Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Harvest Carnival

Tonight was the Harvest Carnival outreach at Northside. It went really awesome! I personally did the registration table, and the women's ministries did the cotton candy booth. We had everything from moon bounces to a dunk tank, a cake walk, a hayride, absolute TONS of candy and much more.

This afternoon while I was sitting at my desk working, Larry calls me on the phone and says, "come out to the parking lot - we just got this moon bounce hooked up." (He knows, I love them.) So I came out and although I was dressed for work as I usually am - in a dress, I hopped in anyway and started to go crazy. Everything was fine until my slip fell down. (I was wearing a half slip and it's gotten kinda loose with losing more weight.) Cathy laughed so hard. I was trying to gracefully pull it back up without lifting up my dress but the thing is, it was difficult to accomplish and the guys were outside. I finally got it back up without showing anything that shouldn't be shown in public. Moments later after finally getting the slip back up, Dustin hopped in the thing with me (he works at NS with us, remember?) and he starts jumping away and knocking me every which way but loose.

It was a busy and a fun day. I'm working double hard this week and next Mon-Wed trying to do next week's work as well (that I would do if I was here) but won't be able to do because I'll be in Africa.

Something really significant happened today! I can't blog about it in detail yet because I'm still praying about it and Larry and I are figuring things out, but I just got a really interesting offer today and I'm seriously considering it. God works in mysterious ways.

By the way, at WW weigh in today I lost 1/2 pound. Yippee-aye-aye! Now that's something to jump about...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ten things I did today

1) First thing I did today...

Got up and let the dog out and got Savanna's breakfast for her

2) Best thing I did today so far...

Got an absolute ton of work done

3) Most enjoyable thing I did so far today...

Took a nap

4) Least enjoyable thing I did today...

Cleaned the bathroom

5) Best thing I ate today?

Two Dove sugar free chocolates

6) Most tiring thing I did today...

Cleaned the kitchen

7) Most irritating thing today...

how many times the phone rang

8) Best conversation I had today?

with my son Dustin

9) Best song I listened to today...

Vince Gill, "Whenever You Come Around"

10) Last thing I'll do tonight before I sleep...

Cuddle with Larry

Monday, October 29, 2007

Most blogs don't make it

I found out today by reading one of my favorite blogs by Keith Drury, that most blogs don't make it! According to an article that Drury cited, since blogging began, 300 million people started blogging and 200 million of them have already given up/let their blogs go inactive. The topic of his blog was about why that happens. I found it very interesting.

One reason he cited was this...he says, "People can be mean. When we put our ideas in the public domain, it opens us up for public abuse and some folk feel free to torch our ideas (and us personally) publicly. This discourages some—especially women, from continued blogging."

I thought about that and realized a few things about why I'm still blogging. (By the way, I started blogging officially on December 21, 2005 on my MySpace and then transferred to here. So I've been blogging everyday for almost two years straight.) And in addition to being a writer and not just recreationally writing but having the call upon my life to write, I believe there are some other reasons I don't give up. Drury says that people can be mean and that our ideas (or we personally) can be torched and many women give up - presumably not being able to "take the heat" so they get out of the kitchen. With me, I'm used to being torched. So I guess it's really no big deal to be torched for a blog now and then if it happens because in the ministry if you stay in it for long, you will go through abuses and torchings and kind of almost taken them as a given.

Besides that, I love writing way to much to care about being torched. I would rather die than stop writing.

No amount of rejection would ever cause me to stop. Martin Luther said, "if you want to change the world, pick up your pen." I would give that the modern translation..."if you want to change the world, log on to your computer."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Why move more?

Tonight was "Holy Roller Night" with Northside. For the past 3 years on the 4th Sunday in October, we go to the skating rink and have an outreach. It's one of my favorite nights of the year. It's a great time of having fun, hanging out with people, introducing some new people to our church and burning a lot of calories! At left, you'll see Savanna enjoying the night. (And there's another pic below of us in the arcade at the skating rink tonight.) We always do games and contests. Savanna won for speed skating for her age, and Jordan for his. I always worry about Jordan - I hold my breath til the race is over and he's come through it with no accidents. :-)

I haven't posted anything about fitness this week, so here goes. I'm absolutely committed to being as fit as I can be. Please don't think I have this accomplished yet. It's an everyday journey that I've been on for three years now. As Pastor Lisa says, I'm absolutely committed to "living well."

This past week, my Weight Watcher leader taught about the reasons for "moving more." She listed the following reasons:

1) When you move more you will have increased calories burned when resting.

2) If you move more it decreases body fat.

3) If you move more it improves your self confidence.

4) If you move more it results in fewer health problems.

5) If you move more it can provide stress relief.

I have found all of these things and more to be true. Some things I have noticed personally regarding these things are ~

Working out affects you not only right afterwards but all through the day/night/week. You'll feel the results all the time when you start to do it.

Not only does it decrease body fat but it helps to shape you. If you don't move more but you just watch what you eat, you lose weight but you still have the same "shape" problems you had before. For instance, if you've always had big arms, your arms (although having gotten smaller through weight loss) will still be a "problem area". For instance, my legs tend to be my asset, and when I work out they only get better. I get on the elliptical to maximize this best feature. My stomach, and back tend to be my problem areas and my worst features. If I lose weight my stomach and back will get smaller but still be an issue somewhat so I have to work those spots more. I have learned they will probably never be just as I would dream of them being, but the point is, I can make them better and get them more in the "shape" I want them in by moving more to work on target those areas.

The first time I lost all my weight years ago I was just shocked that my stomach and back weren't just perfect. I thought, "I've lost all this weight but I'm still unhappy with the way I look underneath it all..." I learned EXERCISE IS THE ONLY WAY TO MAKE THAT BETTER. And my personal feeling is this...if you are going to work hard to lose all this weight, don't you want to achieve more than just a number on a scale? I do...I want to be happy with the way I am with no clothes on! So that's something I work toward. I have talked to a lot of skinny people who tell me they might be 105 pounds however underneath they are all jiggly and out of shape. The fact is, you can be thin and very out of shape. So moving more helps with that. By the way, it's not about being at 105 (in fact, I'll never be that - it would be very unhealthy for me!) but it's about fitness and health.

As far as increasing self confidence...absolutely! Moving more helps with that. The reason it increases self confidence for me is that I am not only happy getting on the scale at WW or wearing a new outfit to church, but I'm comfortable in my bedroom at home with nothing on or when I'm getting in the shower, or standing in front of the mirror. A big key is, are you comfortable with yourself? It's not even all about what your husband thinks, or what anyone thinks. First you've got to do this for you. It's between you and God. Moving more gives you greater confidence when you are getting dressed or undressed all by yourself, trying clothes on at the store, and letting go of your habit of cringing when you see yourself naked or in your underwear in a mirror!

Having fewer health problems? Oh yes! Did you know that losing just 10 lbs. takes 30 lbs. of pressure off your knees? Amazing. Think about it, what does your average toddler weigh? 30 lbs. or so...or less? Well, I've lost 30 lbs. Basically when I was overweight it was like I was carrying a toddler around all day long. Some people have to lose 50 lbs or 100 lbs or more. Now, can you imagine carrying a load of 100 lbs extra around with you all day? If you are, no wonder you can't walk without getting winded! The load is too great. Just think of how amazing it is what you have been going through each day in carrying all that around. But it's time for a change, because God never meant for you to carry that load. Just 30 minutes of moving a day greatly reduces your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes. Moving more is so worth it. You will start dreading your yearly physical a lot less and perhaps you will make the appointment for the first time in years because you won't be so afraid. At this point, after losing my weight - I have gone for a yearly complete physical the past three years, as well as my annual GYN appt., plus other stuff such as a yearly blood workup (the thing I hate most...I hate needles, mammograms, and even the dreaded colonoscopy. (Get it done if you're due to have one ladies - it's only once every 10 years and it can save your life.)

Back to moving more... stress relief? Perhaps this is my greatest benefit that I find. Moving more helps me deal with anger and depression more than anything else. Combine moving more with reading God's Word and prayer and it's an unbeatable combo. Sometimes I am too angry to settle down and read God's Word. I can't even see straight I'm so out of sorts. My whole outlook changes if I go for a 30 minute fitness walk, or get on the elliptical. Once I work it out, come home and take a shower - I am now relaxed to open God's Word and talk to Him for a little while. Rest comes easier. Sleep comes quicker and is more uninterrupted. I am nicer to my family when I exercise. (Truly I am...I am just simply not as "wound up" with day to day pressures when I let off the steam by working out.)

I find that if I do not do the elliptical machine, it is difficult to get my lower body in the shape I want to work toward. For this reason I try to do 30 minutes on the elliptical on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. On the other days (except for Sunday) I choose whatever else strikes my mood ~ fitness walking outside, riding my bicycle, doing "Walk off the Pounds" DVD's by Leslie Sansone, doing some things off of the Weight Watcher fitness website links (they have many choices on there), and over the past three years I've tried many other options, just checking them out ~ everything from kickboxing, Zumba classes, hip hop, pilates and other stuff I probably shouldn't detail on my blog if I want to keep my A/G credentials although it's perfectly legal and God's real happy about it as well. :-)

When do I find time? This is what most people ask. The fact is you have to make the time. Sometimes I do it before work, sometimes after work. I boldly ask Larry to help me. He always does. What husband doesn't want his wife in shape?

Why move more? These are just a few reasons but there are hundreds more and I'm sure you have your own. If you are one who is refusing to move more and need a little convincing today though, I hope this helped.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A glorious day off

Today was a wonderfully fantastic day off. How I love my day off when it is just that -- time off! This Fun Friday was one such glorious day.

It started by Larry deciding to get up with Savanna and take her to the bus stop - instead of me having to do it. Ahhhh...bliss! Then he came back to bed for a while and we decided to get up at around 10:30. I promptly got on line at 10:30 to take care of a few things regarding Dustin's birthday and then said, "we've gotta shower and get out of here to take care of some stuff for his birthday" (more details tomorrow...) So we had to go shopping for his birthday. At this time with Dustin being a high school graduate, he is home much of the time on "fun Friday". Unless we are on one of our private dates, we usually invite him to do things with us -- so we asked if he wanted to go out with us today. He did. (He likes being with us!) We went shopping, for something for his big day tomorrow. He was none the wiser as I shopped. I just told him I was doing some things for women's ministries. I think God is okay with this kind of thing but just to be sure, I went ahead and made a very small WM purchase to justify what I told him. He still has no idea that I was buying something for him.

We went to lunch with him and enjoyed our time talking, mostly about political things. It makes me happy that my son's head is on straight regarding political matters. :-) I won't detail here what we talked about, but let's just say he shares the same conservative mindset that we do. Speaking of political matters, our friend Rob Schenck called Larry yesterday and invited us to come up for a special event he's having. We can't go because I'll be in Africa but it was good to hear from him.

We finished up our shopping and I was hoping my glasses would be finished today to pick up, but they weren't. Larry took them in for me before 10 am yesterday because usually they will come back from St. Pete the next day but it didn't happen today. This means I need to be without them two nights in a row which is uncomfortable, however necessary. They will more than likely be ready by tomorrow afternoon and we'll get them. By the way, the new contacts have settled down and are feeling normal now just like Dr. Stanley said would happen. I'm also getting them in and out relatively easy although they are slightly larger and thicker. They are much better for my eyes so it was something I really needed to pursue.

So after all this we went to a thrift store for me to look for more clothing selections for Africa. I only found one thing for $1.99. I pulled out my debit card to pay for it and the cashier said, "do you really need to use a card for that?" I said, "yes, I'm sorry I don't carry cash." He said, "just take it. It's not worth it to me to swipe the card." I felt bad for him but honestly it was all I had and my only method of payment. So he sent me on my way without having to pay.

Tonight Jordan and Savanna went to Jordan's church softball game. Larry and I stayed home with Dustin. Larry was setting up Dustin's TV we got him for his birthday. (That is one of his 2 gifts) He wanted it to play video games in his room. I made dinner and Stephen came over to eat supper and spend the night and he and Dustin enjoyed playing halo, eating cookies and generally putzing around. Lisa and Bernie stopped by tonight and gave Larry an early birthday present: a Stryper Live Concert DVD. HE IS LOVING IT!!!

I did some minimal housework but have been trying to just rest today while I've been home and resist the temptation to do lots of laundry or other stuff, because Friday is my one day to rejuvenate and then things crank up for the week and it's like a rollercoaster ride. This is my maintenance day to get ready for what's to come. Tomorrow we are celebrating Dustin's big day but I do have to finish some things for Sunday too.

I've enjoyed this beautiful day. It was a good day ~ spending with my husband and son and just being together. It's starting to be a big reality for me right now that I'm getting ready to be apart from them for a while and today I actually cried over it but I know it will be alright.

Your husband IS your family

Get ready, I'm on my soapbox again, but what's new? I'm getting ready to go off so get a Snickers.

I'm so sick of hearing women say they can't date their husband, or go on couples activities because of spending time with the kids in "family time." Not that there is anything wrong with family time because we all need it and it's very valuable. But we also need "couple time". I just want to shout, YOUR HUSBAND IS YOUR FAMILY!!!

I don't just suspect, I know for a fact some women do not realize that their husband IS the first and foremost definition of family. What do you do as a pastor when you see so many of your flock following this cult-like behavior among the young couples of our day that once you have kids they come first? I know, it's exalted even from some of the pulpits in our nation, "mothering is your first priority..." and "mothering is the highest calling..." NO IT'S NOT. This is a completely man made (or should I say woman made) doctrine! It sounds good, but it's not scriptural. The fact that it sounds scriptural is part of the problem - there are those who even preach this and fashion it in such a way as to make it sound like it is the Godly way to live.

The call to be a wife, a helpmate was proclaimed in scripture before the call to be a mother ever was. Genesis 2:18 says, "The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." We are called to be a partner before we are called to be a mother, plain and simple. So why don't so many women "get it"? I love the family too but the fact of the matter is the "family" starts with my husband and I! The kids didn't create us, we created them.

The tail is definitely wagging the dog in many of our homes. Many women today are serving their children and training their husbands instead of training their children and serving their husbands! Unfortunately this is epidemic in the church. The sad thing, these women actually believe they are being faithful to God to live this way. They think they are doing God's will, but they are duped by this lie that has come across the microphone during many of our churches Mother's Day services. Your children are incredibly important, they are a high calling. But they cannot and should not be your #1 priority. A woman's top priorities are her personal relationship with God and then her relationship with her husband if she has one. Third place goes to the children. Please don't take my word for it - read the Bible.

Winston Churchill once said, "Where does the family start? It starts with a young man falling in love with a girl - no superior alternative has yet been found." This is how it works - man and woman join together and create children and together they take charge of them and the home. Today we have so many child centered homes, and this is why we see so many homes falling apart not just in the world but in the church.

I talked to a Christian woman recently at an event where I was preaching whose marriage is on the rocks. I asked, "what is your husband unhappy about the most?" She told me that he complains about sex the most. I said, "oh, the lack of it?" she said, "it's not so much a lack, but that we don't do that we used to." I said, "why don't you do the things you used to do?" She said, "I'm a mother now, I just don't think it's appropriate. Things are different now. I think we need to settle down and be more mature now that we have kids." WHAT?! The last time I checked, a boring sex life had nothing to do with maturity. If that's what we're supposed to do, then I'll settle for being immature the rest of my life. Your life is not over when you become a mother contrary to what some say. I wish this was isolated but I hear this a lot.

Many young mothers think that there is something about motherhood that requires one to simmer down the side of themselves that was once adventurous, flirty, affectionate, sensual, and yes - sometimes flat out wild - with your husband. Truth be told, some wives use meeting their children's needs as an excuse because they didn't like cultivating a greater level of intimacy anyway. Then the same women completely fall apart emotionally if their husband looks at porn or another woman...or worse -- if he gets into other relationships. My thought is, "weren't you expecting it?" When you put the kids first and lose that side of yourself it's a recipe for complete disaster. Please expect your husband to do the worst (or at least fantasize about it)!

A Christian counselor told me that my hunch is correct that some women aren't really interested in a man, or in having a passionate, ever growing relationship. There are some women who get married solely in order to have children. Generally, Christian women don't run out to have kids out of wedlock on purpose. They want to do things right, so marriage is in order. But the problem is, some are not interested in cultivating a marriage before the children. The marriage is just the ticket to get them there. One Christian counselor told me (and I quote) "Some of these women use their husband as a stud - literally - a sperm donor to give them the "Christian family' they always wanted but the man is really not their focus - he is just the means to an end."

I have ministered to a few young women who want to get married for companionship reasons (sort of to have a "best friend/buddy" relationship) but are squeamish when it comes to intimacy. They don't even want to think about it and they find the thought "icky." I have to be honest that when I meet young women like this, I am often MORE concerned than ones I minister to who are struggling with lust! (Why? Because quite honestly I think the lust problem is much more normal than the ick problem.) I recently had a young woman ask me, "Do I have to do this when I get married?" Yes, there are a few young ladies who feel that way, surprisingly even in this day and age. My advice? Please don't get married. Spare some man the tragedy of being married to you and needing to take a lot of cold showers. You'd be better off to stay single and adopt a child (and there are plenty of needy ones right here in America) and put your whole focus on them rather than involving a man you really don't want to give your attention to.

The bottom line is the way God ordained it, family starts with you and your husband. So dating is a must! No matter what. At all stages of your marriage. Don't make excuses. There is no such thing as "seasons" when it comes to this, at least scripturally. I have had women tell me, "this isn't really my season to spend time with my husband and go on dates and things like that because right now my focus is the kids." That sounds nice. But show it to me in scripture where God says there's a season your husband is on the back burner.

Another thing... if you are waiting for the Super Nanny to be there to watch the kids, it probably won't happen. For many women Super Nanny would not be good enough. The truth is, no sitter will be you or do things just like you do. I talked to one desperate man in the church one time who said, "my wife says there is no one qualified to leave our children with, so we can't date or go away together. I miss being with her so much." I felt so sad for this man because he loves his wife so much and wants to wine and dine her and romance her and treat her like a queen, but she is not interested if that means leaving her children for even a few hours or one overnight stay. Ladies, we have to give up the idea that somebody will be as good as us as a mother with our children because nobody is like Momma! If you're like me, you do things differently even than the kids grandparents do! That's normal. (Grandparents are there to spoil kids and so they let them do things like drink soda and eat donuts and ride the little rides at Wal-mart five times in one afternoon. So what, it's not going to damage them for life. )So give up on finding the "perfect sitter" because no one compares to you. Getting child care for a date at least once a month is essential to a healthy marriage. Then in between times - take some time for each other every day at home.

If your kids are sucking the life out of you 24/7 it's because you're letting them. Larry and I have time together every day. We tell the kids, "this is our alone time. Don't knock on this door unless you are bleeding from the head." My kids are 10, 16 and 18. I know they are quite a bit older now but we have done this since they were just little. When they were just toddlers, Larry and I would take at least 15-20 minutes alone a day. Then we increased the time as they got older. And surprise, they are still alive and well. They didn't die because we insisted on having time together. This isn't selfish, it's God plan.

I started doing this from the time Dustin was born. When he was a newborn, I was basically up all hours of the nights with him because he woke up screaming to be fed every 2 and 1/2 to 3 hours. This is the way it is for most Moms, I think. At least with my three children, I went through this. Despite the fatigue, I especially loved the newborn stage. It is such a special time, bonding with your child, nursing them and caring for them. However after two weeks of doing this round the clock and not seeing my husband at all, I had a talk with Larry. I said, "I've pumped a bottle. We're getting a sitter and you're taking me out!" He seemed a bit surprised by this revelation but I said, "Larry, for two weeks my entire existence 24/7 has been as the "dairy queen." It's time for a change. I'm not just this child's mother, I'm your lover. And I'm not giving that role let's get a sitter and go out."

We went on our date that day! He had a sitter in a New York minute! He was so happy about this! I think he was afraid to ask me (like many men would be afraid to ask their wives) thinking it's too soon...the baby was just born, she's not going to want to go out, she's not going to be interested in romance, etc. But -- this made him so excited that our relationship was still going to grow, we were going to stay close, and that I did not see him as #2 now and Dustin as #1. Rather, Larry and I continued to nurture our relationship and together, we parented and led Dustin -- not the other way around. By the way, he's an extraordinary kid if I do say so myself! If you wanna see why I think that, go check out his Myspace page.

Dustin has a rather enchanted view of marriage, I think. Sure he's seen Larry and I disagree, and he knows we're far from perfect. But he has grown up seeing his parents in love. And it is something he strongly desires for himself. (No, not just the affection of a girl, or sex - but he truly desires companionship and a girl that he can really get into serious conversations with and share with on the level his Dad and I do...and mainly someone who loves the Lord.) Larry and I aren't perfect but this is one thing we've modeled well for the kids, I think. None of that would have been possible if I had my babies and started putting them first and left time for Larry when I got around to it. If you aren't intentional, the truth is, you'll never get around to it. A whole lot of husbands today are just living on the back burner, waiting for their wives to remember they are there.

When will they realize that their husband IS their family? The truth is, even if a woman is not able to have children...if they are infertile and spend their entire lives childless, the fact is, A HUSBAND AND WIFE CONSTITUTE A FAMILY. Why is so hard for many young women these days to see this?

I guess when people don't want to see something, it's easy not to.

I love my children. And I'll never forget the person who made it possible for me to have them. Yes, ultimately God is responsible...but the way He set it up, I got these three gems through my relationship with Larry. And I'll never forget that, or put him aside.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I am finished my last Africa message

and it feels like I've birthed a child. I can't even express to you what a relief this is. I have also gotten a lot done today...but more on that in a minute...

Lest you think I don't like to prepare messages, please realize I love it! This is what I live for! However, until the message is "ready", I'm not. Yes, the Holy Ghost can do what He wants to do and I hope He does and I'm certainly going to be prayed up, but if I don't have my notebook ready, well...I'm a mess. Sometimes even if I don't use it, (someone asked me the other day...why do you have all that written up in your sermon notebook but don't refer to it a lot? Because I've gone over it, and I know it for the most part, but I have to have my notes there as my emotional safety net.)

Everyone keeps asking me, "are you ready for your trip?" Well, until I had my ticket, my shots, my gifts for the women, and I'm getting my wardrobe together. But until the actual messages are prepared to preach, I felt very uneasy. Especially since they want me to send them my text, maybe an outline - since the entire thing will be interpreted in Swahili.

So, message number five is done. Yesterday afternoon at work I finished the second message to the executive women'sleaders/pastor's wives. Now, today I woke up, and my first priority was getting the fifth message done. I couldn't have had a good weekend if I didn't, and since this weekend is Dustin's birthday, I really want to have a good weekend!

So the messages are in my sermon notebook, (I just did them for the pastor's wives and women's leaders for their sessions - I don't have room in my suitcase for 3,000 handouts for the other women...) object lesson illustrations prepared, etc. It's all there.

On the subject of wardrobe ~ it's proving to be harder than I thought. It's a challenge. I never realized how many clothes I have that are inappropriate for Africa. I have actually gone to the thrift store to get a few things, reason being I might not necessarily choose these things to wear here in Florida, and I might even leave them behind in Kenya depending on the room in my suitcase, and the need of the people where I'm at. While at this conference in Nairobi, I am only able to wear pants in my room, alone. (I'll be able to wear them at the missionary's compound and then when we go into the city to see some things one day.) But during the entire conference I have to wear a dress or skirt. I have many dresses, but for various reasons they are not "Africa appropriate." For instance, sleeveless is a no no. I am not talking just spaghetti straps or such (obviously I would not wear something strapless, spaghetti strapped or such even to my own church services!) However, being that I live in Florida I do have a lot of sleeveless tops and dresses. Most of my dresses also come to the knee but not below. I'm not sure how appropriate that is for this culture and I don't want to offend.

Most of the photos I'm seeing of the women who attended last year have dresses that are mid-calf. It's not just an issue of style, it's an issue that they view as right/wrong and so as to not offend, I need to comply. I do have a few longer dresses but then they have slits which I'm also unsure about. When I looked at the photos of the women at the conference last year the majority had on very long skirts with loose fitting tops and all their heads were covered. The missionary said I do not have to cover my head, however they do ask that I wear a skirt or dress the entire time. No problem with that on my part - I'm agreeable to anything even if I'd have to cover my head, but I need to get some additional clothes. I have two longer black skirts that I wear quite a bit and I'm wearing each of them, for two of the days. But for the other two, I don't know. I'm at a loss. Most of my suits also come to my knee with the skirt having a slit in the back. I don't dress like a ho by American standards (smile) but I don't want to look like a ho in Africa according to their standards in the Kenyan church!

It's hard to believe it's getting this close. We're only 13 days away from departure. I still have to do my mother/son date with Jordan. That's coming up. Then at least one more date with Larry, maybe even squeeze in two. Everytime I lay in bed and hold on to him I think, "soon I'm going to be without him for nine days"...and I try to stay there, be fully present, and savor the moment.

Jordan stayed home from school today (overslept) and Larry was so ticked. So he told him he had to clean the entire day. And he assigned him the weeding outside. Well, that was on my initiative list to do by Monday. Halleluiah! I'm mad that Jordan was home from school however, it did help me out. He's already finished the worst of it which was the backyard and the two side beds. They are absolutely killer to do. Right now it's 6:00 and he's still working, doing the front yard now. Larry is wanting to teach him a lesson and I think he's learning it big time since the weeding in our yard is probably one of the least desirable jobs in the world. Once it's weeded this time I'm going to take Dawn's advice and start having somebody come out and do the pre-emergent treatments.

I finished all my initiatives today except for picking up my final Africa prescription from the pharmacy! I'll do that tomorrow. Then I'll be ready to celebrate Dustin's birthday, enjoy the weekend fully and start attacking a new initiative list next week. It was a great day of accomplishment. I have finished 30+ initiatives this week by the time all was said and done and it feels wonderful.

10 Things I've developed a lower tolerance for as I've gotten older

1) Sheets that haven't been changed for a while. (For practical reasons I can't change them every day or even usually every few days. Our beds usually get changed on Fridays or Saturdays but by the time it gets to that point honestly it's hard for me to sleep. My best night of sleep is the night I change the sheets and duvet cover. It's like heaven!!!)

2) Whining. (leads to wilderness living instead of promised land living.)

3) A sense of entitlement in the church. When will people understand, it's not about what they get, it's about what they give? Everytime I hear another complaint about, "the church" not doing something for somebody and them having themselves in a tizzy about it, it doesn't make me more mindful to help them. It makes me more determined to shut my ears to this kind of stuff and focus on something else because that kind of behavior is just plain wrong and unGodly.

4) Bad pizza. I just won't "spend the points" to eat it. Not worth it. The only pizza I will eat except rare occasions in Tampa would be Amici's. I also love Uno's but there aren't any around here, so I just normally eat there on trips. The fact that they put calamata olives on pizza? GENIUS.

5) Excuses. They are dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Just do what you're supposed to do, when you're supposed to do it. That's how it's supposed to work in this life.

6) Trophy wives...kept women..."arm candy" as I call it. I tolerate them so little that I have none of them currently in my life as friends or associates. When I meet one all I can think is, "when are you going to do something to justify your existence on planet earth?" By the way, Larry told me a great joke yesterday. He said, "A friend of mine just married someone and she's basically a trophy wife. Evidently she didn't take first place..." ha ha ha!

7) People who want to spend a lot of time pouring all their problems out to me, but never take my advice. No time for it, sorry. Side note - the other day I was having brunch with Ada and as usual I shared a few challenges with her and she spoke her wisdom into my life as she always does. Immediately I was like, "yes...yes, I get this..." and started putting it into practice and I've felt like a different woman for the past two days. So why don't so many people do that? Why do they yap on to people incessently about what's bothering them, receive advice but then discard it? As for me I take advice and eat it up like a Dove chocolate! Most of the time when I'm with Ada I'm gulping her advice, I don't just eat it.

8) Rudeness. At 41 years old, I find myself doing one of two things when I encounter blatant rudeness. I either immediately remove myself from the situation and make it clear I will not stay in the presence of rudeness or I correct it. For instance, if someone were standing there berating one of my friends I wouldn't just stand there and listen to it thinking, "is it my place to say something?" At this point in my life I'd stand up and say it, my place or not and if someone wants to hate me, let them.

9) Inappropriate cell phone usage. I won't compete with a cell phone. Just not gonna do it. I really believe they have become a serious hindrance to our society today and believe the bad is outweighing the good currently because people today don't understand proper manners. Check your ettiquette books's rude to constantly be interrupted by calls when you are with other people.

The one reason I like a cell phone is to keep track of my kids and make sure they are safe, and to talk to my family and tell them I love and miss them when I'm away. And that's it. Otherwise, cell phones in my opinion can go straight back to Hades where they came from. Cell phones were not invented in Japan, by Verizon, Cingular or anybody else on this earth. Please realize, they came straight from the Big B himself...BEELZEBUB.

Don't you hate it when you are in a conversation with someone and their phone rings and they keep answering it? That is so rude. You can often forget what you were talking about, and the moment is blown. I have even been sitting with people in a serious conversation, one of us can be bearing our hearts or crying and "bbbbrrrrrring!" there it goes, or worse yet irritating songs come on. True story: one Wednesday night in church service somebody in our church did not turn their cell phone off. Right in the midst of church Carrie Underwood's "Maybe next time he'll think before he cheats" came blaring on. Was this a prophetic word? No, it was STUPIDITY!

I have been with people where half of our time together was spent in interruptions from their cell phone. One thing I love about Pastor Lisa is that when you are "with her" you are seriously WITH HER. The whole weekend I was with her in Houston, if the phone rang she pressed "ignore" and gave me her full attention. I was impressed. Ada always does the same thing, unless it's one of her kids. That's my only exception too. I will answer if it's Larry or my kids and take a very brief call and then profusely apologize and say that because it was my family I felt I needed to take the call as they come first. Everyone's husband, wife, or kids should come first especially whereas concerns their safety. But otherwise? Geez whiz people, GIVE YOUR FULL ATTENTION TO WHO YOU ARE WITH. So, to make a long rant longer, let me just say that I refuse to compete with cell phones. When somebody does this to me, (and it's not their immediate family calling) I immediately switch gears and start doing something else. Sometimes I leave. Sometimes I pull out my work folders, start working to use the time wisely instead of sitting and staring at them waiting for them to finish their conversation about the dog they just adopted from the pound, or who won their kid's soccer game. Or sometimes I just say, "evidently this isn't a good time for you...let's catch up later..." The way I see it time is valuable. I don't have time to sit there and listen to somebody's cell phone calls or God forbid wait until they text message somebody (another tool from the abyss).

and my final crowning "low tolerance" for the day...

10) People who text message or instant message me when they can either:

a) Talk to me face to face because we are in the same building.

b) Pick up the phone and call me instead of doing this slow back and forth deal. The thing is, I type 130 words a minute so text messaging or IM'ing will never be quick enough for me. It drives me crazy. Yes, I hate the phone but I'd much prefer it to texting or IM'ing.

Do I sound old? Maybe so. I am getting older. I don't consider myself stuffy, but really folks, these are things in life that do make me just a little irritated and some of them are changes in our world that I don't know are truly advancements. Technologically? Yes. Relationally? Probably not.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It was a rainy was a very rainy day.

Today was a dark and dreary day but I tried to make it as happy as possible. It wasn't bad with any difficult things with people or work, it was just wet and cold. Yes, we can get cold even here in Florida especially once we have adjusted to tropical living. My feet were so cold today all day, I wore my boots to church tonight! Northerners would find this humorous - it's still in the 80's here and sometimes 90's. I know, it's crazy but today I was craving heat.

This morning when I got up, it was raining and I had to get ready and take the dog out in the rain. This is always a mess and is a morning I don't really enjoy, but it has to be done. Then after getting the dog out and getting myself ready, as I was making my tea Larry came out and said he wouldn't be done in time to take Savanna to the bus stop so I had to leave my tea, go out in the rain again and drive her up there. Then I came back, got my things and went out in the rain again. Rain, rain, rain. This was the kind of day where I just wanted to stay in bed or sit on the couch in my jammies under a blanket and read a book. But I'm a responsible adult and I have to work. Yes, believe it or not we pastors DO work more than on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights!

I went to my Weight Watchers meeting and weighed in and was dismayed, despite being relatively good all week, to be up .06. (That's point 06, not six pounds.) It's minimal but still....I want to lose, not gain. I realize there are many factors involved in one's weight from day to day including but not limited to salt intake, "that time of the month", simple things such as -- did you just drink a bottle of water and not go to the restroom before you weighed? Judy (receptionist who weighed me in) said, "it's just a slight gain, it's really no big deal but I wasn't terribly thrilled. So I have to work hard this week. I am committing to more of the elliptical machine.

So I went to work today, then went to lunch and it was still raining, came back to the office in the rain, worked a while, then went out again in the rain and came home and then started making supper. By this time I felt so yukky from being out in the rain so many times today and my feet were wet and cold. I wasn't dirty - of course I showered this morning and got ready for work but all this dampness just gives me a "yuk" feeling. The last thing I wanted to do tonight was go anywhere but of course I'm faithful to the house of God. So I started supper and started getting ready. Tonight I made baked chicken, stuffing (made with low fat ingredients) and green beans. I got a few plates ready as I do quite often and took them to the boys at church...they are always there a few hours before us, with worship rehearsal for the youth.

We had a good service as usual tonight and then I came home and made some homemade chicken corn soup. I had one point left when I came home and was going to use it wisely. If you make soup right it can really be one point, seriously. So I did. Dustin and I had some and we all watched Kid Nation.

The show was very entertaining tonight as usual, but have I mentioned, I have a serious dislike for Taylor? That girl drives me up the wall. I don't know anybody who watches the show (that I know personally) who likes her. Cathy (mine and Larry's assistant at Northside) feels the same way and we commiserate about the fact that we are sooooo over that chick. I think one reason I feel this way is because she reminds me of a few people I have known over the years who have possessed the same exact attitude only they were grown adults and are somehow getting away with it. And actually, these aren't just adults - they are in ministry! (And supposedly saved but I had my doubts at times.) The thing is, WHERE DOES THIS BEHAVIOR START?

By watching Taylor, I can see how this behavior begins at a young age, and just continues on even after they are adults and have their own children. There are a few things Taylor really needs the first of which is a good butt whipping. There are no adults at Bonanza City, so these kids need to take advantage of that and pop the laziness and beauty queen mentality straight out of her. Whammo! One good jolt is all it would take to let her see that nobody gets a free ride in this life. I seriously had my fingers crossed that one of the kids on the show was going to just drag her off by her ponytail to do the work she was assigned to, but they actually kept it under control very well considering. At least they threatened to take away her paycheck and a chance at the gold star. It'll be interesting to see what happens next week... hopefully she'll change, get saved or...somebody will clock her. Something's gotta give!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The love of my life

Here's a meme I got from Pastor Leanne. Fun! (You can also see by the pictures just how much we have changed during the past 20 years, "high" my hair was at one point. I think this not only qualifies for extreme 80's hair, but also incredibly Pentecostal. The only thing that would have been more so was if I had it up in a bun with a bunch of bobby pins...and ditched the make up...) Here we go...

1. Where did you meet this person? Valley Forge Christian College ~ Phoenixville, PA

2. What was the first thought that went through your head when you met ? He’s so funny…he makes me laugh so much. He would make funny quips and sing me songs he made up or popular songs that he changed the words to. Being that he's not exactly skilled at singing, this was something that I really found humorous.

3. Do you remember what you or they were wearing? Very casual clothing because we were both working in the kitchen at college.

4. Where was the first time you kissed this person? In the music building.

5. How did they ask you out ( or you ask them out )? I was at Valley Forge a year before Larry so I knew some people before he did. When he first saw me, he asked an upperclassman, Rick, (who worked alongside him in the kitchen), “who’s that girl?” Rick said, “that’s Deanna.” Larry said, “I’m going to ask her out.” Rick said, “she won’t go out with you, she isn't dating anyone for a while - it's some commitment she and her friend made...” (long story for another day) So Larry said, “I'm going to date her. Watch me.” He started singing these funny songs to me, coming around and making me laugh on the job. I did think he was hysterical - and that was about the extent of it. I didn’t have any money to speak of – was a poor college student washing dishes in the cafeteria. I had just bought a winter scarf which I loved and I really treasured it because quite honestly it was a big deal for me to buy it. It was probably only about a week old. After work one night I was putting my coat on to leave and put the scarf on and Larry came over, took it away and said, “if you want your scarf back, you’ll go out with me!” So, I did, thinking I would get the scarf back. (To this day I never got it back – he still has it in his top dresser drawer! He always kept it for sentimental reasons.)

6. Where did you go for your first date? The music building. I spent a lot of time there. I actually told him, "okay,if you want to see me, just come there, it’s where I always am..." Little did I know sitting in the music building the first time, folding ministry newsletters and talking about our different calls to the ministry that the Holy Spirit would speak to me and say, "this is going to be your husband..." YIKES! Sort of scared me to death, (even though I did think he was cute and funny) only because I didn't know him or feel "in love" with him yet. I think shortly after that we went to Valley Forge Park (which is a beautiful place) and holds a lot of memories as well.

7. How long did you know this person before you became a couple? Not long, probably a few months.

8. Has this person ever proposed to you? Yes, he proposed on June 25, 1986 and we married June 27, 1987. We’ve been married 20 years.

9. Do you and this person have kids together? Yes, three on earth and one in heaven.

10. Have you ever broken the law with this person? Have we broken any laws...let's see... college laws? Yes. Several times. We got written up, mostly for "lap sitting." (No, not lap dancing. ha ha!) Seriously when we went to Bible college, there was no "PDA" allowed - no sitting on laps, no kissing, no arms around each other, least on campus. We went to bible school back when it was really strict. We couldn't wear shorts unless we were in gym class, boys had to wear ties, and we couldn't even sit next to each other in chapel the first semester - it was against the rules to sit by the opposite sex the first semester. I ended up having to paint the dorm one time because of breaking the rules. (My R.A. who wrote me up for sitting on Larry's lap talking one day is no longer in the ministry but I just want to point out, I am a 20 year ministry veteran, despite my lap sitting.) I guess the lap sitting should have been a prophetic indication to Larry -- he was getting a "wild woman"! (smile) As far as laws of the land, we haven't broken any that I can think of. If we have it’s something small and stupid that we don’t know about…I dunno, parking on the street in Pasco county is against the law and we’ve done that occasionally.

11. When was the first time you realized that you loved this person? I can’t remember the exact moment to be quite honest. Our love evolved. I knew before I ever loved or even really “liked” him a lot that he would be my husband. The Holy Spirit told me that just days after we met but I never told him until we were almost married because I thought it was inappropriate. I knew it would scare him and rightfully so. Although I was young at the time, I began to realize even then that too many people throw God’s name around and and say, "God told me this or that" and it really gets old and is overdone because so many times it’s not God, it’s just their own desires. In my case I did know it was God because despite very little feelings for him and just laughing a lot when he was around, I had a knowing in my heart that he was supposed to be mine. I said, “God, I feel nothing for him…he’s just a funny guy, and I actually know nothing about him…” but as I looked over at him as he was talking in the music building one night, I felt God speak to my heart that he was the one. From that time on, despite the lack of immediate romantic feelings, I just trusted God was leading me in the right direction and as time when on, the feelings developed.

12. Do you get along with any of the ex's of your boyfriend/girlfriend? I don’t see any of them so it’s really not an issue.

14. Do you trust this person? Yes but more than that, I trust in God – I realize Larry is not infallible so I don’t expect perfection out of him . I don't expect Him to be God -- but as much as I could possibly trust any man on earth, I trust him. With the rest…I trust God.

15. What is the best thing this person ever gave you? Great sex. Repeatedly. And my Mustang Convertible. But aside from that… his whole heart, his commitment, faithfulness.

16. What is the most expensive thing this person bought for you? The Mustang

17. What is the one thing this person does that gets on your nerves? Doesn’t notice the mess around him and housework that needs to be done, like I do – he’s totally oblivious to it.

18. What is the thing you do that gets on their nerves? Got a few hours?!! Wow. It’s not just one and hard to choose but probably the things I do when I get angry and he pushes me to deal with things right then that I don’t want to deal with at the moment.

19. Where do you see each other in 15 years from now? We will be 55 and 56…old enough to get a seniors discount. That is incredibly scary to me. I don’t like it and I’m treasuring every moment right now. But where do I see us at 55 and 56? We'll be pastoring. ’ll be writing more than I ever have. Larry will be playing golf more when he’s not driving the kids everywhere. On our day off it will really totally be a day off and we will not be dropping kids off at meetings and events or picking them up and getting stuck on church things because we were on the premises. On Fridays we will probably be at home, completely naked the entire day/night. I guess actually 55 and 56 doesn't sound so bad after all...

Recap of today's events

Today has been a good day. Normally I work from home on Tuesdays but today was different. Ada and I met in Tampa for brunch, so that meant I needed to have the car (we still only have one). So I drove Larry to work, dropped him off and went to have brunch with Ada. Then I went and worked at the office for the rest of the day with Larry.

Ada just came back from her trip to Hawaii with Chris. They were there for 10 days. She got me a necklace and bracelet there, made out of nuts. I love it! It might sound kind of strange/different but it's really beautiful and shiny. I put it on right away and am just loving it. (I'm wearing it in this photo of us, above.) We talked about everything we could cram in during our time together. We wanted to get together and spend some time before my trip to Africa. I get my hair done the day before I go but the thing is, even all that time to talk is never enough...we run out of time. Truth be told we ran out of time today but I guess perhaps any friendship is like that. She said some things today that were absolutely prophetic for me personally. Confirmations galore. As so often happens after we have a serious talk, I feel like a have a completely new perspective on some things. There is really nothing like having a friend this spiritual.

She couldn't believe how good I was being with eating today - egg beaters and turkey sausage and wheat toast with nothing on it. I told her, it's like this...weigh in is tomorrow! And I'm counting on being down at least a pound. I really wanted to be at Lifetime by the time I went to Africa. At this point that is a litle unrealistic to think it will happen however I can be just a few pounds away by the time I go.

My contacts are starting to feel a bit more comfortable today. I had a hard time getting them out last night. They are really a bit different than the old ones...slightly bigger -- not much but enough to make a difference in getting them in and out. And, for some reason they are more difficult to get out - I am not sure why except maybe with the astigmatism - now my contact fits perfectly despite that and it's more shaped to my eye, therefore it doesn't come out as easily. Oh well, Dr. Stanley said this would settle down and be normal in a few days.

Can you believe my son turns 18 this Saturday? I can hardly believe it. I can remember his birth like it was yesterday. It is true, time does fly. We have something real special in store for him for Saturday...something very "adult like". I won't put it here because Casey reads my blog. :) Although I don't think she'd tell him if I asked her not to. Anyway, the big day is Saturday. I am pretty okay with it since he's still at home for a while. I really have no desire for him to move out - at all - it's pretty common knowledge how crazy I am about him! Now Larry would love nothing more than to have all the kids move out and it be just me and him again...which, I'm not saying I will mind being alone with my husband - certainly not. I love being with him and we will have A LOT of fun when they move out! I will probably live naked 95% of the time. I know, that's a scary thought for anybody besides Larry. But anyway, I am fine with waiting however long it takes for them to move out, especially Dustin. He's Momma's Chocki Woki and he shall remain so forever, and a day.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Typical Monday

Today was a normal Monday with a ton of work on my plate when I got up...I think I started with about 28 initiatives today. I didn't get to my Africa messages as I would have liked, and we're 15 days and counting, but tomorrow's a new day. Um, CAN YOU BELIEVE I'M LEAVING IN 15 DAYS?! I'm getting ready more day by day though my most important thing - the messages - are not done yet. However, rest assured that by week's end, all 5 will be done, regardless.

I got a pile of stuff done this morning...typical things - tons of mail to send out, calls to make or answer, and projects to delve into. Then we went to staff lunch and I stopped by Lifeway to get my new Bible engraved. I love it! It's just the right size for my purse and I'm taking it on the trip with me. I wanted to read the whole Message Bible during the plane ride - Pastor T figured out for me, I'd have to read 50 pages each hour. Quite truthfully I need more rest than that, so I'm not going to attempt it, BUT...I will be able to read quite a bit.

This afternoon I got some more work done, we had staff meeting and I went to my eye doctor appointment. I figured, I am on my last pair of contacts and I'm getting ready to go on this trip and I want to see the giraffes and elephants clearly not to mention the 3,000 faces I'm looking at when I preach! I realized that I probably needed a slight adjustment on my glasses and contacts since my vision seems to deteriorate a bit every year. (Bummer) If my eye doctor wasn't so wonderful, I would hate going. There's nothing like hearing, "we're going to shoot a little puff of air in your eye...just hold steady and try not to blink..." YEAH RIGHT. I hate having my eyes checked. So uncomfortable! But I go to Dr. Jennifer Stanley here in Tampa and she is WONDERFUL. In fact she gave me a whopping discount on my lenses today because I've gone to her for four years. I decided not to update my frames this year because I got these Fendi frames last year and I love them. Of course nobody sees them but my family - I wear contacts pretty much every waking moment and just wear my glasses right before bed when I'm winding down for the day. But anyway, I do love these frames and besides that I wanted to save money and not have to get them again right now. Thankfully my reading glasses prescription is the same. No purchase necessary there. Dr. Stanley is one of the nicest people I've ever met. I just found out today she lives in the same neighborhood as Ada! She's also very thorough with her patients and really takes time with you. Since my last appointment they've come out with contacts that correct asigmatism (which I have). Glasses corrects it but up until recently contacts could not correct it. Now they have them as well as contacts that enable you to have more oxygen. So I'm trying these for a week. I have to admit tonight was hard with them - they are a bit heavier with a different feel and Dr. Stanley says it takes a few days to feel normal with them. So we'll see. But it is a definite improvement in sharpness of vision. I highly recommend it to anybody who wears contacts and is in this situation.

Tonight I went home and ate dinner and laid around for a while talking to the kids. I did zippo housework. I desperately need to do a few things but I had no "housework" energy today knowing I did need to work out. I got on the elliptical at the gym tonight once I had the energy to go after dinner...came home and showered and now it's time to do the last initiative on my list, which is the most fun...spending some time with Larry. So, goodnight all...that was my day today and the night is not over... God is good...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Rope holders

Larry brought a message to the church this morning from Acts 9, about when the people were conspiring to kill Saul and he found out about the plot and his followers helped him escape by lowering him down through an opening in the wall through a basket. Larry spoke of people being willing to be "rope holders" in the Kingdom of God and he also talked about the importance of mentoring. At the conclusion he gave an altar call for people to once again commit to being a rope holder, to be willing to also invest, mentor, etc.

I normally don't answer altar calls at my church - not because I think I'm spiritually beyond it - far from it, but I usually believe my first responsibility when I am at church is not to be fed, but to feed -- to be there for the people and pray for them. So this is usually my place - functioning at the altar in ministering to the people. I'm sure it's the same way with the majority of pastors and pastor's wives - they are not "too proud" to come to the altar - they just feel the responsibility to minister to the flock which we have been called to do.

Well this morning I set that aside for a brief moment and went and responded to the altar. Larry didn't preach this message exclusively for me, (I haven't even shared my thoughts with him on it before now - didn't want to discourage him) but it applied to me. Just frankly speaking here, I've been ready to give up on the idea of mentoring. Me...the person who has taught workshops on mentoring. Yep, you read it here first.

I am not kidding one bit when I say that I decided as of late to lay the "mentoring mantle" down, at least the up close method -- anything besides what mentorship people receive by hearing preaching or teaching. Maybe not permanently, but for a's been what my heart has wanted to do and what I had decided I probably would do for at least a few months to a year or however long it took me to feel ready again.

This feeling comes from the discouragement and a sense of failure within myself of seeing as many people fail that I have mentored, as those who have succeeded. For every person that I have seen go forward through my mentorship, I have also had situations that have turned into nightmares. They have all received the same type of mentorship for the most part, however, some have become a dream and some have become a nightmare!

There are times I have failed at something where I just stop for a while to get my equilibrium back.

Regarding mentoring, as of late I have asked myself if I really want the headache or if I just need a break. Tonight Alex Rivera said something in our vision meeting that was awesome - he talked about the morning's message and said, "do we want to be rope holders even when we're getting some rope burns?" This is what God spoke to me about this morning as I sat in the service. He gave me my answer as much I as really didn't want to hear it. I wanted to just start preaching and teaching my guts out and give myself more time to do it well instead of investing in people, half of which seem to be bent on making the wrong choices.

In the past few months, Larry and I have gotten letters from some people we've mentored over the years who said thank you, and told us just how much we impacted, and are continuing to impact their lives through things we taught them. One letter I read about a week ago caused my eyes to well up with tears of gratitude. At the same time, I got on the Myspace of someone I mentored years ago and was horrified by how far they have fallen from grace. There were things so horrible on the page, I can't repeat them here. Quite honestly, I thought, "why did I ever invest my time?" Others may not be touting x-rated material, but have fallen into other disappointing situations or decisions where you say, "why? did they learn nothing over our time together? What could I have done to prevent this or that?" The answer many times is...nothing. I'm learning right now through reading, and talking to some great mentors that every mentor encounters these variables. However the issue with me that I've been pondering it worth it?

Then there are those you have mentored who might not be a flop in life or ministry, (in fact they might be very successful) but they turn around and burn you personally despite all you've done for them. Or, they really don't give a rip about the time you spent. I know we don't do it for exaltation, at least we shouldn't. We don't give for the praise of people. But Larry says although he doesn't invest for the praise of men, he doesn't want to be taken for granted either. There's a difference. You don't need to be praised, but at the same time you don't want to be stepped on. As Sis. Coker often says, "you won't miss the water til' the well runs dry." I've been wanting to close my well.

Then there's the issue of pastoring and trying to mentor to see increase not only in the Kingdom of God, but your portion of the Kingdom. You mentor some people first to enrich that person's life and help them grow, but second you also have the desire to see them come alongside you and help you to grow and tend to the part of the "vineyard" where God has placed you. (After all, the role of every pastor according to Ephesians 4 is to equip and train.) You do this with high hopes that people will turn around and utilize that investment to serve and make an impact in church and the community. When you sow seed, you expect a harvest. But often, the people you help are less concerned about serving with you than they are about moving on to "do their own thing." Do you know how many pastors I have talked to who are discouraged because somebody they have poured into has just split from them and started their own church? Too many to count. Or they have invested in people only to have them fly the coop and move somewhere else to do their own thing.

Recently I read a blog of an ex-pastor who has left the ministry permanently after many years of service. He's not a bad guy, on the contrary he's a real good guy who just got real discouraged. He said, "I gave for years and years and invested countless hours in equipping and training people, only to see the vast majority of them leave to do their own thing."

There's nothing wrong with that in some cases - people are called to launch out elsewhere in some instances and it is all about the Kingdom of God. However, as Dr. Lee taught us, when that is consistently happening more often than not in a congregation, there is no way it can grow. He suggests asking the individuals before you decide to mentor them or put them in ministry, "what is in your heart to do, and will you do it through the ministries of this church?" He always asked people their intentions right up front. He didn't invest without a definite commitment. He got the the bottom line and point blank asked them if they were called to stand with Him - to do whatever it took to fulfill the mission/vision of the church. If they weren't going to invest back into the church he didn't heavily invest in those particular individuals most of the time, nor choose them for leadership positions that he knew would just have to be filled again. This always worked for him as a pastor years ago, but I have found at least in my experience so far in trying it, it hasn't worked as well and I don't know whether that's just the fact that we're not Dr. Lee (yes, I know that makes a difference!) or the fact that times have changed so much. I've found most people today will give some ambiguous answer like,"well, I don't know, I can't really commit to anything concerning that, or tell you what I'm going to do..." and then of course even when they do commit to you they can always just quit later and say, "I know what I said, but God spoke..." and flit off to do whatever and blame it on God. (After all, who are we to argue with God? That's why so many people use that excuse even when it's many times not the case.)

The pastor who blogged made mention that this is one of the main reasons he has resigned, works in the marketplace now, and attends a church with his family and serves where he can to help another pastor. He said, "I'm tired of investing my all into people just to have them go do their thing and still not really be able to move the church forward." I'm not saying it's right...but I do understand what the man is saying. I wonder how many pastors out there feel this same thing so deeply? And is it the reason many have quit?

This morning God renewed my heart to be able to say, "yes, I will still step up to the call of being a rope holder, even when I feel rope burns." So a lot of the people that I invest in may disappoint. But many of them also succeed. We often say, "if you or I were the only person in the world, Jesus would have gone to the cross just for you or me." That's true and I guess we have to look at mentorship in the same way. Are we willing to hold the rope even if there's only a certain amount of people in the basket, or if some people have jumped out of the basket? Larry's one statement that really got ahold of me this morning was, "IT DOESN'T MATTER WHO'S IN THE BASKET!"

I've been lamenting lately over people I've mentored making stupid decisions, making me feel as if my investment in their lives was a brain warp on my part. In my eyes, they jumped out of the basket. God drew my attention to the fact today, it doesn't matter whether they are in the basket, jumping out of the basket, asleep in the basket, or whether they go get their own basket. Sometimes that stuff may hurt like heck, but the bottom line is what matters is my obedience to the call to be a rope holder. Obedience. That's what God cares about. Our job is to do what God calls to do - and leave the results up to Him. Some people might think, "that shouldn't hurt you...what's wrong with you that you feel that way?" Obviously that person is not a pastor or is a complete rookie. Of course it hurts any normal pastor when people jump out of the basket, have indifference, fall asleep, stab them in the back, or just take your investment so they can go get their own basket. (especially when they do it behind your back or in an unscrupulous fashion.) Anybody who doesn't see this reality that pastors are human and feel the pain of this when it happens and find it hard to just spiritualize it away...well, they probably deserve to have their own church! And I personally put my request in to God to be a fly on the wall when this happens to them! :-) That would be better entertainment to watch than American Idol. Pop the popcorn, sit back and watch them try it. I have gently brought up this conversation before (with people I probably shouldn't have, and been given a dissertation on how it's "all about the Kingdom" and we shouldn't fret or be hurt over such instances. Yes, yes, yes, I understand all about kingdom principles. But does that mean stuff like this isn't excruciating sometimes to a man or woman of God? NO, NO NO. Hello. We still bleed. (I love that book by T.D. Jakes, When Shepherds Bleed.) Does it not hurt when somebody we invested in goes astray? Makes poor choices? Take a route that negatively affects their destiny? Have ungrateful attitudes? Stab you in the back? Um, is the Pope Catholic? So you can stand there all you want and recite mantras about Kingdom principles but all the while you're still going to have to wrap something around you to stop the bleeding, principles or no principles. What you can use to stop the bleeding is a whole other blog post.

Results are so unpredictable. Not only can you not predict them, but you can't control them. Therefore, you must function on the truth that you obey despite the results. I am learning more and more to be less results oriented and more obedience oriented. This isn't to say that it's easy or that I don't get really discouraged -- or that I'm "there" yet. I have to be honest, there are days everything in me wants to let go...but,

I'm still here, God. I'll hold the rope as long as you ask me to.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Girls day

I'm trying to spend some extra time with each of my kids before I go to Africa. The other day Dustin and I went on a lunch date. Today was Savanna's turn and in the next week or so it'll be Jordan's turn. After life coaching Savanna and I went to Michael's to look for some things for her jewelry making that she's doing. Then we went to lunch at Jersey Mike's for a sandwich and then headed over to the thrift store, one of our favorite jaunts. I was looking for a few things for Africa, and she was just looking for anything interesting. She got an adorable little purse with the tags still on for $2 - and also an adorable skirt and blouse for just a few dollars. She also found a board game and we played it when we got home. As for me, I got two shirts I'm going to wear in Africa (I've been looking for long sleeved, loose clothing that is "appropo" for the occasion ~ as I've been instructed to wear) and in addition to two shirts, I found a B-E-A-utiful outfit that I'm just still shaking my head over in amazement. It's a gorgeous Plaza South suit, with the tags still attached - never worn...and the skirt was $3 and the top was $4. Savanna was amazed and the woman at the checkout even said, "that's an unbelievable find!" It's red and I'm planning on wearing it for Christmas. The only thing wrong with it at all is that the top button is loose and needs to sewn tighter. I love it when I find a bargain like this. I got two Liz Claiborne dresses as well recently at the thrift store for about $4 each and I'll wear them at some upcoming things that are more formal. One thing I love about thrift stores is finding Jones New York suits and Claiborne and stuff like that with all the tags still on many times, and I wear it and people are none the wiser about what I've paid for this stuff. I will never forget teaching Ashley Haley from church about looking for bargains like this. She had no idea what the words 'Jones New York' meant until she met me! :-) One of my greatest joys is finding this stuff for only a few dollars.

We came home and I didn't feel like cooking supper, neither did Jordan or Larry so we just did frozen pizzas from the freezer. Nobody seemed to mind.

Tonight I still have a few things left to do such as set everything up for our vision meeting tomorrow night (we have dinner here at our house with about 20 leaders, and then a meeting), iron all the clothes for in the morning for everyone, and look over my notes again for in the morning. I would like to go for a late night walk with Larry if we aren't too tired...we'll see what happens. I am believing tomorrow will be a great day in the house at Northside.

Five things I'm thankful for today:

1) My life coaching group brought up today how excited they are for me about Africa. They insisted on having special prayer for me today. It was a good time together as it always is. Today our teaching was on depression and spiritual insights into combating it. And our prayer time was on the theme of Thanksgiving.

2) Candy brought some YUMMY stuff to life coaching and we enjoyed it during our teaching and I made a pot of tea. It was so good to share it together around the table as we talked.

3) It rained last night real hard which was good for my plants and trees outside but it was also wonderful to wake up, hear the rain beating down and go back to sleep. I love sleeping while it's raining.

4) I took a bath when I woke up this morning with "Moonlight Path". Sometimes I just need more than just one luxurious start to my day per week.

5) I feel God's love and my family's love. Who could ask for more?

Tonight's Sequel: had to add this to my blog before bedtime...Larry didn't feel like walking tonight - no big deal, I needed a harder workout on the elliptical - my legs are crying out for change! So I headed to the gym and worked out. When I came home I noticed that Bobby had stopped by to visit. He brought us onion rings from Remington's. He said, "you guys feed me so much, I wanted to stop by and bring these..." (Sweet? Yes. A temptation? Also yes...) Larry ate some, and I told Bobby as grateful as I was, I had just worked out and would leave the rest to Jordan, who was very glad to eat them! Ah, that workout felt good...time to shower, put the finishing touches on tomorrow and spend some time with the babe.

One of the girls are gone

There are three birds - sandhill cranes - that are on our Northside Church property much of the time. They are always together, the three of them. Larry calls them, "his girls" as does Dustin. This morning I was driving Dustin in to work at the church and I had life coaching class. As we pulled in to the parking lot, Dustin said, "these people better not hit one of the girls, or I'll kill them..." and I said, "why would you say that? Who is trying to hit them?" Dustin explained people just aren't careful around them. They are often found just slowly walking around the property, or across the road. Sane people stop for them, go around them or wait.

Dustin must have had a premonition...

During my coaching class, he walked in all upset. He had been crying. He said, "they killed one of the girls, Mom..." the whole class could see he was very upset. I was so hurt for him (and for the poor bird). Some impatient motorist was an absolute numbskull and ran into one of "the girls." Dustin was there with her when she was struggling for her last breath and Savanna (who was with him) said that he was talking to the bird, saying that he was so sorry, and wanted to "kill the man who did this to you..." We don't know who he was. Dustin said he was a stranger, and someone just passing by on Lake Magdalene Blvd. who ran over her.

Dustin buried the bird with some help from some of the Hopetown people who were there. I'm so sad for him. His heart is broken and I understand. And how sad that somebody is out there who has so little regard for life and is in such a hurry that they just ran over a sandhill crane.


I just heard from the missionary's wife in Africa, addition to preaching the general sessions, they want me to speak to the leaders not just once, but...TWICE, two days in a row! Well, I do have 18 days but I'm not prepared yet I'm going straight to the Word and prayer now for guidance to get ready for this additional session. I get ansty when I'm not well prepared quite a bit in advance, so...I'll keep you posted as to what I'm going to bring to the leaders in addition to "Survivor: Africa" that I told you about yesterday!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Fun Friday

Our day off...what a wonderful day. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE THIS DAY?! Especially when it works out that we truly do have the time off and nothing interferes.

This morning the kids didn't have school so I didn't have to get up early. I slept until 10:30 am. Glorious! Did I mention how much I love to sleep?! After that I took my time drinking tea, eating my breakfast, and checking my mail. Then I took a nice warm bath with my favorite...Bath & Body Works "Moonlight Path." (It is absolutely aromatheraphy at it's best for transports me to such a tranquil state.) Then I headed off to get a fill and pedi. It's been a month. I felt like I was developing claws. I just haven't been because I really haven't had time. Mai was delighted to show me a new color that just came in that she thought was perfect for me. It wasn't OPI (I rarely depart from OPI colors - I don't care what anyone says, I think they last longer and many times still look freshly done after 2 weeks - plus they're just kickin' colors!) But she was right - this was a good one, so we went with it.

Casey came over today and spend the day/evening. When I finished getting my nails done, I stopped at the grocery, picked some things up, and started on dinner. I took my best chicken casserole recipe (my fam's favorite) and adjusted all the ingredients to be "lite" and halved the calories. It still tasted great - only a very slight variation. We had that and garlic mashed potatoes, fresh broccoli and my homemade biscuits. There's really no way I can adjust the biscuits so what it amounts to is limiting myself to just one! Jordan helped me with the entire dinner which I was really grateful for, with this being my day off and just wanting more of a break from the routine of doing the majority myself. After cleaning it up, Larry and Jordan headed to the church softball game. Larry doesn't play this year because of his arm, but Jordan does. They won tonight! The score was 10-2 ~ and Jordan played great - he had 3 hits ~ scored twice. Here are some pics that Larry took of him.

While the guys were at softball, I stayed at the house with Savanna, Dustin and Casey and we watched a movie. We made chocolate chip cookies and I limited myself on those too. :-) We watched a comedy and laughed ourselves silly.

I sorted more scarves for Africa and washed some. Still stacking stuff up in my room getting ready to go. Tomorrow will be 18 days...and counting. Savanna made me a bracelet tonight to wear while I'm in Africa. It has all of my family's initials on it. That will be a little "anchor" for me (as they call it in weight watchers) while I'm gone, to refer to.

Speaking of WW, I didn't do as well as I'd like to the past 48 hours. Thursday was difficult for both Larry and I. I just want to encourage those of you who are reading who do WW (so many of my friends are OP right now) and I just encourage you not to let the scale dictate your mood too much. Things can fluctuate so much and what's important that even with a slip here and there, that you do the right thing THE MAJORITY OF THE TIME and it will even out. I weigh myself every day. I don't recommend that if you have a whole lot of weight to lose but when you get down to the final 10 or you are maintaining, I think it's important to keep a short leash on yourself and be extra diligent to stay on course. Well, I was incredibly depressed this morning when woke up, weighed myself and I was several pounds up. I told Larry I was so down in spirit over it. Well, this is how crazy things can fluctuate...about an hour later, I was 3 lbs. less! I have found this happens quite a bit and can be anything from extra salt intake, drinking a lot of water and not going to the bathroom yet (I am not kidding, I can go to the bathroom and be down a few pounds...weird!!!), "that time of the month", exercising and sweating, etc. I try to not put too much stock in my weight from day to day (although I do check it) but more from week to week. Remember, we are what we repeat. So the important thing is that you repeat the right thing MOST OF THE TIME. You are not going to gain weight eating an extra biscuit one time. But if you eat several biscuits every day as a general rule - you will gain, gain, gain. Trust me, that's why I used to be overweight - that was my everyday lifestyle ~ excess on a regular basis. But no more...

Well, time to fold a few more scarves and go to bed... g'night everybody. Sweet dreams...

Prepping for my trip

The kids are off of school Thursday and Friday of this week. Dustin went to a concert last night with Stephen and Casey. We took Savanna and Jordan to dinner and then we went to Walmart to pick up some things I've been needing to gather up for my trip.

There was nothing terribly exciting in the cart...things like Pepto Bismol tabs which I have to take every night before bed and a bunch of travel size items. I also got myself a new little travel pillow since my other one is seriously wearing out and I'm going to be sleeping overnight on the first night. I fly to Newark first, then to London overnight, then on to Nairobi the next morning and will finally arrive in Africa that night at about 9 pm. Yes, it's a long flight! 28 hours to get there and then my flights on the way back take me about 33 hours. Needless to say, I want a good pillow...

Yesterday I brought home all the things the church people have been collecting for me to bring to Africa. The missionary asked that I bring jewelry pins, scarves of all kinds/colors, and perfume. I have been collecting them in my office for a few months. I am bringing one suitcase just of these things and then the other case will be my personal belongings. For the most part I have fantastic things to bring! I brought them home last night to sort and get in order. I did have to get rid of a few things. 99% of the things brought in were just great, but a few donations needed to be scrapped. For instance, I got a few used, 1/2 filled perfume bottles. I don't want to give that to someone - I think it's a bit inappropriate. Second, although I have many used scarves I'm taking the majority of them look brand new and I brought them home to wash last night and fold just right. But four or five of them (out of the many) were old and tattered and starting to fray, so I put them aside.

I'm not being snooty or anything but I think we need to give our best even if it is used. I won't give somebody something that's falling apart. Those were only a very few out of the suitcase full I'm taking. I am so grateful for everyone who has helped and donated things. I know the ladies are going to really appreciate them. Although I am bringing a large suitcase full it will not come close to having something for all 3,000 + women who are expected to be there. I decided rather than try to figure this out myself, I am just going to give the suitcase of items to the missionaries and let them decide how to do this since I'm clueless on that part. I just want to bring something special in addition to presenting these ladies with the Word of God that will say, "we love you..." from Northside.

It's hard to believe that I leave in just 19 more days. I am excited, yet dreading saying goodbye to my family.