Monday, December 31, 2007

Hysterical DVD

If you want to experience something funny, I mean incredibly funny - then get Steve Harvey's DVD, "Don't Trip, He Ain't Through With Me Yet!" If you are stressed out in ministry and need a laugh like you haven't had in a long time, this is your opportunity.
We were over at Eddie and Candy's a few weeks ago and started watching it but then had to leave to get to church. In a few short minutes, I fell in love with the DVD and Larry ordered it for me for Christmas. It didn't come in time for Christmas day but it did come yesterday.

I watched the whole thing late last night after getting home from Bridges. Oh my. I'm still laughing over so many things he said. Basically it's a comedy about church, church people, stuff we do, habits we have, and it's just SO amazingly hysterical.

Many of you may say, "I dunno if I should get that video - I've seen some of Steve's comedy and he is definitely not saved...and very questionable" Well, I just encourage you to give it a try. This DVD was recorded when he spoke at Mega Fest at the invitation of Bishop T.D. Jakes. The whole point of the comedic message he brings in this DVD is that he is a work in progress and that God is working on him. (And he means that sincerely.) By the end of the video, I was crying. It blessed me so much. You can order it from Amazon here.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Last Sunday of the year...

(photo of the reflection of trees on the lake in my backyard)

And this particular Sunday was a good one for us, but I'm sooooo ready for 2008!

Last night was another night of difficult sleep though I am trying hard to get in a serious pattern of sleep and rest. For some reason there are many nights it is difficult for me to sleep even if I take a Melatonin or something to help me, it still eludes me. I'm a person who has a hard time "shutting down". I'm like a powered up computer all the time, always logged on. I desperately need sleep and rest but so many ideas are spinning in this head of mine, and so much on my 'to do' list, it often becomes a challenge.

So I was up bright and early as I always am on Sunday - actually there was nothing bright about it, but it was early. I get up way before the sunrise. First I get my shower, with just my dim shower light on - to sort of ease into the day without having this barrage of light on me right away screaming at me to wake up. I stand under the warm water and just let it wake me up for a while. Then after drying off and getting my robe and slippers on I come out and put the teapot on, and feed Geena and take her out, and it's still dark outside but a little light is starting to break and I usually see three ducks gliding on the pond about that time. I go back in, get my tea and a whole wheat english muffin or some Fiber One, put a tangerine in my purse for a mid-morning snack before Sunday School, and then go back to do my makeup, hair and get dressed. By 7:30 I'm on 75 South, headed to the church. And that's usually my morning...

Today we had a really smooth morning - nothing out of order or unusual. Sunday School and church went well and we had a visiting lady who just moved from NJ who seems just absolutely delighted to find out church and says she's found her new church home. Sharp lady. She's been in the AG for a long time and is glad to find (in her words) a church where she can "really feel the presence of God."

The boys went to Stephen's after church and Savanna went to Morgan's. Larry went to the Bucs football game with Alex, and so I was by myself today. I came home, ate lunch and went to bed until Larry came home from the game. I got a good nap with a quiet house. So nice. I woke up when he came home and we got ready and headed over to our bridges fellowship group. Had just a lovely the Brown's home. I ate WAY too many of Anita's little Italian cookies and I actually brought about 8 of them home. She said, "take them home for the kids." Hate to say it but my kids will probably never see these cookies... (GRIN)

Today was a very good Sunday but truly I am glad to move on into the new season that God has for me. It's time. Very much time.

It's a new season...
it's a new day
fresh anointing is coming my way
it's a season of power, and prosperity
it's a new season and it's coming for me.

Somebody shout now!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

My husband's tribute

Today my husband did a photo tribute to me on his blog. He surprised me with it! He noticed I had done these the past few days for him and I, and then one for the kids and this morning when I woke up, he had done this for me. Make sure you read the very last words after the final heart melted when I read them. That man has the ability to make me so happy.

To see the tribute, and just know where Larry's blog is in case you'd like to read it, go to

Today after sleeping in and putzing around the house a little bit, we went out shopping to get some "after Christmas sales". I wanted a Christmas tree for my kitchen/dining room and I got one for next to nothing as well as most of the decorations for it. This one, I going to be done with blue lights and silver decorations. I also got a small little tree for Savanna's room since she's been wanting one. Dustin had to work today, Jordan went to the movies, and Savanna went out with Larry and I to do the shopping thing. Then we also picked up things for our new year's eve party. We have one most times. It's always hard for me to pare down the guest list. I hate having to make choices like that - because my heart is to invite everybody in the whole world. I think I've invited about 50 people but I want to invite more so when a few people say they have plans or can't come even though I am disappointed that they can't make it, I get excited that I can start inviting more people. :-) My only concern is usually parking.

Casey's parents are coming to our party this year. :-) I told Larry we should call this party, "Meet the Parents". Today her Mom called and talked to me about coming and I told her how much we love Casey and she said they feel the same about Dustin. (SMILE)

I have been toying with putting my new tree with blue lights up in the kitchen, but wouldn't that be kind of stupid when I'm taking all the Christmas decor down this coming week? Yeah, it would be stupid. But I was just thinking about it since all my other Christmas decorations will still be up for new year's eve.

I picked up paint samples at Lowe's today. I'm getting ready to do some painting in the house. I'll be doing it by myself - Larry's shoulder won't be 100% for about 9 more months and he can't raise his arm up.'ll just be me but that's alright. I'm excited to start working on some things. Right now I am going to be starting by re-painting my kitchen.

Tomorrow is church, and I've been getting us prepared this evening as far as ironing all the clothes, lining up books, Bibles, purses, shoes, you know - all the stuff you need for church...except I don't just get "me" ready - I get my family ready too. My husband has never known what it is to get his own clothes ready. He wakes up and I have everything lined up for him. Part of my job is to make him look good. (GRIN)

Just preparing my heart as well for tomorrow...

I was reading today in Come Away My Beloved and the passage I read today is perfect prayer for our service tomorrow. It's brief, but expressed what was in my heart as the book so often does each time I read it:

As Rains of Refreshing

As rains of refreshing O Lord
pour out Your spirit upon our waiting hearts
As showers upon new-mown hay
Send your spirit upon our thirsty souls
For upon You, O God, do we wait.

Satisfy our hungering souls with Your abundance.
Yes, fill our longing hearts with Your fullness.
For in Your presence there is fullness of joy.
at Your right hand are eternal pleasures.

Friday, December 28, 2007

I've come to realize

Got this meme from Pastor Leanne. Hey, it's Christmas week. What can I's a good time for Meme's and making family videos! :-)

1. I've come to realize that, my last ex: well, I don't have an ex-husband and as far as ex-boyfriends, it's been so long that I'm really not realizing anything about them anymore. My life now has been my life for so long (with my husband and kids) that I've been with them, longer than not - so they are my world. :-) 2. I've come to realize that, when I talk: the important people in my life listen.

3. I've come to realize that, I love: being at home.

.4. I've come to realize that my friends: are heroes for what they do everyday.

5. I've come to realize that, I've lost: a lot of weight and that's pretty darn incredible.

6. I've come to realize that, I hate: laziness.

7. I've come to realize that, marriage is: really great if you just stay the course and don't give up when the going gets tough.

8. I've come to realize that, somewhere, someone is thinking: the same thoughts as me, with the same happiness or frustration - we just both probably feel alone but we're not. 9. I've come to realize that, I'll always be: a writer

10. I've come to realize that, I have a crush on: my husband 11. I've come to realize that, the last time I truly cried was: very needed.

12. I've come to realize that, my cell phone is: the biggest pain in the neck in my life. Every time it rings I cringe.

13. I've come to realize that, when I wake up in the morning: it's a new day with new possibilities. And I don't just mean that as a cliche.

14. I've come to realize that, before I go to sleep at night I: should really remember to wash makeup off...

15. I've come to realize that, right now I am thinking about: too many things I can't do anything about. So I need to stop.

16) I've come to realize that today: I don't need to have any more caffeine.

17. I've come to realize, that tonight I will: not get everything done in my world that needs to be done, but that's alright.

18) I've come to realize that, school is: always a part of life for a life-long learner.

19) I've come to realize that, tomorrow: is in God's hands!

Fun Friday

We are still having a Christmas break except for dealing with Sunday services and emergencies. Today I slept in once again and rested most of the day. I have been so in need of this - my body is talking to me - and it's saying, "rest me, rest me..." and I'm complying no matter how much I want to be out there during the day using my Christmas gift certificates or whatever. I'm just saving that for evenings as really that's about all my body wants to do right now. I had come into this week very run down as I'm sure many people have. Last night I didn't get a lot of sleep. Larry and I had a wonderful evening together but for some reason I couldn't get to sleep although I was so exhausted. So during the day I ended up putting the "audio vision" channel (nature sounds, acoustic stuff - the kind of stuff they play in a spa) and laying down and resting and then taking a long "moonlight path" bath.

Larry took Dustin to get his blood work. He (Dust) has been dreading it but it's a must do. He is on some pretty heavy meds for his skin and it requires him to be tested. Long story but way back when we first started taking Dustin to the dermatologist I knew he needed this particular medication. Some things, a Mom just knows. I knew cream wasn't going to do the trick here. But the doc tried the face wash and cream first. So now he's on the heavy duty stuff and has to follow strict instructions and sign a pledge card that he will do and won't do certain things, and get his blood tested monthly. Hopefully in another two months or so, he'll be done with this. In the meantime he's not enjoying this a whole lot but this too shall pass.

So Larry took him to get his blood done and took him to a father-son lunch and then they stopped by the store and picked up the movie Evening for me. I wanted it for Christmas but just never got it. I was planning on purchasing it with some Christmas money I was given but now I won't have to since the Teeb got it for me. I can't wait to watch it! Not exactly the type of movie that is something you'd love to watch with surround sound, however I'm looking forward to it! I'll have to have some friends over and do it. Yeah Teeby...thank you for my movie. :-)

Tonight we went to the Currie's for dinner along with about 25-30 of their family. They had the family in and they usually invite us over when they do. Lisa made a lasagna dinner and salad and a ton of baked Christmas goodies. Bernie's sister Susan is in and we always enjoy being with her...I call her a "female Bernie" - she's so funny, just like her brother. They are so much alike.

I think I might venture out during the day tomorrow if my body is up to it. If not, I'll still be home. Fortunate thing...I love being home. Nobody would ever realize, unless they could get inside my head, just how much of a "homebody" I am.

Lar and I are going to do some jacuzzi time and no matter what- I'm telling you - I'm getting a great night's sleep!

My three gems

Yesterday I shared a video I put together in celebration of mine and Larry's 20 years together. Well, today finds me resting again during the day today with some time to do what I normally don't have a lot of time for, such as looking through my photos. I want to share "my three gems"...aside from my relationship with Larry, the greatest thing in my life - my three kids. I pulled some photos of them, a few old, a few new. Again, be sure to turn off the blog music down in the right hand corner before you watch the video or you'll have two songs playing! Enjoy watching my beautiful kiddos!

Zoning out with a meme

1) Flip to page 18, paragraph 4 - in the book closest to you right now, what does it say? "How is one made ready? First he must know Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Second, he must be living an overcoming, holy life, expecting him to come. Is anyone perfect? No. but there is a difference between willfull disobedience and serving the Lord to the best of one's ability." (Enrichment Journal, Winter 2008)

2) If you stretch out your left arm as far as possible, what are you touching? My husband.

3) What’s the last program you watched on TV? The Investigators.

4) Without looking, guess what time it is. 11:00

5) Aside from the computer, what can you hear right now? The ceiling fan.

6) When was the last time you were outside and what did you do? I walked with Larry downtown by the water.

7) What are you wearing? PJ's

8) Did you dream last night? If you did, what about? Yes I did but I could not remember the details when I woke up.

9) When was the last time you laughed? With Larry on our date.

10) What’s on the walls, in the room you’re in right now? Photos of Larry and I, and a painting.

11) Have you seen anything strange lately? I see strange things every single day. I work in a church office and we never know what's going to happen there.

12) What do you think about this meme? I like it - it's giving my mind a rest from thinking about work or anything else of a serious nature.

13) What’s the last film you saw? Bourne Ultimatum

14) If you became a multimillionaire, what would you do with the money? Tithe, give an offering, pay off our house and car, help my children all I can, put a chunk in an investment to keep the money flowing in so I can give even more, and after that I would think of who all I can bless...I have a list a mile long.

15) Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know. It is difficult for me to be around people for long periods of time without a break. I require a great amount of solitude for my mental health.

16) If you could change ONE THING in this world, without regarding politics or bad guilt, what would it be? That people would have a greater hunger for God and the things of God.

17) Do you like dancing? Yes.

18) George Bush? Yes. He is not perfect (no leader is) but I believe he has done his best.

19) What do you want your children’s names to be, girl/boy? Already had them, but if I had other children in the future I have plenty more names. However, this would be a miracle right up there with the parting of the red sea if I were to get pregnant again...

20) Would you ever consider living abroad? I would do anything the Lord asked me to do. It's not a matter of my consideration.

21) What do you want God to tell you, when you go to heaven? Well done, My good and faithful servant.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

It's a date!

Tonight was an extra special date night...

Best of all it cost almost no money...

First we went to Carrabbas, compliments of a gift certificate given to us by Pastor Lindsay for Christmas. Mmmm...this is my favorite place, if you haven't been reading this blog for long and never realized it. Hint, hint: if you love this blog and want to support it financially (never mind that it costs me absolutely no money to do this) then send your gift certificates from Carrabbas to 16235 Lake Magdalene Blvd., Tampa, FL 33613. Thank you so much for your generous support. (GRIN)

So seriously - we went to Carrabbas and had a nice leisurely dinner, just taking our time. My favorite meal there is...salad with house dressing, their homemade bread with butter (I like the butter more than the oil), Spedino DiMare, and rigatoni with tomato cream sauce on the side. There is NO MEAL in the world better than this, I assure you. By the way, Spedino DiMare is lightly breaded shrimp and scallops with a light butter/lemon sauce. You can hardly taste the lemon by the way. This is a meal I either have to save up all my extra WW points for, or seriously exercise off later.

After dinner we went to the Tampa Performing Arts Center to see the Rockettes do their Christmas Spectacular. Yes, they are in town again and this is our second time of going to see them here (I've also seen them several times in New York City - I love them!). This time we went compliments of the Winchester's who blessed us with these tickets as a gift. Thank you, Eddie and Debbie! We got there early even with our slowly paced dinner. We got our parking space and were about an hour early so we had dessert and hot tea at Maestro's outside, which is at the Performing Arts Center - it's right outside the foyer and has little tables right there on the water where you can sit and look out. Larry got a piece of cheesecake and I got a piece of chocolate cake and we sat there for an hour before the show and just talked.

During showtime I was just mesmerized as I always am when I see the Rockettes, and sat there cozied up to my man, with my head on his shoulder as we watched the nativity and "One Solitary Life" and I get tears in my eyes every time.

Larry and I just enjoy being together on a nice quiet date, driving home through the city listening to smooth jazz, just having nothing to care about at the moment but each other. (Dustin was home, holding down the fort...thank you, Dust! He's such a good boy. And, Jordan made dinner for everyone. He's such a wonderful cook. I'm sure it was awesome.)

Well we got home and the boys immediately headed out to spend the night at a friend's, and Savanna just got out of the bath and is getting ready to lay down, watch a movie and go to sleep. So this means Larry and I have the rest of an uninterrupted night in our room, to ourselves.

Truly the definition of heaven on earth. Did I mention I love Christmas break?

How sweet it is to be loved by you

It's Christmas break ~ I have time! And I'm enjoying it so much. As most of you readers know, Larry and I celebrated our 20 year anniversary on June 27th. Today I decided to put together a video of some photos, celebrating our great love... just for fun.

As you will notice, one of the biggest changes over the past 20 years is my ever changing hair color. Pastor Trinity has a joke he tells - when he invites newcomers to our newcomer's fellowships at Northside he says, "how can you folks tell if you're a newcomer? Well, if you've only seen one shade of Pastor Deanna's're probably a newcomer. So, come on out and join us at newcomer's night..." Fun!

Tonight, Teeby and I are going on an extra special date! I'll blog about it later and let you know all that we did. Well, not everything, but most of it... (GRIN)

Hint: Be sure to turn off my music first at the bottom right hand corner of the blog before you click the video, or you'll have two songs playing at once. :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I love Christmas break!

Today my babe brought me breakfast in bed. (Is there any better way to start a day?) Then he had to go to the store to get a few more wires for his new surround sound and I got in the tub and took my time there just soaking in a bath and body works "moonlight path" bubble bath. Ahhhhh...

Did some writing...some reading...and he came home and said, "let's go somewhere, just you and me..." Music to my ears.

So we put Dustin in charge of the household and went out for a few hours. We returned a few Christmas things that didn't fit, and then just had a quiet meal, just him and I. there any better way to spend an afternoon? No. Being with the Teeb is just wonderful.

We came home and we had a house full of kids...Dust was not only in charge of our kids but a few more. They had ordered pizza, played cards, and watched a movie. Upon arriving home they said, "Mr. Bernie and Mrs. Lisa called and they want to come over and watch a movie..." so right now I'm blogging while the fam is cleaning up (usually it's me out there fast and furious pulling the house together but everyone is being so helpful today it's just awesome...) and in a few minutes a whole lot of us are going to watch a movie with Larry's new surround sound. How fun.
I'm enjoying this break. Oh how I do need it. God is so good.

Time to take time....for with the so much more. Life is is sweet.

The One Word Meme

Thought this was a fun meme when I saw it, so here goes. These are to be answered with one word only...

Yourself: expressive
Your Partner: guarded
Your hair: thick
Your favorite item: computer
Your favorite drink: tea
Your dream car: Mustang
Dream home: Livingston
Room you are in: bedroom
Your ex: none
Your fear: water
Where you want to be in 10 years: healthy
Who you hung out with last night: staff
What you're not: lazy
Muffins: fattening
Something on your wish list: private
Time: slipping
Last thing you did: write
What are you wearing: dress
Favorite weather: crisp
Favorite book: Bible
Last thing you ate: pie
Your Life: rollercoaster
Your Friends: heroes
What are you thinking about right now? change
Your Car: heartbreak
What are you doing at the moment? resting
Your summer: hot
Relationship status: forever
What's on your TV? romance
What's the weather like? crisp
When's the last time you laughed? tonight

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve Communion

Always a special time for us. Here are some photos from this evening. The first few are just some of me being silly in between people coming in (nobody was in the sanctuary during those pics but our staff.)

This is always a nostalgic time for us - we've been doing this so many years - and have so many memories.

Our staff serves communion from 5-8 pm, to each individual/family. We have stations set up for each of us pastors (and spouse if they have one) and we serve the people as they come in. We have a ton of candles lit in the sanctuary and it's just beautiful, and Christmas music is playing. After we serve communion, we pray a blessing over them for the new year.

Tonight the most touching moment for me was when we served Michele and Marcus. We were praying for them after the took communion and Larry said, "Jesus, thank you for going to the cross and dying for us...that our sins might be forgiven..." and Marcus burst out crying and buried his face in Michele's legs. She knelt down and said, "what's wrong??" He said, "Why? Why did Jesus have to die? Why?" And she explained once again...for our sins, but the good news is, He rose again and is alive!" He accepted that, but His heart is so tender and He's so precious He gets upset every time he hears that Jesus died on the cross. That set me to tears when he started crying over this...he always has the ability to choke me precious is he.

After our staff/family took communion we went to the chinese restaurant as usual. We ate WAY too many crab wontons and crab legs. Right now I'm so stuffed I think I could pop.

I'm really going to need the elliptical after Christmas!

By the way, thank you for praying for me - those who did - for the way I've been feeling. I was really in need of a touch from God. I contacted Pastor Lisa this afternoon to uplift me in prayer as well and she and Pastor Elgin were faithful to do so. I feel so much better from the way I was feeling. This afternoon before I got ready for communion, I went outside and got in the hot tub for a while. I never do that during the day, so you know I had to be feeling poorly. Jeanne and Dollie (intercessors from church) have been so faithful to pray too. I am so thankful.

The next week is a time for me to rest and get ready. I've got the spiritual fight of my life on my hands when January 1 hits and I need to be ready. I can't afford to be sick or under the weather at all in this new year, so I am going to be doing a few things as we begin the new year - such as:

1) Get no less than 7 hours sleep a night (a major thing for me)
2) Take vitamins.
3) Keep working out a priority over the "tyranny of the urgent" in my life

This is just a start on what I want to be 100% faithful to, but I have another list of goals I'm working on for the 2008 year.

By the way, an invitation came from Kenya today. Bill (Dr. Kuert) emailed me today with an invitation for Larry and I to come and do something special for Africa. I'm wildly excited, the only thing is, it seems so far away. I want to go back so bad and it can't be soon enough... Right now I have to get some details together to see about taking a team for the trip and seeing from Bill exactly what our team could do while there... my heart beats every day to go see my dear friends...some days I get out my Kenya tea bags and drink a cup in their honor, other times I get out my dress. Always, my heart is touched with memories and love for them, and they are in my prayers daily. I'm starting to cry as I think of it even now. I never imagined I could love people like I love them. Today especially Gladys has been on my mind - a pastor's wife/presbyter's wife from Kenya. She made me a special pink necklace I so often wear. A great Christmas present for me would be if I could take my whole family and introduce them to everybody...but alas, it will have to wait a while...
For now, I'm going to sleep....tomorrow is Christmas and I need to get up before the kids and make the famous "sweet rolls" and get a few other odds and ends done that I'm just too beat to do tonight.

Merry Christmas to all, with all my love...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Long (sleepless night) and long (busy) day...

I got no sleep last night. I was up all night not feeling well. I probably got about 20 minutes sleep. This morning I had Jeanne Barta (our director of prayer at NS) pray for me as well as having my husband pray for me a few times both last night and today. I think I'm just "fried" quite literally. Larry looked up some things on line this morning to get some ideas of what to get me at the store as well and we went and picked up some vitamins and special foods this afternoon and I do feel somewhat better. I am believing for a great night's sleep tonight and have a few people praying that way for me.

We had our Northside "home for Christmas" service today - with special music numbers, Christmas carols, drama, puppets, etc. I think it went well. Let's put it this way - anytime I have a morning where I'm not stressed is good! And this morning I wasn't real stressed, just tired. Things went rolling along pretty well.

After church the staff quickly set up all the candles for Christmas Eve Communion. Then we went out with some families - Currie's, Garland's and Hart's. (Three of my fav "peeps" as Larry would say) Good times.

Larry and I did all the grocery shopping for Christmas dinner after that and then I came home to lay down - FINALLY! Man, I was beat. I took a short power nap, then got up to start doing a few things for Christmas dinner. I got one table completely set and all the linens out and all that. And I got two casseroles done plus a few pitchers of tea. Tomorrow I'll keep working on more. First when we wake up we have my homemade sweet rolls that mean so much to the kids. Second, here's what we are having for Christmas dinner in case you're wondering:

My homemade yeast rolls
7-layer salad
Ham with Larry's special cherry glaze
Hashed brown potato casserole
My special recipe sweet potato casserole
Green bean casserole
Lisa's incredible pineapple casserole
Homemade creamed style corn
Pumpkin pie
Mixed berry pie
Sodas, Tea, Coffee

And there you have it ladies and gentlemen - our menu for Christmas. My family loves it - it's been a tradition for all these years and never changes unless we have a friend who brings something new (such as Lisa's pineapple casserole - let me say, I am not even crazy about pineapple but this is OUTSTANDING.)

In case you didn't notice, we're a casserole family. We don't like anything plain, although it is a challenge with weight watchers under normal circumstances and I have to alter everything we do (with lite ingredients) to be more point friendly on every other day but Christmas and Thanksgiving! I love making casseroles. One of my favorite things that ever happened when I was hostessing an evangelist in our home revolves around casseroles. I had made their meal the first night they were with us, and every dish was a casserole. When they walked in the door the husband said, "what are we eating tonight?" (he had no idea what I made) and I said, "what's your favorite food?" and he said, "CASSEROLES! I LOVE CASSEROLES!" He was in absolute heaven that night.

Well, I'm running on about 1 hour sleep now in the past 24, so it's time for some...g'night and I'll be back for a few minutes to blog on Christmas eve in between cooking, cleaning and getting ready for communion tomorrow night. :-)

Love to all...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Working at a slow pace

Today I haven't been feeling well (I think I'm just bearing the consequences of some stress the past few weeks). But despite feeling this way I've pressed through to get a lot of work done today, just at a slow pace. I fold a load of laundry, put it away and sit down a while. Then I get up, do a load of dishes, and sit down a while. And I have just kept repeating that basic pattern all day and have gotten quite a lot done despite feeling not so well.

I did sleep in, then got up and took a long hot bath and used my new "grape" spa products that Susan got me for an early Christmas gift. was so nice. Then I got out, and put my new little spa flip flops that Susan also got me. (See here, they are, pictured with my new pedicure...and I stuck my hand in so you can see the mani too.)

All day I've been doing laundry - about 4 loads so far, and ironing for tomorrow, and also a lot of extra ironing like Larry's dockers, the boy's shirts, etc. Also getting the table linens ironed for Christmas and making the grocery list for Christmas dinner.

Savanna had a lock in with JAM kids church last night and Larry picked her up this morning and brought her home and then she slept a lot of the day. When she woke up she's been getting her clothes ready for tomorrow and playing with her new "extreme tickle me Elmo" that her grandma got her for Christmas and sent on to her, early... She loves it and I have to admit, I laugh when I hear it too. It's sort of contagious. A few minutes ago I painted her finger and toe nails red for church tomorrow. Then she wanted listen with her Hannah Montana's song, "I miss you".

Other than that, just gathering my things up for tomorrow for Sunday School and church, making a few reminder calls, and getting ready to sit in the jacuzzi outside with Teeby before going to sleep.

Readers, I simply ask for your prayers the next day or two for me to feel better. It's not a good time to be sick anytime, but I really don't want to be under the weather for Christmas. Thank you.

G'night, and have a great day in your place of worship tomorrow. (If you have one...and if you don't...why not start? This is a great time for new beginnings.)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas and escaping...

Yesterday Larry and I didn't leave the church office until 6 pm. We had to tie up all the loose ends of work so we could enjoy some down time next week. On the way home we stopped to get groceries and then came home and I made dinner. Thursday nights are always a time for me to decompress because I have been wound up all week and on Thursday night I know a respite is coming.

Just thought as I begin my blog tonight I'd take some photos of a few things at our house tonight. Here are some photos of my two in the living room, one in the family room. The one in the family room, below, is my little sugared fruit tree. The other one is our "family tree" with the ornaments the kids have made over the years, and gift ornaments people have given us. It's our "tapestry tree" as I call it.

I slept in this morning a little bit because when my alarm went off, I could hear Savanna already up in the other room, getting something to eat and getting ready for school - her last day before break. I think she was excited to go - knowing it would be her last day to connect with her classmates and teacher before the break. By the way, she LOVES school and her teacher this year. This is wonderful because last year we had a bad experience, which is very rare. (Long story)

Larry took her to the bus stop, came back and woke me up and said, "let's go!" He wanted to go on a "Fun Friday" date and get the very last our our Christmas shopping done. I also had to get a nail fill so he dropped me off there and headed to a store nearby. My nail place was packed today. I normally get my nails done on my day off in the morning because the place is empty, being that my day off is on a weekday and most people don't have a day off during the week. Well, it seems everybody was off today. It was a holiday rush, that's for sure.

Tom ended up doing my nails, and...he's my least favorite. However I understood - they were swamped. Actually he didn't do a bad job. He did most of the work and Lisa insisted on doing my designs. She just has a special touch with designs. A few weeks ago someone else did my designs on my toes and she came over, took one look at it and said, "no, that won't do" and proceeded to take a cotton swab with polish remover and start furiously swiping the polish off. I do have to admit, it wasn't nearly as good a job as she would have done, but I was going to deal with it. I mean, it wasn't "bad" it just wasn't "awesome." Then she proceeds while swabbing it off, to talk very fast in her language to the tech who did it and I could tell she was not pleased. Then she sat down, repolished the two toes, and re-did the designs. "There Dee-na...look goo na fo you?"

After getting my fill we went to Penney's, Marshalls, and even did a jaunt into Ashley furniture, not to get anything - just to look around and see what they had since we haven't been in there since they opened.

Before I left this morning for my nail place, Dustin asked if Casey and Alexa could come over tonight and I would make tacos. Of course I said yes. Larry and I headed home at about 4:30 and I started making the tacos and setting everything up for them. Casey and Alexa came but right after they filled their plates, Alexa's cell phone rang and it was her brother saying her other brother had just broken his arm and she needed to come home and watch her younger brother. We were bummed out about that - both the broken arm, and the fact that she couldn't stay. Oh well, Christmas break is here so we'll make up for it. Alexa went home and Casey stayed here. They are eating tacos and chocolate chip cookies and watching a movie while I'm now focused on tomorrow's dinner, making a pot of chili. (I just took a photo of them - at left...) Casey isn't feeling well but let me take the photo anyway. She has a bad cold and is alternating between coughing and blowing her nose. But they seem to be having a good time. I'm simmering chili, starting some loads of clothes and blogging. Tomorrow I'll be housecleaning and don't want to cook too much.

I am settling down into a few chores tonight before bed so I won't have quite as much to do tomorrow. It will be a full day of doing 4-5 loads of laundry, getting Sunday clothes lined up/ironed, cleaning our bathroom, starting to iron all the table linens for Christmas dinner (I'll have at least 10 people here), make the grocery list for Christmas dinner, and a whole bunch of other stuff from mopping floors to returning church calls, to making a few "care" calls to people in need, and then I'll fall into bed and start my extremely early Sunday morning before the sun comes up.

But it's a good life...a very good life. We're under a Christmas crunch, but what a thing to celebrate! Jesus birth, and...look at all we have to celebrate with. It's AMAZING what He's given us. I never cease to be amazed at God's goodness. I sit in my big tub everyday, and look up on my plant shelves at my two "signs" up high that say "live" and "escape" and I think to myself, "yes, I am truly living" and "thank God in the process of living when things get stressed, I have a place to escape to, and sit in my tub with moonlight path bubble bath, my candles, and just talk to the Lord and de-stress."

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Road Grace

Today I was driving to Staples for some work supplies, and listening to 94.9 radio with some delightful Christmas music. I stopped at a light at Dale Mabry and Bearss and was momentarily distracted getting my sunglasses out of my purse when I suddenly jerked my head up when I heard a man shout, "YOU GOT b____? Get out and prove it!"

Upon looking up I could see this coming out of the mouth of a driver of a huge truck (I wanna say it was an 18 wheeler), while he suddenly opened the door, hopped off the seat of his truck and was hanging off of the door, aiming his fist at the driver and passenger (they looked like two "twenty something's) directly over in a little silver car in next lane over.

They were exchanging many fighting words and threatening to basically annihilate each other while at this red light. In the moment, it seemed to last forever even thought it was only a minute or two. I don't know what happened prior to this because I was too busy singing, "Baby it's Cold Outside" and fishing around for my glasses in my huge purse that some affectionately call, "the black hole."

So, the driver of the big truck grabbed some stuff off of the seat of his truck- bottles and what not -- and started throwing it at the guys in the little silver car. After throwing a bottle and something that looked like a brick at their windshield, he hopped back in his rig and took off, making a right on Dale Mabry. Before he could get away, the boys threw a bottle at his side window. As he drove down the road the guys cut across two lanes and started chasing him.

I have no idea what happened from there. They were long gone. But I did put in a call to the police on my cell and said, "better get down to N. Dale Mabry...I think you might have a little fight on your hands..."

This is not the first time I've encountered incidents like this. I've called the police when I'm out and about in my travels over things like this at least three or four times since I've lived here. Yes, it's "paradise" in one way living in Florida. We've got warm weather year round and palm trees, and beautiful beaches, but we also have some crime and crazy drivers.

One morning a few years ago Larry and I were at Texaco getting gas before work and a guy walked over and with his fists busted out a whole side of a guy's car windows over the fact that the other man, a father, had asked him to extinguish his cigarette while pumping, especially since his daughter was right there in the car. The man was irate and said, "who the heck are you to tell me that?" and busted out his windows in anger - while his little girl was sitting there in her car seat, sending the glass crashing all over her and cutting her. I'll never forget her name - Destiny. Larry and I helped her until the ambulance came.

People are getting crazier. I just know the Lord is coming back.

Don't you just feel the tension in the world? It's like the world is ready to pop. Just last week a man in Clearwater murdered his whole family, then drove across the bridge and shot himself. Crazy!

The world is stressed out with Christmas (which always cracks me up - we should be at peace, not stressed out, but it has become something so different from what it was intended.) And, the world is at a snapping point even when it's not Christmas.

We are living in the last days...the world sure does need Jesus, and some anger management classes probably wouldn't hurt either. Road rage? What we need until Jesus comes back is a little road grace.

The secret of your strength

My brain is getting back into gear spiritually after waking up yesterday and reading my devotional passages. I said yesterday I'd blog about it, and here are a few highlights:

First I began reading I Corinthians 10 where it was talking about the Israelites and learning from the mistakes they made. Well interestingly enough I'm teaching on this in my Sunday School class and have been on this now for several months. Just when you think you know just about everything on a subject...

God was once again reminding me of the importance of learning from all of their hard learned life lessons. Here are several excerpts from chapter 10:

"Remember our history, friends, and be warned..."

"The same thing could happen to us...we must be on guard so that we never get caught up in wanting our own way as they did..."

"These are all warning markers - DANGER! - in our history books, written down so that we don't repeat their mistakes. Our positions in the story are parallel - they at the beginning, and we at the end - and we are just as capable of messing it up as they were..."

"Forget about self confidence. It's useless. Cultivate God-confidence..."

"All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he'll never
let you be pushed past your limit. He'll always be there to help you come through it..." (The Message)

Then I opened up "Come Away My Beloved" and here was yesterday's gem. Interesting that it was about singing since that's the last thing I've wanted to do for quite a while... here are just a few excerpts:

"Remember that I am in the midst of you when you praise Me. Never let any kind of anxiety crowd out your praise. Do not be concerned for My reputation. I have withstood many storms and I will survive this one. Human strivings are like the waters around Gibraltar. They have beat upon the rock, but they have not changed it. I am not disturbed, and I forbid you to be anxious. for anxiety produces tension, and tension erodes joy, and when joy is gone, victory is lost, faith is weakened and spontaneity is destroyed. The spirit falls ill. The salt has lost it's flavor. It's savor is a saver. What can I use to preserve My work in your midst if you lose your joy? Rejoice always, said the apostle Paul, and again I say, rejoice. Let your stability be apparent to all, for truly the coming of the Lord is near. Prepare yourself and be strong, for it is the Lord who upholds you and He it is who gives you the victory. Sing my children, and let the shout of praise be heard for the Lord is mighty and His name is glorious."

I have honestly let a whole lot of things crowd out my praise....and my joy. You know the joy of the Lord is our STRENGTH - that's what the Word of God says. I guess that explains why I have been feeling so incredibly weak.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Coming back to my senses

I'm doing so much better today. Went to my weight watcher meeting this morning. I'm up a pound but it's no shock. With all the holiday stuff, and being stressed out it's amazing I'm not up 10 pounds. We had a substitute leader today but she was excellent. It was the motivational shot in the arm I needed this morning. I didn't want to go in the first place because I knew I was up, but at the same time I knew it was the right thing to do. Yesterday I started making wise choices again.

When we went to breakfast yesterday I had ordered my favorites which are biscuits and gravy and all that stuff. I was stressed, had just had a crying jag and really, it's what I wanted. I ordered it. Then sat there and thought, "WHY AM I COMPOUNDING THIS PROBLEM? THESE BISCUITS AND GRAVY ARE GOING TO SOLVE NOTHING. STOP THE INSANITY!"

I called the server back over and said, "I'm so sorry to do this to you, but I had momentarily lost my mind. Please forgive me. I need to reorder my food."

I proceeded to order pancakes with low calorie butter and low calorie syrup, and two turkey sausages, with an unsweetened tea.

I was proud of myself.

I regained my presence of mind. Stopped the brain warp.

Stopped the insanity.

Started being a good friend to myself again.

It also helped today that my devotional reading spoke perfectly to so many things in my life. My day was started on a such a motivational note between my WW meeting and then my devotions...both put me in the right frame of mind - focusing on what God wants me to focus on. I'll blog about the devotional under a separate post. I believe it will speak to many of you who might be struggling.

Today we have just been working non-stop to get everything done so we can move at a slower pace Christmas week and spend some time with the kids. The week between Christmas and New Years Day, Larry closes the office and we only come in for "essentials" - services, bank deposits, etc., and also handling emergencies such as hospitalizations, etc. Aside from that we work hard the week before to get everything prepared so we don't have office work. It takes working at a breakneck pace the week before.

We're getting it done. We're going to have some family time.

There's a happy feeling nothing in this world can buy
When they pass around the coffee and the pumpkin pie
It'd nearly be like a picture print by Currier and Ives...
These wonderful things are the things we remember all through our lives...
These wonderful things are the things we remember all through our lives...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Teeby saves the day

This morning was my day to work from home and Larry was to go to the office as usual. We heard Savanna get up early and so since she was already out fixing her breakfast and getting dressed, I laid in bed a while longer and Larry rolled over to hold me and talk to me, and suddenly...the dam burst and there went my tears all over the place. I just sobbed and sobbed, and well...sobbed some more all over him and my pillow.

He laid there and talked to me for about 20 minutes as I just wept my little heart out and he talked some sense back into me, sounding more like a football coach than a husband. I needed it. It was one of those, "crying so hard I can't breathe" moments and then when I was spent he said, "I'm taking off today."

He's been telling me he's going to take a vacation day since he still has 14 left and hasn't done a thing with them. I know, that's not good that we haven't taken all of our vacation, but it's just how it worked out. We have taken some time off this year - a week in January, and we took a few other days off however we still have two weeks we haven't taken and probably won't get to this year. Anyhoo...

He was going to take a vacation day last week but it wasn't a good time - too much going on that we just couldn't get out of or stop. It's a miracle that we just take our weekly "day" off let alone our vacation. So today he said, "we have Christmas shopping to finish. You are spent emotionally. I want to be with you. Let's just get out of here and take off today.

So he called Cathy and told her we wouldn't be in today and she held down the "Northside fort." Pastor Trinity is gone right now - in Missouri, doing his uncle's funeral.

I got in my bathtub this morning, quickly bathed and dressed and Larry took Dustin and I out to breakfast. We went to Cracker Barrel and then we went Christmas shopping all day. We are finally DONE except for one more gift for one of the kids. Wow, that is RELIEF.

We were wrapping up our shopping and Bobby called on the phone and said he was at the house and no one was there. This is his last day here in Florida before he goes to California to spend Christmas with his mother. We'll really miss him. We went home and soon had a houseful with the boys, Savanna, Bobby, Stephen, and Chris Currie, who is home from Basic Training. They have been eating and playing Halo tonight. Meanwhile Larry and Savanna have been wrapping Christmas gifts all night. And guess what - except a few little gifts I have to wrap for Larry, we're done with wrapping. I only have a few small gifts to wrap for him because I'm letting him pick out his gift from Best Buy. I want him to have what he really wants. (Besides "me" of course!) GRIN

Tonight while they did that I got all our Christmas cards signed, addressed, signed, sealed and...almost delivered! (Will do that in the AM) Christmas stuff is coming along at the Shrodes house! I also wrapped up a few work odds and ends that were necessary today.

I'm doing better. Teeby always does what he can to make it that way. Just one more reason I love him. I'm so glad he stayed with me today. And that he'll sleep beside me tonight.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Nothing deep, just an easy meme

Honestly, I'm not up to posting my deep personal thoughts tonight. I know, that's pretty rare. Pray for me.

Well, here's a meme from my friend Pastor Tara Sloan. I just need something that doesn't require me to keep re-writing until it's acceptable for public consumption...or something that will keep me busy and get my mind off of that which has me stressed.

No personal details tonight, just an admonition to all of you ~ we are living in the last days, I believe. And if what I am going through and so many of my friends in ministry are going through is any indication, the enemy is really trying to discourage ministers. Only about 1/4 of the people who read my blog are from my church so that means the vast majority of you are in churches elsewhere around the world and I just admonish you with this -- Your pastor needs all these things.

So instead, I'll "meme" tonight and then hold on tight to Teeby while I get some sleep. :-)

1. If you could have any person you've encountered this week put on the bench at the dunk tank, in order to dunk them, who would it be and why?
Honestly, no one. I don't have any ill/hateful/bitter feelings toward anyone - people just tire me. I'm learning, a lot of pastors are tired.

2. What's one song you feel describes your life at this moment? "
"Tomorrow", from the musical Annie and "Don't Stop" by Fleetwood Mac

3. Is there anything you're looking forward to for this holiday season?
Getting some rest. Being with my family and others who energize me/encourage me.

4. Are there any people you wish you could get in touch with right now?
Yes, I've been thinking about a few people in ministry that I need to call. However I usually don't call people unless I'm "up" in spirit. I know it sounds kind of backwards, but when I not at my optimal, I always feel like I'll be a downer in talking to someone. I don't want to seem like Debbie Downer from Saturday Night Live. I want to be the person other people call to get the ray of hope they need. (Right now, I happen to be short on rays...)

5. As you grow older who do you find yourself sounding most like? Myself. Finally getting comfortable.

6. What's the most recent movie you've seen?

7. Do you have a bedtime routine?
No, and I desperately need one.

8. Do you have any quirks or weird personality traits?
Oh gosh, there's not a blog big enough to chronicle them!

9. Have you ever found money in the street? Yep

10. What is your biggest indulgence?
eating potato chips and chocolates (trying to break that habit), pedicures, reading

11. If you had to give up a right, guaranteed in the U.S. or any constitution, to protect National Security which one would it be and why?
I'd have to agree with my friend Pastor Tara on this one - the right to bear arms... I'd leave that to the military and law enforcement

12. What do you consider to be the most positive personality trait you have?
I am absolutely faithful. I do what I say I'm going to do, show up where I say I'm going to show up, on time, every time.

13. If you have a relative who was dying of a terminal illness and they only had a few months to live but didn't know it would you tell them?
This is a very difficult question because the saddest thing I'd ever have to do would be tell them, however...since I feel very strongly about secrets, and I hate dishonesty by "omission" then I would venture to say that yes I'd have to find some way to tell them. I think every person has the right to know the truth about things that concern them. I hate secrets and lies even if they are "for a good reason."

14. Who do you miss this most at this time of the year?
A white Christmas - the potential of snow on Christmas.

15. Is there anything you're afraid of?
Deep water and having to live without my husband

16. What are you hoping Santa leaves you in your stocking this year?
Amy Grant's book - Mosaic, pretty panties, Moonlight Path cologne

17. What's your favorite Sunday comic?
I never read the Sunday comics, or any newspaper comics.

18. What do you consider your greatest accomplishment to date?
Staying successfully married - and now, very happily married.

19. Do you have any favorite places to go and think?
My back patio or the beach

20. Do you read newspapers?

How my day went yesterday

I was too exhausted to blog last night so here I am this morning. (You know I was really tired if I'm too tired to blog!) I went to sleep early.

Yesterday (Sunday) morning I preached my "Ornament" message. It went well, I believe. The best thing that happened for me was this...after service I was greeting visitors in the hospitality room. Marcus Danielson came in and gave me a hug. This is standard for him - as he always finds me after church to hug me. But today his eyes were damp from crying and he was still sniffling a little bit. I thought perhaps this was because he had a rough morning in Sunday School, thus the reason he was sitting with his mother in the morning worship service instead of being in children's church. But such was not the case. His Mom, Michele, (pictured with him, below) told me that all during my closing prayer at the end of the message (when I was praying for the congregation to be the kind of "ornament" that God has called them to be) he was crying. She asked him if he was okay. He said, "Yes, I just feel Jesus. I just want to be with Jesus." You know what they say..."and a child shall lead them..." Oh if everyone were just like children in this regard...had the heart of a child. How long has it been since you wept as your pastor closed the service in prayer, just because you felt the spirit of the Lord and wanted so much to "be with Jesus?"

We went to the Rivera's yesterday after church for lunch. It was so yummy. They are wonderful hosts. I was so exhausted, however, that I fell asleep after lunch. Candy just covered me with a blanket and let me sleep. :-) Thank the Lord for understanding parishoners! I woke up and Candy had made brownies and hot tea. What a perfect afternoon (SMILE) Everyone was watching a Christian comedian, I believe his name was Steve Harvey. He was SO funny. I must get this DVD. I only heard about 10 minutes of it before we had to leave for church but it was so good.

I know I fell asleep at the drop of a hat yesterday because I really haven't gotten a real break for a while - even my days off lately have had elements of working as I've had special events to prepare for, cook for, etc. and also dealing with the Christmas frenzy, plus having some additional work on me as I've mentioned in some of my posts. No, I'm not whining here, just stating facts. There are some friends of mine going through the same thing right now and my heart is especially attuned to pray for them right now because I feel like I understand and can uplift them with a heart of understanding the place in which they are walking right now.

Last night was also our children's Christmas concert at the church. The kids were cute - did a good job. Savanna is growing so much. She's the tallest one in the children's church. Last night Pastor T had all the kids share what their favorite thing of Christmas is. When it was Savanna's turn to come to the microphone and share hers, she said, "My favorite thing about Christmas is that my Mom makes sweet rolls on Christmas morning." (SMILE)

We stayed for reception afterwards at the church - cookies and punch reception - and then came home and had the Currie's over for a while. They enjoyed my cream of crab soup that I had left from the life coaching lunch. We had good conversation as usual. Thank you Lord, for friends...friends who understand. This is one of God's greatest gifts, along with children who, when their pastor prays, cry because the "feel Jesus and just want to be with Him."

Moments like this make pastoring worth it all.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Life Coaching Christmas Luncheon

Today was my life coaching meeting and we held it at my home this time instead of the church. I served cream of crab soup, my special recipe chicken salad sandwiches,and my triple chocolate cake. was so good! We also had tea and coffee, of course and Susan brought some homemade sugar cookies and Jenn brought a peanut butter cup pie. Wow! So good.

After we ate, my teaching today was on the power of hospitality. We had a great discussion as usual. Here are some photos from our day. Cathy isn't in the group picture because she had to leave a little bit early and Isa wasn't able to come today.

Right now I'm relaxing for 2 seconds before having to take off again and go to Todd and Bonnie Stewart's birthday party. They are having a combined party and it's a 40's and 50's party. What I'm going to wear to this...I don't know...I'm a little ill prepared as far as dress since I was focused on the luncheon and didn't exactly get an outfit together.

Oh well, I guess it doesn't really matter - the most important thing is...I'll be there for them.

What a sweet couple and we thank God for moving them from Illinois and sending them to our church...

Happy Birthday to you...

Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday Todd and Bonnie

Happy birthday to you

Friday, December 14, 2007

Today's fun Friday

This morning Teeby and I lingered in bed for a little while (best thing about a Friday morning, especially when Savanna wakes up on her own...) and then we got up and went to Brandon Mall with Dustin to do a little Christmas shopping. I love the Brandon Mall. I hope Larry will still want to go there even after the mall is finished and open, here by our house. It's coming, by the way-- a HUGE one -- in 2008. It's going to have EVERYTHING you can possibly think of. But going to Brandon to go Christmas shopping has been our tradition now for 5 years.

After shopping we came home and I started getting things rolling for an event I'm having here tomorrow at the house. I am hosting my life coaching group here at home for a Christmas luncheon and our meeting. I can't wait! I will tell you all about it tomorrow (don't want to ruin it for any of my life coachers who are reading tonight) but I have been cooking some specialties today and cleaning, and getting both dining tables set with the china, and putting out centerpieces and all those things I find so glorious!!! It's going to be you hear me? PERFECTO, my friends!!! Martha, Paula, and Rachel would be so proud!! (that's Stewart, Deen and Ray, if you didn't figure it out...) (GRIN)

While I did all of this prep work, Larry took Savanna out Christmas shopping tonight while I did all that. They had fun on a little Daddy/daughter date. The boys were at "Friday night live" at the church. By the time Larry got home I was getting rather tired from being on my feet so much. I drew a bath, lit the candles around my big tub, made myself a cup of "Kenya" tea and got in . I sat in there surrounded by the smell of "moonlight path" and just prayed a while and thanked God for all I have. I am so thankful. Yes friends, I'm still living in a "new normal." I'm reminded everyday about Africa. I now say simple things like, "thank you God, for this toilet..." (SMILE)

Today I got an email from Barb Kuert, and also Kevin & Miriam Smith (also missionaries to Kenya). Maybe that's why I'm feeling even more of a "pang" in missing it there. My heart is very heavy today for Barb and I have been in prayer for her. Nothing "devastating" is wrong, she just has a lot on her with some projects she's in the midst of and I understand the pressure she's under. At the same time, realize it's intense spiritual warfare there...

Larry and Savanna are still wrapping presents right now. They came home and started in on the wrapping projects which couldn't make me happier. I hate to wrap. I get out of it whenever I can.

Today I was putting stuff away in my kitchen from the party I had the other night (yes, I'm still putting things was so involved) and realize I need to sort through and get rid of some stuff. It's time for a serious re-sorting, purging, re-organization. I don't like doing that kind of stuff but it's gotta be done. Maybe the week between Christmas and New Year, if I'm up to it. Usually that is my "re-grouping week" to get ready for the new year.

Today I'm sitting here thinking to myself, "what do I want for Christmas?" There are a few things I want such as the book Mosaic by Amy Grant (I'm a huge fan of Amy's), an executive lap desk (that's desk, not dance...ha ha), a new pair of sneakers (mine were basically ruined in the slums in Kenya) but really there's nothing right now that super excites me except going back to Africa. I would trade everything just to go back and forego any Christmas present I have coming. Really Christmas in the commercial sense pales in comparison...

I'm excited for my kids...

But for me...

I just want to go back.

Today I had "faces" coming at me in my mind all day -- Mama Harriet, Mama Joshua, Mama Esther... the Mathare Big Boys (who I just e-mailed yesterday!) Man, I miss them all! There is no distance in prayer and today I prayed for all of them.

Merry Christmas my dear African friends...I hope you know my heart is with you.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Just preach good

I've developed a new tactic with something. It's called the "just preach good" strategy.

Being a leader who likes to get what I'm expecting in the way of the run of an event, I've often gotten upset over the years when something I've planned, checked up on, re-reminded people about, and been counting on falls by the wayside. To me it makes no sense. I'm the type of person that can keep 100 details spinning and get it all done without anybody reminding me. I don't need a babysitter. When people don't take care of details it threatens my mental health not to mention my focus at an event when I'm the speaker.

To say I hate when that happens is the understatement of the year. Larry always says, "you've gotta inspect what you expect." Well, I do. To the point of over-doing it at times -- to the point of micro-managing. Make no mistake, I don't want to micromanage but often I feel I have no choice. Much of the time, it's micromanage, or show up and have an emergency on my hands. Or, to put it another way - don't micromanage - leave people to rise or fall to the occasion - and I show up and look like an idiot.

I memo, write out lists and expectations, and say things like, "now, I'm just making sure you've got this ready as we discussed..." to whatever worker or team it is that I'm working with. And then...many times in spite of all that at times things still fall through.

Years ago it would just destroy me. It would make me sick. It was to the point where when it happened, I'd just want to walk out of the building, leave the event and never look back. I'd fantasize about walking out, leaving everybody there to scramble - wondering what to do. My head would be filled with glee at the thought of them trying to do what I always find myself having to do! I'd dream about going to a department store, leisurely buying myself a new outfit, stopping by Starbucks for a latte on the way home, and going home to bed and forgetting like the event ever existed. I've never done that but I sure have dreamed about it at times. Thankfully, over the years I've begun to handle this better.

Up until recently when things went awry with details, it still affected my preaching. And I just made the decision in recent months, it's not going to anymore. I figure, if everything else falls apart, something or somebody needs to redeem the time and make the whole thing worthwhile. And nothing can do that like preaching God's Word strongly and having a great altar time. I think you could probably have the legs on a table break and send all the china crashing to the floor but if the speaker got up and brought the house down and a bunch of great spiritual stuff happened people might not care about the table crashing later on. Just preach good. That's all you have to worry about in order to have the right memory prevail. I think preaching good and having a great altar call would pretty much redeem anything - except moral failure that is! (And I don't plan on having one!) So that's my new mantra. Preach good.

Previously when stuff happened most people might not have guessed that I was affected by it with the way I ministered. The ministry was effective per se, but I always knew that I was doing less than my best in speaking because my mind was overwhelmed by the fact that somebody didn't show up, or do what they were supposed to do and now another part of the evening wasn't as good as it could have been.

The other night some stuff fell through the cracks and it was so obvious to anyone who knew anything about the inside track of the event. I never discussed it that night to speak of, but anybody who knows me and how I operate could have readily seen a few things that weren't right. Larry knew it and we weren't even together during the event but he could see quite a number of things happen that he knew weren't going according to plan. So he came up to me while I was sitting at my table eating and said, "Um, everything okay?" and I said, "yep." And he looked at me like, "are you crazy? I know everything's not okay!" (He said this not because of anything I did or didn't do, but because he noticed things that he couldn't imagine I wouldn't be upset about.) I said, "Lar, whether something is right or wrong, there's nothing I can do about it now. And the fact is this...whether things are okay or not, they are going to be just fine in a minute because I'm going make them that way. I'm going to get up and turn this place right side up the minute I take the stage."

And that's what happened.

I have a new much as I hate stuff going wrong (especially when it's one of my God-dreams --- and boy do I have them!) the fact is it's much better for me to basically be in complete denial at the moment about whatever feelings I have about it so that I can just minister at full capacity and see God do something powerful.

Stuff went wrong days beforehand. Stuff went wrong that night. Senseless stuff that never needed to take place. But I knew as soon as 8:00 pm hit and I got up to speak, if I just kept my mind on giving the word God gave me, all was going to be right in that place at that moment. It's amazing what FOCUS can do. The time to correct things or make adjustments can come later on.

Looking back on it...I'm still not happy a few things went wrong. HOWEVER -- at least now instead of just going, "look at all that went wrong and then I was upset and my mind was clouded as I preached..." I'm now saying this: "okay, so a bunch of stuff did go wrong BUT I put all that aside for a up and laid my heart out before the people...and saw God move...and now the next day the mess ups thankfully pale in comparison to the spiritual results I have to look back on."

Alexa got saved Friday night. For the "Alexa's" out there, I can't afford to not have my game on. I can't afford to be peeved about something and lose the anointing to bring God's Word and hear His voice...because people like Alexa are counting on people like me to not be affected by detail busters.

Just preach good. It's my new motto.

Church Air Traffic Controller

Had a busy day working on many things at the office. I'm in the midst of working on the calendar for 2008 and that is always a bear for me. I always get to the point where I can't wait to be done with juggling the whole thing. I feel like an air traffic controller when I work on the church calendar because I am being ever so careful not to have ministries bumping into one another, at least not in the way that they would both be booked for the same space in the building on the same day. We're way past the point of giving only one ministry "the day" for their event except rare exceptions. Too much going on that we have to fit in the schedule somehow. After about two hours, I finally put it away today and said, "I'm giving my brain a rest and will come back to it Monday..."

We came home after work and Larry started cooking dinner tonight and he made pork chops and mashed potatoes, corn and applesauce and by the time he was done Bobby walked in the door and we just set an extra place like we always do. We sat down and had dinner together and then I set about cleaning the kitchen and getting some preliminary things ready for my life coaching luncheon on Saturday. I'm going to have a Christmas gathering and our meeting here. So tonight I started getting the table linens ready, the china, the centerpieces, etc.

Other than doing all that I've been doing some reading and stuff tonight, and just winding down after a busy week. And also - enjoying my Christmas tree. :-)

Sludgery Drudgery Day

I wasn't feeling well today. Mixture of being physically and emotionally zapped. I did a few initiatives today but for the most part my message for tonight's service took the majority of my time. It was like pulling teeth to get it done --which is very unusual - there's nothing I like to do more than prepare teachings & teach...and when things are like this I know I'm just wiped...spent... Working today was like walking through mud up to my waist with heavy clothes on. It just slowly sludged forward.

I got to church tonight and God did His thing as usual. Worship went well and so did the teaching. Some people who don't even usually comment said, "Wow, that was so good..." God is so good because quite truthfully it's one of those days where I felt I had little to nothing to give.

We also had a missionary with us from Chi Alpha tonight (Garry Miller) and he did a 10 minute window with us in the adult service and then went and spoke at youth. Good times. :-)

We watched the end of Kid Nation tonight. It's sad that it's over. We enjoyed it so much. I sat on the edge of my seat until I realized Taylor was NOT going to get a gold star. :-) Whew...I'm breathing easier and so are the kids.

By the way, I really, really missed Africa today. I was even going to wear my African dress today but then I was just too tired to get everything ironed. I thought about Kenya today at least 1/3 of the day...and was craving one of Barb's smoothies. I think I'll email her tomorrow and ask her to send me the recipe.

Sometimes things here at home still don't make sense to me after I've gotten back. Still living the "new normal".

'll write more tomorrow when I'm in a better frame of mind to.