Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Everything about my day

Today we met with the chef and our sales rep at the Hilton to have our taste test of all the food for the conference. All I gotta say is mmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Our ladies are in for a real treat. Dealing with Hilton has just been extraordinary. Right down to the fact that they had us come in and taste every starch, every vegetable, desserts, etc. and pick EXACTLY what we wanted for the banquet at the conference. We are so excited. It's going to be great.

I've been cranking out work, messages for upcoming things, and trying to get everything squared away so we can have a few days off. We have been running here and there with everything from funerals to ACMC to you name it and I think my last day off was a few Fridays ago. At least two. I am looking forward to this week...really anticipating it.

Our friends Randy and Dawn are coming in tonight. (Our friends of 20+ years...used to be Larry's youth pastors, then I worked for them at TC, then we both worked for them when they were our SP's, now they are just our best friends.) :-) They pastor Celebration Christian Center A/G in Mesa, AZ.

So, Larry is picking them up from the airport. I have been putting finishing touches on scrubbing floors, and all that kinda stuff. Haven't been home to do it in the past week or so. Everything is ready at this point. I'm just settling down and waiting for them to arrive which they will in about 30 minutes or so and thus will begin a wonderful five days of a visit. We usually stay up so late talking every night by the time we say goodbye our voices are all hoarse from talking ourselves out. We talk on the phone all the time but you know, in person it's different.

Got a real bummer of a phone call tonight. The principal of the high school called all the parents on their phone tree system to tell everyone that 3 seniors were in an SUV driving home from school and it rolled over. One was killed, two are still in critical condition. They are having counselors at the school tomorrow. I talked to Dustin and he doesn't know them, but a few kids in youth do. I just prayed for the parents tonight and of course the remaining two kids who are hanging on in critical condition that they might be healed. I just hate to hear stuff like this. So senseless. Evidently the kids were passing on the shoulder of the road, got back on and flipped over. No other car was involved. Lord, please help these families.

Reading in Oswald Chambers tonight when I had a few moments to sit in the quiet. He says, "Every time you venture out in your life of faith, you will find something in your circumstances that, from a commonsense standpoint, will flatly contradict your faith. But common sense is not faith, and faith is not common sense. In fact, they are as different as the natural life and the spiritual. Can you trust Jesus Christ where your common sense cannot trust Him? Can you venture out with courage on the words of Jesus Christ, while the realities of your commonsense life continue to shout, "It’s all a lie"?"

Just sort of makes me think of some leaps of faith I've been taking. I often try to figure out things through common sense. Sometimes having common sense is not the best thing because you try to analyze the heck out of everything and figure out a way to make it work when God is just wanting you to watch HIM make it work! I'm learning to do that more, although it's really taking time.

Also reading in Hebrews 13 tonight. It talks about being content (in a good way.) That's something in a few areas of my life God has been speaking to me about.

Speaking of being content, we still don't have another car. But I'm content. Because I don't know what to do. I feel kind of like a heel to tell you this but I still feel a pang every time I think of buying a car. It's been over three months. We are going into four months now since the car was totaled and we are still juggling our schedules immensely to handle ministry, personal errands and everything involved in having three kids. We've rented a car on two weekends that would have been impossible not to. I didn't drive them - Larry did both times. We've stopped shopping for now. I don't think we've looked in at least a month...haven't been on a lot once. When I think of "signing on the dotted line" I just get so sad and then I start asking myself, "why? Are you cracking up, Deanna? Do you need to go to Emerge?" I dunno, maybe I do. All I know is this...part of me says, have Larry just get a car for himself and claim both cars as his and then I will just drive the van whenever I need something since it really carries no emotional feeling for me at all when I get into it or out of it. But then again I don't want to do that in some ways because with the way Larry is (extremely financially conservative) he's been known to keep a car for over 10 years, drive it into the ground until it breathes it's last breath. I may actually get over this at some point in the next year or two and want my own car, but then it will be too late. He will not want to trade either one in to give me my own car. Everytime I think "car" I just have angst right now. Nothing feels right. Nothing seems right except doing nothing and just making it work somehow without one.

Larry seems fine to just rent an extra car when we need one. This is what Ada suggested in the first place and I think he thought it was kind of crazy but I actually think he's starting to enjoy it - having the experience of testing out another car for a few days. So we'll see what the future holds. In few things am I willing to just "stand still" and do nothing but this is one of them. When we rent cars we get them from a place right next to Masters Collision, the body shop the Mustang went to. Everytime I have to drive in there to drop Larry off for the rental car my hands tighten up on the steering wheel and I just take a deep breath. Something in me just tells me I need to wait until I don't feel that way anymore to get another car. And my husband seems fine with that...for this I am ever grateful.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A look into my life today...

Getting up was a glorious experience. I had eight whole hours of sleep last night!!! Anybody who knows me very well knows I keep late hours to get everything done. And actually my best hours for working are at night. It’s when I think best and can create. But yesterday, we were at the Hampton Inn for co-hort, and the beds and the shower are SO comfortable (I’m a real fan of both Hampton Inn, and Hyatt) that you can get such a great rest if you make a point to. And, I made a point to. So glad I did.

Sunday night we had newcomers night. I was exhausted from a full day. We had a good service Sunday morning with eight people filled with the Holy Spirit! God is so good. Larry had a meeting all afternoon and Savanna and I had to go home and clean for newcomer’s night. With being away speaking on Fri/Sat I never got to it. So we had to go home right away after service. She said, “Momma, I know you’re tired. Go ahead and take a nap.” (Sometimes, she’s not only brilliant, but kind…) I went in to take a power nap before busting through and cleaning and when my alarm went off she came in and said, “Momma, I’m getting a lot done. Sleep a little extra.” So I did! Talk about incredible. It was better than hitting the lotto. You know, sometimes at this stage of one's life sleep is such a valuable commodity you'd rather have it than anything. I got up a little bit later. There was still a lot to do, HOWEVER, she did AT LEAST half of it! Sometimes your kids can just make you so proud. This was one of those times.

So I got up, did the rest of the cleaning and we had the newcomers over. I did get some packing done for cohort but not all of it. Went to sleep and had an early morning, getting packed and to Lauderdale in time for the meeting. We had a good meeting and went out afterwards to dinner with at least half the people from our group and Russ had us laughing so hard at dinner I literally cried all my make-up off. He told a story that was perhaps one of the most funny “church stories” I have ever heard. I’m going to tell it here for you readers…and if anybody’s offended, don’t tell me. Just call up Pastor Russ Jones in Palm City and chastise him over it. Okay…

A few years ago in his wife’s home church in Indiana on a Sunday night, the pastor asked if anyone had a testimony. An older gentleman who was often known for long testimonies raised his hand. The pastor said, “Bro. Jim,” (or whatever his name was)…”go ahead but please keep it brief.” So he said, “Okay, I’ll be quick pastor. I just wanted to give praise to the Lord for his protection over us. The other night my wife and I were laying in bed and a huge chunk of plaster fell from the ceiling and hit me right on the back of the head, and we’re just so grateful because if it didn’t hit me on the back of the head it would have hit my wife right in the face!”

The whole congregation started laughing and couldn’t stop. Finally the pastor had the associate go up to the pulpit and pray to close out the service and he went out the side door of the platform to his office and broke down in uncontrollable laughter. Is that not one of the funniest things you have ever heard?! So when Russ tells this story, I am laughing so hard I’m crying into my napkin at Carrabbas. Actually I had already laughed myself silly over some other things which I probably shouldn’t blog in it’s entirety for the protection of others. But I will just say what I can safely to illustrate just one funny thing.

A teaching was going on and it was supposed to be a totally serious time but everyone took some things about it funny so we were trying not to laugh. Pastor Gary (Gray) always thinks about slaughtering pigs when he wants to keep a straight face. Now, that right there makes me crack up. He says he just says, “slaughter pigs, slaughter pigs,” in his mind and imagines it and it grosses him out and helps him keep a straight face. So here he is in the midst of this teaching trying to do that. And then Larry pulls out his cell phone with the photo he has on there of me holding a real pigs head, that I was lifting up when I was “picking” the pig a few weeks ago that we had roasted for the latin festival. And they see me with this pigs head and absolutely crack up. So funny.

We actually didn’t get back too late and I crashed at the hotel and slept for a whole wonderful eight hours and then woke up to the incredible shower at the hotel. I could just stay in there forever – it’s like a back massage. After cohort we went to Primanti’s with Russ and Betty. And then I talked them into stopping by a thrift store on the way home and I picked up another tea set. I know, I need that like a hole in the head but quite truthfully I will use it! (I use all of my teapots, no matter how many I have.)

Co-hort featured two topics this time – public relations again and then our second day was just for coaches and we got further training on coaching. We even did some role playing and stuff and it was pretty fun. Everyone comments that no matter how good the teaching is – the smorgasboard of ideas is even better. There really is nothing like the interaction between everyone there and sharing where we’re at in our journey and what needs to happen next in our ministries, and how to get there. Truthfully, some of the relationships in co-hort kept me sane during certain times…I don't know how I would have navigated some issues without them.

Well, we’re home again now and came home to a mess. Such is life. We have company coming tomorrow night but at this time I am too tired to care. Thankfully they are friends who will understand, I’m sure. I have a few days off coming unless hindered by Satan.

(I Thessalonians 2:18 “Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.”)

It even happened to Paul, just as it happens to us, although he didn’t face exactly the same emergencies, never the less stuff still happened. And I plan on praying against that. I realize people never plan these things – they can’t help it – but I know Satan DOES. (Because he honestly hates pastors having a day off. It’s part of his plan just as Daniel 7:25 says, his plan is to wear us out.) So hopefully – in Jesus name - we’re covered for some impending down time.

And this, my friends, is a look into my life, for today. TTYL

Today is the day of salvation!!!

For dogs?

Last night Larry and I were watching a news show and they were reporting on Michael Vick. Lawyers were debating what his sentence should be and the debate was getting heated. Somebody brought up the fact that supposedly this past week, Vick said he "found Jesus." The newscasters were asking if this should make any difference in his sentence or the public forgiving him for what happened with the dogs. One of the lawyers, being totally serious, said, "Michael Vick found Jesus this week. Unfortunately that was something these dogs did not get a chance to do..."

We laughed so hard. Lawyers can sometimes really grasp at straws and this was really one such time.

I began to feel kind of convicted. In ten years of having our dog Geena I don't think any of us have shared the plan of salvation with her. I mean, according to these lawyers, time has not run out yet for her to make that decision...

Monday, August 27, 2007

When some girls have to talk

it's painful. What will this girl have going for her when she's older and starts to sag? Um, really nothing unless something really changes over the next few years, bless her heart.

Wonder Woman Part III

Today I'm continuing, and finishing the highlights from my "Wonder Woman" teaching that I brought at the ACMC. Here we go:

6) Have a game plan

I have a call of God on my life to pastor, to write, to preach. I also happen to be a wife of 20 years, and a mother of 3 children who are 10, 16, and 17 at this time.

When my children were born, I had a strong desire to continue pastoring, writing and speaking. I heard everyone talk about how my life was going to completely change and although I desired to have children, I feared the change. What started the fear in the beginning of my pregnancy with Dustin (my 17 year old) were people in the church where my husband and I served as youth and music pastor, respectively. As my pregnancy progressed, people would come up to me and hug me, with a look of sadness and say, "It's been so nice having you, Pastor Deanna. It was nice working with you." After several people doing this, as if my ministry was in the past tense, I thought, "is something going on that I don't know about? Am I about to be fired, and everyone else knows it before me?" I thought everything was okay...that I was doing a good job, that the pastor and I were on good terms.
Well, we were. Everything was fine with my job performance and with the pastor. The truth of it is, the people were used to seeing women stop everything once they got pregnant or had a baby, and some thought it was "the only right thing to do" for any woman but especially a Christian woman and...a pastor's wife? Most people just assumed I was going to resign everything once the baby was born. A lot of people were shocked that I kept leading while I was pregnant. I found this with all three of my pregnancies. Well, times have changed and this is not as much of an issue now, but even 20 years ago, it was harder than it is now.

I have to be honest with you that I sought the Lord and first asked Him if it was alright with him that I continue. I sensed from Him that I was not to stop. So despite the "vibes" I was getting from some other Christians I decided to follow my heart. I told the Lord that I'd be willing to do whatever it took to continue in ministry not only in my home but outside of it. I found that what it would take was a tremendous amount of forethought, planning and organization.

A week after Dustin was born, I began by giving the baby and myself two and ½ hours to prepare for church. That first week set me on a course of planning that has served me well to this day. I learned that nothing can be left to chance.

Notice in our cities, in our nation, there is an “emergency plan.” The mayor, the governor, the president all have one. So the woman in ministry must have one. Each day I have my “emergency plan” in place.

Since the kids were born, except for each of their births, one gall bladder operation a few years ago, one bout of the flu this past March, and my son’s hospitalization two weeks ago, I can't recall that I’ve never missed much of anything in 17 years, and that’s largely due to my emergency planning. I expect an emergency every single Sunday morning and Wednesday night.


Since the kids were just babies, I have given myself double the time it takes to get ready for church. A mother must first get herself up before the children and get completely ready otherwise things are chaos and quickly get out of control. Once I was completely ready, I began to get the kids ready. In their baby years, I gave it 2 and 1/2 hours. One hour for me, one hour for them, and then 30 minutes for any "emergency." I discovered, 30 minutes is more than enough time to change a last minute messy diaper, to completely change a set of soiled clothes. It’s enough time to change a pair of panty hose with a runner. It’s enough time to change a flat tire. It’s enough time to fill up the gas tank if you get in the car and the tank is on “E”.
Some things I always did...some that I still do:

1) Every Saturday night I get everything laid out -- no exceptions. This means down to the socks, shoes, belts, underwear jewelry, etc. for EVERY SINGLE FAMILY MEMBER. Ironing done, and nothing left to chance.

2) Bottles prepared (I nursed my children and I used to pump an extra bottle or two, then freeze them and take out what I needed for Sunday morning or Wednesday night and put it in the diaper bag. I always had a pumped bottle ready for the kids if I would be ministering on the platform and they started screaming, someone just gave them one of the bottles I pumped until I was done leading worship or preaching. As soon as I was done I usually went to my office or the nursery and fed them if they had not already taken it.)
3) Bibles, notebooks, briefcases, diaper bags - (completely stocked up, organized, in car the night before (except for bottles.) At this point in our lives with older kids, we aren't dealing with bottles and diapers but I still put anything I need in the car the night before such as briefcases, etc..
4) I always prepare lunch for Sunday on Saturday (unless we plan to go out after church.) I also set the table the night before so we can just come home to it. It really helps because I'm tired on Sunday afternoon and it's nice not to have to do it then.
5) Coffee pot set and ready to go for morning. "Starbucks cup" ready to fill up and take to the office/church!
6) Check to see how much gas is in the car

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!

If the family wants to go somewhere or do something Saturday night they know all this needs to be done first.

You say, "this will make me so tired." I submit to you, it's a lot more tiring to be running around at the last minute, with chaos reigning. It's a lot more stressful to have a bunch of things piled up because you procrastinated. It's a lot more tiring to be running late all the time or not arriving at all. I always hear people say, “we’re just in survival mode.” I’m convinced it doesn’t have to be that way.

Note that these things above work not only for Sunday mornings but for anytime!

7) Use spurts of time during the week wisely

If I have even 15 minutes free time, I use it constructively. If I am waiting for someone to arrive at my home and they are a few minutes late in meeting with me, I take time to clean out a small drawer in the kitchen, or I throw a load of clothes in, or clean out a rack of the dishwasher.

Resources to help:
* Emilie Barnes books
* Alexandra Stoddard books
* Flylady (

Regarding home I have found it helps to:
· Do a load of laundry a day
· Focus on one room a night after work
· Take 15 minutes here and there on small chores like cleaning out a drawer
· Never just sit and talk on the phone – always be doing something. I always make sure my cordless phones are charged up…if somebody calls I don’t just sit there and counsel them – I’m usually re-straightening a linen closet or throwing old stuff out of the fridge or something.
· Throw mail away the day it comes in if it’s junk
· Do all deeper cleaning on Saturday
· Enlist the family’s help – how can our kids be a missionary in Africa if they can’t even make a bed?

8) Be willing to accept help.

Don’t be too proud to accept help. Some people feel a call to help those in leadership. Or you may have a good friend that wants to bless you by helping in some way. Let them.

Everyone who has ever been successful in life had someone who helped them get there.

Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft, has a photo in his office of a turtle that is up high on a fence post. It's clear that the turtle had no other way to get on that fence post other than the fact that someone put it there. Bill has this up in his office to remind him that it takes people to get us where we need to be.

There are people who have helped me over the years with my children, with my home, with the church…they are Godsends. Do not be too proud to receive help, to delegate, to allow people to serve you, and then thank people appropriately.

9) Invest in yourself

Your health – your body (no matter how you feel about it) does amazing things for you each day. You have to take care of it because it is what houses your spirit while here on earth and is the vehicle from which you carry out your ministry. Keep up with diet, exercise, doctor's appointments, etc.

"The best gift you can give the people you lead is a healthy, energized, fully surrendered, focused self. And, no one else can do that for you." Bill Hybels

Your emotions – friends are important – SCHEDULE THEM IN! Prioritize time with them. This is not an option for health - it’s an necessity.

Your mind – books, conferences, seminars, etc. When you stop learning, you stop growing.

10) Rest

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Genesis 2:2 NIV

Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.
Leonardo Da Vinci

One of the most important things to a Wonder Woman is rest. If you don’t get it, it will be kind of hard to see the wonders God wants to do through you.

Rest is one of the most important things in self leadership. Because if you don’t rest, you can’t keep going.

God had a Sabbath day…He rested. Jesus would come away to the mountains to rest, to pray, to get away from the crowds.

Mark 6:31 NIV “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."


On my day off, I don't feel guilty that I am taking time off and that I expect people not to contact me except for emergencies. I have earned my day of rest. I work hard, and I have no problem taking my Sabbath.

May you put these principles to work to accomplish more in your lifetime for the Kingdom of God than ever before! I bless you to go be wise in the way you use your redeem it! As you commit your work to the Lord (Proverbs 16:3) I believe it will succeed! I pray that God will use YOU as HIS Wonder Woman!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

God's Wonder Woman - II

Continuing on the highlights of my "Wonder Woman" teaching from the ACMC on Fri/Sat, and yesterday's blog, let's start part II with the first five of ten keys I shared to 'becoming a Wonder Woman"...

1) Learn from Jesus

In the book, Ordering Your Private World, Gordon MacDonald gives three reasons why Jesus took control of His time:

1) He understood His mission – not even Satan could convince Him to change His priorities.
2) He understood the source of His power. He realized that he would need the private time of 40 days in the wilderness, and the prayer and fasting to overcome the enemy in a time of weakness. He budgeted that time to prepare.
3) He made intentional choices about his time – invested prime time in the disciples, debriefed them when they returned from assignments, took time to rebuke them when they failed, affirm when the succeeded.

It was amazing that at the end of three short years of ministry, Jesus was able to say, “I have finished the work that you gave me to do” John 17:4

2) Put God at the top of your list of priorities.

Proverbs 10:27 (TLB) “Reverence for God adds hours to your day.”

We need to realize, we are too busy not to take time for God. Bill Hybels has an excellent book, “Too Busy Not to Pray.”

Martin Luther has been quoted as saying “I have so much to do today that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”

Something that I have learned is that first of all, I’m a different person leading when I don’t have my time with God. There’s nothing to pull from, nothing to flow with. It’s just me, and quite honestly I'm a pretty shallow person without the Lord!

I have to find the time that’s best for me and give it to the Lord. What do I mean by “what’s best for me?” My finest hours. My best hours. The time when I am at my best and most able to hear him. In my case I'm a "night person." It's when I thinking best and so I like to give that time to the Lord.

Matthew 6:33 “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Resources I recommend as devotionals or just a "deeper walk with God"...
· Secrets of the Secret Place by Bob Sorge – book and workbook
· Come Away My Beloved by Frances J. Roberts
· My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

Develop a worship, Word and prayer life totally aside from Wednesdays and Sundays – in your “Secret Place” with God. If I only ate physical food two days a week I would get VERY crabby. It is any wonder some Christians are very touchy, grouchy people? They only eat spiritually two times a week.

3) Ask God for your life’s agenda

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by.”
Annie Dillard

Where are you headed? Maybe you know where you are right now, today and what God has called you to lay your hand to, but how about 10 years from now? What do you need to prepare for?

Obviously only God knows many things and chooses to reveal only so much to us, but we can ask Him for what we do need to know.

Just as it is helpful for churches or organizations to have a vision statement and a mission statement so it is helpful for individuals to have them.

My purpose statement:
The purpose of my life is to reach people for Jesus and restore and empower them through writing, speaking and personal mentorship/coaching, bringing them to a place of impacting others with their God-given potential.

After establishing your purpose, then work on listing your top areas of priority, and your short term and lifetime goals.

If you don’t know exactly who you are, somebody else will not hesitate to tell you. Figure out your purpose and vision to get there, and then hone in on it.

Dwight L. Moody: “Give me a man who says, ‘this one thing I do’ and not ‘these fifty things I dabble in.’”

We need a God thing, not just a good thing. People call me all the time asking me to serve on this or that committee, or help out with various causes. If it is not in line with my life's purpose and mission, I don't do it.

4) Ask God for your weekly agenda

No matter what your season in life YOU HAVE AN AGENDA. You have a mission. Nobody gets a free ride in this life.


Understand this, even a stay at home mother has a JOB DESCRIPTION. You have an agenda set forth by God EVERY DAY. Are you listening for his agenda and following it, or just letting life 'happen to you'?

"Always remember the powerful importance of linking your habits to your life purpose." ~ Mike Murdock

A weekly “initiative list” is a must.

Why a list? Very important to put things in writing.

Other reasons:

· You have no doubt about what must be done.
· You are able to put related tasks together or in order.
· You are free from worrying about trying to remember things all the time.
· You have a sense of accomplishment when you cross things off the list.

Have your initiative list that you go by and also a small notebook all the time for thoughts and important things that come to mind.

Nothing different is going to change in your life until you change what you do DAILY!

The secret of your success is hidden in your daily routine.

Each Thursday my initiative list is made and printed out for the coming Monday so I can see where I’m headed.

Everything goes into colorful folders that I enjoy that I keep in my briefcase which is sort of my “traveling office.” I have an office at the church but I keep things I need at a moments notice in all my folders. My favorite folder always holds my initiative list and calendar which I call my most important book after the Bible.

5) Be your own parent

The reason most people don’t get anything done is because they live with no accountability – first of all to themselves.

Self leadership – it's important to spend at least 50% of your time leading yourself. If you can't lead yourself, you can't lead anyone else.

· When I make my weekly initiative list up on Thursday for the following Monday through Saturday, I divide the list items up.
· If I am going to be working six days and I have 30 items on the agenda, I have to complete five items on my list each day in order to be done by my day off.
· If I have not completed all five for the day and someone calls and asks me to do something, I say no.

This is so simple yet most people are not willing to do it. I’ve heard people say, “how fun is that?” I submit to you - not getting your work done is no fun. Being under pressure at the last minute because you procrastinated is less fun than sticking to your agenda and being organized. Having nothing accomplished is no fun.

No rest is worth anything except the rest that is earned.
Jean Paul

Leading yourself and holding yourself accountable actually frees you to do more. Also, you must plan for times of rest. One of the reasons I work so hard during the week is because I want to ENJOY my day of rest and I have no problem telling our staff or people, “don’t call me!” I work hard, they know I really work hard and I don’t feel a bit bad to tell them, “unless somebody just died or had a heart attack, don’t call.” We’re going to talk about rest later, as we progress on to the next five things...
Stay tuned tomorrow for the final five!

Today's the Day!

Did you know that today is National Women's Equality Day in America?

In celebration of this historic day, Pastor Tara Sloan and I announce the launch of our new blog, "Equal Time". We will both be the primary contributing writers on the blog however, it is also our goal to feature many articles by egalitarian writers.

We are so excited about this new venture and hope it is a blessing to you.

We are both blessed to be a part of the Assemblies of God fellowship, a group which celebrates women in leadership and officially holds an egalitarian view, meaning that we believe in the Biblical equality of women. In fact, our new superintendent-elect of the Assemblies of God, Rev. George O. Wood, has done some extensive Biblical research and much writing and speaking on this issue and is a passionate advocate for the equality of women. To read one of his sermons on this topic, go to Superintendent Elect Dr. George Wood.

It is our prayer that you will find Equal Time to be encouraging, empowering and thought provoking, not only for women, but for men too. Because equality for women is not just a women's issue...much like racial equality, it is all of our concern. We hope you stop by soon and visit us at "Equal Time."

e·gal·i·tar·i·an (ĭ-gāl'ĭ-târ'ē-ən) adj. Affirming, promoting, or characterized by belief in equal political, economic, social, and civil rights for all people

Saturday, August 25, 2007

God's Wonder Woman

Today I spoke once again at the All Church Ministries Conference in Lakeland. They requested that I bring a teaching called, "God's Wonder Woman." Evidently I've gotten a reputation for being able to multi-task. :-) I'm going to break my teaching down over the next few days in a few posts for my blog readers. What follows is my introduction. Hope you enjoy! Stay tuned each day for more...

I saw a book in the Christian bookstore recently and it was something to the effect of, “I’m not a wonder woman”…and I thought, “yes I am!”

Daniel 11:32 says, “but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits”.

The Bible says that signs and wonders will follow them that believe.

John 14:11-13 says “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.

I believe God wants to work through us in astounding ways, especially in these last days. I believe He is calling for His women to be wonders! I believe He wants to use each of us in miraculous ways. Time is short. We are in the last days. What incredible times we live in. Did you know, there are more people alive today than have lived and died since Adam? Signs and wonders WILL follow them that believe. I believe He wants to do it through you and through me. He wants the world to see us and be amazed at what He is doing through us.

I have sought God on this. Since I was just a young girl, I have been one that has wanted to do a lot for the Kingdom of God. And for years now, many people have told me, “slow down honey, you have a whole lifetime to get things done…”

While I do believe in taking time to stop and smell the roses, I don’t want to spend all my days living in the garden! The same people who preach, “time is short! We’re in the last days! Life is but a vapor!” are also the ones saying, “slow down, honey…”

The bible says time is short, so I’ve sort of decided to go with the Bible on the matter…

I feel called to be a Wonder Woman for the Lord, and evidently so do you because you are taking time to read this. There are many times that people say, “HOW DO YOU DO ALL THAT YOU DO?” If I were given a dime for every time that was said to me, I could retire a rich woman right now.

Many times I hear people say:
“I wish I could do that like you do, but I just don’t have time.”

Today, I’m going to help you to see how you can accomplish a lot more than you think you can, for the glory of God! People often ask me, “how do you do it all?” and quite honestly I usually say something like, “I don’t get a lot of sleep” or “some days I don’t get it all done” or “I try to be organized” or "only by the grace of God..." But the truth is, I do get a lot done somehow, and when Erika called me from the District Office and asked me to teach this it forced me to not just give the clichés that I normally give, but to sit down and really think about it.

When someone experiences great growth in their church, we often ask them how it happened. Some people say, "I don't know...we just prayed..." While I do believe they prayed, I also believe their prayers were active prayers and they were accompanying them with something else. Perhaps they didn't realize they did, but they did. I realize it's the same with those who are good at multi-tasking. We may just say, "it's the grace of God" or "only through prayer" and those things are true however I am convinced there is an additional dynamic behind it. Some things you may think are basic, but for the sake of those who really want to know, I’m going to break it down.

We are going to look at:

Ten principles to becoming a Wonder Woman for God:

Fact is, we all have the same amount of time. God has been completely fair on this matter.

Each of us gets 24 hours a day. Each hour is divided into 60 minutes which is 3,600 seconds.

The difference is not in how much time each of us is given but in what we choose to do with that time.

There was only once that God stopped the clock for a person and that was Hezekiah. Many times I have prayed for a Hezekiah anointing. It has never come. The fact is, I must take charge of my time…and tell it where to go.

John Mason once said, "Don't ask time where it's gone. Tell it where to go."

Here’s what God’s Word says:

Ephesians 5:15-17 “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.”

I want to ask you - what is your life really about? Some women are convinced their life consists of surviving...paying the bills from week to week...keeping the clothes clean...keeping their house running. I submit to you that this life is not all about whether or not we keep menial chores done. Jesus talked more about the Kingdom of God than ANYTHING. Life is not about menial chores that we must get done, but it's about CHANGING LIVES. Don't mistake, I am not saying if you are "home" that this is a bad thing or not what your life is about. What I am saying is, that doing clothes or getting chores done is not the purpose of your life. The purpose of your life is to IMPACT lives for eternity, starting in your home and emanating from it.

If order to successfully do that, however, we have to have a plan for getting the menial done and out of the way so we can focus more on the eternal...on the Kingdom of God.

God can help us to maximize our time. As we prioritize and utilize our time properly, He will bless it.

I realized years ago as I observed people that most live life aimlessly, just sort of figuring out from day to day what they were going to do, with no real agenda in mind. I know plenty of people who wake up everyday and decide after that what they are going to do. Prior to opening their eyes in the morning, they have no clue where the day is headed. Then they wonder why their lives are a mess.

My husband always says, “if you aim at nothing, that’s exactly what you’ll hit!”

So with that said, we know we need to have goals, but what things are important in establishing those goals?

That's what we're going to talk about part II of "God's Wonder Woman."

Friday, August 24, 2007

Mentoring Part II

Today I did my two workshops at the Pen-Florida All Church Ministries Conference. They went really well! I'll be doing them both again tomorrow. First I did the mentoring one. I was amazed at how many people were at the classes -- the rooms were packed and I used as many handouts in one day as I thought would be used for two days. So I had to call back home to Tampa and say, "Make a whole other round of handouts for tomorrow's meetings!" We also almost ran totally out of Unstoppable cards. We made a lot of connections for that. Some of my friends, Jenn Lee in particular, were really helping to promote it. Wayne even promoted it in his classes! By the way, I went to lunch with Pastors Wayne & Jenn to "Harry's" a place that was just awesome (they know all the great food spots!) Had some wonderful crab cakes and even better conversation.

Yesterday in my blog, I detailed some of what I was going to speak on in the mentoring class. I know I said I'd blog about the Wonder Woman class today, and I will do that tomorrow or next day on the blog, but I still had some things I thought I'd add here about the mentoring class. At least one blog reader seemed to really enjoy it so I thought, 'okay, let me share more of that...' So here we go.

I am just going to paraphrase some of my thoughts here that I shared...particularly on qualifying for mentorship.

I truly believe mentorship for women is not preparing one for a "role" such as what they will do at various seasons of their life, but rather giving them intense discipleship - and spiritual formation. I have personally experienced some women, for instance, who are good mothers, or who do well in their career, but they are immature Christians. Have you ever been shocked as to how some women who have been in the church for many years still have the same exact problems 5 or 10 years later? They may be successful in some areas of their lives, but the deep spiritual maturity is just not there.

Too often we have prepared people for a role rather than a relationship - an intimate one with Christ. The truth is, a woman will never be the daughter, friend, wife, mother or worker she is destined to be without proper spiritual formation. Sometimes people think if you just prepare women to be wives and Moms, you've done your job as a spiritual leader. Although I think being a good wife and Mom is important, I do know quite a few good wives and mothers who are really lousy Christians and have little depth to them spiritually. So spiritual formation was what I focused on today in teaching people how to develop a mentorship program for women in their church. By spiritual formation I am referring to teaching them to become rock solid in their faith (in the fundamentals of what we believe), in the fruit of the spirit, the gifts of the spirit, teaching leadership principles, and more than anything a strong life in the Word and prayer.) Right now I have groups - our young women's mentoring group (ages 18-29) and also the next level life coaching group that I teach. In both groups, I prepare a teaching, do a q & a session at our meetings. Next level life coaching also has the following requirements.

1) Attend both Sunday and Wednesday church faithfully each week.
2) Attend Sunday School (Christian Education) faithfully each week.
3) Start out by praying at least 10 minutes a day & increase as we continue to progress.
4) Journal daily at least one paragraph on a private on line journal.
5) Do one chapter in the the book and workbook – “Secrets of the Secret Place” by Bob Sorge; Once homework is completed for the week, e-mail it to all class members, for accountability.

As a side note, anyone who wants to be part of any type of mentoring in our church or small group leadership within the women's ministries goes through mentorship/life coaching. I believe this helps us stay on the same page, carrying the same vision. Knowing these women have been personally trained under my leadership makes me very comfortable in releasing them to lead others and stay true to the vision of the house.

Another very important aspsect of the mentoring group, after our debriefing from the previous month, my teaching, and the q & a, is prayer. I believe we need to teach women to pray, particularly as Pentecostals. We learn by doing, and by being in others presence who know how to pray. Believe it or not I have even had staff members/spouses in the past who did not know how to pray. It's unbelievable that we have people turning out like this in MINISTRY today but we do. Even things like this that are considered "basic" need to be taught, and by example. People also need to be taught how to flow in the gifts of the spirit. This is learned well in a small group setting - the comfort level is greater and when there is a leader/teacher who can lead the class in hands on learning about spiritual gifts, it's much better. This gives them a "safe place to operate"with a teacher who can provide spiritual discernment and guidance and lead them in walking more in the fullness of God.

During our prayer time, I lead in prayer and ask that the ladies stay engaged (no wandering off, kneeling down in the corner, etc.) stay focused as a group, and pray out loud. I lead them in praying out loud, and in their prayer language.

Also very important to me is "being there" to help and guide them as needed if they need to talk to me occasionally about various decisions and things in their lives. So, this is how the Lord has led me to lead our group. I believe God gives each leader a "key" for their group. No two churches or women's groups are alike and God has to show us the plan for our unique place in His Kingdom. Back to qualifying for mentorship...

It is said, "when the student is ready, the teacher appears." Some people are simply not ready for mentorship. In all honesty, I have had staff members or spouses in times past who might have been considered further along in the faith as far as how old they were or the number of years in the ministry, yet they did not qualify for mentorship, while I had 18 year olds in the church who did!!! It's the condition of the heart that matters. Some people are so full of themselves, there is no room for the Holy Ghost to do anything else. I can remember taking a staff member's wife aside and speaking into her life on something, only to have her look back at me and say, "...this is the way I do things..." with complete and utter disregard for what I has just said. In the same way, the same type of individuals will later accuse you of "not investing in them" or "not mentoring them" however the fact is, they have to qualify.

What qualifies you? Respect qualifies you. One time in our ministry I had a woman who came to me and said, "I want to learn from you...please help me." I said, "meet me at my office this Thursday at 11:00 am. She sauntered in at 12:30 mumbling something about running late, not getting a shower in time, blah blah blah. I let that happen one more time before I said, "if someone doesn't respect my time, they don't respect my wisdom either..." The truth of the matter is, she did not want to be mentored - she wanted a pal or someone to just encourage.

A mentor is not a friend, pal or buddy. We all could probably have no shortage of friends or buddies, but a mentor or coach is someone who helps you get to the next level. They don't tell you what you want to hear, they tell you what you NEED to hear.

Just because someone is in authority over you does not mean you will be mentored by them. You must qualify for it. There are those who sit in my church every week who "attend" my church yet I am not mentoring them nor am I really pastoring them. Why? It's their choice. I may happen to be "the pastor of their church" yet I am not pastoring them. How so? Some people resist coaching, mentoring or pastoring. They attend, yet they will not receive from you because they are not pliable. Some are stiff necked, others just indifferent. At any rate, they are not open to receive. They are physically on location but mentally and emotionally checked out. As a leader and mentor, you have to move on from concerning yourself with those who choose that and concentrate on the "spiritual sponges" that God has given you. I'm convinced a big part of leadership is taking our "eagles" and soaring with them and not worrying about whoever may not be on board.

A wise mentor does not continue to invest themselves where there is no fruit. If someone is not receiving from me, to continue to pour out to them is sort of what the Bible indicates as "casting my pearls before swine." Mentorship is costly. It is valuable. We cannot treat everyone the same. With those who respect our investment into their lives, the continued investment is worth it and most mentors will continue to pour as long as the mentee will receive.

Just a word to you pastors/pastor's wives out there... I used to think that if someone was on my staff or in my church I was charged with mentoring them whether they responded or not. I know some pastors or pastor's wives that feel even if it's not received, you just gently keep trying. Well, that caused me a considerable amount of grief for I invested even when there was no return and in some cases worse than no return. Finally my mentor told me, "STOP DOING THAT! Just because they are your staff or members does not mean you must do that. Don't invest in people who show by their actions that they don't value your investment. And do not treat everyone the same. Reward and honor those who show respect for your investment and don't be afraid to stand up for the fact that you're doing that."

I began to take that advice and started investing in those who were good soil. And therefore, found joy in mentoring again. Honestly there are those in the church or on the staff over the years that I will do much more for because I know how much they appreciate and value my investment into their lives and take heed to what I say and give it respect. Jesus didn't treat everyone the same and neither should we.

One thing we must realize is that the person being mentored has more effect on how much is received than the mentor.

In the parable of the sower, the same sower sowed the same seed on the four different types of ground. In other words, the same teacher, or preacher, with the same techniques, presented the same message. The condition of the ground made the difference in the results.

I have heard people praise their pastor and say,“I have grown so much through their ministry…they have helped me so much. I’m a changed person. Everything I learned, I know from them.” And then you’ll hear another church member talk about the very same pastor and make them out to be a demon! You wonder, how can a pastor be considered a demon and an angel all in the same day by members sitting in the same church? The answer is that the pastor has not changed in his/her approach to the way they bring the word, teaching or instruction -- but the person on the receiving end is different. Some will receive, some will not. It all depends on what kind of soil we are dealing with. We must sow into fertile soil!

A person who comes with an attitude that they already know as much as the mentor cannot be taught. Proverbs 27:7 "He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet." The hungry soul is the one who will be filled.

Everybody will see this truth, but the question is, how soon? Proverbs 12:1 “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.” (I told my class today, "those are the Bible's words, not mine. Don't be mad at me for calling somebody stupid!! ha ha!)

In summary of today's teaching, I suggest whatever plan God gives you to implement in your ministry concerning mentoring whether personal one on one mentoring or through a church ministry/program that you start that the first thing you share with those you are going to mentor is the concept of QUALIFYING for mentorship. Because until they qualify, whatever “plan” you have – even a God given plan – will not work if their hearts are not in the right place.

The women at the conference today seemed to eat this up like candy...hope you did too! Pray for me, I'll teach two more classes like this tomorrow and I'm believing the teaching will fall on fertile soil, for His glory.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Don't waste your breath

Proverbs 23:9 says, "Don't waste your breath on fools, for they will despise the wisest advice."

Just winding things up for the night, getting ready to go to sleep, get up early in the morning and head to the All Church Ministries Conference to give two workshops tomorrow, and then again on Saturday. One of them is on mentoring. I am going to speak about how to mentor but I am also going to caution those who are mentors that they must be careful not to invest poorly. I believe strongly that people need to qualify for mentorship. What I mean by this is that one is not automatically mentored - they must qualify by the condition of their heart, their commitment, their actions. Here are some of my main points I'm going to give tomorrow about making sure one qualifies for mentorship:

1) Pray - ask God to prepare your heart to receive from them.

2) Develop a teachable spirit. Why would God give you a mentor if you are not really eager to learn?

3) Develop a habit of learning from every conversation.

4) Realize, how much you learn depends far more on you than your mentor. (It depends on how receptive you are to their instruction. You can lead a horse to can't make them drink.)

5) If you are too full of yourself, there is no room for you to learn anything else. A person such as this simply can't be helped by mentorship.

6) We see from others who were teachable or lacked a teachable spirit just how our course is determined. There are no shortage of examples in the Bible, and all around us.

7) Everyone will see this truth at some point - the question is - HOW QUICKLY will they see it?

8) You must qualify for mentorship or you will not be able to keep a mentor. A wise mentor does not keep investing in those who do not respect their wisdom.

And that, my friends, are just a few points that I'm bringing tomorrow. I'm also doing a teaching called, "God's Wonder Woman." I was asked to share on that topic. Can you guess what it's about? Well, let me give you a description of the workshop as they have written it in the conference book:

Do you sometimes look at various people and wonder, "how do they do it all?" Some people seem to have their hand in every endeavor imaginable and they make it look effortless. Behind the scenes there are some key factors as to how such people manage to balance it all. Come to this workshop and learn principles to maximize your time.

Um, do any of you have any suggestions on what I should say about this? I'm sitting here with a blank paper...

Just kidding! All my mega notes are tucked away and I'm ready to share. I will bring some of it to you, my blog readers, when I get back and have time to blog. Enjoy your Friday! It will be "fun" for me, but I'll be away from home this week, not having my usual "fun Friday" with Larry.

Only 3 more days...

until Pastor Tara and I unveil our new project for the world to experience!

Thursday's Meme

Brain is turning to mush again!!! I just finished some writing projects. Help me! I need something non-sensical that doesn't require too much thought!!!

What were you doing 10 years ago?

Co-pastoring a church, nursing a newborn, directing choir, leading worship, working way too many hours a week and pinching every penny.

What were you going one year ago?

One year ago was one of the absolute greatest times of my life. Last year was amazing. I look back on 2006 and can't do anything but smile! We had the best year in the church in 2006 and in our lives personally. So many good things, I can't even chronicle them all. We experienced some changes that were God-sent that made all things possible. One of the greatest things was the incredible sudden boom of our youth group - God did so many awesome things beginning in January of 2006, and it just kept right on going throughout the entire year. Last August/September things were just absolutely busting. Great memories, nothing but great memories! I think I floated on a cloud through 2006 and everybody in church life co-hort was probably getting tired of me saying, "finally everybody, finally! It's happening!" I guess it's good to be a broken record though when you are talking about the goodness of God.

Five snacks you enjoy:

When I'm being "good"? Or... oh, forget it, I'll just answer what my ultimate favorites are.

1) Potato chips

2) Chocolate

3) Ice cream (chocolate or cake batter)

4) Cheese and crackers

5) Chips and salsa

What are five songs you know all the lyrics to?

This would be endless since I'm a singer/musician/worshipper who has been ministering publicly in song since the age of 4 -- but, off the top of my head...I'll do hymns because they are easy... Amazing Grace, Victory in Jesus, Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus, When We All Get to Heaven, Nothing But the Blood of Jesus.

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire

1) Stop cleaning my house and pay someone else to do it.

2) Pay someone to do the weeds in my yard (you can't even imagine how big a job this is...)

3) Buy something special for those closest to me that I know they would not be able to have any other way unless someone blessed them.

4) Pay off my mortgage

5) Go on a vacation and get a massage everyday while there.

Tithing and giving generous offerings should absolutely go without saying, so I didn't even list it as one of the five. That's a given.

Five bad habits you have:

1) Stress/emotional eating.

2) Getting angry very quickly. Usually when I do I scream, "SHONDI!!!" (my family doesn't even bat an eye at this anymore. They are used to it.) Remember Pastor Tara, when you wanted to get me a shirt that says, "It's a Shondi day?" or something like that? I seem to recall it a few years ago. Strangely enough when something really great happens I yell Shondi, but when it's terrible I do the same. I don't mean it sacreligiously, really, it's just a habit. What can I say I believe in speaking in tongues when happy or sad. I say, "Shondi" in a joking way however seriously when I'm upset or angry I start praying in the spirit and the kids go, "Mom's speaking in tongues...get out of the way!!!"

3) Putting off the weeds for one more day because I'm tired.

4) Saying things when I get very angry without thinking through it first and calculating my words carefully.

5) Forgetting to send birthday cards.

Five things you like doing

1) Writing

2) Going on a date with my husband.

3) Meeting a friend for lunch or coffee.

4) Going to the beach

5) Sleeping

Five things you would never wear again

1) Big glasses

2) Tight pants

3) Pantyhose

4) Hair bows

5) a choker - yeeeech!

Five favorite toys...

1) My computer

2) Mp3

3) Coffee grinder (I do prefer to grind the beans right before I make is better.)

4) Food processor (make a lot of my signature dishes with this...such as my chicken salad...)

5) TIVO (I only watch things I tape.)

TAG, you're it!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Favor, Favor, Favor

I'm realizing, there are three things that are absolutely key to rising above and achieving one's destiny and they are - favor, favor, and favor.

I've heard it said, "one day of favor is worth a thousand days of labor." I am finding that to be SO true.

Today we had our meeting with our sales rep at the Hilton. She's working with us on our Unstoppable Conference. There are so many things I needed to make this work. Things so beyond my abilities, out of our contract, things most people would be told to go jump in a lake about. Well, I've been praying for months and several other people have too, Pastor Tara Sloan for one. Thank you, PT for standing with me in prayer even today while in the meeting.

What happened? Basically favor was thrown at us right and left. There are so many things that just magically (Holy Spirit magically) worked out, and were immediately granted to us - things we DESPERATELY needed to make this conference work. Well, not only work, but be great. And we got every one of them, AND MORE. I was so excited when we walked out of there I could hardly stand it. I have been in constant prayer about this. Were I not in an intimate relationship with God it would have robbed all my sleep and caused me to bite my acrylic nails off. I did lay awake at night for hours over this, but not in vain or for nothing. Each time I was awake, concerned - I simply turned it to prayer. I prayed, and prayed and then prayed some more. And, it worked.

So, my greatest concerns have been lifted off of my shoulders for this, although we do need about 10-15 more registrants to meet our budget. We'll do it in the next three weeks, I have no doubt. So far we have also been able to give 8 women pastors/pastor's wives in need a scholarship to attend. Most are home missions pastors/wives whose churches are not financially well enough right now to support them , and they are also not making enough money personally to pay for this conference right now. I'm so excited to be awarding these scholarships and I can almost guarantee more will come in before the day of the opening of the event. (September 13)

We are sooooooo set for a blockbuster event. If people only knew the caliber of the worship leaders, the speakers, the elegant setting this retreat will be in...all just AMAZING.

God also gave me my message for the Friday night General Session last week and I am finishing it up through prayer and meditating upon the Word, right now at this time. My message is, "Why Women Stop."

I was so happy today after the meeting at the Hilton, and so relieved...I just wanted to put on my bathing suit and go run on Clearwater Beach and then float on my pink noodle for 3 hours! (But alas, I could was time to get ready for Wednesday night church!)

Have a zillion things to do tomrorow to get ready for speaking at the All Church Ministries Conference (both my teachings are all done, however I'm talking about other stuff I have to do - church stuff, home stuff, etc.). Then I must wash clothes and pack for church life co-hort in Lauderdale. At least there is no speaking involved in that, however Larry and I are getting another new pastor-couple to start coaching this next time. I'm looking forward to this new year in CLR. I am always stressed to pack and get there, but once I do, I love it!!! My brain gets so full...I am so energized and enjoy the teaching and the discussion. I think over the past few years it's kept me sane sometimes! (Just to be in a room of pastors who understand and can help one another hash out issues we are dealing with in the church.)

It's time to finish up work for the night and hit the hay. Tomorrow's another day but I AM THANKING GOD FOR HIS INCREDIBLE FAVOR! The truth is...a person can't work hard enough to get what they need to reach their destiny without some FAVOR ENCOUNTERS. If you worked all your life, you'd still never work hard enough to reach your ultimate potential without FAVOR in there somewhere.

Two by Two

Taking this idea off of Pastor Lisa's blog...

1) Two names you go by

Deanna, Momma

2) Two things you're wearing right now

Blue tie dyed t-shirt and black sweats

3) Two things you want in a relationship

loyalty and ...mmmm... loyalty

4) Two of your favorite things to do

read and write

5) Two things you want very badly at the moment

a day off and something chocolate.

6) Two pets you have had or have now

When I was growing up my dog was Kelly. Our dog now is Geena.

7) Two people who will fill this out first:

would have been Pastor Lisa, but I got this off her blog, will be Pastor Leanne if she's back from camp already, and Pastor Tara if she's got time amidst working on our new project. :-)

8) Two things you did last night

Took a long bubble bath and totally enjoyed the fact that school is back in session and the kids were asleep early. :-)

9) Two people that live in your house

My Superman - Larry and my Superson - Jordan

10) Two people you talked to last

Pastor Jennifer Lee and Pastor Eddie Rivero

11) Two things you're doing tomorrow

Going to work at the church office and Wednesday night service

12) Two longest car rides

Through the Mojave desert with no food or water. And, the drive from Florida to Maryland with our car having problems one time.

12) Two of your favorite holidays

Thanksgiving and Christmas

13) Two favorite beverages:

tea and coffee

Happy Wednesday, everybody! (((Hugs)))

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tuesday Meme

Ten Things You Don't Like About Your Job

Okay, I've been working non stop all day (lots of writing - didn't even stop for lunch) and the brain is starting to get fried. Time to take a short break and write something just for fun. Went to a Meme website, Ten on Tuesday, and this is the question for the day. I thought, "uuuughhh" THIS is the question? Oh well, I'm gonna do it. Here goes...

1) Watching people making decisions that sometimes ruin their lives and there is nothing you can do about it but pray and still sometimes see them go off the cliff you warned them was there. My husband just dealt with a situation like that today. Very painful for a spiritual mother and father to go through, because we love our people so much.

2) Having a zillion God-dreams but not always the immediate resources to fulfill them.

3) The politics that sometimes come with it. (Though I've sworn not to engage in it, sometimes - unavoidable.)

4) The fact that it has the potential to affect my kids in a negative way. (though I try my best to protect them.)

5) Confrontation - sometimes it's just necessary but I never enjoy it.

6) The fact that many people don't treat church with equal or more importance than a business. If the business world expects excellent work, how much more should the church? Sometimes people think we should excuse a lot more from our employees or volunteers because we are a church (and I hate that attitude). I think more should be expected, not less, out of Christ-followers.

7) The fact that sometimes the people you do the most for, appreciate it the least or hurt you the most, and the people you do the least for look at you like you are God incarnate. What's that about?

8) The fact that we almost exclusively work with a volunteer work force. How many corporations could ever succeed with that? None. Which is one thing that makes the church of Jesus Christ an absolutely amazing thing. And for pastors who lead successfully -- a leader unequaled in the business world, IMHO. Tell a CEO he has to work with "volunteers". He'd resign after about 2 days of it. But pastors all over the world keep doing it, putting their hand to the plow, and moving forward. Amazing! I salute my collegues all over the world! You are AMAZING. Simply amazing.

10) That you "take your kids to work with you" each week. What other professionals have their entire family show up, on display - to be critiqued week after week? None. Even politicians only have the occasional public appearance with their kids. People complain about pastor's kids and how they act sometimes, but you can't imagine what is expected of these kids. It's amazing that many PK's stay sane or saved with the expecations that are on them and the lifestyle that many have to live. Can you imagine your surgeon doing an operation on you with their two kids standing right there? How about your lawyer defending a court case with their three kids sitting there beside them at the witness table? How about your banker, trying to explain your investment portfolio to you with their two year old and six year old in their office? No, it would never happen. Yet pastors lead worship, teach, preach, and shake hands at the door every single week with their kids there, on display before the entire church. No one would think it odd if the banker's kids couldn't sit still in the room, or the doctor's kids said, "I'm hungry Dad. I don't want to stand here while you do this open heart surgery." But if the pastor's kid does the same, it's viewed differently. Probably the hardest thing for me in pastoring the first decade was the fact that people had no idea, I was doing so...taking my entire family to work. I don't think if the shoe were on the other foot most of them could ever do it. Some say, "well, I bring MY whole family to church each week. What's the difference?" First, you are not leading, necessarily. Second, you can leave when you need to. If your kids are tired, you just go. And you don't have to greet anybody on your way out. You just grab the kids and head out with not a care in the world. Third, you don't have several hundred eyes on you watching every move you make. But then again, unless you are one who actually has been through this as a minister, you are shaking your head right now going, "huh? going to WORK? What's she talking about?"

Most people don't even realize that Sunday is a work day for us. Not our only one by far, but one of them. Sunday is NOT our Sabbath and it is not restful by any means. Services are "work time" for us not just a celebration or a time to be refreshed by God. Some Moms never make it through "Take Your Daughter to Work Day" without going, "Geez, if I had to do this everyday, I'd never get anything done..." Next time, just remember your minister. They do that EVERY SINGLE SUNDAY AND WEDNESDAY.

Monday, August 20, 2007

First Day of School

Today was the first day of school for the kids. I'm so glad to be back to routine. Did I mention, sooooooooooo glad? I am a creature of routine and summers get me totally off kilter. Not to mention, this means Larry and I are back to fun Friday. :-)

Dustin had his first follow up appt. today after his hospital release. He has another follow up with the surgeon tomorrow. Over the coming weeks he'll have all kinds of follow ups to get checked and re-checked several times to make sure no trace of MRSA is left. He'll have follow ups on his blood work, and more. Today Dr. Watson gave him the go ahead to go back to normal diet. He wants pizza tomorrow. (I had already made pot roast today for dinner because it was the first day of school and I know it's everybody's favorite.) I guess tomorrow night, it's Amici's take out for dinner!

Savanna and Jordan had a good day at school. They like their teachers a lot. We've completed the first day mounds of paper work that have to be returned to the school. We're all set for a great year.

Dustin is going to be starting in January. Right now he's just working, what will be 30 hours a week. He has gone and met with the school and all that however, he had to take a placement test and being that he is on such heavy medications (he's still on them) and not really in his right frame of mind (to say the least) he can't really take them. This illness really set him back a little bit, but we're not worried, not upset. This is not tragic. It will give him a little bit of breathing space, then he will get off of his medications soon, go take the test, and begin. Quite truthfully, he was completely burned out at the end of the school year and I was worried about him. It probably led to being run down and sick. He is the type of kid who gets very stressed out with school. I think this actually might be the best thing that could have happened (a short break) in the long run. Right now we are still concentrating on getting him 100% well. And I'll be glad to have him off the meds. He really says some funny, yet inappropriate things. And is just not "himself."

I can't reiterate enough how glad we are that he is okay...that he is on the mend. All kids have not been so blessed. Lisa Currie sent me an article from Bay News 9 this week that details how MRSA is affecting people in the Bay area, even kids who have died. This is a really serious tihng and to know that he has made it though and is on the mend...we are just so grateful to God. Thank you, God, for your hand upon his life.

For those who are A/G

Be sure to read your September 16 Pentecostal Evangel.

You'll find me there. :-)

Foolish disagreements? An inside look

Larry just got the word - he will not be going on the reality show - he doesn't qualify for it...he doesn't weigh enough. (And as you might have guessed...the show was..."The Biggest Loser.") Pastor T greatly overestimated how much Larry weighed, and Larry didn't want to waste the trip tomorrow to Ft. Lauderdale since it's 8 hours round trip, so he had him call the producer with his exact current weight and sure enough, he doesn't qualify.

Larry can stand to lose a few pounds like most people, but he is really not that overweight, nor at the level of any of the previous winners of the competition in how much he would need to lose. The show would have required Larry to lose 70 pounds -- at least, to win, and in reality he can only healthily lose about 30-35 pounds, max. So, Pastor T is still going to the casting call and is going to probably take someone else with him who weighs a lot more and will hopefully qualify. I'm glad for him - I know he really wants to do it and Misty's grandma will come help her. So pray that if it be God's will that he make it on the show.

Larry is fine with not being on the show. He was fine with being on it too, but he seems to not really be emotional over it either way. Then again, when is he really emotional over anything? I'm the emotional one in the fam. Not usually crying but often laughing, jumping up and down, getting all excited or passionate over something. Usually when people want to know how Larry feels they ask me how he feels because from the outward they would never know. He could have a career in poker if he wanted to.

This morning as I was washing dishes before work, I could hear my grandmother's words ringing in my ears, "don't count your chickens before they're hatched." Good advice. I should have remembered that two days ago, but it's never easy. You know me, aside from chickens, I'm always "getting my ducks in a row," organized woman that I am. I have to be organized, otherwise I'd never be able to keep up in this life.

Concerned about nothing? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Yesterday, in the Sunday morning service Larry gave an illustration in his message about a couple who fought over what was supposedly "nothing." They had one huge blow out fight in their marriage and it was about winning the lottery and what they would do with the money if they won. The interesting thing was, they never won the lottery...they never even played it! So, some would say, "foolish argument." Well, I agree, and yet I disagree.

Sometimes hurt feelings come about the "principle of the thing" not just the actual thing that happens or doesn't happen. For instance, let's say that it was Larry and I in the argument over the lottery. (It wasn't.) Let's say Larry said, "we're going to spend the whole amount on a Lambourghini (his dream car) and a golf course." Obviously that would all be for him, without any consideration of me. If he didn't even ask me what I wanted to do, seriously discuss the options with me, or even consider sharing it or doing something for the whole family, I would be very hurt. I think most wives would be. The issue would have been the condition of the heart, and selfishness. Just knowing his FEELINGS and his plan of what he would do "if" -- his lack of consideration would be the hurtful thing...not the actual money. Know what I mean? It really has little to do with a lottery or the reality of it, but the condition of the heart, and a willingness to share.

I wasn't a bit upset that Larry might go on The Biggest Loser show. I think it would have been kind of funny actually and even if he didn't win, a great experience! However, in doing so I think he should have immediately (before even agreeing to be on there or trying out) been in agreement that had he gotten picked for the show, it would be alright for me to take steps to ensure that things would run smoothly here without me having a physical or mental breakdown in keeping things going. (My plan "if" was to hire somebody to clean the house once a week, someone to do the weeds at least once a month for those 3 months, and also have someone available for child care for Savanna occasionally.) After all, not only would I be keeping up with the merry go round life that I'm now on, but I would throw his job on top of it and do it singlehandely for 3 months. I really think that's worth hiring somebody to help me clean and weed and watch Savanna occasionally. Being the very fiscally conservative person he is, he thought that was unnecessary.

Since Larry truly does think I'm "Wonder Woman" he doesn't always understand my need for help. He thinks, "what's one more thing? It can't be that hard." He always talks about how strong I am. Everyone says I make what I do look easy. I really must make it look easy, because I have even my own husband fooled! But believe me, keeping it all going isn't easy at all. I may be strong but I have to work at it constantly. And I realize now I am totally at my limit as it is. If everyone only knew what I have to do to keep things spinning sometimes...

The other thing is... when I spoke in my previous blog about things getting easier in getting his agreement in fulfilling some of my dreams, should he go on the show... (just between us friends...shhhhhh...) we've been through some real hashing out in the past over how much I'll be gone on speaking engagements over a Sunday. He doesn't mind Fridays and Saturdays but he has a real issue with Sundays. It doesn't happen real often, but it happens. Sometimes, it's a simple matter of not being able to catch a plane back in time. Note that I really don't want to be away from him or my family longer than a day or two. I'm a homebody at heart really, but I do love to preach which is the only thing that can ever entice me away. Truthfully, just the issue of sleeping alone for more than 2 nights is enough to not make me want to go away. But I enjoy bringing God's Word so I am willing to do it. The truth of the matter is, as much as I enjoy preaching, the whole time I'm gone I call home a zillion times to see exactly what's going on. I miss home so much. "Well, if you miss it, don't go..." you might say. All I have to say to that is, until you have experienced the call of God on your life to preach the gospel, you don't 'get it.' Paul said, "woe to me if I do not preach the gospel..." Turning down ministering the gospel is harder to me than turning down triple chocolate cake. And it doesn't matter if it's 10 people or 3,'s just a matter of bringing the Word.

As our ministry has grown and I don't have to lead worship, and there are others to cover things, and I may only take the offering or lead in prayer, the fact that he doesn't want me away has not changed. I realize were it not for ministering the gospel somewhere else, I shoudn't be away. I don't believe any pastor or pastor's spouse should be away from their spouse or the congregation in which they serve unless they are temporarily and occasionally ministering the gospel somewhere else, almost being "sent forth" as a gift on loan from the church, for that day.

But, it's like this...Larry just doesn't like me to be away from him and the church, period. It wouldn't matter to him if I didn't have any real "responsibilities" in a service. (And it's not about the kids - he's fine with them on his own. He's a totally equal parent.) It's a thing of not wanting his "partner" gone. It's like the other half of his brain is gone when I am, and truly I understand that. But as the years have gone on and I don't have to lead worship anymore and many other people are in place to cover things, I was really hoping that he would feel better about me taking a few more opportunities.

I know I'm blessed. My husband loves me. He doesn't like to be without me. He tells me every day, "I love you," and "you're beautiful." He respects my mind, and my giftings. He values my input into anything ministry related and he believes my daily and weekly input is absolutely essential to the health of the church. He looks to me to assist him in all things leadership. He thinks I'm the best cook in the world. (I think his Mom and I are equal on that, by the way. She's great.) He thinks I'm the most amazing sex partner on the planet. (I'm his only sex partner, but he still thinks there's no one greater - and tells me so, often! (Oops, did I just lose another few readers? Just in case you didn't notice this is lifetime INTIMATE portrait...!) He tells some of his friends, they missed out by not marrying a girl like me. But sometimes having a good marriage can come back to bite you in the butt. (ugh! Did I just lose a few more readers?! Would you believe somebody wrote to me one time and said "don't put the word butt in your writings. It isn't becoming of a minister..." Well, the truth is, ministers DO have butts. We are human. Sorry to shatter your preconceived notions there...) Anyway, how exactly is there a downside when you have a strong partnership? Well, when you've cultivated it, it can result in the fact that your spouse just doesn't ever want to be without you. And if they're a pastor, especially not on a Sunday.

To get him to come into agreement with me to take the Africa speaking engagement (by myself) was HUGE. I cried so many tears over that one, I could have filled a pool. I got through that, only with a Word from God. (Sometimes a Word from God is all you need, and...all you have.) Sometimes only something like that gets you through an impasse... and finally we got through ours and Larry gave me His blessing to go.

So... We finally came to an agreement regarding Sundays a while back and our agreement is 6 Sundays a year. We agreed to that, signed the contract in blood (no just kidding) and set the matter to rest. To get to that point, we almost had to hire a mediator. Actually our mediator became Jesus in the matter, and we came to a decision on it together, which is the way God meant it to be. I'm just being flat out honest here. I don't have a perfect marriage by far, and I think everybody knows that who has known me longer than about 5 minutes. I love my husband, deeply. He's my best friend. But like all best friends and partners, we sometimes have our disagreements and our hurts, and our "stuff" to work through. So this is an "inside look" at one of ours and how we worked through it. Many people say, "what are the realities of working out a true partnership in ministry?" Well, these are some of them that I'm sharing right now.

One difficult "pang" I felt immediately when he mentioned that he might go on the reality show is..."okay, he might be away for three months (at least 12 Sundays, maybe more) without even so much as a conversation about it, but I had to almost hire a defense attorney to get six Sundays off to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ?" Just being honest, I was hoping in one way that Larry WOULD go on The Biggest Loser because then I'd probably more easily have his agreement on more things for myself. I thought, "what a snap! This is probably worth at least eight Sundays off to preach, and maybe even a bunch of shopping trips to Bealls thrown in!!!" (okay, just kidding about Bealls, but not the Sundays.) Anything I've ever asked for would absolutely pale in comparison to being away for 3 months. But alas...he is not going on the show. So, I'm back to my six Sundays now. That's alright. Six of one, half a dozen the other. (no pun intended!) What I mean by that is...I'm back to my six Sundays, however I'm also not lobbying him to spend the money on a housecleaning once a week, weed removal and child care a few days a week for him to be gone on a Reality Show. So, we're back to normal now. The conversation is over.

But foolish disagreements? I'm not so sure. Sometimes what you disagree about doesn't come to pass, however it's the "heart of the matter"... the "principle of the thing"...the "if this happened, you might not consider how it affects me" that is the difficult thing to deal with.

So for the lady who got her feelings hurt that her husband WOULD HAVE spent all the money on the lottery his way...I understand.

Sometimes it's not what has happened that we're hurt about, but finding out how someone believes, or how they feel, or what they would do "if"... and coming terms with it.

I think if Larry would have made it on to The Biggest Loser when it came time to go he might have really had some second thoughts, although he might not readily admit it. I mean, really...can you imagine how life would have been for him to go three months without his "amazing sex partner"? Quite honestly, I wouldn't want to go without him either. I love him with all my just takes us some time and negotiating when we come to certain issues, but we always do, foolish disagreement or not.