Thursday, November 30, 2006

Getting ready for the big night!



I took today off most of today in preparation for "the big day" tomorrow. (The funeral and the Christmas Tea) I had crammed yesterday to take off some time today and I was so glad I did. I read Tom Rees's ezine today and it was on margins in life and how we need them. It made me glad I had made this choice to take some time off today. There were so many things on my mind for the tea, but I needed a moment to breathe. The truth is, no matter how ready I am I never feel ready enough. I always feel like I need to be re-detailing the details. Honing the message up til the last minute.

Larry let me sleep in and got Savanna up and ready for school. I did some things around the house, and caught up on doing some things for myself. Larry found a few moments to take a look at my car and evidently it was a simple wire that needed to be cleaned. It's running again and I feel like I have my life back. When Dustin got home we needed to take him down to work at the church for a few hours and Larry and I went to Westshore. I got him his shirt for his birthday that he has been wanting -- a Penguins Sidney Crosby shirt. He put it on right in the store and wore it home. We spent a little time together shopping and headed back to the church where I put some finishing touches on just for a few moments that I needed to take care of for tomorrow night.

In the morning we have the funeral and then I have to finish up things for tomorrow night, get ready and get back to the church with the boys. They are both serving and Dustin and I are doing a duet. I get so excited for these outreaches, but also in anticipation of them being over. The adreneline that it takes to get through them is immense. I keep telling myself, this time tomorrow night it will be over, things will be cleaned up and hopefully I'll be sitting in my jacuzzi thanking God for all that was accomplished and that somebody's life was really changed. That's the goal.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Men in Black



Larry got a new black suit today that is absolutely mind-blowingly sexy. Just had to start off this blog by letting the world know this. He never ceases to make me laugh. Ever since a funeral a few weeks ago, he can't find his black suit jacket that he always wears most. The pants and shirt are in the closet but the jacket is not. He checked my car, his car, the closet at work. No jacket. I think we should try harder to find it but he said, "Nah, I'll just go get a new suit." He has another funeral Friday so he has to have a solid black suit. It reminds me of when Savanna was a toddler and she would misplace her shoes and if he was the one taking care of her at the time he would just go down to Walmart and buy her a cheap pair of shoes rather than try and find the other ones. Men! Ya gotta love 'em. Well let me tell you, I especially DO love him in this new black suit. How in God's name I'm going to control myself in public with THIS? Keep me in prayer everyone. (Not that I always control myself in public now...) 

I got my hair done today. Told Ada "surprise me." I trust her implicitly. What a delight she is. So she really gave me a color change - it's darker, with some new highlights and low lights, although rather red than blonde. Once again, I am ever the "new woman..." :-) Just when I get used to it she'll change it again next month. And that's great with me! I had a great time with her at my appt. as usual. What an uplift she is.

Today was a busy day, cramming a ton of work in to one day so I can hopefully take off some time tomorrow being that I will not have Friday off at all. I stuffed a ton of work into this day and it was worth it! My bicycle is calling me for tomorrow..."come back Deanna...I miss you!" I think I might just tour the entire Lexington Oaks tomorrow, who knows? I think I might meet Larry for lunch and who knows what else!? I think I might get a little sleep and catch up on some rest and then spend some more time with Larry later on after he's home. You can't ever spend too much time with a handsome man in black. :-) 

Got most of the church set up for the Victorian Tea Fri. night. I am so looking forward to it! And looking forward to it being over as well. I love experiencing the event, and I love the feeling of completion and being able to relax. Only a few more things to do in addition to prayer...just some finishing touches to put on. I'll do that Friday. Ashley helped in the office so much today and took a tremendous load off. When I saw her walk in the door, it was like an angel appeared. 

I'm beat. I didn't get home from church until 11. This is my update for the day. I'm done filling all of you in who wait on the edge of your seat to see what I did with my time today. Oh yeah, in case you want to know, I ate pizza for lunch today. :-) (But on program! I am not off the wagon, just for you inquiring minds.) It's time to read my Bible...and snuggle with the man for a few moments. (and just imagine what he looked like earlier in that black suit!)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Deck the Halls...




Finally our house is completely decorated for Christmas! And I love it! 

Maybe we will even win Northampton Yard of the Month again, who knows!!! Well, I say "finally" decorated~ and actually we are early - before December 1. But...it feels like "finally" because I was racing against time to get it done in time for Larry's birthday.

Actually he ended up helping! I didn't want it to be that way - that he was helping me around the house on his birthday however the fact that the Mustang has been out of commission has really set me back big time on getting anything done. Larry needs to fix it however he simply hasn't had the time. He thinks it's just the battery or something simple, it's just finding the time. I forgot what it was like to not have my own car. I was not able to fix the huge dinner I wanted to for his b'day because we were shuffling the van back and forth to all our work/appointments. So we had pizza. But he was happy.

We had most of the inside done except a very few things, but today we got the lights done on the outside and the rest of the finishing touches put on things.

I was recalling tonight that it was Thanksgiving time last year that we had the front yard re-done with the new paving and landscaping, and also our sound system put in. Yes, we have a sound system in the front yard...I know that sounds crazy to some of you reading this who have never been to my house, but it's really cool. We put a CD on inside the house and there are speakers that are in the shape of rocks that are hidden throughout the flower beds outside. Sort of like going to Disney. (ha ha!) So we play music in the evenings usually...Sinatra, Chris Botti, Kenny G., etc. Right now it's Christmas so you might hear anything from Bing Crosby to The Nutcracker. Everyone comments about how they get a different attitude just walking down the sidewalk into our house. And those in our neighborhood who walk outside really like it. Well, I'm the musical half of our marriage, however...it was Larry's idea to do this to the front yard and I'm so glad he suggested it! 

One of my goals in moving into this neighborhood was to win "yard of the month." My kids said with all the old people who live here who have nothing to do but garden all day, we'd never win. They told me to just give up. That's all I need to hear to make sure I get something done - just challenge me. Well, I told the kids, if I can't do it, I'll find someone who CAN. When Sierra Landscaping was done with our front yard, just a WEEK later, we won "yard of the month." I jumped up and down on the lawn screaming and promptly had Larry take my picture next to the "yard of the month" sign. These retired people have NOTHING on us, lemme tell you. :-)

Anyway, last year the new front yard went in, and on the first night it was completed we couldn't stop sneaking out to take a peek. We were in our jammies at about midnight and snuck out there again and went across the street to our neighbors driveway just to stare at it. Our landscaper lives in the same development we do. While we were out there at midnight his wife sent him out for a gallon of milk or something and he rode by and saw us staring at it at midnight and stopped and said, "I can tell you guys really like this new yard..." He thought we were so funny.

So there Larry and I were in our jammies, standing over at the neighbors, with Sinatra playing on the CD (quietly, so as not to wake any neighbors up...we keep it low enough that it sets an ambiance outside but can't be heard by anyone inside.) And we came out to the street and stood there in our jammies and slow danced to Sinatra underneath the street light. What a memory... Last night I tried to re-create it when we were standing out there but it just wasn't the same. Some things are once in a lifetime. Although we often play Chris Botti in our jacuzzi or listen to Delilah and Larry will stand up in the middle of the jaccuzi and ask me to dance. :-)

Well, the lights are all done in the front. Larry wants to put some more in the back this year since we have the patio completely done. Good idea! However I think the priority should be to fix the Mustang first so I can actually FUNCTION normally. :-)

Monday, November 27, 2006

More pictures of the cruise













Isa sent me some great pictures. I wish I could post all 47 of them but I'll stop at just a few. Gosh, we had so much fun!

Me and my guy


Larry and I taking time for a little slow dance on the cruise. Mmmmmm...does this man look yummy or what?! He's like the jelly on a biscuit! Woo hoo!!!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Praise and worship all the time???

SOMEBODY GET ME A PARIS TEA! Thank you. Okay, I'm sitting here with a cup of Paris tea (my favorite) trying my best to calm myself down.

I have Christmas tree woes. Family dissension woes. Housework woes. What is it about this day? What is it? What is it? I don't want to be a complainer. Truly I don't. There are bigger things going on in the world other than a Christmas tree malfunction. People out there are dealing with big family problems, sickness and disease. There's the war in Iraq. There are starving children in Africa. I know my problems are small potatoes. But honestly, right now I'm irritated and I just need to calm down. So indulge me for a minute and for those that don't want to, just read somebody else's blog.

As usual the guys brought the Christmas tree in the day after Thanksgiving and set it up and just left it there for me to do my thing. Jordan checked five strands of lights to make sure they worked. And so then the work really began. 

Nobody wants to do lights, me included but I always end up doing them. Somebody has to. Savanna and Jordan said they'd help this year but the whole time they argued. All the while Amy Grant was singing, "just hear those sleigh bells jingle and ring ting tinglin' too..." and meanwhile the two of them are hurling Christmas stuff across the room at each other. 

Well after enduring that fiasco, we plug the tree in and a third of it is not working. I was frustrated, but a second later, Jordan just touched the tree, and "boom!" they came on. Halleluiah! I said, "kids leave it on, do not touch it again. Just leave it here until Christmas day, and things will be fine, thank you very much."

I proceeded to put all the beads and ornaments on. I thought, "it's a wonderful life." I went around the next few hours working on the rest of the decor, listening to XM Holiday music going la la la la la and thinking to myself, "it's the most wonderful time of the year especially because both Jordan and Savanna busied themselves in separate areas of the house and are no longer having their little spat!"

But then today I have noticed on and off as I am doing my mountain of church work and house work that the trees are periodically off. So I yell, "WHO TURNED OFF THE TREES?" To which one of the kids say, "I did..." To which I say, "And WHY pray tell, have you done that?" No real solid answer back, just an "I dunno" type thing. There is SOMETHING about a button that makes people feel they just HAVE to touch it.

All day long I've gone back and forth between my briefcase to my phone to my house, getting a myriad of things done all the while with a dull headache. Maybe it's PMS. Maybe it's the devil. Maybe it's just normal life and I have too high of expectations. But at one point both the boys (and some of their friends who were here spending the night) and Savanna were having another one of their brou-ha-ha's. This was all surrounding Playstation, which is often an issue of spiritual warfare in our house. In the midst of this Savanna says, "Mom, can I go to Savannah Dempsey's? Her Mom says it's alright."

"You betcha! Great idea!"

Mrs. Dempsey was kind enough to even come over and pick her up and she stayed there for 3 hours. I was able to finish the housework, ironing all the family's clothes for tommorrow, making a few more "care calls", returning messages, working on a message for Wednesday, washing and folding two loads of laundry, and more without hearing, "Mom...get her out of here! She's touching the Playstation again! She's bugging us!" ...

"No I wasn't, dork!"

"Yes you were, liar!"

There was no more la la la la la most wonderful time of the year stuff for me. I began singing "through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come, tis grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home..." Okey dokey...

So about 30 minutes ago I'm doing the third load of dishes for the day and getting the briefcase packed for tomorrow and I look over and see, only 1/2 the family tree is lit. WHY, WHY, WHY? So I ask this question and I find out, somebody just felt they had to go over and press the button to turn it off. So I yell, "WHATEVER! I'm not fixing it! We will just have an unlit tree for Christmas since no one in this house can keep their hands to themselves! Enjoy your UNLIT tree, everybody!"

To which Larry says, "Honey, why are you so upset? Calm down." He proceeds to go over and take a look at the tree. And after several moments of looking at it he says, "Deanna, how in the world did you do these lights in the first place anyway?" He proceeds to tell me all the reasons they were put on the tree wrong. (I put them on from the top down...I plugged them all into one switch, etc.) Pardon me, it's been a while since I graduated from Christmas tree lighting school.

So it's MY FAULT that nobody in this house can keep their hands off of an electric switch to turn the tree on or off???!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Like I said, it's time to sit here and have a Paris tea. AND take a long hot bath before bed. Misty told me yesterday that a lady she works with asked her, "So, when you are married to a pastor, what's it like? Do you just sit around at home and praise and worship all the time?" 

I don't know how Misty kept a straight face on that one. Some of the time might be praise and worship, but for sure some of the time we're just praying and interceding that we won't lose our minds.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The importance of fruit

Our house is decorated for Christmas now for the most part but the boys have to put the lights outside tomorrow. Each year I tell myself I'm going to add another tree and time always gets away from me but this year we did it.

Today we got another tree and I decided to decorate it in a sugared fruit theme. (Here is a photo... I think it's a work in progress, I'll be adding some things as we go along.)

As I was mulling over what to do the thought hit me about sugared fruit, not only because I think it's beautiful but because it reminded me of the fruit of the spirit. I have long said that if you don't possess the fruits of the spirit, nobody really cares if you have the gifts of the spirit. That is one of my pet peeves...fruitless Christians in the church. Just sort of hanging around, dead on the vine. Jesus said in John 15:16 "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last."

We are destined to be fruit bearers. It was His plan that we grow the fruit of the Spirit in our life and that we also bear all kinds of other fruit for Him. People saved through our influence...discipled...going forth to bear lasting fruit of their own. This is what really matters. When I am old someday, I want to basically have a vineyard full of spiritual fruit in my life. Forget about the basket. It's not big enough to hold what I believe God wants to do in my life. 

I have both trees up and decorated and most of the decorations in the living room/dining room/family room. Larry and the boys have to go to the church to work tomorrow but when they get home they will do the lights. After I got these two trees up and done, (our family tree and the fruit tree) I stood back and said, "Larry, you're going to think I'm crazy but I want to put a third tree in the kitchen next year...I want to do a tea tree." He didn't say anything but just shot me a look that said, "Yep, you're crazy."

Living in Paradise


'Life is a paradise for those who love many things with a passion." Leo Buscaglia

Since I love many things with a passion I guess I am a paradise dweller. Things I love right now with a passion...

1) Decorating our house for Christmas. The fun begins today!
2) Shopping! (Also going to do some of that today for Christmas. Can you believe Pastor T waited in line at a store since 3 a.m. this morning? He better never accuse me of being a shopaholic is all I gotta say!)
4) Spending time with my sweetheart...another thing I'm going to do today. We are going Christmas shopping and to lunch, and then we will decorate the house together, at least a little bit. How did I get so blessed to have a man who does all this with me? (Oh yeah, I forgot, I trained him.) :-)
5) Writing.
6) Sitting on my swing on my brick paver patio in the back yard. At sunset is the best, when I'm not on my bike I like to be on the swing.
7) Finding something new in God's Word - seeing it a different way - stopping to catch something I didn't before when I read it.
8) Getting Christmas cards in the mail. We got our first one yesterday, from our district superintendent.
9) An opportunity to sleep in. I slept til noon today. For this Jesus, I give You thanks.
10) God forgave me for all that I ate yesterday. Now I'm back on track today and trying to not be too grouchy about it. After all, I'm living in paradise. What is there to be grouchy about, really?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Relaxing Thanksgiving








So here we are on this fine Thanksgiving day that our family enjoyed with our children's pastors - Trinity & Misty Mackley and their children, Nate and Celeena. You will notice my kids are not in the pictures. My boys were in their jammies most of the day lounging around. Being that I am a Mom that chooses my battles carefully and does not major in the minors........ it's really no big deal to me that the boys chose to lay around in their pj's on what is supposed to be one of the most relaxing days of the year anyway. We're just home all day relaxing and doing a bit of everything here and there. Truthfully I might have stayed in my jammies had I thought twice about it! (Sometimes I actually am in my pj's when the staff is here...appropriate ones of course!) Honestly now that I think about it I'm pretty much living in a swimsuit or jammies at home. What a life!

Larry and I stayed up very late last night together and then we slept in...me longer than him. I slept til' I could sleep no more. That right there made for a wonderful day. Larry got up to start making the turkey but I slept about another hour. He always makes the turkey and does a great job of it. I could have done a lot more housework (gotten into some deep cleaning rather than just general stuff) than I did this morning but decided to not to drive myself crazy and actually take some more time to relax. I already had the majority of the cooking done and the table set last night.

After sleeping a little while longer I got up to get the sweet rolls done for Savanna. The boys were coming home from Steven's mid morning and they got here right in time to get some sweet rolls before they were gone. I got the dough going for the dinner rolls and prepped everything to roll them out, finished some cleaning and then settled in for a long bath complete with a facial mask and a tea tree hair treatment. I like to do that kind of stuff when I'm home for holidays and can just soak in the tub. After all that, Mackley's arrived and we finished making the rest of the dinner. Before we ate I sent the customary basket of rolls over to the neighbors. It's a wonderful tradition I have of sharing bread with them each time I make it. Donna says it usually never makes it to their table. Each person grabs a roll and eats them up while she's passing the basket, they love them so much. Someday I need to have the neighbors over and teach them how to make bread. I keep saying that, now I just need to do it! 

They guys watched football and played the Tiger Woods golf game most of the day and after cleaning up the incredible dinner we made, Misty and I took Celeena and went in our room and crashed on the bed and watched Take the Lead. I never did watch it last night - I just spend time with Larry. Anyhoo, the movie was good. We enjoyed it and it was so nice just to RELAX. When the staff/family is here I do not feel pressure to entertain although I like to do things nice, it's the type of thing where we can come together and do the things we all love to do whether it be movies, playstation, playing around on the computer or just having a cup of tea and talking. Being that our staff members are more family than anything, we are just at home doing whatever, even if we just fall on the couch asleep it's okay with everybody. So Misty and I watched our movie and then came out and had pie. Moooooreee food! This is THE DAY for it and tomorrow, we're right back to WW "point city"...all of us but Misty. (She doesn't need it.)

Actually everyone is still here...the guys have started watching Survivor and I convinced Misty that she should get on line and order her pictures from Sam's for Christmas. I did it and it was so easy. So she's sitting here poring through photos and ordering all that on line while I'm blogging. Savanna and Nate & Celeena are writing and putting on a play in various rooms. They have been perfecting various acts of this play all day. We've had a few cups of tea and talked for a long time, and it seems we just done a little of everything all day and it's really been great. The one thing we have left to do before they go home is jacuzzi, so I think I'll go put my suit on.

I'm thankful for a wonderful, relaxing Thanksgiving day that was just what the doctor ordered! Now if I can just get some more rest tomorrow! It's our regular day off. Barring no emergencies, I'm going to take this day off too. It's not often we get two days in a row off, normally we just have one day a week. (We always work Saturdays.) So I'm really looking forward to tomorrow and this down time. God is good!

Butterscotch Breakfast Rolls

Every Thanksgiving and Christmas morning (and vacation if we are in a rented condo, etc.) I make butterscotch sweet rolls and my family is craaaazy about them. Jordan just walked in the door moments ago from spending the night at a friends house and said, "Mom...you have to start making two pans of these rolls instead of just one...there aren't enough!" I could probably make several pans and they would still say they aren't enough. It's the sort of thing you could just keep eating and eating. Try these...I promise, you'll like them.




BUTTERSCOTCH SWEET ROLLS
1 box or bag of frozen dinner rolls. (You can use the kind that is in frozen dough form, or the ones I prefer are Sister Schuberts frozen yeast rolls. When using Sister Schuberts they are already pre-baked and you just take them out of the freezer and they quickly warm up. Using Sister Schuberts I make the rolls the morning of.  If you use the ones that are in frozen dough form you have to prepare the recipe the night before, but it's still very easy to do.)

Ingredients
1 bag/box rolls
1 small box of butterscotch pudding (the kind you cook - NOT instant)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 stick melted butter

If using frozen dough rolls get them out the night before. Spray a 9 x 13 pan  or grease it with oil. Place frozen rolls in the pan. (I usually use Parkerhouse frozen dough rolls when doing the night before.) Mix the other three ingredients in a bowl and spoon it over the rolls.  If doing the overnight method, place a kitchen towel over the bundt pan and keep it in the oven (cold - not turned on) all night long. When you wake up in the morning, take the towel off, and turn the oven on to 325 degrees. Bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until it looks done. Don't let rolls burn. Let them get just lightly brown and cook just long enough for them to be done on the inside. Take rolls out of oven, turn over onto a plate and serve. (You'll need to eat them with a fork as they are real "gooey" but so yum!)

Now, as I said before, my first choice is to make these rolls using Sister Schuberts brand.  They are much better that way in my opinion.   If using Sister Schubert's rolls, they come in a bag of 10, and  I take them out the morning of, and put them in a 9 x 13 pan.  I mix the other three ingredients and spoon it on top, bake a few minutes, then turn the rolls over and make sure they are totally coated in the gooey coating.  Then after about 10-15 minutes take out and serve immediately.

So good!

You always knew



Beware of "the cares of this world . . ." ( Mark 4:19 ). They are the very things that produce the wrong attitudes in our soul. It is incredible what enormous power there is in simple things to distract our attention away from God. Refuse to be swamped by "the cares of this world." Another thing that distracts us is our passion for vindication. St. Augustine prayed, "O Lord, deliver me from this lust of always vindicating myself." Such a need for constant vindication destroys our soul’s faith in God. Don’t say, "I must explain myself," or, "I must get people to understand." Our Lord never explained anything— He left the misunderstandings or misconceptions of others to correct themselves. - Oswald Chambers; My Utmost for His Highest


I don't know why I worry about things so much when the God of the universe is on my side as long as I remain righteous. Or should I rephrase that - why should I worry when I'm on HIS side? Scripture asks us, "who is on the Lord's side?" Whoever is, is clearly always the winner.

I have this overwhelming need to always set the record straight on myself. To explain. To get people to understand. It's futile and beside that - God has a plan - always, that I know not of.

It's amazing to me how He always vindicates His servants and has a plan to usher us into our next level past criticism, and obstacles - if we just let Him.

God always has something up His sleeve for His servants. He's always on time. I stand amazed at His working in my life, in our family, in our church, in everything that touches our lives. God really does care about everything from my large concerns to my every day irritations. And as long as I stay true to Him, He promises to move the mountains on my behalf.

Father, I love You, and more than that right now, I TRUST YOU. While I can't always see Your hand at work in something right away, I can trust Your heart, because I remember what You have done in my past and who you have proven Yourself to be. Thank you for arranging, re-arranging, doing ALL THINGS FOR MY GOOD. For this and so many other things, I am thankful. The problem is when I worry about stuff that's just not my thing. I've got to stop doing that! So help me.

You always knew what you were going to do about my problems. You knew all along. You were already in the future, waiting to show me around.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

10 Facts about Larry and I


1) We have been married 20 years on June 27, 2007.

2) We went to Hawaii on our honeymoon.

3) We're still living a honeymoon.

4) We are very adventurous.

5) Our favorite places in life: our home, our church, our bed, our jacuzzi, or anywhere on a date night together!

6) Life is always interrupting our conversations, darn it.

7) We are both just as committed to ministry as the other.

8) We both love Greek food most.

9) We love movies.

10) We aren't afraid of being empty nesters someday. We are looking forward to our house being clothing optional inside 100% of the time instead of just the time the kids are in school. :-)

Holiday Preparations and Traditions

I think I've hit my limit tonight. After coming home from 1/2 day at the office today I started cleaning/cooking. So far I have the pies done and the sweet potato casserole, and I have the table set. I also have some of the cleaning done but not near enough. However, I think I'm quitting for tonight and I'll get up and start working in the morning although Larry and I are sleeping in. I should still have about 2 hours to clean after getting up and around before company comes. Or should I say after "family" comes. T and Misty and the kids are coming. Yeah! I wish all the staff could come but all the rest are with their biological families. :-)

Larry rented us a movie to see tonight, Take the Lead. I'm getting ready to warm up a scone for myself and some tea and sit down here with him to watch it. The boys went to Steven's tonight so we just have SR. She's been helping me with pies, giving Geena a bath, and cleaning her room.

I got this questionnaire from another pastor’s wife and thought I’d answer it for fun for all of you out there who give a rip about my Christmas traditions:


1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Usually hot tea or coffee.
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? He absolutely wraps them.
3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? Colored. I think it’s a more old fashioned look, and it reminds me of when I grew up. White lights just weren’t in back then…I’m a child of the 60’s/70’s.
4 . Do you hang mistletoe? I really don’t need it. My husband and I make out all the time without it around so what in the world would we do WITH it?
5. When do you put your decorations up? The day after Thanksgiving.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Stuffing and my sweet potato casserole. I can’t just pick one. My favorite food (all year round) is mashed potatoes. But I don’t consider that my favorite holiday food since I have it all the time.
7. Favorite holiday memory as a child: Singing Christmas carols either at church or out in the neighborhood. And our Christmas programs/concerts at school.
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I never believed Santa brought the presents as a child…I always just thought he was a figure like Mickey Mouse.
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Yes, we usually always do. Everyone in our family opens one.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? Our tree is full of 20 years of memories. Nothing matches. It’s a “family tree” with ornaments given to us by friends and family, and homemade ornaments from the kids.
11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? At Christmas time love it, but I’m so glad to be a Floridian now. I don’t like dealing with it year round.
12. Can you ice skate? Yes. I love skating.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Wow…picking one of of 40 Christmases is kind of hard…but it would probably honestly be the first year my husband got to be with me on Christmas and did not have to work another job on Christmas day as he did our first two years in ministry.
14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Enjoying every single minute of it as much as I can. I watched one of my closest friends pass away twelve years ago now, and seeing his face as he realized it was his last Christmas…was a very difficult thing. I determined then never to take it for granted.
15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Absolutely Pumpkin Pie. (“There’s a happy feeling nothing in this world can buy…as they pass around the coffee and the pumpkin pie! It’d nearly be like a picture print by Currier and Ives…these wonderful things are the things we remember all through our lives…”)
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Going to Chinese with my family on Christmas Eve. Also taking some extra time to snuggle with my darling Larry.
17. What tops your tree? An angel
18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? Giving. Nothing makes me happier than giving to people. I wish I could do it so much more than I do. I always pray that God would give me more and more so I can give more and more. I have big dreams of what I want to give the people around me.
19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? hymn? O Little Town of Bethlehem and The Birthday of a King.
20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? I like looking at them and decorating my tree with them, but not eating them.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Fantabulous Date Night!

Larry and I went on a date tonight! It was spontaneous at the last minute but so wonderful. His board meeting got postponed because a few people couldn't make it. So that left the night open for us. He came home and decided to take me to Circles and then we went to Sam's to pick up a computer chair that he spent some b'day money on. We had such a nice time. I didn't know it but Circles has a dining room for people with kids, and one for people without. WOW. What a fantastic idea. We were without the kids so we were wildly excited to go in the room without. What a wonderful adult evening. We focused on each other and sharing thoughts uninterrupted. Now we're home but he's putting his chair together. 

Today Dustin and Jordan had a little Thanksgiving feast with their lunch table. We got them chicken and mashed potatoes for their contribution. Larry took it to them at school at lunch time. They said all the other kids were jealous of their incredible potluck they had with their friends. They organized the whole thing and had a whole big dinner. How fun! After dropping off their lunch, Larry and I met for a business lunch meeting. After our meeting I went to pick up Dustin's senior pictures. He loves them! I knew he would. All this time he told me he cared less about them but now that I presented them to him, he was impressed. Today we ordered his graduation announcements and cap and gown.

I'm getting Thanksgiving dinner together, shopping for food, cleaning the house and wrapping loose ends up for the work week. Only a few things left to do in prep for Sunday but I assume we'll work most of the day Saturday. At least we will have Thurs/Fri to rest and spend some time together. I've been trying to work very hard on work things so that I can focus on my family those two days and not open my briefcase. With the Victorian Tea and some unexpected things thrown in otherwise, that might be difficult but that's the goal. Speaking of the Victorian tea, I found the most darling thing today to use for favors for my table. I'm so thrilled! I was at Miracles/Maggie's and found teapot Christmas ornaments.

Well, time to finish up a few things, get in the jacuzzi, and spend time with the sexiest man in the universe.

Dear Tooth Fairy


Actual note from Savanna Rose last night to the Tooth Fairy:

Dear Tooth Fairy,

Thank you for all my money. And I would like to tell you that the last tooth I pulled, my brother Jordan took it and I haven't seen it since. You can even ask my mom. Oh, and I would like to keep my beautiful tooth so I can show people.

Love,
Savanna Rose Shrodes

Underneath the note was a picture she had drawn of herself and the tooth fairy.

Interestingly enough, the "tooth fairy" looks quite a bit like me. :-)

The Tooth Fairy left her four quarters, and the beautiful tooth.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Don't go to the Inquirer - read it here first!

I saw this on someone’s blog today with their answers and though I never met the person I was very intrigued by what they had to say. So, here I go with my own answers…….maybe somebody out there in cyber space who has never met me will read and go…”hmmmmm….this Deanna chick has some depth to her and maybe if I’m ever in Tampa I’ll look her up and have a latte with her…”


 
What has God truly called me to do?

write and pastor

What is my calling?
writing, pastoring, coaching/mentoring

Is there a call on my life?
absolutely

What are my 5 greatest wishes?
to write
to grow old with my husband
to see my children serve God all their lives and walk in their destiny
to mentor women
to be myself always

What are 5 short term goals?
write more articles
lose 10 more pounds
wake up ½ hour earlier each day
finish recording my CD
get through the holidays without stress this time

What are 5 long term goals?
get a book proposal accepted
save more for a rainy day (don’t plan to retire)
go on a cruise with Larry
have all my baseboards clean at one time!!!
finish developing my entire mentoring ministry

What are 3 things I want to experience before I die?
at least another 40 years with Larry
going on a special trip with all my kids as adults
having grandchildren

What are 3 things I want to accomplish before I die?
being able to write FT
have my whole entire house - closets, garage, everything - totally clean at once.
go on a sabbatical to Boone, NC

Where are 3 places I want to visit before I die?
England
Greece
Hawaii (again)

What is my biggest dream?
Writing, always writing

What would answer this phrase: “This is a dream come true.”
I just got my book proposal acceptance in the mail/on the phone!!!"

What do I want to be when I grow up? A writer

What do I not want to be honest about?
How unbelievably mad I get at people sometimes.

What have I always said about life that has become a phrase instead of truth?
"Don’t ever expect anything out of anyone and then you will never be disappointed. You can spend your life being pleasantly surprised whenever people do right, or you can walk around being disappointed constantly."

What are my actual tastes?
bold, strong and ultra-feminine (clothing) and a mixture of taste in interior decorating. Everything from classic to shabby chic

What are my very favorite things?
Books, writing, coffee, tea, biking, walking, shopping

What are my greatest talents?
am I talented? I thank God that He has gifted me in utilizing words to change the atmosphere and bring people to a higher level whether it be through writing, preaching, teaching, singing or mentoring.

What is my sweet spot?
not sure exactly what this question means but it could be answered in a myriad of ways. As far as what do I like to eat that is sweet, there is not enough blogspace to even begin to cover that, but chocolate tops the list…as far as when I am sweetest, definitely not in the morning. I am a night person…as far as who do I think it sweetest in my life? My husband.

Where am I happiest? at home – in my office – at church – on the beach with my toes in the sand

What is the coolest thing I have ever experienced?

having people tell me something I wrote saved their life

Who makes me smile?
my husband, my kids

What makes me laugh?
our staff members – they are hysterical

Who makes me laugh?
same answer as above

What do I do that really makes everything in life click?
finish my initiative list each and every week.

What is my coolest memory?
looking at my birthmother face to face

How does God talk to me?
in the quietness of my own heart and mind when I settle down and listen to Him throughout my day or when I’m in prayer

How do I know that something is God and not me? I have heard His voice enough that I instinctively know it’s Him. This has come through experience and confirmation.

What sounds like the most fun thing in the world?
going on a vacation 

Monday, November 13, 2006

If you can't stand the heat...

I happen to have kids that absolutely thrive on speaking out about their beliefs. (Where did they get this from?)

What I find interesting is that many times adults start conversations and are not willing to continue the conversations when young people actually know what they are talking about or can hold their own in a conversation. I have always believed in raising my children to be salt and light to the world around them. They aren’t perfect kids by any means, (no one’s children are though we would like to think so!) but I’m very proud of how they stand for what they believe in.

Jordan (10th grade - pictured here with one of his favorite pastimes - skateboarding) has a teacher who continually tries to talk to him about the Big Bang theory and how he truly believes it is reality. Jordan enjoys coming up with something creative to share with this teacher each day.

“Hey Mr. Mount…”

“Yes Jordan…” (with a weary sound in his voice…)

“You’ll never guess what happened today!”

“What’s that Jordan?” (sounding even more tired)

“Well, I was riding down the street today, felt a little jolt and… bang!!! A Wal-mart appeared beside me out of nowhere! Can you believe that, Mr. Mount?” The only response Jordan gets to this is a little eye rolling. Next day…

“Guess what Mr. Mount!”

“What’s that, Jordan?”

“You’ll never guess what happened today!”

“What’s that, Jordan?”

“Well, I was in the cafeteria…hungry for lunch when all of a sudden I felt a rumbling, and poof! There appeared a tuna fish sandwich right in front of me!”

“I think it’s time we change the subject Jordan…”

Poor Mr. Mount. He never knew what he was getting into when he decided to ask the class about what they thought about the Big Bang Theory, and try to shove this down their throats.

Last Tuesday something happened which I found very interesting. My kids came home and asked me who I voted for in the election earlier that day. When I told them, they said, “Oh wow, I wonder if that will affect the F-CAT?” I asked them what on earth they meant by that. They said that some teachers had told them to go home and tell their parents to vote for a certain candidate because if they were elected, they would fight to take the F-CAT test away. I thought, “surely if my children have told me the truth about this, it has to just be poor judgment on the part of one teacher.” Imagine my surprise to hear from several other friends from church who have children at different schools that their kids were evidently told the same thing!

Jordan discussed in class with the same teacher that made this admonition to go home and tell parents to vote for the apparent “F-CAT” abolisher that he would rather see people vote for individuals who would fight to save children’s lives. Jordan brought up the need to stop the horrible practice of near-full term babies having scissors jammed in to the back of their necks and murdered as they are in the practice of partial birth abortion. As soon as my son brought this up the teacher said, ”Uh, I think we should change the subject, Jordan.”

My question is, why change the subject? It was okay when the class was discussing embracing a candidate who would try to take away the FCAT, but when one was being discussed who would fight murder if elected, we need to stop talking? Is it too painful to hear the truth about things such as how we got here in the first place, how the earth was created, and why human life is so precious? Perhaps in the politically correct world we live in, the teacher was concerned that some students in the classroom themselves might have aborted babies, and would be hurt by such discussion. Maybe the teacher personally had an abortion and just didn’t want to face the discussion once it turned this way. In any event, why was it so out of place to talk about since the conversation began by talking about other reasons a candidate should be supported?

I find it interesting that adults just don’t expect to hear these kinds of strong opinions from students, or think they can hold their own. No matter what teachers say to my kids about evolution, abortion or whatever, my children can come right back at them verbally swinging. I’m so proud of our kids and the kids of our church.

If a teacher is not prepared to hear an answer, they should not ask a question. May they avoid the subject altogether if they are not able to sustain differing opinions. When I was growing up they used to say, “if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen!”

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Core values


Really great day in God's house today...just an all around positive time. God is good. Attendance slightly down with the holiday weekend, but only slightly, and the important thing is - His presence was there. Had the vision meeting at our house tonight and it was a good time of re-counting God's many blessings of the past year and strides made. I have just been seeking the Lord as to different steps He now wants me to take as we get to the end of the year and look forward to the future.

Reading in God's Word in Proverbs 12 today and so many things from it really spoke to me. Everywhere I turn, things are speaking to me about my core values.

I found a quote/poem today that says:

I am only one,But still I am one
I cannot do everything,But still I can do something.
 And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. - Edward Everett Hale

I am resolute more than ever about the fact that at the very core of my values is commitment. Faithfulness and commitment - nothing is more important to me.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Nothing that chocolate won't cure

I'm sitting here getting ready to eat a truffle. Someone gave it to me for pastor appreciation and I saved it for a rainy day. It's not raining outside but in my spirit it has been. So, today's the day for the truffle.

Some reasons I'm happy...

1) I connected with Larry today... which always makes life sweeter.
2) Church was good tonight. I went in feeling low but by the last song of worship, stepping forward in faith turned on the switch of my feelings and I began to sense God's presence in a powerful way - which always makes all the difference in my situation.
3) I had some practical help a after the service which made things 100% easier.
4) My hardest work days this week are behind me. We have a funeral tomorrow and I have a few loose ends to tie up but after that I'm headed to Women of Faith.
5) The kids were good tonight and Jordan made me laugh so hard on the way home I almost told Larry to stop the car and pull over. He was so incredibly funny telling the story of something that happened at church, I couldn't contain myself.
6) Savanna found my favorite necklace tonight that has been lost for several weeks. THANK YOU JESUS, AND Savvy!
7) This truffle is so good...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bobcats, hoods, and other crazy stuff






So this is one of the craziest days of my life.

This morning it's 7:30 am and I'm driving to the church for morning worship. I'm headed there in my car (pictured above) and as I'm going 70 miles an hour down 75, a bobcat darts in front of my car. Yep, it looked just like the picture above. Pretty crazy, huh? I missed hitting him by just inches, maybe less. How crazy. He just darts across the road like he has nothing better to do at 7:30 on a Sunday morning.

So then I'm staring at the hood periodically on the rest of the drive (which I normally don't do...I usually look down the road quite a ways but due to the bobcat incident, I'm a little distracted) and I notice my hood is popped up on the car. Never would have noticed this had the cat not crossed my path. It was rattling but then again I always have the radio up, this morning being no exception. Thankfully at 7:30 there aren't a lot of cars on 75 on a Sunday. So I pull over the try to shut the hood. It won't shut. I'm pushing down, sitting on it, all kinds of crazy stuff out there in my dress suit and heels feeling like an idiot, and the blasted thing won't shut. I tried to open it all the way, which it won't do either. How crazy.

So I figure, well at least it's hanging on there by something, so I get back in and start driving, but it's open even more and rattling worse which scared the heck out of me. I get out again, try to pull the latch open inside the car to open the hood, pull on it some more...no dice. I push and push. Still won't go down. I was so frustrated. So I get back in and drive about 10 miles an hour all the way to the church. A ways down the road, a young man from church was behind me also headed to worship rehearsal. He stays behind me on the trip there and when we get to the church says, "what's wrong?" and gets out and tries to help me. He pushed down on the hood...nothing. Still won't close. He pulls. Nothing. Finally he sticks his hand under the hood and squeezes some metal things together and pop goes the hood, and comes up. Evidently there's a safety latch I didn't know about! Duh, duh, duh! Well, now I know. 

Then we get to church and it still gets crazy. Nothing went right with worship. Everything was in it's own direction so much so that it even got comical. I just stopped the service at one point and said, "nothing's going right today, let's pray." How crazy is that. I haven't done that in 20 years of ministry but I did today! (Stop the service I mean. Obviously I have prayed. I'm one of those pastors that still believes in prayer.)

So I stop the service cold and say, "everything's going crazy. Let's just stop and pray." So we did. Someone told me later they were so grateful I did that. They said, "PD, everybody could see the thing was going like a train wreck and we're just so glad you acknowledged it and didn't try to just go on and ignore it because visitors might have thought, 'oh it's like this every week.' No, it's not, obviously. This was just a crazy "off week." At the outset of service I came up and enthusiastically proclaimed, "Pastor is preaching on the power of coming to the Lord's table today!" As I made this declaration, I pointed to the communion table. (Communion was coming a little later in the service.) But I notice, the table is bare. Nothing there but a flower arrangement. As soon as I make my declaration I look back at our head usher. The color drains out his face and he looks completely freaked out to realize that for the first time EVER the ushers forgot communion. He races out of the sanctuary and mobilizes people to get it ready and get it back in there. In between that time, it seemed so many things were haywire, like I said it even got comical.

Finally after my prayer, Larry called everybody to the altar who wanted a touch from God. Note to self: it's always a great idea and in order to call people to the altar for a touch from God. Plenty of people came and we just prayed for people and it was a good time. When he went back to his seat on the platform, our youth pastor said to Larry, "Whew, that saved the day!" From my bobcat incident up til' now things have been pretty nutty, but I have kept a good attitude and just laughed about it all. I realize how much the devil hates us. He tries anything to distract the people of God. He'll pull out a bobcat if necessary. What a double loser he is. Oh well, he had no idea who he was messing with because at churchwe don't have to be perfect, we just state it like it is, "things are crazy today folks, let's just get on our faces and pray." Works every time. I was worried, "what are these visitors today going to think?" Pastor T said he wouldn't be surprised if they said, "you know that church was a little crazy today, but I still loved it!" If they stayed through today, they'll stay through anything. It's all about God and not about us anyway.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Even the best laid plans...


...often go awry. This picture pretty much sums up the way I feel right now.

So much for my day off.

I have heard people say things like, "everything if Father-filtered." And..."nothing happens that doesn't go past God's desk first for His stamp of approval..."

I have to wonder. Does every phone call go through His filter? I really have to question that sometimes.

Even sometimes when emergencies happen, I have to wonder, "why today?" Didn't God know this in advance? And if He did, why did He allow it TODAY? Of all days. Oh well, the good thing is, there are more Fridays on the calendar to come, although next week will not be one of those for me. I'll be away with the ladies at  Women of Faith. (Which is not a break for me.)

Today when I calmed down a bit, I flopped down on my bed and picked up a book that has been on my nightstand, Come Away My Beloved, by Frances J. Roberts. It's a devotional classic that has been around for 30 years, and has sold 1.4 million copies. Somehow it has escaped my watchful eye, even with all the books I've read, it amazes me the classics I still have yet to discover. The book was given to me by Bobbie, one of my friends here in Tampa. She dropped by the office about 2 weeks ago and left it on my desk, while I was out at lunch. Bobbie is going through struggles of her own that I can't even imagine - she's suddenly had a bunch of family members in need move in with her and she has been taking care of 10 people these last few months. It's been crazy. How she even found the time to get this book for me, and bring it over the other week, I can't imagine. But she did. I haven't slowed down enough to really read it, but today I read a few chapters. And I can't even describe what it did for me.

Listen to an excerpt from the first chapter: 

"O my beloved, abide under the shelter of the lattice, for I have betrothed you to Myself... These are just a few sentences from the first chapter, but basically the whole entire book reads like this, with different topics each day, but the same style of writing. It was like water in a dry and thirsty land to me today. I think if I can run away for just a little while I'll read some of it sitting on my back patio. Til' the next emergency comes along.

Tarry not for an opportunity to have more time to be alone with me...take it though you leave the tasks at hand...

I love you, and if you can always, as it were, feel My pulse beat, you will receive insight that will give you sustaining strength. I bore your sins and I wish to carry your burdens. You may take the gift of a light and merry heart, for My love dispels all fear and is a cure for every ill.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Dismissing the crowd for Selah time

This will be my view tomorrow...on my day off. I am going to have A WHOLE DAY OFF. It's going to be so wonderful. I'm guarding it with my life! I'm going to enjoy it immensely. This is the view from my back patio. This is what I see when I sit in my jacuzzi. Right now the weather is cooling down, and it's the perfect time to sit on my swing, and read the Bible, or just think in silence. Oh, the bliss.

I'm in good company because Jesus loves to do things like this too. He always guarded His boundaries. We read about it in Matthew 13:36...Jesus left the crowd and He went into the house. The crowd was still there, but He wasn't. He came apart and found a quiet place to rest. There are times even now when life gets too noisy, and I just come apart to find a quiet place to rest. As much as I enjoy people and entertaining and parties, I enjoy solitude to a great degree. Again, I'm in good company. Jesus loves it too.

In Matthew 14:22, Jesus made the disciples get in the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side. After that He dismissed the crowd so He could pray. It had been more than just a bad hair day for Him. (Did the Lord ever have bad hair days?) Well, this was a really bad day because his cousin had just been beheaded. He needed to find a place to sort through things and be quiet. He needed God to renew and comfort Him. 

I have learned that on a regular basis, I need to dismiss the crowd in my life, at least one day a week, and preferably also a little bit of time each evening. And it doesn't always have to be because of a tragedy. On the contrary, if I don't have this time regularly, I will become a tragedy!

Some people can't handle silence. They always have to have noise. I love silence, and I need it. Every space of my life doesn't have to be filled up. I need margin. I need rests. Music would not be dramatic were it not for rests. There are various keys, time signatures, notes, and then there are...rests. In scripture we sometimes find the word "Selah". It simply means rest. After the Psalmist said something, you find the word "Selah." It means...rest, be quiet, think about that for a minute. And that's what I'm ready to do...rest, be quiet, and think for a minute. I want to even to something mindless tomorrow, like watch a non-sensical movie or TV show. It doesn't have to have any intrinsic value, just something to sit back and enjoy without having to think too hard.

I have even decided to leave the cleaning until Saturday. There's time on Saturday for dusting, vacuuming and the like. Tomorrow is Selah time.

Time is ticking away...


Time to crash now but not without counting a few blessings:

1) It's good to be back in Florida...home in my own bed...with my husband! 

2) I'm on track with WW -- and I dropped 1.4 more pounds today at weight in!

3) Reading through Galatians this week, good stuff!

4) I almost have all my initiatives done for the week, which...coming back from a weekend away, is extremely ahead of the game.

5) The weather is beautiful.

6) God is giving me wisdom and peace with every situation in my life.

7) God's grace is sufficient for each day, for every moment, every situation.

8) I stand up for myself more and more all the time - with greater results.

9) I'm learning what it means to be content as Paul said - yet always pressing forward to the prize. I am learning balance.

10) I am committed more than ever to use my time wisely...making the most of every opportunity, minimizing fatal distractions, and maximizing God's power in my life.

I love you Jesus...good night!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

It's Wednesday, but Friday's coming!

I haven't been THIS excited about a Friday coming for a long time.
Today was my first day back in the office. I worked yesterday, in fact a full day - but from home. Which is always easier because I do the first few hours of computer work in my jammies. I get so much done it's RIDICULOUS. Absolutely insane. The reason is, no one can interrupt me. That's how my "work from home" Tuesdays started. By me getting to Thursday and having so much unfinished because of constant interruptions. Distractions. Things that many times did not need my attention but because of my accessibility in the office, I was doomed. So I decided to take my accessibility away one day a week, and WHAMMO, the work began to magically get done.

Well anyway, today was my first day back in. It was fine just super busy with catching up from missing Monday. I have not been home for a day off, and actually been able to take the day off in a while. So I'm REALLY looking forward to it. Really looking forward to getting Savanna off to school, going back to bed and staying there as long as I want. Really looking forward to not getting dressed. Really looking forward to watching a movie or something equally as mindless. Really looking forward to sitting on my swing and just staring into space. Really looking forward to hours of quiet. Oh how awesome the day will be. I'm hanging on for it. Anyway who knows anything about me knows that as equal a party animal I can be, is also how much solitude I need. When I don't get it for a while, I feel like the walls are caving in.