are off, I will definitely sleep in.

Chambers is right, you do find God in the ordinary. I find out how my relationship is with him when I am not in the spotlight and just doing tactical work. Many times doing that type of work I truly feel His presence surrounding me, and usually flooding me with "God-ideas." They flow more than ever when I am just sitting at my computer, or biking, or riding in my car on an ordinary day during an ordinary moment. God has the ability to turn the ordinary very quickly into extraordinary. I love just my ordinary days and am very happy and content with them. Although I'm striving for more than just "ordinary-ness" (I know, it's not a word...) I do love the days when things are just relatively quiet and...well...ordinary.

I love hugs from the kids...walking a few miles...savoring a cup of coffee...reading a good book...taking a nice warm bath...making love with Larry...listening to my MP3 while I ride my bike...walking into a clean kitchen...calling a friend who understands...having Ada style my hair...reading a frivolous women's magazine just to get my mind off of stuff (they are so simple and easy to read and don't require any true brain power. How much intelligence does it really require you to read about the perfect shade of lipstick for this season, or Paris Hilton's last faux pas? Not a lot...that's why it's perfect for a great diversion on a day off when I'm tired.)

I love opening my Bible on just an ordinary day and realizing the extraordinary love of the Father in my life. I love the way God's presence feels. I love getting in the deep places in worship. I love when God speaks to me at that certain moment in His presence. I love the way He loves me, and makes every ordinary day extraordinary.

Today was one such day, I guess. I was zonked this morning (okay, so what's new?) from staying up and working til' about 1:30 am last night. I didn't intend to do that, but I was so backed up from being in Ft. Lauderdale and plus with company I did not get on the computer earlier when they were awake. So, I found myself trying to get a few things done while I could. I figured, "I'll never make it up for my morning bike ride." Well, Savanna Rose came in to the bedroom at about 5 am and said she had a bad dream. She just slid in bed and snuggled next to me. Whenever she sleeps next to me I don't sleep as soundly. It comes from when she was a baby and slept next to me and I was always very cautious and on guard for her every move. So, I was already sort of awake when it was time for the ride. I got up and got dressed and headed down to 54 for my morning journey...came back and had a cup of hazelnut coffee while I sat in the bathtub. Then it was off and running to get her ready for school. We had breakfast with Bob and Sally on the way to work...and then I started on the ordinary stuff I always have on my plate. Nothing real out of the box today. Loads of paperwork...making video announcements more computer work...finishing final last minute edit on book and printing.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Trust and obey, for there's no other way...

Today's My Utmost for His Highest devo says:

"You could read volumes on the work of the Holy Spirit, when five minutes of total, uncompromising obedience would make things as clear as sunlight. Don’t say, "I suppose I will understand these things someday!" You can understand them now. And it is not study that brings understanding to you, but obedience. Even the smallest bit of obedience opens heaven, and the deepest truths of God immediately become yours. Yet God will never reveal more truth about Himself to you, until you have obeyed what you know already. Beware of becoming one of the "wise and prudent." "If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know . . ."  John 7:17
Wow, that is power packed!

It's so true. I've said for a long time that I have notice how many Christian self help books women read without ever changing their lives. They just read and read. I have always tried to guard myself from doing that. How true that we can read a bunch of books about the work of the Spirit, yet never have the work of the Spirit manifested in our lives. How awesome to think that we can have the understanding NOW if we just listen to the voice of the Lord...truly hear, listen, obey. That's why the Lord says, "he who has an ear to hear..." because some really don't have an ear to hear. They technically physically hear but do not listen and obey.

Obedience is the key to an open heaven. Lord, please help me to hear you ever so clearly and have immediate obedience as my first response.

Just returning from Ft. Lauderdale. It was a good trip as usual. I worked on the computer all the way there and back on a project and finished just as we pulled in the driveway at home. When we came home Sally was cooking dinner. It was so good. Pistachio encrusted chicken, and lots of veggies to go along with it. We enjoyed a couple mile walk so now she's at the store and I'm blogging until it's time to get in the jacuzzi. I've been at co-horts in Lauderdale for 2 days but now it's back to the office tomorrow and playing catch up. I did work from the road but there's still so much to accomplish, only I know how much! In addition to my regular work I have 27 orders right now to fill of products, to send out. Somehow, we'll get it done.

Still waiting to hear back from the publisher on my latest book proposal. It's getting down to the wire with the response time. I keep telling myself maybe no news is good news but then again, the publishing business is so fraught with rejection I try to never get my hopes up. However, despite the rampant rejection, I do know my miracle is on the way. It's just moving slow, but it's headed toward me. And I made the decision back in August to turn down whatever else came my way that may compete with it, in order to receive it. Some may call me a fool for turning down something possible for something that many might deem impossible, or something requiring so much of a wait. But it's a matter of calling. The fact is, I'm as called to write as I am to pastor. That has become clear over the last year. So, it is with this knowing that I resolutely proceed. Obedience. That's the name of the game. Trust and obey, for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus...but to trust and obey.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Merry go round of life...but it's all good...

What a whirlwind few days. First, cramming all of my work into 3 days before retreat. I'm still catching up on the laptop as we travel. But I'm getting ahead of myself... 

After cramming as much as possible due to missing Thursday as an office day, I took off for women's retreat. It was awesome. Our ladies loved it. Two were filled with the Holy Spirit. We took our biggest group ever! My speaking went awesome, and we sold out of all the products, with 27 orders to mail. I never lose the wonder that people want to hear what I say and read what I write.

It was just a delightful thing most of all to be away with our ladies. God has brought us so many wonderful people to the church and I love being with them. So much of what Larry and I have prayed for is coming to fruition. The DNA of the congregation has changed so much and the "winners" we have prayed in are ever evident! I'm enjoying seeing the changes more each day. So much of what I have hung on and believed for is happening. Thank you, Jesus.

I came home and Bob and Sally were at the house. Larry had the house looking incredible. I just fell in love with him all over again. Bob and Sally came to visit a few days. I am so glad to spend time with them, at the same time completely zonked with the ministry schedule. It doesn't stop no matter what. Despite my exhaustion, we had great services Sunday and they were with us. After that Sally and I went for a long walk and both nights, Sat and Sun we just relaxed in the jacuzzi a little bit before bed. On Sunday we took them to the Dish along with Currie's. They loved it.

First thing early this AM we took off for church life cohort in Ft. Lauderdale.  I am so tired and have lost my voice from speaking for 2 and 1/2 hours Sat and a full day Sunday. But again life is good. I'm trying to edit a lot of material on the road, get a lot from cohorts and spend time with Larry. Let me say when I take my day off this week I'm going to enjoy it. :-) I need it if for no other reason than to rest and get my voice back. 

I couldn't be happier to have Bob and Sally with us but I miss sharing everything right away with Larry like we normally do. I miss having more alone time together. Although we're at cohort and have homework and early morning prayer and such...it will just be good to spend some quiet time with him and go to sleep in his arms. It's almost that time. After cohort tonight we had dinner with Coopers, Dearborns and Bro. Raburn. Great time of sharing, but I'm ready to go lay down beside Larry and enjoy the best part of the night...

Life is good. When we get back Sally is making us a special dinner and we can spend another evening/morning with them before they have to go back to Richmond. Life is not slowing down ---but at least I'm greatly enjoying the ride. GOD IS SO GOOD.

Thank you, Lord, for being the strength of my life...and for bringing me so much joy.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Stuck keys...brilliant son

I'm getting ready to leave for a women's retreat in a few moments...I might not blog for a few days unless I get internet access from my laptop...so all of you who read my blogs might get a rest these next few days...I know you'll miss me! :-)

Writing this is a real labor of love this morning. Last night Savanna Rose decided it would be fun to paint all of the computer keys with white out...not realizing first of all it was incredibly stupid but second, some of the keys are stuck. And don't work. Fortunately, Dustin is a computer whiz and figured out how to rig some of the stucks keys for me so that when you press control and another key, that key works. It's pretty crazy. My son can do everything from jimmy up a stuck computer key to even trace e-mails for me from people who think I can't track them down. (look out...!) ha ha! I'm serious, people wouldn't believe what this boy can do. The C.I.A. should hire him.

Anyhoo, Larry will get a new keyboard today...I think he already has an extra one @ his office. What possesses kids to do things, I don't know...

Ada did my hair yesterday. She always leaves me on a high, both about my new look, and spiritually...what an uplift. We cut a lot off in the back and I'm real happy w/it.

I'm moving slow today...we went out til' late with a missionary couple last night and we could have talked forever. Great fellowship. But  this morning, I could have slept in forever.

I'll be speaking at the retreat this weekend - my seminar is "10 ways to keep your marriage hot! hot! hot!" It seems I'm always asked to do that topic. Got to go finish packing and get outta here...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Tasting life

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -- Mark Twain

There are so many things I want to do. So many things I have yet to do. So many more things on my "blue leaf" I created. The blue leaf is ever beckoning...ever calling me to finish the blue leaf list in the next decade. I had a list of things to accomplish by the time I was 30. I accomplished them all, with a few years to spare. I pushed on through some more goals to 40...and now with the next decade in front of me, I have many things yet to do. I am feeling more adventurous than I have ever felt in my life. I have no fear of venturing, only thought as to how whatever I do may affect others. I'm not wanting to do anything unGodly nor irresponsible, but even things that still fall within what I see as safe boundaries may affect those I love most. So, I'm still taking care but as much as possible...tasting as much of life as I can. And it's good.

I want to throw off the bowlines. Completely. Beyond where I've been before.

I still have everyday things to accomplish such as I did today...computer work...3 loads of laundry...dinner...dishes...weeding...phone calls...packing for my trip...but admist all that I still hopped on my bike and rode off at sunset and let my mind soar to all the new things I want to do in life. All the territory I have yet to claim, and all the victories I have yet to win. They are out there, ready for me to grab them by the tail. I will explore. I will dream. I will discover. And I will feel every moment of it, taste it, savor it...not just check it off on my list, but revel in it.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Monday musings

"We see His glory on the mountain, but we never live for His glory there. It is in the place of humiliation that we find our true worth to God— that is where our faithfulness is revealed." ~ Oswald Chambers

God shows me time and again how the difficult places mold me into who He wants me to be. Reading this devotional today reminded me again of why it is so important to stay ever close to Him. Being in ministry is an up and down rollercoaster all in one day, all the time. You hit a snag of wonderfulness and two seconds later you can deal with a serious problem.

Last night at the Women's Ministries About Face night of ministry, one of my leaders asked me, "How do you handle the people's problems? How do you shoulder all these burdens?" I told her that it is not knowing or hearing people's problems that is difficult. Although I hurt for and sympathize for people (because we are family), I do not feel "taxed", upset or overwhelmed that they have shared them with me. I am honored to walk through the journey of life with them. Hearing about people's problems never bothers me. The people BECOMING a problem is what wearies me. I explained this to her and she understood immediately. 

It's not helping people through their problems that is wearing on a leader. It is when they become the problem that is wearisome, and difficult to shoulder at times. I think if I did not have to deal with that factor, I could pastor forever and a day. In fact, I know I could. The good thing is, when dealing the rollercoaster, we are not alone, not the first nor the last - every pastor faces it, grows, learns, changes, and hopefully - instead of quitting - becomes all the greater of a leader. I know I am committed to do that.

It's Monday and I'm zonked once again. Mondays are always so tiring. I tell myself every time I'm going to do something of significance on a Monday night but I usually end up collapsing. Tonight I'm going to sit in the jacuzzi with Larry and then go to bed a little early. As far as work goes I'll have energy to perhaps do the dishes tonight (maybe not) and that'll be about all. I am not even up to working on the computer which I normally crave ding but right now I don't want to concentrate. I don't even want to have to read something challenging...perhaps just some easy read like a women's magazine.

It was a busy weekend. I was on my own on Sunday because Larry preached in Davenport. It was a good day, in fact a great day, but I'm tired.

Right now I'm in the mood for change (once I get some rest) and I am ready to embark on a new adventure. So we'll see what tomorrow holds.

Things I'm so grateful for today... 

1) A great About Face Night last night...so many women said they were incredibly blessed and I heard some things I've been praying to hear for 4 years now. My heart took a leap forward. 
2) My heart is knit together with certain leaders in such a way I feel together, our team is unstoppable. 
3) I'm growing to a new point in my life since I turned 40...of being more resolute with doing what my heart tells me to do. Everyone said this would happen. Amazing how it does and I tried my best to stay away from stereotypes, but here I went... 
4) Dustin is amazing me more every day by what God is doing in his life. 
5) Jesus loves me, and I know it. And no matter what, that gets me through every day with a smile on my face.