Sunday, September 30, 2007

A blessed day

It was a good day in the house today at Northside. Among many other things, today they began announcing Pastor Appreciation month for Larry and I! As they have done the past few years, they had us go out of the service at a certain point and shared a "plan" with the congregation. Adam went outside with us and we had a good time out there talking as usual. Bernie said some heartfelt things as always. We are blessed, so blessed. I never lose the gratefulness I have in that regard. I wake up everyday and thank God for my life and all the special people in it. I felt it was a good service this a.m. as far as how everything else went and we went to lunch with Pastor Aaron & Hannah...always a delight to be with them.

The boys went to a few concerts today and Morgan came home with us for the afternoon. The girls were good as gold. I came home and took an hour and a half nap and then got up to work on the house for Bridges (home fellowship group) but they had cleaned the bathroom for me, and done some other things. How wonderful! I just had to put some finishing touches on, finish the green beans and potatoes I made, light all the candles, and just a few other little things.

We hosted the Legacy group at our house tonight and it was a fantastic time as it always is. We love all the people of our church but there are specific things about various groups that we just really enjoy. The Legacy group (age 50+) is such a pleasure to be around...I love the conversation, the food (they all bring casseroles, pies, you name it, it's there! Of course this makes it hard to stay on program, but Larry and I did good, and I worked out hard on the elliptical afterwards tonight.)

We had a great time of fellowship around the dinner tables at our house and then we all met in our living room to just share a few things about ourselves. It was a great time of conversation, laughing, etc. No one in the Legacy group has kids at the church, (except us) so nobody had to go pick kids up and instead of taking our meeting til 8:00 we went til at least about 8:45. When we were done talking, Larry says, "okay, it's time for all you good people to go home so my wife and I can go to bed!" Everyone bursted out laughing and Alex Rivera said, "that new hairdo of yours must really be working!" It was so funny.

So much to do this week it's initiative list is huge, more importantly, Larry is having his shoulder operation this week on Thursday. I'm happy and sad at the same time. I don't want him to have to to through it but at the same time, the doctor all but guarantees he is going to have full use of his arm back and will be back to normal. There are so many ways he is affected by this right one has a clue. So in that respect I can't wait til it's over with...and he has gone through the rehab.

Well, it's time to snuggle up with the man and go to sleep...

Tomorrow, my week is going to take off like a rocket...

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Opportunity for Giving

through my Virtuous Woman Offering

I recently realized I was completely missing out on a new opportunity ministry yet untapped. Apparently one woman preacher is taking a "Threshing Floor" offering for her ministry and yet another an "Atonement Offering" for hers. I realized, I - Pastor Deanna Shrodes - am missing out. And so are you.

Why are we both missing out? Because all of YOU are my dear friends, and I am keeping you from this great blessing in your connection with ME!!! And that is why, my friends, I am giving all of YOU who read my blog an opportunity to give in MY Virtuous Woman offering. This, my friends, is a Proverbs 31 offering. I have quite a few men who read my blog and let me say, God is not leaving you out. No, no, no. For you see, when the Holy Ghost is in charge, even a man can have a Proverbs 31 blessing. So just get ready because I'm getting ready to share something with you that is going to change your life. Touch your neighbor right now and say, "'s time to change your life!"

You have several choices in this opportunity for life changing giving. You can send me $31.00 and it will qualify you for the first level of Virtuous blessings. $310.00 takes you to the next level of blessing as a woman of God, and for $3,100 your cup will truly run over...there's no telling what will happen. Now there are a number of you out there who may be readers who have never even commented me, but you know who you are and you can probably afford to give $31,000 without so much as blinking a false eyelash. I admonish you...if you want virtuous blessings that are more than virtual...well, this is the place to get them, right here on this blog. Do not waste another minute! The Bible tells you to make the most of every opportunity. What exactly IS this opportunity? Let me break it down for you according to scripture. The Bible has a lot to say about this that I'm sure most of you never realized. If you turn in your Bible to Proverbs 31, you will see ever so clearly just what this miracle offering will bring to you:

1) You are going to be worth far more than rubies! (verse 10) You thought you had it going on before, girlfriend, but I'm telling you, GET READY, GET READY, GET READY because a RUBY ANOINTING is coming to your house. This means you might even open your cupboard at home and instead of finding a box of Trix that your kids left empty on the shelf, God's going to have His own tricks up his sleeve (oh, I feel the anointing here...) and a RUBY is going to there instead. It's going to be a Holy Ghost switcheroo right before your eyes. This is right up there with the parting of the Red Sea. (Rubies are red...the Red Sea is red...there's a connection there somewhere in the spirit...)

2) Your husband is suddenly going to have full confidence in you (verse 11) and the Word goes on to say, you will lack nothing of value. A house? A car? A trip to Macy's? You heard it here sister, verse 11 says you will lack NOTHING OF VALUE. This means even Prada, Choo, and Limited Too. (Did I mention, I take debit cards?) And all the while, your husband won't even question these purchases because remember, he has full confidence in you. He's never going to question you about another thing again. Now, that's the Holy Ghost if I ever heard it.

3) You'll be able to "consider a field a buy it..." (verse 16) and out of your earnings, plant a vineyard. This Virtuous Woman offering has the potential to turn the stagnated real estate market in the United States upside down. In fact, I almost called this the "Upside Down" offering, because of it's potential. But get giving, you will find that not only will you be the talk of the real estate town, but you will have so much left over afterwards, you will be able to plant a vineyard. Never mind that we Pentecostals don't drink on record...the point is, YOU COULD IF YOU WANTED TO! Slap your neighbor and say, "CHEERS!!!"

4) Your arms will be strong for your tasks... (verse 17) Did you just hear me? Did you? How can you even sit there in your seat calmly if you just heard what I said. I said your arms will be strong for your tasks. Do you even get in that finite mind of yours, that if you give in this Virtuous woman offering, you are suddenly going to notice your arms getting buff? You can't out-give God. Instead of working out at the gym, you took time to pull out your checkbook and write to me for this Virtuous Woman offering. And God saw that. And so what does He decide to do? He reaches down out of heaven and says, "I saw that Jennifer gave in that Virtuous Miracle offering instead of working out today." And what is He going to do? He's going to firm up your arms for the glory of God, that's what He's going to do. No more flab! No more jigglies! Say it! NO MORE! (Did I mention, make your check out to Deanna Shrodes ministries?)

5) When it snows (verse 21) you will have no fear for your household. Never mind that you live in Tampa, Palm Springs or San Diego. Snow ain't got nothin on you, girl! Even if you live in Kenosha, you will not fear snow because through the virtuous Woman offering, the curse of snow is broken! Glory to God!

6) Your husband will be respected at the city gate (verse 23) where he will take his seat among the elders of the land. That's right, my dear sisters, through this Virtuous Woman offering, your husband's next promotion will be birthed! I believe in this so much that the theme for my ministry in this coming year is going to be, "HE'LL BE BY THE GATE, IN 2008!!!" That's right! Give a shout now! Do you want your husband to have respect? Then pull out your check book. Do you want him to get a promotion at work, so you can go to JC Penney's more often? Get out your debit card. It is time for your husband to be the head and not the tail. You are sick of that man being a tail. And let me tell you ladies, this offering has a tail breaking anointing on it. Right now, just shout BREAK IT!

7) You will be clothed with strength and dignity (verse 25) and you will laugh at the days to come. Honey, you are going to be laughing all the way to the bank! Clothed with strength? With those buff arms of yours, you aren't even going to want to have your arms clothed anymore, but being that God is giving you an extra dose of dignity, you will clothe them. This is a NEW jewelry, new arms, new weather, new husband (if you don't have one, this Virtuous Woman anointing will get you one...just $31 makes all things possible.) Some might even say it's so new it's not even in the Bible, but am I not proving it to you right now?

and last but not least, your final Virtuous woman blessing...

8) Your children will arise and call you blessed (verse 28) and your husband will praise you also. Having trouble getting your kids to wake up in the morning? Let the Virtuous Woman offering go forth to break the curse of rebellious sleepers in the name of Jesus. If you give $31 you'll begin to see a change in the next week, but $310 will get those kids to wake up quicker and another $3,100 will virtually guarantee that not only will they get up before you but they'll bring you breakfast in bed. Not only will they ARISE, but they will BLESS YOU. Did you hear that? Have you been reading this whole blog but you haven't even opened your purse yet??!! High five the person next to you and shout, "OPEN!" It's time. It's time to open your purse ladies, and dare to believe God for the Virtuous Woman Proverbs 31 blessing that He is ready to rain down upon your household.

Many women are not going to pay any mind to this let alone money! They are just going to go read another blog about how to study their Bibles more effectively! Or, they are going to get off of their computer to go eat dinner with their family. But you my friend, you are different. You are going to be the one getting the true blessing.

Don't wait another second. Write to me now. Call me now. Let me agree with you for the explosion of Virtuous Woman blessing in your life. (800) 555-RUBY is your number for breakthrough.

Unbelievable video clip

You have to see it for yourself to believe it. This goes with the article I posted below by J. Lee Grady, editor of Charisma. Read the article first, then watch this. Hold on to your seats...

If you're Pentecostal...

be careful.

Excellent article from TIME that shows why we Pentecostals need to take going the extra mile in being above reproach very seriously.

Friday, September 28, 2007

My friend with benefits

The other day I was cleaning house and watching an Oprah program from earlier this week that I Tivo'd. I have to confess, I'm shocked at some of the behavior from grown women...supposedly educated, intelligent, wise grown women.

I don't agree with a lot of what Oprah says. She is certainly a role model as far as weight loss. She looks just great and is to be admired for her accomplishment. She is an incredible giver to many worthy causes and honestly she's just a very likeable person. However, she's also off base spiritually about many things and very humanistic. On the other hand, she's also the most powerful woman in television with a viewership that no one else can claim and if somebody has a pulse on where women are at today - it's her. So I often listen to get a clue as to how other women are thinking. I pastor women and I need to know these things and quite frankly much of the time it scares me to death.

It doesn't surprise me that teens or twenty somethings who simply don't know better would be sucked into the whole "friends with benefits scene"...but 'mature' adult women? I was watching as these "sexperts" shared how great it is for women of all ages to have a friend with benefits (a friend of the opposite sex that they have no serious commitment to -- namely marriage - but somebody to just have sex with when they need it until they find the person they want to be committed to - if they ever even decide they want commitment at all.)

As they shared these pearls of supposed wisdom, Oprah smiled and the audience clapped like this was a fantastic revelation of freedom for women everywhere. Here is our latest dose of Oprahology folks, and it's scary. Feeling a little frisky? Don't have a marriage partner right now? No fear, just ask a male friend if they can do you a favor. Single and fancy free gals, you can now get a man to change the oil in your car, carry your heavy boxes up the stairs, and give you a little somethin' somethin', no strings attached.

Aside from being simply wrong, why can't women can't see how this is:

1) Still extremely risky - (despite the fact that they bill it as "safe" because you are with a "friend") -- unless you have umpteen tests and medical documentation on somebody - it's not safe no matter what a person tells you...even a friend that you think you know really well.

I have to be honest that if something were to ever happen to my husband, Lord forbid, and I was to ever marry again, I wouldn't do so without getting a doctor's note or a lab report from my future marriage partner, and giving them one from me. Maybe it's the fact that I'm a pastor who has counseled a zillion people and also traveled and preached and listened to a bunch of junk at the altars of our churches, but trust me, there are a lot of diseases floating around out there...even in the church. Too many people are "trusting" just because someone is a Christian, but you shouldn't assume anything.

Last night I was researching this issue on the internet. One man gave a testimony about taking one of his friendships into the "benefits" category and asking his friend, 'do you have any STD's?" to which the woman responded, "I do have herpes, but it's not active right now so you don't have to me." He trusted her word and believed that since it was not apparently "active" he was in the safe zone, but...he was not. And he now has herpes. He was pleading with people on the internet not to enter into this type of a relationship even with a close friend you have known a long time.

Honestly, "friend" or not, and Christian or not, I would take no one's word for it on this except a doctor's and even then might ask for a second opinion. "A little overboard on this, Deanna?" Well, when your life is in someone's hands, can you really take something overboard? Sex is not just a recreational hobby. Besides being the most significant spiritual event between two human beings, it's also a life and death matter...literally. Besides that, friends with benefits is...

2) Degrading - that we would share our body with someone we aren't committed to. Really, "friends with benefits" reduces us to nothing more than being like two dogs in a field. It reduces the whole act down to a biological urge rather than a spiritual event.

Are adults these days so hyper sexed and out of control that they have to use their "friends" to get their biological cravings out of their systems? Is there no better way to handle this "problem" than to find a friend who will give you benefits?

Yes -- there is a much better way. In fact, I believe there are several other solutions. I will not list them all here due to the fact that the backlash can be tremendous from people who get their panties all in a bunch that someone is being so honest and so relevant about something they can't even prove or disprove with the Bible. So if you face this dilemma and would like some wisdom that I believe is in line with God's Word, just ask me privately and I'll be glad to tell you.

and moving on to number three...can't mature women see that having "friends with benefits" sets ---

3) A horrible example.

The whole "friends with benefits" thing is sending a dangerous message to our youth. As I said before, seeing this behavior in young people is not surprising to me simply for the fact of immaturity and not knowing better. However, seeing adults exemplify this behavior sends a message even to Christian teens. As I was researching this behavior, I came across this question from a young Christian teen on a message board:

"I am a good christian girl, I strive to be close to God, I want a great relationship with him, and I love to learn what he has in store for me. But there is this guy friend that I have and he isn't a christian, or at least not a good one and we love to hang out and be flirty and have fun. Well last night he asked me if we wanted to be friends with benefits and I was wondering if that is okay thing to do when I am a christian?"

I sincerely hope this girl took wise counsel before she acted on this and tried it out. One of the first respondents to her wrote, "don't worry, there's no such thing as a bad Christian" and they spoke about not judging, etc. Scary stuff. It seems these days when anybody wants to justify doing anything they just slap a "judge not lest ye be judged" on to it.

Thankfully more people wrote back to this girl and did give her sound counsel. The point is, even Christian youth wonder if this practice is okay. They actually have a question mark about it, and that's indicative of just how far off the thinking is on this in our world today.

Recently a co-pastor friend of mine was ministering at the altar of her church at the close of the service. The youth of the church were gathered around and one young lady who had grown up in the church approached her and said, "Pastor K, I need you to pray for me." When the pastor asked, "what is your need?" the girl responded, "To know God's will. I want him to direct me about my future and what boy or girl I am supposed to be with."

The co-pastor had to take this young church girl aside and explain to her why it would not be God's will for her to be with a girl. I realize why a girl who had no church background or upbringing in a Christian home would have this question, but from our church youth? This line of thinking is surprising to me.

The same message board I read last night was filled with young people who are using the "benefits" of oral sex until they get married so as to not get pregnant or contract diseases (another thing they are mistaken about - you can, of course, get diseases from oral sex. And yes, it's still sex - no matter what our former president says. If it's not sex then why does everone refer to it as oral SEX? Why not oral play? oral petting? oral kissing? Sort of redundant don't you think? oral touching? Yes, there's a reason we call it oral sex. Because it's quite possibly the most intimate and close up you will ever be to another individual. I have some married friends who describe oral sex in their marriage as much more intimate than intercourse. Those who bristle against calling it sex simply want to justify their supposed technical virginity or innocence.)

I have to confess to you, the longer I pastor, and the longer I travel and speak, the more I just shake my head and say, "who made this shift when the rest of us weren't looking?" Is it just me or does it seem like every time we turn around another 180 has occurred in what is bizarre becoming the norm?

In my travels, I have met married couples in the church who switched partners, divorced, remarried and are in the same church. Amazing. I even know of two brothers in a Church of God who switched partners, remarried and both couples are on the church worship team. I promise you, I did not make this up. For their privacy I will not tell you the name of the church but I assure you this is the truth!

I have met many (too many to count) women in the church who, when single, had sexual relations with several men in the church who now happen to be married to other women in the church -- and they just go on in relationship/friendship like nothing ever happened and even discuss their former sexual relationships with no problem. This is seen almost as a given or completely normal among some friends these days. To me, this is "bizarro world."

I have met more women than you would ever believe who could rate their sexual experiences before they were married, with their friend's spouses, before they "settled down and got married." As they talk amongst themselves as women they find themselves saying, "well, when I was sleeping with Tony...we sometimes had problems with this or that..." or "he always liked it when I did _______________" like it's no big deal to be saying that. My point is...this even goes on with Christians. Some have memories from the "friends with benefits" days and don't hesitate to share them as if they were talking about something as unevenful as eating a bag of potato chips and how they rated compared to others.

Well, but that's all the past it such a big deal?" Honestly, it is. Whether it is under the blood of Christ, whether you were saved, unsaved or whether you were a martian at the time - sex is a big deal. It connects you to another person in more ways than one. Sex is one of the most profound and holy acts a person can engage in. The Bible is the greatest sex book ever written, and it details the incredible mystery of what happens when a man and woman unite.

Has sex really become that blase a thing, even among CHRISTIANS that we compare men, or use them and discard them like we would a case of lipstick? Actually some women keep a lipstick longer than they do a man...

If a person believes that God has not called them to a life of singleness, then I believe they should be praying about marriage. Instead of seeking a "friend with benefits", they need to ask God to help them in the best way possible by giving you a friend WITH THE BENEFIT of marriage! This is the greatest way to get benefits -- GOD'S WAY.

I personally have a friend with benefits. His name is Larry Shrodes. Through the benefit of marriage I began getting fantastic benefits from him in June of 1987 and the benefits just keep getting better all the time.

Sex does not get better simply because you are 30, 40, 50, 60 years old and have been practicing and doing it a lot. Sex does not get better simply because it's "wild". Nothing wrong with wild sex, whatever you deem that to be, but what makes for fantastic benefits? Depth of relationship and commitment. Surrendering oneself to someone with total abandon because of trust and commitment. Sex gets better because of INTIMACY - true connection and the joining together of two lives not just physically but spiritually, and emotionally - body, soul and spirit. Sex gets simply phenomenal because you have been married to the same person for so long and the more you get to know them, the better it is. Through commitment and mutual desire to fulfill the other person not just physicallly but emotionally and spiritually, you develop something far beyond what anyone could develop in a casual non-commital relationship.

I highly recommend this to you, this whole "benefits of marriage" thing.. No matter what you hear on Oprah, it's really the way to go.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I just love pastors...everyday, normal...(as normal can be...) pastors.

Why do we really need anybody famous to look to in ministry? What is the purpose of famous people? This is my question.

My husband often says, "the word is still out as to whether Christian TV is a blessing to the body of Christ." Realize, sometimes Larry is on Christian TV, but he still feels that way. He says the pastor used to be "the voice" to the people - the one who had the word from God for the people. Today people are getting "the word" from hundreds, actually thousands of different voices. Is this really an advancement?

Not only does a pastor have a word for the people, but the pastor (even though many times not in close "personal relationship" with every person in the church) has a relationship with his/her church and speaks into the lives of those in that church with a specific anointing. The mantle that is upon them is different from someone famous who has no relationship with the people.

I just want to go on record if I haven't already said it enough that my very favorite people are everyday...normal...down to earth...local pastors. I don't think there is any finer group of people on the planet than those faithfully serving God's people right where they are at.

I personally wish pastors everywhere would decide to stop the insanity of going to whatever lengths necessary to bring in famous people to their church or to their latest event. A co-pastor friend of mine has a heart as big as all outdoors for people. Wanting to bless the body of Christ, she has gone into serious debt for several years, absolutely killing herself financially to bring in a big name for her conference every year. She's gone more in the hole each year and has seen very little fruit as a result of this big name, and instead only frazzle for her efforts. The fruit that has come from the conference has not been fruit from the "big name" but from other things that my friend has done, at the conference. In other words the success of the event cannot in any way be attributed to the "big name". So she's finally re-thinking her strategy.

This year she decided "NO MORE! I'M GOING TO STOP THE INSANITY." She's bring in local worship leaders and preachers who, while perhaps not famous, know how to get ahold of God, know how to preach the Word, and know how to connect with God's people. I have no doubt the power of God is going to fall in a mighty way, more lives are going to be changed than ever before, and my friend is going to come out this year in the black, not in the red. It doesn't take a big name to bring just takes a touch from God.

A friend of mine and Larry's who pastors a 4,000+ member church gave us the wise advice last year that they never bring in big names and haven't for years. Guest speakers to their church include pastors and missionaries they personally know. I even asked, "If Billy Graham called up and said, "I want to come to your church and speak..." what would you say? The friend said, "if he came with no expectations, no minimum honorarium, perhaps but not unless." They also said that when they brought in big names in the past, they would get lots of local Christians coming over for the event but never lasting fruit. So they just don't do it. That gave us something to think about. So we made some changes in that regard that made things much better. Last year we had a several day campmeeting. We brought pastors we knew who did a fantastic job, preached the Word, flowed in the gifts of the spirit, and accomplished as much if not more as when we practically drove ourselves crazy getting well known people.

I've learned - as long as somebody is known by God - that's all that matters.

I have also learned that no one understands you like another pastor. Most will work with you closely as far as helping with exactly what you need and are looking for as far as what you want your congregation to receive.

For all of you ministers reading this, please realize there is perhaps no greater resource than other pastors. You don't need to have somebody famous in order to have a revival...only somebody faithful...faithful to seek God, pray, love God's people and live a life above reproach. Larry and I have discovered that not only can you see a mighty move of God by bringing in another pastor, but you also have a level of trust being that it is someone you know up close and not just someone whose reputation you know from TV or books, or a friend of a friend who had them in their church.

So, you're intent on bringing a big name? If you do bring somebody famous to your church or for your event, find somebody who wonders how in the world they got there. Find someone who says, "thank you so much for calling me and honoring me by inviting me to your church." Find someone who doesn't care about many requirements if any. Find someone who actually mixes with the people at your church or event, talks to them, and absolutely pours themself out during the time they are with you. Find someone who doesn't just slap a hand on people's heads at the altar and walk out with an entourage afterwards, but somebody who prays til' the last person is gone. Find somebody famous who is huggable. Find someone who asks you how they can serve you. Find somebody who is willing to talk to you or email you personally about what you are expecting/looking for in your meeting. Find somebody who is going to personally partner in prayer with you for your service/event. If you can find somebody like this who is all means go for it. You've found a gold mine. If you can't find them (which is a great probability...) then just...

STOP THE INSANITY. Call a local pastor.

Allow me to direct your attention...

to a post I wrote in January of this past year...before any of the latest scandals in Christiandom occurred.

I believe it's very pertinent to what's going on now.

It's Thursday, but Friday's comin'!

Last night we came home from church and watched Kid Nation – a show our whole family has fallen in love with. (By the way, we all like Michael, but I really think Greg should have gotten the gold star last night. After all, none of the kids would have had chicken this past week without him. That’s just the reality of it.)

I don't see what any of the controversy is about this show. I think it's awesome! I mean, for crying out loud, your kid has a chance to win a $20,000 gold star and get this wonderful experience of learning to work together as a team. I would LOVE for any of my three kids to be on it. Maybe somebody could explain to me the damage this show is doing to these children. Some parents are really upset about it. So far I don't see any abuses, in the first two episodes, just a lot of life lessons they are learning together.

Then we watched The Bionic Woman, a new show Larry TIVO’d for me, convinced I’d love it. He’s right. I used to love the old Bionic Woman. The only thing missing from the new one is, when she jumps, you don’t year the “ddddddddjjjjjjjjjj” as she is leaping. I miss that. But it’s all good. I think this is going to be a good mental diversion for me to watch this when I can. Larry has taught me the value of watching TV once in a while. I used to see it as the biggest waste of time and never did it. Up til' Tivo came on the scene, I couldn't tell you what the names were of very many shows nor the characters. I knew Nightline, Court TV - when I was keeping up with certain cases like OJ's case by taping it daily, etc. but other than the occasional thing like that - TV wasn't on my radar at all. I had too much to do and considered TV an absolute waste. Now I am finding through the advice of my husband that a show or two a week is good for you. It's a nice mental diversion from the rigors of everyday stuff we deal with. For that hour or two my mind is not on anything else but the characters in the show and I'm usually snuggled with a family member on the couch. Last night I was eating Edy's low fat ice cream while sitting on one end and Jordan was on the other end and he says, "Mom, why are you down there?" I said, "I'm next to the end table here to put my cup..." and he says, "scootch down..." so finally moments later he and Dustin and I were jammed together on there watching Kid Nation and enjoying it. Yes, I'm enjoying at least one or two hours a week of Tivo'd TV.

I made THE most delicious healthy chicken parmesan recipe last night(created it myself – 7 pts, thank you very much!) and usually I don’t have a lot of time to cook on Wed night but this week I made time. Larry loved it! He thanked me for it over and over - I can tell this one's a keeper. (The chicken, and the man...)

This morning is usually our late morning into the office because of church Wed. night. I thought I had the extra 30 minutes I normally have, although I didn’t because I forgot Larry had all his pre-surgery tests today. I had slept 30 minutes extra and then as I was shampooing my head in the shower I remembered that and thought, “uh…oh no…we only have one car. What am I going to do?” (too late to wear the wig…I’m standing there with a shampooey wet head.) So I got out of the shower, got dressed, and went to work with a towel on my head and finished getting ready there. (The beauty of a full bathroom in my office at the church. When people take a tour of our offices, they often ask me, “do you ever shower in your office or really use this?” OH YES. In fact, my whole family does. Since we practically live at the church I use it often, actually. Larry has his own too in his office. It’s a nice perk.

This is Thursday. Do you know what that means? Tomorrow is FUN FRIDAY! Yee ha! Yippee Aye Aye!

We stopped at the meat market on the way home and got some chicken breast stuffed with crab meat for Larry and I and some chicken breast with cheese for the kids. When we got home I started cutting some zucchini in half and brushing it with olive oil and garlic to bake it and Dustin says, "Mom, Bobby's on the way over..." so I proceeded to go out and set the table with six places instead of five and told Larry to throw an extra chicken breast with cheese in the oven. After supper we made homemade chocolate chip cookies. (Not the break & take kind we often bake, but I mean...get out all the ingredients out of the cabinet, the flour, eggs, sugar, etc. and do it. Yum! Everyone helped a little bit...)

Jordan was on the news tonight...not saying anything, you just saw him hugging a friend who was crying. You can watch it by clicking this link. They had an assembly at the high school today about drunk driving and reckless driving and what it causes. They had the parents there of the boy who was recently killed, and they shared the pain their are in over the loss of his life. They were asking the students to please THINK before they drive and be careful. They had a few other speakers there. Jordan had a friend who was really sobbing and he was comforting her and the news people were filming it. He said, "Mom, they were right there the whole time I was helping Stephanie. I know they are probably going to have me on the news tonight" and sure enough, he was. I really hope this assembly helped the kids to indeed THINK before they drive.

Thursday night has to be one of my very favorite nights. If there is nothing else on the calendar church wise, it means it's a good night at home because I know I get to kick back, relax and enjoy my family the next day. I do have to get up and get Vannie off to school but I go right back to bed on Fridays and snuggle up with Larry unless he wakes right up when I get up. If he's quick to get in the shower it means he wants to get Savanna to the bus stop, have me get ready to go out and he wants to leave and do something like go on a breakfast date, or head out to do something else we have been wanting to do. I always love Fridays when they are "ours."

Time with those we love is such a blessing.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

My current life in 85 Questions

I got this from Pastor Leanne and thought, "you know it HAS been a while since I've done one of these fun "I don't need to have my brain in overdrive to do it" surveys. So here goes...

What was the highlight of your week? Seeing people touched by God during the ministry time at Pastor Lisa's church. Nothing like God moving..nothing, nothing, nothing.

Who's car were you in last? My husband's.

When and where was your last kiss? with Larry on our date last night. It was my first day/night back from Texas and he wanted to take me out. We went on a date to Red Lobster (we were both good on our WW points...he is losing too...) and then we went to spend some of my birthday money that I did not spend yet. And the kiss...oh was in the car, on our date. :-)

How long is your hair? The one I was born with or the one I have the receipt for? ha ha! Okay, my real hair (not the one in this photo) is about an inch above my shoulders. Guess what, I wore my new hair on my date last night! I think he really likes it, at least for something different.

Last movie you saw? I can't remember. My days have sort of blurred together. I know Larry and I went to the movies again after seeing the latest Die Hard but I can't remember what we saw. We stopped by Muvico last night and thought about seeing something but nothing looked appealing, so we didn't stay.

Last thing you ate? Broiled seafood platter at Red Lobster. (I don't eat until late Wed. morning til' after I weigh in at WW.)

What was last thing you drank? Tea.

Are you happy right now? Yes. I'm home and Larry and I are getting along.

What did you say last? "Okay babe, talk to you later. I love you."

Where is your phone? Right next to me and I hate the thing.

What was the last museum you went to? The Scriptorium in Orlando.

Who did you last hang out with? My husband, when I got home from TX!

What do you hate/dislike currently? I'm having an issue with sleep, deprivation that is. I am trying to get it resolved. I think Larry is going to help me fix it. Maybe I'll blog about it sometime, maybe not. We'll see.

What are you listening to? Nothing. It's totally quiet. I love it. I can even hear the wind blow outside a little bit, it's so quiet in here.

If you could have one thing right now what would it be? A book contract.

If I had a million dollars... first I would tithe. Second, I would pay off my house and make some significant investments to keep the money coming in and not just have a million to deal with. After making the investments, I would give an offering to a few people/churches/ministries in need. Third, I would give my kids some things I know they would like to have as well as our staff and friends. And fourth, I would order a few cases of Republic of Tea and get a new outfit from Bealls. I am still not sure I would get a car. I don't know if I'm ready yet.

What are your favorite stores? Bealls Outlet, Bealls, JC Penney's, Ross, Steve & Barry's, Claire's, Victoria Secret, Kirklands, Barnes & Noble, PayLess, Dots, Stein Mart, Walmart, Target ... so many stores so little time.

What makes you the happiest? Right now I love having down time to renew myself for what's coming.

What were you doing at midnight last night? Loving the fact that I was home in my own bed.

What's for dinner tonight? Chicken.

Who was the last person to send you a text message? Pastor Lisa. She's a text message freak.

Where was the last place you went shopping? Target. I used a gift card I got for my birthday. I got some high heeled brown flip flops (been wanting them for some time now, just waiting) and a bunch of pink and black bras and panties. :-) Yippee!

How do you feel about your hair right now? I feel great about both the real and the one I have a receipt for. :-)

Do you have any expensive jewelery? My wedding ring; my anniversary ring; my 21st birthday ring (all three from Larry) and then some pearl earrings he got me from Littman's.

AIM or MSN? Neither

Where does most of your family live? Baltimore, Alabama, Virginia

What was the first thing you thought when you woke up this morning? Is it really time to get out of this bed? I can't wait to go to sleep again.

Do you drink beer? No, I hate it. Yeech!

Who do you miss? A lot of people. Too many to name.

Myspace or Facebook? Myspace although I have them both.

What is your favorite subject in school? English.

Do you have any talents? Yes

Do you have any children? 3 and one in heaven.

Did you take a nap today? I will take a power nap right before church.

Ever met someone famous? I guess sort of, a few Christian artists... but never met the one I want to meet most...Amy Grant.

Do you want to be famous? Not sure. The more I see of what happens to famous people...I don't know. I recently prayed..."God, if it means I would fall then please don't make me famous."

Can you handle being in the military? Are you kidding? Um, I like to live in heels, and if something would happen to pull one of my nails off they probably wouldn't let me take a break to repair it. Do they have pink uniforms? Can you carry different purses to your post of duty each day? Could I wear my bangle bracelets and colored watches? Um, probably not. So...No! No! No! I would only give these up for a missions trip.

Ever been to Las Vegas? No, but I would like to go.

When is the last time you updated your blog? I update it every day. I'm a monster blogger.

Have you been to New York City? Yes, and it's one of mine and Larry's favorite places.

Ever been to Disneyland/world? Yes, and it's okay, but I'm not wild about it.

Last thing you cooked: WW egg sandwich. Yummy!

Stupidest thing you ever did with your cell phone? Answered it a few times when I shouldn't have and it stressed me out. I hate my cell if you haven't figured it out. When it rings, people just want things from me. Rarely do they just call to say, "I love you." It's always, "hey, what about..." or "can you get..." or "I need to ask you..." My cell phone is definitely tolerated not celebrated. I thought I might like it more if it was pink, but no. I still hate it. Every time I answer my cell I feel like I am being nibbled at by little mice who just want a piece of me.

Last time you were sick? a few months ago. Then the school year ended and Savanna got a new teacher. :-) Long story...

Do you like anyone right now? I like most people I meet. If I don't like someone it's a very rare thing and usually a good reason for it. As far as "like" as in romantically? That applies to only one person - Larry Shrodes.

Monday, September 24, 2007

I have been transformed...

by the black church!

Yes, it's true.

I have come into the realm of purchased hair. I have learned this weekend from Pastor Lisa and my sistas that HAIR IS AN ACCESSORY. Who knew? I had no idea it was right up there with shoes and purses.

Pastor Lisa Alexander has officially indoctrinated me to this truth about hair.

Okay, so I knew some of the ladies at my church did this, but I didn't realize until recently... Oprah does it. Gayle does it. All those fancy hairdo's that look like they took 10 hours are...purchased. Even Paris Hilton does it. Beyonce does it. Nicole Richie does it. More women that we know in our daily lives do it - they just don't tell us. It's not just a black thing, not just a white thing, it's a GIRL thing, evidently. Here I have been friends with Pastor Lisa all this time and I did not realize her hair was simply an accessory.

I was fascinated by hers and Lindsey's beautiful hair. She says, "I've got to take you by the shop before we go to the airport. So off we, she went. She said, "you need to try one on." I said "me?"

"Yes, absolutely..." says Lisa.

So we wanted to try one on, but you have to buy a wig cap for $1.00. (Sanitary reasons, you know...) Neither of us had a dollar in cash and the lady wouldn't take a debit or credit card for $1. A kind woman overhearing us said, "I'll give you a dollar." Come to find out she was there buying a wig because she has lupus and her hair has thinned out. Well, we stopped right there and prayed for her. Very sweet woman and she seemed to appreciate our prayer. And then we set about trying on wigs. I tried on several and then we settled on this one. Pastor Lisa encouraged me to stay with my color (she always stays in her color, she just switches back and forth between curly, straight, short, long.) When we tried this one, we fell in love with it. So then we started screaming (literally right there in the shop) about me keeping it on and going to the airport and having Larry pick me up while I'm wearing it. We wanted to shock him. So we did! We were like two junior high girls, laughing and screaming over this all the way to the car. It was so fun.

Larry picked me up at the airport and he was very surprised! He didn't know what to think at first...just trying to figure out..."okay, what's going on here?" but he liked it. Savanna wants one for herself. (I knew it!)

I said, "Okay Lisa, so what do I say when somebody comes up and says, "is that your hair?" She said to say "YES!" (Because I have a receipt for it, I paid for it, and so yes it does belong to me. ha ha!) She's so funny. The woman cracks me up in how she expresses herself about these things.

So then I said, "should I wear this on Sunday morning?"

She said, "no, try it on a Wednesday night first." I said okay... and do you think Larry should come to the pulpit this Wednesday and say... "Folks, as you know my wife was in Houston last weekend and she was transformed by the black church..." Yes, I was awakened to the power of hair accessories.

We laughed our heads off when I said that... we could just imagine the reaction. Lisa says, "trust me, the sisters in your church will LOVE IT."

Well, I don't know how much I will actually do this - maybe not all the time like Pastor Lisa, but at least occasionally. One thing I can just shower, do your make up real quick and pull it on and your hair is PERFECTO! "Getting ready time" is cut down to nothing and you look like a million bucks.

In other news, before I got on the plane to fly back Pastor Lisa and I went to a restaurant called Salt Grass. It's one of Larry's favorite restaurants. When he was in Texas he went there and he LOVES IT. Talks about it all the time. He especially loves their "rattler" appetizer. (Jalepeno peppers, stuffed with a jumbo shrimp and jack cheese, dipped in ranch dressing). We went there at my request and I picked up an order of the rattlers and had them box them to take with me on the plane, to surprise him. Larry was so excited about the Rattlers. We put them on the baking stone when I got home and heated them up. He enjoyed them so much. Lisa and I ate an AMAZING lunch at Salt Grass that had me moaning. It was so good, I haven't had a meal that good in a long time. Let's just say Salt Grass is now one of my favorite places. And we had a waiter who was so attentive. We were queens for the afternoon.

We also went by their new home (which is being constructed). Beautiful? Not even the word for it. Oh my. I am so happy for her. This home is going to be so incredible. I love it. It's one of the most beautiful homes I have ever seen. We went to the model home so I could see what it's going to look like finished.

It was sad to say goodbye. We had such a wonderful time and I just love Lisa and her family to pieces. Good things are in store for them and for Zion. You can get Pastor Lisa's thoughts on our weekend and the hair transformation by going here to her blog.

Flying home tonight

Houston is an hour behind us in Tampa, so my body is still on the Tampa clock. It felt easy to get up this morning (after 9 and 1/2 hours sleep!) and eat breakfast and work out in the fitness room here at the hotel. I did come here to minister and give my all doing it, but I must say, a little rest was absolutely wonderful. I had time each day to work out in the fitness room, read the Word, pray, and SLEEP. Translation: heaven. Whoever said that when your kids grow older you just sleep unhindered any time you want? No, it doesn't work that way. All I have to do is lay my head down on the pillow and start to get in the deep stage of sleep and there's a knock on my door... "Momma, I need lunch money." So yes, I love SLEEP unhindered whenenever I can get it.

I am meeting Pastor Lisa to spend some fun time together and just sharing our heart as girls (and pastors) and then fly home this evening. I'll probably touch down in Tampa Bay just as the sun is setting.

I'm enjoying my last moments in Houston but can't wait to meet Larry at the airport and nuzzle my face on his chest (I'm much, much shorter than him...) and have him give me a big squeeze and then see my girl and say, "SAVANNIE BANNANNIE!!!" and give her hugs and kisses. The boys might surprise me and come but probably not...they will more than likely be chilling at home and I'll walk in and Jordan will want to show me some You Tube video that he's just found of some kid squirting Fabreze in his face and screaming like an idiot, or some drummer that is "the most phenomenal ever" and Dustin will just give me a squeeze and kiss on the cheek and say, "Hey Momma, how'd you do?" Then he'll remark something about, "thank God you're home so we can eat something besides cereal..."

Yes, this is our routine as I re-enter the family atmosphere on site. And I love it!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

This morning in Zion

What a wonderful time we had today in Zion! God graced us with His presence in such a wonderful way.

I am so blessed by my hosts, Pastors Elgin and Lisa Alexander, and their children Lindsey and Evan. Here are some photos from this morning...

I am loving my time here in Houston. Right now I'm winding down from this morning/afternoon in my hotel room, having a cup of Earl Grey, and resting. God is good!

I do love and miss those of you in Tampa, however I am very much looking forward to my one last day left with Pastor Lisa tomorrow before I have to fly home tomorrow night. We're going to savor every last moment...

I am your preparation

Last night before I went to speak, I was preparing and I sensed God just ask me..."put your notes away. Come talk to me." I'm one of those people who prepares an exhaustive amount of notes and if there's such a thing as being "over-prepared" I guess sometimes I am. I had planned on reading the Word and Secrets of the Secret Place later, just savoring some time before sleep to be with Him. But He said, "no, you really can't be any more prepared in the natural than you are right now. So just spend some time in my Word, and talk to me."

I read John the 5th Chapter, which went along with chapter 40 of Secrets, the chapter entitled, "The Secret of Beholding Jesus." It was all about beholding and knowing Jesus, not just His Word, but Him, the person. It centered on the fact that our reading in the Word is meant to be a living encounter with the person of Jesus Christ, and the fact that we can read the Bible and truly never get to know the Lord. I have long realized that to be the truth but I know I need to be reminded of it. I have met a lot of people, that just like the Pharisees, know enough scripture to choke a mule, yet they do not have the power of God in their lives or flowing through them. That's the last thing I want for my life. I want an intimate relationship with Him. I really don't want to ever be guilty of knowing a lot of the Word yet not knowing Him. I don't want to be "prepared" yet still not be in sync with Him. And there is such a thing.

After reading John 5 and spending some time in prayer, and in particular praying in the Spirit, I opened up my Come Away My Beloved and this, unbelievably was the word of the day:

Seize Each Oppourtunity

Behold, as the lilies of the field, and as the grass, so your life is but a season.

Yes, though you flourish in health, yet your time in short. You have no promise of tomorrow.

Therefore, live each day as though it were your last. Seize every opportunity, knowing it may be the last.

For it is certainly true that no situation presents itself twice the same. The opportunities of today are not those of tomorrow.

Do not live as though they might be repeated. Do not fail to enter every open door, or be held back by a feeling of unreadiness. I Myself am your preparation.

I will give you the needed grace and wisdom for each moment as it comes, and you will rejoice in the victory. For I will overcome timidity and I Myself will displace inadequacy.

This is My work. I will do it Myself through you if you will allow yourself to be a channel for the flow of the Spirit.

For I myself am life. I Myself am your wisdom and your strength, even as I am your joy and your peace. I am your victory. My word is power, because My word is spirit and truth.

Do not bear needless burdens. They will only press upon your spirit and interfere with My movings. Much remains to be accomplished. Linger not over what appears to be an unfinished case. Pass on. My Spirit will continue to strive though you give no further thought. In this way, y our mind shall be kept free and your path open, and it shall always be a new way.

Keep moving always and from life to life I accomplish my purpose.

And know that as I work, all things work together so that there is gathering strength and there shall be a glorious consummation. Praise God!" (Frances J. Roberts)

Everytime I read the Word and pray and God speaks to me, I open up Come Away and it seems to always have a word that beautifully dovetails with whatever I just prayed. Amazing.

So yes, ultimately HE IS our preparation. I have seen that proven true time and time again in my life. Last night I knew my material but more than that, I knew Jesus and His power was working in me, and it was THAT POWER that enabled me to put my arms around another woman, feel the pain in her heart and life and ask Jesus..."HEAL IT...HEAL IT NOW." She didn't feel like coming last night, was tired from work but one of her sisters said, "no, you need to be there" and she came and received what God had for her. I am thankful that I didn't just have a word. I had Him. Like the woman who pressed through and touched the hem of His garment, so that precious woman pressed through and brought her hurt to Jesus.

Yes, HE IS our preparation.

A few months ago I met a woman in the community who used to be a pastor's wife and is now "taking a break from ministry" and she claims she doesn't go to church in Tampa right now because "no pastor in this town exegetes the Word of God correctly." She's very critical...very, very negative. The truth is, I have met many people who can exegete the Word of God, but they really don't know how to GET AHOLD OF GOD. What that woman is searching for, she will never find right now because the eyes of her understanding are clouded and she needs deliverance from her critical spirit. I have met many people who can practically write commentaries of their own - they can break down the Word - and yes, they can tell you exactly what it means - in fact they can probably tell you what temperature it was outside when that part of the Word was written. However, my point is, we need to be able to KNOW the Word of God, but more important, we DO need to know how to GET AHOLD OF GOD - which means, to come into that secret place with Him, walk with Him, get His mind on things...allow Him to be our preparation. Basically such a person is...UNSTOPPABLE. The world says, "knowledge is power." That may be true when it comes to business, management, school, even raising your kids. But in God, knowledge is not necessarily power. Knowledge is just knowledge. You have to add spending time with Jesus and learning to walk with Him, and flow in Him. It is only then that that knowledge becomes life changing for you and those around you.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

What a great night!

Tonight was a fantastic night with Pastor Lisa Alexander, and the women's ministries of Zion Tabernacle. Pastor Elgin (Lisa's husband) and her two children (Lindsey and Evan - cute as buttons!) were there too. I am very impressed with her kids - they are just super. You can sense the touch of God upon their lives. I am impressed with everything from Pastor Elgin's keyboard playing to Evan's drumming, to Lindsey's sparkling personality, to the anointing of God on Pastor Lisa's life. She truly is a "worshipper to the core." Impressed seems like such a shallow word to describe it. I don't know what word I'm looking for. If I weren't so tired from ministry tonight I'd sit here til' I think of a word but I really want to rest. However, I didn't want to miss a chance to blog just a minute and put up a photo. Here are pastor Lisa and I, this evening. What a great time we had ministering together, worshipping, praying for women. Women testified at the end - lives were changed. God showed up in such a tremendous way. Or as Pastor Lisa says, "GOD WAS GOD, IN HIS HOUSE!"

Can't wait til tomorrow. What a great day we'll have together!

I've arrived

I'm here!

I got to Houston right on schedule this morning. Pastor Lisa actually met me in the airport. I was surprised! You know most people just pick people up outside at curbside these days. So I expected to go get my baggage and meet her outside. But there she was as soon as I exited the area that goes through security, she was coming at me, and instead of a cyber scream, we had a real one! We were so excited.

We got my bags and went to Applebees for lunch. I introduced her to the Pecan Encrusted Chicken Salad (my favorite!) and she loved it. We talked for a few hours about life, ministry, and stuff that you just want to sit across another ministry woman who walks in your shoes and talk about. Good stuff. Then we went for a tour of the church which was very nice, and then on to my hotel. I love it here. I have my own little suite complete with a little living room, kitchenette, and you know, I think the beds are sort of like they are at Hampton Inn. I feel a good night's sleep coming on. Also, there's a jacuzzi downstairs. Yee ha! (Zion Tabernacle is taking real good care of me. What wonderful people...)

But first - tonight's meeting! I need to go pray some more, get in the zone, and then one of the ladies from the church will be here to pick me up....

More later on this wonderful weekend in Texas.

p.s. by the way, Houston is HUGE. I can't express to you how long it took to get from one end of this city to the other. No comparion to Tampa.

I'll fly away

oh glory, I'll fly away...

to Houston, that is. I am at Tampa International Airport right now...and they have free wireless internet here. Can you say HALLELUIAH? Wow, I'm loving it. Answering e-mail, reading the news, much better can life get?

So it's everything I can do right now not to go over to the restaurant next to me and get a Republic of Tea... but since I'm boarding in about 10 minutes and they don't allow liquids to be carried on...I couldn't bring myself to throw it away.

Got up while it was still dark today. Took a bubble bath in my big tub...

Took Geena out and watched the sunrise...

Made a WW recipe egg and cheese sandwich (4 pts.)

Got ready

Left for TIA!

Only a little more time, Pastor Lisa and we'll be having a coffee together in Houston.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Well, this is it...

I'm finally all packed. And I'm getting up at 6 am to get ready to leave for Houston.

Today was my day off but I had a lot to do both fun and home/work related. Larry got up and went to his appointment with the specialist for his arm and he dropped me off at my nail salon. Today was Larry's consultation with his x-rays. He has to have an operation on his shoulder on October 4th. He has an Impingement and a Labrum tear. Therefore he will be having shoulder arthroscopy and rehabilitation after that. He's actually relieved that perhaps this is coming to an end. The damage has been there for a while and it's been getting worse and worse until the pain has been really unbearable lately. It prevents him from doing a lot of things he wants to do. The surgery is supposed to pretty much "almost" guarantee a full recovery and him being able to do the things he once did. I say "almost" because doctors never give 100% guarantee. He has a great surgeon, Dr. Frankel recommended by our wonderful MD's (Drs. Watson & Latortue) and then he is planning on having his rehabilitation done by Greg Todd, a member of in our church who owns and operates a physical therapy place. (We are hoping Greg has an opening for him...that would be Larry's first choice of who to go to...maybe since it's his pastor he can squeeze him in even if he's extra busy. That would be just perfect if it works out.)

So Larry finished up with his consult with the surgeon, I finished up with my nails (Tony & Lisa gave me an extra special design today - they always do something especially cool when I tell them I'm going to be going on a trip...) and we had our "fun Friday" lunch date together. I worked out for quite a while on the elliptical today (it was awesome with the new music Dustin put on my MP3 for me!) and then I showered and got all cleaned up again and we went to get a bridal shower gift for Cathy Sed who is having her shower on Sunday. I can't be there because I'll be in Houston, but of course I'll be sending something. I got her something super exciting (you can probably guess what it is...I always usually get brides lingerie...) but I won't ruin the surprise here and say exactly "what kind" but suffice it to say, it's rather exciting. I wish I could see her face when she opens it.

After we came home I had to pack, finish washing clothes, make supper, clean up the supper dishes, iron and lay out all of Larry's clothes for Sunday (I dress him whether I'm here or not) clean our bathroom (so I don't want to jump off a cliff with the stress of coming home to it), water my plants, tidy up the rest of the house again, and now...

I'm ready to spend a few more moments with Larry...our last til' I get home on Monday night.

G'night...see you in the morning, Pastor Lisa!

I have to confess

Today's my day off and I took time to sit down and write a whole long drawn out rant about O.J. Simpson. If I were to print it out it would probably be at least ten pages. I just sat down and got out all my feelings toward "the Juice."

In case you are wondering, (and I know you're probably not but I'll tell you anyway) I have read almost every book written about the Simpson case. I watched every day of the trial (taped it and watched it after work each day). I can tell you just about any fact about the case and discuss it very knowledgeably. And, it's something I still have a lot of passion for even 13 years later. Apparently, a lot of America does too. I am not the only one, by far. We have not forgotten.

I have often thought about what I would be if I were not a pastor. I always wanted to be a high school teacher but another job I seriously thought about was criminal prosecutor. I would love to be a "Nancy Grace" and work hard to get justice for victims and their families. (I am a huge Marcia Clark/Christopher Darden fan!!!) But alas, I'm called to ministry, so chasing down criminals is not an option, although sometimes in the ministry, I guess we do chase down criminals.

Well, where is my rant, you might wonder...

I can't print it. I have to confess to you it's a well crafted piece of writing and Larry even laughed at some of it. But after he heard it and I read through it a couple times I thought, "um, you know...people will probably not understand my heart at all on this...some of the stuff I say is just so 'over the top' strong" I write with the passion I do because I hate to see people hurt and when I see them hurt, I write about it with all the vigor I can muster, as if I can right some wrong by doing it. But I can't. So I'm not printing it. I must admit, though I am not printing it publicly it just felt so good to say it all.

So why am I telling you about something I won't print? Well, I said I was going to do a special O.J. blog. And although I'm really not getting into the ins and outs of why I feel the way I do, I will just heart hurts for victims and their families. Seeing Fred and Kim Goldman on TV once again this week weeping was heartbreaking for me. I have very, very strong feelings about it, very strong feelings about the killer, and what should happen. I can honestly tell you - I have been praying for the victim's families whenever I think of them, for 13 years.

God...please do something.

"Look Momma, you will not run out..."

I love it when I come home to a clean house. Perhaps there is nothing more glorious. When I walk into a clean house, I feel the power of the Holy Ghost. Yesterday Jordan cleaned the house...I mean really cleaned it and when we walked in the house from work, my whole being just went, "ahhhhhhhhhh..."

Then he led me over to the fridge and said, "Look Momma! I made you something!" Upon looking inside I found he had made me five pitchers of iced tea. He said, "here's more than enough will not run out!" Indeed. There's at least enough here to last me til' I leave Saturday for Houston.

He really is the sweetest boy on earth when he wants to be. Moments like that make up for all the times I have wanted to wring his neck. :-)

After work, Larry made dinner. (I know what you're thinking...I hit the jackpot! Yes, it was a great night.) He made turkey tacos. (yum!) While Larry made dinner, Dustin wanted me to watch Kid Nation with him. He tivo'd it yesterday. We watched it and I really enjoyed it. I think this is a show I'll watch the entire season with the kids.

After dinner the boys and Larry and I watched Last Comic Standing finale which we had also tivo'd. It was hysterical!!! This one comic said, "I had a lot more props, but O.J. stole them from my hotel room..." ha ha! (By the way, I'm going to blog about O.J. just stay tuned.) Larry and I walked around the neighborhood later at night and spend some quality time talking. I always enjoy our walks. We try to walk at least a few nights a week. We really do have the perfect development for it.

We are both doing good back OP (on program). In the past two weeks I've lost almost 5 lbs. It's amazing how when you stick strictly OP and go to meetings, what will happen. I have a 12 week goal (2 weeks already done) and in the next 10 weeks, there should be a significant difference. There WILL be a significant difference. I am DETERMINED and nothing will break me. One thing it amounts to for me is putting the same stubbornness toward health and weight loss as I have for other challenges. As our friend Randy says, all it takes to make something happen is to tell Deanna she won't be able to make it happen and that pretty much seals the deal that it's happening!"

I am renewed in my focus of utilizing certain ones of the Weight Watcher Ten Tools for Living. I would say when I lost weight for the very first time my most used tool was what they call "anchoring." Now I'm using reframing a lot, empowering beliefs and winning outcomes. (Those of you in WW know what I'm talking about. If you don't and you are the least bit overweight, I suggest you go to WW and you'll learn all about it. :-) I'm a great believer in the WW program. If you ever want to know anything about it, just ask me! By the way, "the meetings are the magic!" as they say.

I am still getting used to my new WW leader. I really like her, it's just a matter of getting used to her style. I am cognizant of the fact that I can't blame her or take it out on her that I don't have my old leader. It has nothing to do with her whatsoever, and she's a really good leader besides all that.

It's cooling off here in Tampa and we're not living in the (what I considered) unbearable heat we were enduring this summer. For some reason it was hotter this year than others. Now it's getting breezy and I'm loving it! Time to get out on the patio again at night and read my Bible. Oh how I have missed the comfort of being out there. This morning when I came out it was cool out there. (For months it's been hot even early in the morning.) This morning it was breezy and there were three ducks on the pond when I let Geena out. Ah yes, I'm loving it.

The more this week goes on, the more I am glad to be traveling this weekend. I know, I had a good evening at home last night. I'm very grateful for that. But it was a challenging week otherwise. And when I go away and minister somewhere it's almost magical. Not that I'm the magic, not by far! I just really enjoy ministering in a fresh environment, meeting new people, and the fact that I am there to reach out and love, and pour out of myself, yet I am not called to pastor those folks. I am just there to reach out in love while I'm there and uplift their pastors and point them to their pastors...and then leave again, hopefully having the people very blessed by our time together and what God did in our midst. That's the beauty of it.

I realize it's hard for a full time evangelist these days - unless you are basically a "star" they can't make a living at it! Few who aren't famous can stay on the road and keep eating and paying a car payment. But for a pastor like me, it's the greatest thing going! Because my livelihood is here in Tampa - at our church. And traveling is just something occasionally extra that I do not need to earn an income from. I do not go to bring God's Word for an honorarium. People ask me, "do you charge a fee" and the answer is no. I've gone to little bitty country churches who can't give me a dime. And God sends me to pour out and love them. If someone can bless me in some way, fine. If they can't, that's fine too. I really do just have a love for the Word and for people. That's why I go anywhere - period. And in being able to reach out, love, uplift and then turn them towards their pastors -- now what better thing can there be but that??! I do not have to counsel those folks. I do not have to have them yell at me two weeks later because the air was up to high in the sanctuary. I do not have to put up with any guff. All I gotta do is love and bring God's Word...pray for people and hug a bunch of necks. Their pastor will have to deal with the air in the sanctuary and all the guff. That's one reason I love encouraging pastors. I know the road they walk and just want uplift them. No wonder evangelists who can actually make a living doing this just love it!!! Wow, I'm getting more excited by the's almost time to go!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

One of my favorite things

A few days ago in my iced tea post, I spoke about my favorite tea which is Republic of Tea. I wanted to share with you about it and maybe if you've never tried it, the next time you come across it, you will remember that I encouraged you to try it!

I first tried it in Landry's Restaurant in Tampa. I believe if you order an iced tea that is what they automatically bring you - they do not have iced tea that they brew in-house. You will find Republic of Tea served in bottles in some nicer restaurants, airport restaurants, and the tea bags for hot tea or for fresh brewing at home are available in Panera Bread.

My favorite thing Republic of Tea offers is their bottled teas. This is a miracle since any other bottled tea, I absolutely can't stand. I want it fresh brewed on site, or not at all. I'm a true tea connoisseur. I can tell if it's not fresh brewed or if they have lied to me. Sometimes I'll ask a server, "do you fresh brew your tea here?" They will say, "oh yes Mam, it's fresh brewed." Then I take a sip and immediately detect, it is Lipton or Nestle that comes in the fountain drinks, probably right next to where they got the Coke or Sprite. Please understand, fresh brewed tea is NEVER, NEVER squirted. If someone is squirting your tea, it's the wrong kind. Fresh tea is brewed and then poured. There is just no other way. Just because the front of the bottle says, "fresh brewed" means nothing. If it's in a bottle, IT IS NOT FRESH BREWED. That is sort of an oxy-moron. I have sent back a lot of fake iced teas when I have been lied to. But I'm always nice about it. What I feel like doing is screaming, "LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE!!! THIS IS NOT FRESH BREWED TEA, SO WHY DID YOU LIE TO ME WHEN YOU KNEW YOU WERE SQUIRTING IT OUT OF THE SODA FOUNTAIN?" But after all I am a Christian and I do try to be a good example, so instead I just call the server over and say, "Um, dear, this isn't exactly what I was looking for...could you just bring me a water with lemon? Thank so much..."

There are some restaurants I will go back to just because they have fantastic iced tea. Some places where I really enjoy their house iced tea: Reb Lobster, Olive Garden, Perkins, Moe's Southwestern Grill, Shane's Rib Shack, just to name a few. As I don't want to bash anybody, I won't name the places I hate. But suffice it to say if they have bad or fake iced tea I remember it and never go back.

So back to the Republic of Tea...I became exposed to it through Landry's. And I love it. Right now other than Landry's I don't know of any place but the Tampa Airport that you can get it, so Susan Lilly who works there (bless her heart - I love her!!!) blesses me with a bottle sometimes. My favorite is their most popular of the glass bottled variety - Republic Darjeeling Black Glass Bottled. It's $4.50 a bottle or $51.00 a case (for 12). Yes, I know it's on the expensive side. This is why the bottle sits in my fridge and it is for a special occasion only. Either when I'm real happy or real sad...

I hope sometime all of you can taste it ~ I know you'll fall in love just like I did, especially if you are a real tea lover.

Working hard?

On Wednesday nights, Larry and I take turns teaching in the adult service in the sanctuary. Last night was my night to teach and our subject this month is productivity and how it is part of our spirituality and maturity in Christ. I thought I'd share my message here on my blog. I don't post every message I preach, nor do I want this to be a sermon blog (refer to yesterday's post) but occasionally I like to post what I preached. So here goes...


The anointing of God extends not just to the altar, but for business, for work, for anything that encompasses our lives. We are literally, ANOINTED FOR BUSINESS...FOR WORK.

Many people hate work. They even refer to slogans regarding the fact that…”at the end of your life, you won’t regret not working more.” I don't believe that is necessarily true, it just makes for some nice plaques! Even Michaelangelo said something at the end of his life about having so much work left to do and wanting more years to do it.

There is a passage of scripture in I Chronicles 29 where David talks about the preparations his son would need to build God’s house. It records David’s challenge to the people to contribute their work and their resources. In the fifth verse, David asks a question to everyone…and God is asking us this today: “AND WHO THEN IS WILLING TO CONSECRATE HIS SERVICE THIS DAY UNTO THE LORD?”

Did you know that work was created before the fall? It was a mandate from the very beginning.

Genesis 1:28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

God created for six days, then rested on the seventh day, then began to work again. Some people think God worked, then rested for all eternity. Some people think we should do the same. The truth is, this is not God’s plan and rest assured, GOD IS WORKING!

Laziness is something often joked about but quite truthfully, it’s a sin.

Heb.6:12 That you be not lazy and slow, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

The definition of laziness:

1.Lazy--disinclined to activity, not willing to apply exertion, move slow, not strict, lax, having a love of easy things.Never able to achieve an aim, goal, purpose.2. Slothful -- spiritual apathy and inactivity, slow moving, indisposition to lack effort, slow to respond, slow growth.

Did you know it is actually possible to spend more time and effort avoiding work than to do it?

In one of our life coaching sessions, Larry and I asked Dr. Lee about the issue of productivity. We were wondering if some people on a staff should get away with not producing more because they are a type B personality versus an A, or so forth. Down through the years in leading a staff, we’ve heard things like, “Well Pastor, I’m just not as driven as you…” as an excuse for lack of productivity. Some don’t consider it a spiritual issue, but simply an issue of working styles being different. So in other words, the thinking some people have is that one's personality or working style would determine their level of productivity and not their spirituality. Dr. Lee assured us that this can never be an excuse and that productivity is indeed an issue of spirituality and maturity. You cannot separate spirituality and productivity in a Christian’s life because true Christians will produce fruit.

What does the scripture say about this?

John 15:1-8 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

So - God says He will cut off every branch that does not bear fruit. Wise employers will do the same. John Maxwell says it's not the people you fire who make you miserable, it's the ones you don't! I've definitely seen that proven true.

Did you know that your mind, body and emotions were designed for hard work and will break down without it?

Did you know it is proven that the greatest percentage of people die within two years of retirement…they feel “my work is done…” ??

Proverbs 10:26 Lazy people irritate their employers, like vinegar to the teeth or smoke in the eyes.

If you are not diligent and your boss is often short and irritated with you, look no further as to why. If you try to witness to your boss or invite them to church and they seem to want nothing to do with it maybe you should examine your work habits and ethics first. Make sure they are lining up before you share Jesus because what you do greatly overshadows what you say to your boss. If you aren't working hard for them, don't expect them to be interested in the God you want to tell them about.

If you are lazy on the job, this scripture above describes you. If you talk on your cell phone and surf the internet and waste the time your boss is paying you for, realize, this scripture describes you. It's amazing to me that some people need a wake up call as to why they get on their boss's nerves. I recently got a letter from a young woman in another city who got my name and information off of a flyer where I was speaking. She wrote me a letter and called me for advice. She claimed to be "persecuted for her faith" at work yet upon talking with her I realized she is not really persecuted for her faith. The truth is, she is doing a lot of church work from her desk instead of doing her work. Her job is at a law firm and has nothing to do with church. No wonder they are not happy about her faith! This is not persecution, they are simply trying to be good managers.

Colossians 3:22-25 “Servants, do what you're told by your earthly masters. And don't just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you'll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you're serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn't cover up bad work.”

Did you hear that? That's a great zinger from the Word - BEING A FOLLOWER OF JESUS DOESN'T COVER UP BAD WORK. So...

How to find favor with your boss at work? BE THE BEST WORKER HE/SHE HAS EVER HAD! Be careful not to waste time, be disloyal or take from the company what is not yours.

One time my husband and I had a secretary who would be on the phone - with personal calls, not church - on a constant basis. We had to speak to her about personal calls. (In my opinion, a boss should never have to speak to a Christian worker about this - it is just a given that you work when you're at work unless there's an emergency of some sort, like your kid being sick at school.) Previous to us speaking to her about the personal calls, she sat at her desk and talked on the church phone. My husband asked her to stop making personal calls and tieing up the church line. We thought that would be enough said. But then she started sitting there on her cell phone all the time. We told her the issue was not just the church phone, but ANY excessive personal calls. After we talked to her about it, I discovered she would just be absent from her desk a lot. I would not see her with the cell phone at the desk, I just would not see her as much in the office. Upon investigation one day, I discovered she was taking and making calls in one of the ladies bathroom stalls in the church. She saw absolutely nothing wrong with the fact that she was constantly leaving her desk to make calls and trying to circumvent our instruction. She actually felt entitled to make as many calls as she wanted. In fact to take it one step further, she thought it was perfectly fine to plan her daughter's entire wedding from her desk at work and have us pay her for it. (Amazing!)

The same employee would then wonder why we didn’t go out of our way at times to show more appreciation to her, or why we gave much more appreciation to other staffers. Quite truthfully she was lucky I didn’t just fire her right there on the spot in the bathroom.

We have to take care because we will reap what we sow. If you ever have any aspirations to be a manager, take heed. Sow good things by being a good support worker. It is interesting when people are in support roles it makes them really mad if the boss talks to them about personal calls, but one day if they become the boss it is suddenly one of the things that drives them crazy. (They reap what they sow!) It's a whole different world when you become a manager versus a support person. I realize there are times we must all take personal calls or e-mails or handle a personal matter at work. I am not speaking of being extreme or unbalanced. But I do know this, it shouldn't happen every day all the time. In our heart of hearts, we all know if we ask the Holy Spirit to speak to us about it, if we are doing what we should not be doing. Think about you have "loopholes" with this issue, or ways of getting around or away with things?

Why do some companies have such strict rules or even contracts that their employees sign about "personal e-mails"? I have gotten emails from friends from their home account that say, "do not send me any mail at work - I can be immediately fired for it, especially if it just contains forwards, jokes, etc." My question is, why should employers have to have these strict rules and such? It's a shame that adults cannot just be mature and do what they are supposed to do but we are living in a world where people are no longer diligent and as productive as they should be and sometimes employers almost have to get "ridiculous" about it just to get some work done. Quite truthfully I think it's a shame that these kind of rules need to be in place because it would be nice that employees could sit and do personal emails over breaks or lunch or whatever, but because of many people abusing freedoms, they are sometimes taken away from all.

Many people think a church is different or should be different but quite truly it is not and how much more diligent should we be with God’s work? For those of us who work in a church setting, we must be just as excellent with the work of God if not more.

How should we work in the house of God? In I Chronicles 29:2 David said, “I have prepared with all my might for the house of God.”

It is easy to have favor with our boss…it is not rocket science…in giving 100%...faithfulness, due diligence, being responsible, etc. we are developing favor.

What is faithfulness, by the way? Some people think it is just being faithful to show up, faithful to be there. However, that's just part of it. I once heard Willie George (pastor of Church on the Move, Tulsa, OK) describe it as “being a faithful copy of your pastor’s heart.” In this case he was speaking to church staffers, but it applies to you whether you work at a church or a corporation or wherever. Faithfulness is BEING FAITHFUL TO DO THINGS EXACTLY LIKE THE BOSS WANTS YOU TO DO THEM. Faithfulness means that no matter what you think, you carry your tasks out like your boss other words, you try to have their mind on things and you do it their way.

Years ago my husband and I had a staffer who was extremely trustworthy, who was working with several who were not. If we would leave and go on vacation and say, “we want so and so to direct the service” or “so and so will pray” or “so and so will handle the bank deposit” – the ones who were not always "faithful copies of our heart" may change things based on what they felt like they should do at the time. We'd come back from being away and find out that a different staffer led the service, or somebody else directed the prayer time because they "felt led". They might even blame it on God. ("The spirit was moving this way, so we didn't do it the way you asked...") They just thought things should be done a different way, however they needed to remember it wasn't at all about what they thought or felt but about being a copy of their lead pastors' hearts. However, among them was one faithful staffer who would have absolutely done everything just like we asked him to, or he would have died trying. If he ever wondered and truly didn't know what we thought or would want, he'd pick up the phone and ask just to be sure.

We always put the faithful staffer in charge most of the time and gave them the most responsibilities, opportunities to preach (we knew we'd never have to worry that he'd say something that wasn't our heart or teach/preach something to our people that was contrary to our viewpoint/position as the senior pastors), and we leaned on him for pretty much everything. Other staffers would sometimes question, “why?” or comment, “we’re surprised the responsibilities aren’t spread out more” or "He preached last time..." and sometimes act hurt about it. But the truth is, our faithful staffer was a copy of our heart, and always carried things out exactly as we asked and with excellence. To this day we are still giving him great references and would gladly hire him again in a heartbeat, or help him in any way we can, but such is not the same with everyone.

Not only must we be faithful, but the scripture says to do our work but it says to do it cheerfully.

Colossians 2:23,24 “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward.”

God wants us to give ourselves WILLINGLY to serve. Not, “I have to” but “I get to.”

D.L. Moody said, “I never met a lazy Christian.” He said he believed this was true because in his opinion, you can’t be a true Christian and be lazy.

Think about it…who does God call to greatness? The lazy person or the serving person?

God doesn’t call lazy people!!! He calls people who are already doing something.

Let’s look at Bible examples as pointed out by D.L. Moody:

· Saul was seeking his father’s donkeys and David his father’s sheep when called to the Kingdom.
· The shepherds were feeding their flocks when they heard the glorious revelation.
· God called the four apostles from their fishing and Matthew from collecting taxes.
· He called Moses from tending Jethro’s sheep.
· He called Gideon from the threshing floor.
· He called Elijah from the plows.
God has never extended his call to a lazy person. He probably won't start any time soon.

Here's the bottom line:

Proverbs 12:24 “Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave.”

The bible says that "diligent hands will rule." What about you? Are you working hard or hardly working?