Thursday, April 19, 2007

Lifetime Intimate Portrait ~ Debbie Winchester



The next person I would like to introduce you to is the Queen of Encouragement, Debbie Winchester. I have known Debbie for the majority of the time I've lived in Tampa. She became a member at Northside shortly after we began our pastorate here. Growing up in a pastor's home, I think she instinctively understands many things I go through. She is so positive and encouraging and someone I always love to be around. We have a funny story about our friendship that I just have to share with you before our interview with her...

When Debbie first met me she invited me to lunch. I was glad to go with her and we met at Applebees. When we got there she was so nervous. I didn't know why she was acting so nervous and strange. I asked her why she was so anxious. She said, "I feel so honored to eat lunch with you and it makes me nervous, because I feel like I'm with the President of the United States or something..." Well, I thought that was so funny. I mean, ME? I couldn't imagine anybody would be nervous or intimidated by being with me or eating lunch with me. When she compared me to the President of the United States I started laughing so hard, I accidently banged my head on the wall behind my chair and you could hear "crack!" I mean, I really banged it hard. I didn't know the wall was so close to my chair and when I threw my head back and laughed it really boinked it hard. Well then when we heard my head hit the chair we both started laughing so hard we couldn't stop and everybody around us was like, "WHO ARE THESE TWO NUTCASES?" Well, from that moment on, Debbie hasn't been nervous around me, we just laugh a lot. Okay, here we go...

Debbie, Where are you originally from?

I was born in San Diego, CA
What is one of your fondest childhood memories?
Spending time with my oldest sister, she became my mother when my mother and father divorced. My father had custody, but my sister, being 12 yrs older than me, stepped in and did her best to nurture me. She would take me to the library and help me pick out books to read. Any time she could devote to me was the best! I also loved camping with the family every year!
Please tell us about your children/home:

I have 3 grown daughters, each seems to be creative in their own way. None of them have ever lived a conventional life, always on their own terms, which totally drove me crazy when they still lived at home!!!! As I look back though….they all are very much like their father, more then they really want to be at times! It’s amazing to see them leaving their own mark on the world! I have 3 grandchildren and another one on the way, 2 boys that are so awesome! We just took care of them for 4 days and had the best time with them! They amaze me! We also have 1 grand daughter, which at the ripe age of 6 has become a fashion guru! “Trust her, she knows fashion!”. We have another arriving in about a week! (Skyler Dean)

Our home has changed tremendously since the girls have moved out and the youngest has moved back in, we had our independence and suddenly, it has been taken away for a time, but God has all things in his hands and knows the end before we even see the beginning, so I am trusting him to continue to give me the wisdom needed for the task ahead! I am not sure what lies ahead, but I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me! I am definitely learning to take one day at a time!


How long have you been saved and tell us briefly how that came about...

I have been saved and filled with the Holy Ghost since I was 7 years old! My father is a minister and I was in church every time the doors were open plus any other time my father was needed. I remember wanting the Holy Ghost and trying to figure out how to speak in tongues. The church we attended used to have these revivals that would start with one week and if the spirit was moving it would go on and on and on for weeks. I wonder what the other churches that were scheduled did when they had to postpone their revival? A guy by the name of Ralph Sykes preached this revival and I remember him giving his personal testimony about having an Alcoholic mother that would drag him out of bed to sing in front of her drunken friends when he was 8 or something. He had a beautiful voice and played the piano really good. During that revival I came forward to be filled with the Holy Ghost and when I started speaking in tongues, I didn’t stop speaking in tongues for about 30 minutes. When I got done speaking in tongues, I quietly slipped out the side door of the auditorium and went to the back to get a drink of water.I felt so clean and peaceful that night! I didn’t want to speak or anything, just go home and go to bed quietly. I remember people coming up to me and talking to me about receiving the Holy Ghost, but I didn’t want to talk to them.

What type of things are you involved in at the church?

Taking care of the communion dishes after communion, Women's Minstries Eagles Team, and the Care Ministry Encouragement Team.

You do such a great job with all those things and you are a God-send to Pastor Larry and I. Share with us, what is your greatest passion?

To be an encourager and to be able to witness without a bit of fear. “Fearless Abandonment” (like you PD!)

How long have you known Deanna?

About 3 or 4 years

So, why are you still hanging around with her?

She is sooooo much fun, she is not shocked by anything and generally accepts people from all walks of life.

Is there anything about her you don't like or wish she would change?

She can sometimes go too far in joking around about things.

Anything else you want to share? Serious? Funny? Other?

On a more positive note, she is the most wonderful friend a person could have! I appreciate her and love her for being such a good friend and listening to me. With the way I was raised which resulted in a lack of self esteem, at times it is hard for me to believe anyone would even value my friendship. She's been a great source of encouragement to me and I am overcoming my feelings of inadequacy and learning think of myself as having value. I am learning to get my eyes off of myself and onto others and that is when my self-worth grows. Her Sunday School class is so awesome! It has strengthened me so much and I love attending it! She has such a great way of arranging words! I love the way she expounds on the Word of God and helps develop women into the leaders they are meant to be! I love it! She has so much energy and enthusiasm! If I could have just a drop of that….WOW! I could get my list caught up in one day! It is so late!!!! I really need to get to bed!
Thank you Debbie. I love you more than words can say, and...I'll work on that issue of going too far sometimes. :-) Forgive me. You're a gem!!! I love you!

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