Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Where helmets don't make sense





There's a lot to be said for going the extra mile with "being above reproach." Does it take work? Is it sometimes inconvenient? Oh yes. A lot of times I am tempted to get sloppy with it. I'm sure Larry is too. Ensuring that we aren't alone with the opposite sex (even when it's a good friend who we trust), is a real commitment that you have to determine to keep in order to safeguard your marriage.

It's not that I am tempted to be sloppy because I have an attraction to anyone. I am tempted to be sloppy because at times I am just so convinced nothing would ever happen. I begin to feel a little bit invincible. Since I have stayed true to my marriage for 20 years I just take for granted I'm exempt from failing in this area sometimes. I start to think..."oh, nothing would ever happen, what's the big deal..?" And I begin to trust in myself too much.

That is one of the first signs of trouble...when we trust in ourselves...in the arm of the flesh, instead of the hand of the Lord. In order to keep his protective hand over me, I need to do my part in being above reproach.

Years ago during our workday, Larry and I were having lunch together and in the restaurant we chose to eat at we saw another pastor we know. He was not sitting with his wife but with another woman. We were a little puzzled by it. Larry is not a person who likes confrontation on these type of things and saying something about it is the LAST thing he wanted to do, but he really felt compelled to ask this brother about it, in love. He didn't accuse him of anything, just went up to him and said, "Hey, good to see you Mark (not his real name)...how are you? Hey...where's Jane?" (his wife - not her real name either).

Mark said that Jane wasn't with him on this particular day and so Larry said, "oh, who's this with you?" He answered that it was his Missionette leader and they were having a meeting about the Missionette ministry of the church. Larry took him aside for a moment and very gently said, "Hey bro, I just wanted to say that I'm just a little concerned about you. I only tell you this because I care. We pastors really have to be careful with stuff like this and I wouldn't want anything to happen to you. It's a good idea to bring your wife along on stuff like this."

Instead of being grateful for Larry's care for him, the pastor was miffed and said, "Look Larry...my wife and I have an open relationship. We trust each other. I don't need my wife all "up in my business" like yours is, in order to run the church. (yes, that miffed me that he said that!) So, just mind your own business, and I will mind mine..."

Larry didn't argue with him, just said that he cared about him as a fellow brother, and minister and was trying to help. He never said anything else to him about it. Not even a year later, that pastor was caught in a moral failure and the scandal rocked not only his marriage but his church, and basically everything in his life came crumbling down around him. I guess he should have had his wife a little more "up in his business". :-)

I'm sure he read the Bible. I'm sure he prayed. I'm sure he worshipped. But unfortunately those "helmets" were not enough when he kept putting himself right on the edge of danger constantly.

Sis. Coker sent me these photos today and I thought they were pretty amazing. She said the pictures indicated a situation in which bike helmets make no sense. I agree. These guys have used this precaution but they have put themselves so far in the danger zone, these helmets might as well not be on their heads. Makes me think of many in marriage relationships that figuratively play with fire constantly, yet keep a droplet of water nearby. What good does it do? There are Christian husbands and wives who spend lots of time alone with the opposite sex in person, on the phone, on the internet or whatever, yet they may (take your pick) do a devotional, read a few scriptures, pray a prayer, attend a church service. Yet with all the danger they have willingly put themselves in, these things will spare them of a moral failure until they remove themselves from the edge.

Larry and I have always made a practice of living as far from the edge in our marriage as we can get. We might risks on other things but not this. It's why he doesn't counsel women alone, nor I men. It's why we are never alone in our office with the door shut with someone of the opposite sex. It's why we have each other's internet passwords. It's why we get porn channels removed from our hotel rooms as soon as we arrive at a hotel. It's why we don't have certain channels at our house. We have other safeguards too, these are just a few.

Even with these safeguards, the enemy is ruthless in creating circumstances to try to circumvent them. Larry has had several women blatantly offer themselves to him, right in a public setting - around many people. Being a minister of the gospel you are a real target and therefore must seriously have a plan of action to win. You've got to "stay all up in each other's business." It's not a matter of lack of trust, it's a matter of wisdom.

I don't want to live as close as I can to the edge in my marriage without going over. I want to walk as protectively as I can and ensure victory.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Two compliments a day


Of maintaining a great marriage through all stages of life, Author Elizabeth Pantley says, "Now that you’ve committed to seeing the good in your partner, it’s time to say it! This is a golden key to your mate’s heart. Our world is so full of negative input, and we so rarely get compliments from other people. When we do get a compliment, it not only makes us feel great about ourselves, it actually makes us feel great about the person giving the compliment! Think about it! When your honey says, “You’re the best. I’m so glad I married you.” It not only makes you feel loved, it makes you feel more loving."

Pantley suggests giving your marriage partner at least two compliments each day.
I'll go the extra mile tonight by giving my man five compliments.

1) Larry, you are the best snuggler in the world. I love how warm you are when I come back to bed after getting Savanna ready, and snuggle up to you for a while. Nuzzling up to your neck, the scent is amazing. It makes me want to come back to bed each morning and forget about going to work.
2) I love that you care enough about the tangerine tree to go out and cover it in tonight's cold weather. You thought of it on your own. That makes me happy.
3) I love that you are adventurous.
4) I love that you can cook and many times do. The tireder (is that a word?) I've gotten over the years, the more I have appreciated this quality about you.
5) I love it that my happiness is a real priority to you.

Anonymous Letters

One blog that I really enjoy is Pastor Paul Grabill's blog, Beside the Point. (He's an A/G pastor in State College, PA.) He just posted something that I enjoyed so much I am copying the blog post here for my readers. Those of you who are pastors who read my blog will absolutely love this. It is about those "anonymous letters" we all receive from time to time in our ministry. Enjoy!!!

Pastor Grabill says:

Today I gave counsel by phone to a dear pastor friend who received a nasty anonymous letter. Usually, it's best not to read something that has no name at the end. But it's hard to resist knowing what people think of us, even though we know it's probably going to be ugly.It reminds me of the story of the famous New England preacher, Henry Ward Beecher, upon ascending into the ornate pulpit found a note with one word, "FOOL." He held it up to the congregation and said, "This is odd. I've known of people who have written a letter and forgot to sign their name, but this is the first time I've known of someone to sign their name and forget to write the letter."Anyhow, here is my proposal for an honest Christian anonymous letter: 

Dear Pastor: 

As you can tell by the end of the letter, I have chosen not to sign my name. The reason is obvious: I am a coward. Why can't I just admit that I'm a coward and deal with it? Well, you guessed it, I'm too cowardly to admit that I'm a coward.Anyhow, I digress.

The purpose of this letter is to share with you the inner venom that I have been holding toward you, but can't seem to be able to honestly share with you. I know the Bible says to speak the truth in love, but you're going to have to pray for me about that love thing. It's not there, especially for you.I realize hit-and-run is illegal when you are using a car, but last I checked it's not when you use a pen. If I'm wrong, I trust God will forgive me.I guess that may mean that you won't take seriously anything I'm about to say. I understand that. Of course, I'm not really writing this for you. I'm writing it for me. I've got to vent my spleen, or get a spiritual hernia. You understand, I'm sure. Don't you ever do that in sermons?

Well, please know that at this point I'm so angry at you that I can't seem to frame it in a way that anyone would respect--and certainly not you. But I'm still angry, you understand, really, really angry. I mean reeeaaaally angry.I realize, too, that you won't be able to help me because you don't know who I am. That's my choice. I don't want your help, even though the church pays you tens of thousands of dollars a year to help us. Maybe you can help other people, but not me. I don't know if it's pride or rage or what it is, but I don't want help, even from God, at this point. Some people need a pastor; I don't. If I did, I'd let you know.So, since I'm here to deal with the speck in your eye, let me proceed with how I want to bring you down to where I am...

Sincerely,

An Anonymous Saint

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Power Packed Weekend

What a busy weekend, yet it's all good.

First, we welcomed Kidzturn back this weekend and it's so good to see all of them again. We just love them to pieces...the Lussier family. If you've never heard of this ministry click here and you'll learn more about it. They really are the greatest children's ministries in existence on the planet. I have told many friends about them but always get afraid that I'll tell too many people and then they would get too busy and not have time to come back to Tampa anymore! They really are the best kept secret. Sort of like my hairdresser. Everybody I tell about her goes to her and then falls in love with her just like I did and the rest is history. I've told them, "look, just remember, I had her first so my appointment is forever and ever, amen." :-) Anyhoo...

They arrived Fri and set up and we had our first meeting with them today which will go through Wednesday night. We're expecting a great week and we are already off to a fantastic start. We just enjoy them so much, not just as evangelists, but as people.

Last night I took Jordan to the Gaither Homecoming here in Tampa. I had no idea it was Gasparilla last night. How I missed this fact I don't know...well, I guess I do, I was just too busy to notice. What a crazy atmosphere. It took us two hours to find a parking place. Thank God I had left at 4 pm. We only got there 15 minutes late after all the chaos. Bill Gaither apologized to the crowd for the craziness and said they wouldn't have it on Gasparilla weekend again. We had a really good time despite that. Jordan and I bought a new GVB CD and also a Signature Sound CD. We both love those two groups. It's funny how we fall in love with the same songs. Both of us love Rock of Ages, Hide Thou Me by the GVB and listened to it on the way home. It's an older song they do but so awesome. I'm trying to get Jordan to sing it as a special. 

Yesterday I also started our new life coaching ministry for women's ministries. I think we're off to a great start. I'm really excited about the ladies who have committed to it and I see great things ahead!

We had a fantastic day in the house this morning. Flowed great. We asked Sam Lussier to lead worship and he did a great job. I'm so glad we did that this year. The whole day went very well and I have a great sense of what is to come over the next few weeks.

Friday, January 26, 2007

101 THINGS YOU MAY OR MAY NOT CARE TO KNOW ABOUT ME


I was born in Virginia, and given to the Children's Home Society and then adopted.

I grew up in Baltimore, basically spent my childhood there til' I went away to college and got married.


Choir and drama were basically my life in high school, and oh yeah, church too.

I married Larry when he was 19, and I was 20.


We had Dustin at 22, Jordan at 23, Savanna at 30.


Mine and Larry's first dog, together was Smitty but he ran away.



My dog when I was a kid was a golden retriever named Kelly.


My cat was named Grizabella.


I have been married almost 20 years. Anybody who knows me for more than five minutes knows this.


I like my husband.  I think he's the funniest, smartest, sexiest man in the world.



I had to drop out of kindergarten. I was too sick to finish. This really has not affected my life.


I love mashed potatoes. They are my favorite food.


Lazy people drive me crazy. If I am around them for too long I start shaking.


I never had any cavities until I moved to Florida.


I hate needles. I'd rather do practically anything than get one.


I love singing alto. I would much rather sing alto than lead worship but my husband loves it when I lead and feels lost when I don't.


I live in the most beautiful place in the world.


I miss steamed crabs. They don't taste the same in FL as they do in MD.


One of my best friends died of AIDS. I still miss him a lot.

I miss my grandma the most.

I love teapots.

I love to worship.

I sang my first solo in public when I was 4.

I used to idolize Vestal Goodman when I was a little kid. (Still think she's great!)

If I could only do one thing in life it would be write.

I'm always trying to break a bad habit.

I like Martha Stewart.

I really get weary of dishonest people. I just don't have the energy for them.

Head games drive me crazy. I usually just back away from people who play them - for good.

If I wasn't a pastor I'd probably be a high school teacher.

I'm a very affectionate person.


My favorite pizza is olive and mushroom.


I love the Gaither Homecoming tour.

Jim Carrey is my favorite comedian.

I enjoy riding my bike.

I love to laugh.

I was president of the choir/chorale in high school.

My high school teachers had a huge influence on me.

I love to listen to TD Jakes preach.

I worry about being too hard AND too easy on my kids.

I feel like a terrible parent most of the time.

The best memories of my life are those I've made with my husband.

I like my inlaws.

Shindler's List is one of my favorite movies though very difficult to watch. My second favorite movie is Ghosts of Mississippi. I think these top my favorites list because of my core values.

I love to read and have to do it every day - no matter what.

The devil really hates me.

I was a waitress in college.

I love dreaming - wide awake.

I hate weeding. 

I like taking naps with my family.


My friends in high school would never believe what my bra size is now. (Darn it, why didn't I go to that school reunion? If I did, I would not sign in now as Deanna Doss, simply as 36DD)

I go to church even on vacation. I love to see what other churches are doing. 


I love country music, 60's 70's and 80's songs, and some oldies, especially Frank Sinatra.


Larry and I love to go to New York City.

I really love my bed. It is king size, pillow top, with down comforter and down pillows. (pink and mint green.)

I love to set a beautiful table especially with my burgandy rose china.

I really like cool watches.

I find it easy to believe in most other people.

I love coffee and tea.

I love pictures.

I'll never divorce my husband, although I understand why some people get divorced.

I think serving is the most awesome thing ever. It's what gives life meaning.

I love creating. How can you not be creative when serving the CREATOR?

I love movie coke.

I love going to the movies - was never allowed as a kid - you know, pentecostal holiness atmosphere... and all that junk.


Little things mean a lot to me.


I am really honest, and would be even more so openly if my husband really didn't care what I said...but he does. It's this thing of keeping his job that means so much to him. And the fact that we have to eat. :-)

If I get really stressed out or angry I get sick or at least a whole mouth full of canker sores. I know that's gross and probably more than you wanted to know.

I am extrememly sentimental.


I like getting excited over things. In fact, I love screaming and shouting over stuff.


Blah people just bore me to tears.


Pie is my favorite dessert.


I love bold colors.


I try hard not to worry.


My biggest fear in life is not making a difference.


I got my first car at 38.


I've worked hard all my life.


I could cook dinner for my family from the time I was about 7 years old. Learned sitting on grandma's counter while she cooked. But somehow still can't do a pie crust as good as she did -- still trying.

I had a tremendous amount of responsibility as a kid.


I try to let my kids have a lot more fun than I did and not have to bear the weight of such responsibility at such a young age.


I buy myself flowers sometimes.

I usually don't wait for other people to do nice things for me - if I need something emotionally, I just do it for myself (ex: flowers, getting myself something special, etc.) I believe if you expect things from people all the time you will be disappointed a lot. So just be surprised when they do nice things.


If I could do anything and time and space were of no consequence, I would go back and have a long talk with my grandma and take a nap with her like we used to after school.


I like it when Larry surprises me.


As much as I like being loud I also like getting quiet. Yes, I'm extreme if you haven't figured that out yet.

I don't understand people who sell out for money. People mean everything to me, and the things of God. People who sell out miss out.

I like a very clean atmosphere.

It drives me crazy when people interrupt me when I'm writing. I hate getting out of rhythm.

I've always got several projects going at the same time.

I finally have my purpose figured out.

I'm afraid I'll miss something.

I analyze the daylights out of things. 
Boundaries in relationships are really hard for me.


If I get enough solitude, I like to be around people.


I love Christmas time.


JC Penney is my favorite store. I love "Worthington" clothes. They fit just right.


I love to read I and II Timothy and Titus to remind me of what I'm supposed to be doing. I always forget.

My kids think I'm a wingnut a lot of the time but that's okay.

I don't do well at team sports.

I'm lost without my briefcase.

I can get along with most people. Unless they are completely pompous, pharasaical, "religious" and legalistic. In that case, I usually just start praying they take interest in another church.

Okay that's it -- goodnight. That was enough mindless chatter to prepare me to go to the grocery store and then night night.

WHEN WILL THEY FIGURE IT OUT?


Perhaps there is nothing besides a personal relationship with God that is more stabilizing than women friends in our lives. The fact is, you can do it without them, but you'll be very lonely. Not to mention you'll have about a million words cooped up inside your head that have absolutely no where to go unless you have a woman friend to share them with.

The fact is this...men just don't listen like women do. Even when they do, they really don't want to, at least for that long. Nor do they typically find the things we find earth shattering all that much of a big deal. That used to drive me crazy til' I realized, it's just the way it is. "It is what it is" as my husband says. 

I think anybody reading this blog for more than five minutes knows that I am crazy about my husband. I truly am.And we spend a lot of time (so much more time than most couples) do communicating. In fact, at least an hour a day of undivided communication, outside of our work together. Most women I know wish they had just 10 minutes of the same each day. I know I'm blessed. But I still long for more, in fact, I need more. Lots more.

Larry often gets upset about the same things I do. Sometimes he's downright angry (as angry as he ever gets) about the same exact things I'm upset about. I'll be screaming and ranting about something and he'll say, "honey, I know - I'm in complete agreement with you!" But I'm wondering, "then why isn't he talking about it? Why isn't he all in a tizzy about this?" Truth be told, he is, he just reacts to it different. We can have identical feelings about something but he needs to talk about it for about five minutes, and the same issue, I need about five hours for. If I'm not going to drive him crazy, it's this simple - I need girlfriends. Without them, I have millions of words being held hostage in my head, screaming to get out.

I look at young women who are single, searching for that "perfect man" to spend their life with. Many of them think that when they find them, their life will be complete. They will tell that man everything. He will listen for hours. They will have found their soul mate. There will never again be a need to go anywhere else with the things that give them angst. All they have to do is run home to get the solace and the social interaction they need with their one true love. But the truth is, forty years of living and being friends with, and ministering to thousands of women, has never led me to meet the woman who has found this. When it comes down to it, men are great...and life would be lonely without them. But the fact is, our life is not complete without women friends.

WHEN WILL THEY FIGURE IT OUT? In my experience, it doesn't take women too long to figure this out after marriage. After they have tried repeatedly to get the long hours of undivided attention and communication, talking for hours on the same subject that means so much to them with their man...and just don't get it, then they realize..."I really need to tend to my friendships with women more than I'm currently doing." The light goes on and they realize...I need my sisters to make it.

This is one reason I'm so committed to women's ministries. We need our sisters to make it. Men are wonderful playmates, but they just don't have the wherewithal to listen to us for as many hours as we need them to.

Last year when an absolute IDIOT rear ended my brand new Mustang (a hit and run driver who the police told me was probably an illegal alien without insurance- thus the reason they probably ran), I was so mad, so angry, so broken up. I cried for days. I got on the elliptical and exercised my butt off for hours a day I was so angry. The guy's first 3 initials I saw on the liscense plate were 3FK. In case you didn't know this, the police cannot trace a car based on only three letters or numbers. They need more than that.

I called this guy "Mr. 3FK" and I told everybody to watch for him and call me immediately should they see him anywhere. He told me to pull over in the next parking lot and we'd exchange numbers (we were in the middle of the street.) Instead, he sped away. Jerk. I prayed one of the many people I described him and his car and 3 letters on the plate to would see him and call me. I fantasized about showing up and absolutely blowing him to bits with an AK-47. (or at least taking a baseball bat to HIS car.) You can't imagine the intense anger I had about this. When the police came to the scene I was crying so hard and so upset. They thought I was physically hurt. (I wasn't) They said, "Mam, are you hurt??!" I cried out, "No!!! I am just suffering from a BROKEN HEART!!!!!!!!!!" And I proceeded to sit there and bawl my head off. This was my very first car ever, this Mustang. It was such a special gift from the one I love. Such sentimental value. This was basically vehicular rape if there is such a thing. (I know, there isn't. I'm just trying to grasp a word to describe my pain to you, and truly there is none.) My first car, at 38 years old. And here it was, rear ended - defiled by a moron who did not stay around to pay for his crime. 

I began to take solace of the fact that one day he would answer to God for it although he never had to pay for it financially here on earth . I vividly imagined in my head him being at the judgment seat of Christ and a huge screen coming up...and there before him is a giant silver mustang convertible with 2Revs on the liscense plate. Suddenly he throws himself down upon the mercy of God and says, "I'm sooorrrry!!!!!!" but it's too late, St. Peter is escorting him out, where all hit and run drivers go..............first they are sent to a holding room where they must listen to re-runs of the Rosie O'Donnell show for hours. This is enough to make them scream for mercy. But it gets worse. After sitting in the O'Donnell waiting room, he is escorted down and long dark hallway...it gets hotter and hotter, and he thinks, "am I headed where I think I am?" Suddenly, Peter knocks on big door and when it opens, there stands O.J. Simpson. "Oh noooooooooooooo! I knew I should have paid for that Mustang!," he shrieks. "Now I've ended up HERE for all eternity!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Then a booming voice that sounds like Ephram Zimbalist Jr. comes on saying, "And all illegal aliens without insurance who hit Mustangs and run shall have their place next to O.J. in the eternal lake of fire!!" Okay, end of fantasy there...let's get back to what really happened. 
We went home with me hearing all the way Larry's admonition to me about how we just need to be glad we weren't hurt...cars can be fixed/replaced...yada yada yada. He got tired of me talking about my anger and my broken heart. He even told me so. He said point blank, "I don't want to talk about this anymore." I thought he was just an insensitive clod. Finally my friend Maria called. I took the call out to my back patio and sat on my swing. The first two minutes of the call all I did was cry. I couldn't even speak. She talked to me for a long time about it...just let me get it out until I was exhausted of words. She didn't think I was silly or overblowing the matter. She said, "I completely know how you feel...it's okay...just let it out". After that call, I was a different woman. I got off the phone. Came inside. And was fine from that day on. A friend took the time to hear me out until all the words being held hostage inside my head were out. My anger at Mr. 3FK dissipated. I no longer had fantasies of murdering an illegal immigrant or him spending eternity in the lake of fire with O.J. over this. I put my baseball bat away. I came inside and drank a cup of tea.

Thank God for sisters.

p.s. We completely replaced the back end of my Mustang. It looks better than it did before the accident.

Enjoying my sabbath day


Today is my day off. My sabbath day. What a wonderful thing. You know I didn't used to be able to enjoy days off years ago. In fact I hated them! I couldn't wait for them to be over. This is because I honestly did not know how to enjoy relaxation. I think part of it was - I didn't see how it benefited me or got me ahead, so to speak. I felt like it was a waste of time.

I thought that way until about 1999. Then some thing happened which necessitated me taking a step back and getting in touch with the "relaxation" or "sabbath" side of myself, if you will. It was either that or...continue on the crash and burn way I was headed. I had to come to the realization that relaxation DOES get me ahead, because it makes me better for the other 6 days a week and without it, everything suffers.

I also realized at that time, that if I didn't develop some things outside the church, even as simple as learning to relax at least one day a week, I would have nothing when things at work weren't going so well. Life was so black and white back then. If the church was going well, my world was going well. If the church was going sucky, my whole world was sucky. No in between. Nada. So I got myself a little bit of a life outside of the church/work scene. I developed a few genuine friends outside of my church, and also decided to take a day off. It really changed my life. 

Now if I have a bad week at the church my whole life isn't so bad because I am not completely defined by the church I can say, "well, this was a really bad week, however, I'm meeting a friend outside the church for coffee and shopping and we're going to forget about all that for 24 hours and enjoy something else." I can go out on a date with Larry and just talk about our relationship, our kids, our house, our goals. We can pop some popcorn, turn on American Idol or 24, (thank God for Tivo!), snuggle up as a family on our couches, and forget anything else exists but what we are doing for the moment. Right now, things are going super well at NS, but I'm still glad today is my day off. All I have done all day is read, and I think that's perfectly...WONDERFUL.
This morning I got up and got Savanna her breakfast, woke her up, and went back to sleep and set my alarm to get back up and take her to school when she was ready. Only problem was, my alarm never went off. :-) I suddenly woke up with a start at the time her bus was ready to come and realized, "oh no! The alarm never went off and I have not checked on her the last hour!!!" Well, thankfully she was just sitting on the couch, all ready to go, watching TV. She had gotten completely ready on her own, and Larry just got up and took her to the bus stop, which she made on time. :-) Small blessings!!!

I have to be honest, I've been very weary getting everything caught up from being away on vacation and then in Virginia for the funeral. I worked almost non-stop on the lap top and sent things home to the office and kept in touch, however there were just some things here I could not attend to, being away. It's been a tiring week. I got up today and just vegged out, reading in bed. While doing so I came across a few podcasts that I watched...one of Rick Warren which was really good, and another one by an atheist. I was so broken by some of the things that were said by this woman. She has gone on a life long search for truth and she is convinced, the Bible is just a collection of stories, and God does not exist. Listening to her, watching her, I became very burdened for her. She is famous and speaks about atheism all over the country. She encouraged anyone who has credible scientific proof that the supernatural power of God exists to present it to her. I believe several people have, as evidenced in her blogs which I read, however she has rejected their claims. Evidently she has not experienced this herself. It's not so much that I am praying for her because she is a famous speaker who promotes atheism. I really mean that my heart is broken for her as a person. She desperately needs to feel Jesus love.
I rarely, if ever, pray for anybody famous that I do not know. When I tell people, "I'll keep you in prayer", I really want it to be more than a choice greeting or cliche. I have too many people who are right up close to me to pray for. Pastoring a busy growing church takes care of all that not to mention my family, minister friends, and the like. But this woman really stood out to me as somebody whose name I need to call in prayer every single day. So I will.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Today's core value manifesto


Well a few months ago in a blog post I promised more of the "core values" that define who I am. Here we go...since I'm in a "core value mood" tonight. (you didn't know there was such a thing, did you?) My very own core value manifesto for today, January 25, 2007.

To change a situation - simply change yourself. That way something is guaranteed to change - the very thing you CAN control - You!

Don't be afraid to go to the wall for things you really believe in, such as...your core values. I did that just today with somebody, and I'm so glad I did. Otherwise I'd be sitting here stewing and fuming over what I didn't say.

Let everything that comes to you from someone go through the filter of the Word of God. If it's scummy and doesn't make it through the filter, don't take it into your spirit. Let it wash away.

Determine to be a different person - for the better - every single year.

Never make excuses for something you could have done better. Simply resolve to do it better the next time.

Don't ever be afraid to give lots of nicknames to those you love The more nicknames a person has, the more they are loved. Case in point...here are some of my most popular nicknames for the special people in my life....

Beeber Teeber
Peachy
Chocki Woki Souvlaki
Prinny
Sweetie Peetie
Darling
Rosie Girl
____________ Banana
Honey Bunny
Dusty Busty
Ang
Vanna Girl
Vannie
"T"
Prince
Babe
Punky Brewster
Superman

Just to name a few! Any of you who are particularly close to me who can give me a list of who every single name on here represents...if you're right, I'll take you to lunch - my treat.

On with the manifesto...
Don't try to do anything without the Holy Ghost. 

Don't try to understand religious, carnal people. It's a waste of brain cells.

Don't try to fit an 11 x 14 idea inside a 5 x 7 head.

If you don't ask, the answer's always no (this one bears repeating, I know I said it last time, but I can't help it - it's one of my all time favorites.)

Always hug and kiss your family daily.

Be affectionate with your kids even when they act like they don't like it.

Remember that you usually regret the things you don't do or say more than you regret that which you did. 

Set two alarms for in the morning when you have something super-duper important to be at, so you won't be late by missing the wake up call.

Don't waste time on things you really don't feel strongly about. Move towards your passion.

Your enemies will never believe you if you try to explain yourself and your real friends need no explanation from you.

That's all for tonight...to be continued.




Wednesday, January 24, 2007

WHO'S THAT WITH DAD?


Tonight Savanna was looking at my earlier blog with the wedding photo and she said, "what's that picture? It's someone with Dad at a wedding..."

Wow, I've really changed THAT MUCH? Oh well, most of my friends say it's an IMPROVEMENT, so I'll take it that way...not as a regression. I'm am unrecognizingly...better. :-)
Just a word about kissing. Did you know it's good for you? Get this...

MEN WHO ARE KISSED BEFORE GOING TO WORK EVERY MORNING:

Have fewer accidents!

Live five years longer!

Make 15 percent more money!

Wow! Start puckering up! But wait, THERE'S MORE! (And it's not a Ginsu knife!) Yes, that's right, there are even more reasons for you to kiss to your heart's content...

Kissing is GOOD FOR YOU! ........

1) It helps prevent tooth decay. Dr. Peter Gorden, Dental Advisor at the British Dental Association, explains: “Kissing is nature’s own cleaning process. It brings plaque levels down to normal.”

2. It relieves tension. A passionate kiss is a great relaxation technique, says stress consultant, Michelle McNabb. “When your mouth is in a kissing position, you’re almost smiling.

3. It helps you lose weight.“A long kiss makes the metabolism burn up sugar faster than usual,” says Claire Porter. “The calories burned depend on the intensity of the kiss.”

I want to be a woman with healthy teeth, little tension, at my perfect weight. Goodnight, I'm off to find my prince a steal a kiss or two...

Our baby's baptism


No, we haven't started believing in infant baptism at the church. It's just "the baby" (our baby, as I call her) got baptized tonight. With baptizing Savanna Rose Larry has now baptized our last child...no other Shrodes kids to baptize until we are grandparents...which will be...a very long time! 

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A walk to remember


A recent study showed a significant increase in divorces in those marriages of people who fall in the 40-60 age range. The survey didn't say WHY these people have a greater increase in divorce, but I have my ideas on why...

Career building, stress with kids, financial issues, mid-life crisis, and much more. Despite all that, divorce DOES NOT have to be imminent in your relationship! You really can make it. I just turned 40 this year, and I have been married 20 years. I am headed into the next 20 (just for starters) with all the vim and vigor I can muster. It's going to be a great couple decades ahead of me and I can't wait.

There are things that are a given in life...stress for one! Nobody gets a pass when it comes to stresses in life. We all have situations, circumstances, and challenges. With that, we can choose to put ourselves in position to see our marriage succeed. One of the ways Larry and I do that is by spending time together. We have three kids who drive us crazy sometimes. We have had financial issues in our marriage like anyone else. For over 3/4 of our marriage and ministry we basically lived on the poverty level. For the past 20 years we have not only been building a marriage, but a ministry from day one together. Some days I just knew one of us wouldn't be alive by days end. There were days we were convinced, "we made a mistake!" But we wouldn't turn back. Even with all that, WE KEPT SPENDING TIME TOGETHER. We have to stop and remind ourselves why we took that walk to remember down the aisle in the first place! Have we become parents? Yes. Have we become pastors? Yes. But first, we're still...husband and wife, Mr. and Mrs.

Second, we try to incorporate humor into our lives. Some days we were so down over something we had to purposely go out and rent a comedy from Blockbuster to get our minds off of stuff. But more often than not, we just kept a playful quality to our relationship. Marriage therapist Pauline Wallin, PhD says the following about humor as a tool in marriage: Humor does not mean the same thing as telling jokes. In a relationship, humor involves the willingness to suspend judgment, to appreciate irony and to recapture a child-like playfulness, which helps prevent stress and tension. It is the ability to both be funny and to appreciate your partner's amusement. 

My husband often talks about "intentionalizing the process" in the church when he talks to our leaders. We've realized that in our marriage we have to intentionalize the process too. We have to intentionally spend time together, and intentionally laugh. It's worked so far for 20 years. Let's go for another.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Somebody stop the pressure...


Today on AOL there's an article about kids birthday parties getting out of control and parents rising up to do something about it. To see it, click here. I couldn't agree more with the parents that have started this group, "birthdays without pressure." When the kids were little I had a few of these kind of birthday parties where I felt like I had to half kill myself to put them on and then I realized in many instances the kids could not care less and in fact would not even remember them. I freaked out about Jordan putting his hand in the middle of his cake when he was two years old (I think that was the b'day that happened at least...can't remember now, that shows you how crucial it was!) Anyway, I freaked out about all the work I put into this cake and ran out to buy a perfect one. You know, these two year olds did not even care that he put his hand in the center of the cake. It was no biggie to them. I was the one with the problem.

Parenting is more difficult today partially because of the expectations parents have put upon themselves. I have been guilty of this myself sometimes and have tried to change over the years as I saw myself fall into this trap a few times. Many are in a race to out-do one another and it's not even about the kids anymore. This article talks about elaborate birthday parties that are more about the parents showcasing what they can afford, or out-doing other kids and their parents than it is about celebrating the child's special day.

I look at how things have changed since we were in school. When I was a child we had graduation from high school. That was it. Today you have kindergarten graduation (some even tell me they have nursery school graduations now...what a waste of time/money in my humble opinion.) Then you have 5th grade graduation, followed by 8th grade graduation, followed by 12th grade graduation and then of course, college. It's not only senior prom that kids are rolling up in limo's to. Now they roll up in limos to their 8th grade dance. You have eighth graders purchasing expensive dresses, tuxedos, getting their hair in updo's, getting their acrylic nails done, and getting expensive photo packages. And meanwhile, parents have just gone along with all this and not spoken up as any of these changes have come about in our schools or our children's lives. What's next? A prom for 5th graders? This would not shock me at all. 

Dustin is graduating this year. I expected quite a tab for all of the graduation expenses but had NO IDEA just how things have changed. I just want to warn all you parents out there who have a kid graduating in the coming years...before you take a look at the photo packages for senior pictures, go to your doctor and get a prescription for valium. Take it before you look at the prices of these packages. You'll need it. Did we get everything for Dustin from the school ring to the photos to you name it? Of course, it's his high school graduation. Will we have a nice party for him? OF COURSE! But rest assured we won't be going into debt to do it. I won't have to take out a second mortgage for it. I'm just making the point, expectations for these things have just gone through the roof. Some of the things offered in the graduation booklet were things I have never heard of and I asked Dustin, "do you want this or that?" And he said, "No Mom, what in the world would I want or need that for...it's ridiculous!!!" I guess I'm blessed to have a kid who is level headed to some degree on some of these things. 

I applaud these parents who have started this organization and have said, "no more...we are not renting a castle for our five year old's birthday party. No more, no more, no more." Where are the days of a cake and ice cream, balloons, some gifts from friends, and maybe something fun like pin the tail on the donkey or the pinata? It's given way to having little kids picked up in limos for birthday parties (I'm not kidding!), and renting a live Cinderella for the afternoon followed up by each person getting a personal photo with Cinderella. I think it's time for parents everywhere to stand up and say, "we're going back to birthdays, graduations, and all the rest with celebrations, but not one-upmanship. We're not trying to keep up with the Jones's. We just want to celebrate our kid and let them know we love them without paying for Hilary Duff to come and sing at the party or something equally as ridiculous.

Did I mention?


We had a great day all day today. Continuing our series on "When the Church Prays." Today's service was smoother than things have run in a long time. Not that other weeks were bad...it's just that today I thought was exceptionally smooth. 

Worship was great, and everything from prayer to video announcements to special music to you name it flowed. I preached on Elijah and changing the atmosphere through prayer. We had a good time of prayer at the close. Bernie held the small group meeting today and had many many more than he expected. In fact he ran out of food because he just hadn't expected so many people to have interest as they did! What a great problem to have. They had a good meeting. Larry stayed for it but I came home to get things in order for vision meeting tonight.

By the way, did I mention that we have some really great friends who love us?

Last night the some church folk asked us over for dinner. Well, we really were pressed for time with getting the house cleaned, clothes ready for Sunday, etc. My heart sunk when they asked us, only because of our tasks that were before us. But I wanted to go. I just dreaded coming home to clean. Larry said, "let's just go and we'll stay a few hours and then come home and blast through the house getting things in order." So we went. Had a great time, sat there for a few hours on their patio eating and talking. And then they said,"we're coming over to help you clean." I was surprised because we had not even discussed with them needing to go home and clean. But they knew we had vision meeting tonight and...this is just what we do to prepare. Leaders who do this kind of thing, and people who know us, just know...this is how we roll. :-) 

So I was reluctant. It's very humbling to have people help you like this. I don't like other people cleaning my dirt! Or folding my undies out of the dryer. :-) But they insisted. Both couples came over, blasted through our house with us and in no time it was done! All I had to do was put finishing touches on stuff tonight as far as getting food ready, etc.  I even got a 30 minute nap. Did I mention, we really have some people who love us? :-) 

Well, you guessed it...vision meeting went well too. After vision meeting closed out, I started my next task which was to clean up, and start cooking and setting things up for Titus Project tomorrow night. You see, I already know my day tomorrow (Mondays are packed with not a moment to spare and tomorrow will be a day that I can't even leave early to get ready for the Titus girls because we have a late afternoon meeting.) So...I've got to organize it all tonight. Larry just went out and commented on how pretty my table looks. I got a new tablecloth and used it for this time. Our youth pastor was a bit surprised after I put all the food away and did the dishes from the vision meeting, he hears me clanking around in the kitchen and says, "Pastor Deanna are you cooking again in there or something?" So I explained. It's extra work, but worth it for "my girls". Did I mention I love ministry?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Podcasting with PD


 Campus Crusade for Christ interviewed me a while back about several things and I just became aware that some portions of our interviews were made into podcasts on their website. Cool, huh? Thought you might be interested in hearing it so if so, just click here! Once you get to the site, go to where it says, "Dolly" and also "Ice Cream Sunday." Both are clips of interviews with me. Click listen or download, and there you go...

Five Reasons to Keep Dating


Well, we were practically kid-less last night. Dustin ended up spending the night at Steven's and Savanna at Molly's. Larry said, "let's go on a date." So we did! Jordan played Guitar Hero while we were gone and then we came home after our date and watched American Idol with him. (We always Tivo.)

 We laughed ourselves silly. At one point I laughed until I cried. I wonder sometimes, "If I couldn't sing, would I still find these people funny?" It just boggles my mind that they do not know they can't sing. I mean, I know I can't play softball to save my life. I'm terrible at it as I am with most team sports. I like things like skating, dancing, aerobics, walking, biking, etc. to stay in shape. But I have zippo talent as far as team sports. Trust me, if you are playing sports, you do not want me on your team. I was always the last one picked in gym and there is a good reason why. Do not try to patronize me, don't think you are doing me any favors by including me. Just give me a chili dog and a coke and let me sit on the side and watch YOU play, and I'll be happy as can be. So will you, believe me. So I know this about myself. Why don't these people know THEY CANNOT SING???!!! It baffles me.

While on our date Larry and I talked about favorite dates we've had over the years and our favorite places to go. And we made plans of a lot more things we want to do in the future. Here are five reasons I think it's important to date:

1) Dating was something you did to get your spouse in the first place, and a means by which you got to know them. Why stop? It just stands to reason it will continue to help you in building the relationship.

2) Dating creates an atmosphere that is conducive to sharing and talking about things (provided you don't always go to the movies...I always say regular dating shouldn't always just be a movie because you aren't interacting, you are both focusing completely on something else besides each other for 2 hours. But I think a movie as part of a date is good, just not the whole thing.) Even if you don't have money to do dinner and a movie, it's good to do the movie, then go somewhere quiet and spend some time together talking (and whatever else you want to do!) before going home.

3) Dating shows that you still prioritize one another. It takes a lot of work to plan a date if you have kids. Of course sometimes it just works out that the kids are not home, such as it did last night. However most times, that's not the way it is. The majority of times it takes a lot of planning to have the evening to yourselves. For many it's just easier to give up than plan all the child care arrangements. I know, I went through that for years. When we would have a sitter cancel at the last minute I would cry my eyes out because we just needed time together and hardly ever got a break. Most times I was just hanging on for that date and looking forward to it for a whole week, sometimes more. Anybody who plans and perseveres through sitters canceling, quitting, tight finances and all that -- is committed to their marriage. Dating when you have kids in the home says, "Yes, it's stressful to plan around all this, but I care enough about you to do that. You are my priority." 

4) Dating helps you to remember - you are not just Mom and Dad. You are husband and wife, Mr. and Mrs. (Rev. and Rev. in our case as well!) Dating helps you to not lose your identity as a couple.

5) Dating helps you to focus on your goals as a couple. Part of our dates is always discussing future goals and dreams, sometimes individual, sometimes as a couple. We might talk about our next ministry goal, or our next house project.

Do you get the picture that I think dating is important? More on this in future blogs...

Friday, January 19, 2007

Change up the playlist!


Today in reading AOL news I came across one of their front page articles, "Four Reasons Why Men Cheat." I found it interesting. As I teach on marriage a lot both in our church and outside of it, have written a book on the subject, and Larry and I are in fact preparing to do three marriage conferences right now, these are issues I often study and read up on. Here are the four reasons the AOL article gave for cheating, with my thoughts afterward. 

1) To fulfill his biology - to "spread his seed". 

The article says, "A man's main job, besides killing the saber-tooth, is to spread his seed in order to ensure the survival of his genetic legacy." 

Personally I don't understand what cheating has to do with that. He can ensure the survival of his genetic legacy by fathering many children with his wife if that is his desire. Isn't it amazing what excuses some people come up with to do wrong? If you need to have kids to feel like a man, by all means, have them with your wife!

2) To get attention.

The article says: "Some men cheat because they aren't having frequent sex at home, but others who do have frequent sex at home still cheat. Why? "Because cheating isn't just about the sex," asserts Zinczenko. "Just as a woman who cheats may be seeking more affection than she's getting at home, a man often cheats because he's seeking the attention that he no longer gets at home."

I will agree, this is an issue. Not a justification by any means, however it's a real problem. Once most women become mothers, they believe that is where their attention must go first. But they disregard the biblical order that we are WIVES first, mothers second. Before you became a mother, you were a lover. So, why aren't you still? To become a mother, it's God's design that you be a wife first. God created marriage first. I have heard countless women say, "now that we have kids, he'll just have to learn to wait. He's not first anymore." I think, "And they wonder why they have problems?" Men need us just as much after we have kids, it's just a fact. And truth be told, we need them! When we begin to live in such a way that we don't lose our identify of wife and lover, you notice that YOU as a woman need the attention from your husband just as much now that you're a mother. The fact is, we let go of a very important part of our identity sometimes that God never wanted us to let go of. Part of the reason we have so many unfulfilled couples in this day and age is that they put meeting one another's emotional and physical needs last after the kids arrive.

3) To get out. 

The article says, "Some men want to get out of their marriage, but they don't have the guts to properly end it. So they cheat in an attempt to drive their wife away. For some men, "the only way out is to commit the relationship sin that drives a woman away for good. It's not right, but it's what happens." 

I believe this is true and it's very sad. If these men only realized, the grass is not greener. They only go through the good times with the woman they have the affair with. They don't pay the bills with her, clean the house, raise the kids, etc. All they do is talk and have sex. If they only transferred that attention to their wife... When they leave their wife and start doing the everyday mundane things with the mistress such as pay the mortgage they see, it's not utopia. A relationship is work no matter how you slice it. So you might as well stay in a long term, committed marriage and reap the benefits of it. Long term married people are even physically healthier. This is a proven fact from medical surveys.

3) To change up his playlist. 

The article says, "File this under excitement. A long and loving marriage is often about comfortable routine. For some men, that routine may be boring. A new relationship adds zing and spice to life." 

This is true. Again, not a justification to cheat, but a definate word to the wise that we change up the playlist within our marriage (without bringing anyone else into it, of course!) If people only realized, long term married sex, with a couple who work on keeping their relationship fresh - is the very best. It's been proven even in secular studies. There is greater trust the longer you are married. There is also the fact that you know your partner so well from many years of being together. You know how to make them happy and, being in a trusting relationship for so long you feel comfortable trying new things, and growing together. Unfortunately for some, they prioritize other things besides their spouse and the playlist is non-existent. Some people aren't even playing, let alone having a playlist! And again, they wonder why they have problems. 

You know, I talk to and counsel women a lot in pastoral ministry. And it boggles my mind as to the fact that so many think their husbands should be put on hold for 18+ years while they raise the kids. It's no wonder some men wander, although it's very wrong. I have to admit though, if I had to wait 18 years for sex or for somebody to change up the playlist, I would be very sad. 

To all my married friends reading this - just a reminder to change up the playlist!

Friends and Lobster = Unbeatable Combo


We got back into Tampa at 4 pm, unloaded, unpacked, got cleaned up and turned around and headed immediately to Orlando to meet our dear friends Duane and Kym Langenfeld who were visiting from Maryland. We were so tired from traveling however we really wanted to see them. We wouldn't have missed the opportunity for the world. 

We met and enjoyed an all you can eat lobster dinner...it was so good. We ended up staying with them til 2 am. Just didn't want to leave. What special friends. We really miss them. 

Once again there is no place like home. Larry and I were so glad to get back to our house, our bed, our life. It's so good to be home.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

We're on the way back now...


For any of you blog junkies who are keeping track of where I am I'm just letting you know we are officially on the road back. We drove about 7 hours this afternoon/this evening before stopping in Savannah, GA. As we were coming  through South Carolina we got a call that they had a fantastic service back home. I'm so glad!!! I'm at the Days Inn and getting ready to get a great night's sleep. Kids are already conked out and it's almost 1 am but I decided to post these pictures and a few thoughts.

Just the Shrodes



Okay, here we have just us Shrodes...minus Dustin...miss you, chocolat...wocki souvlaki...gooby gubba, Dustin Bustin, and all that jazz. 

Uh, by the way... Savanna wore a black dress for the funeral but by the time they were taking photos at the dinner I had already let her change into her little pink sweatsuit mainly because her legs were cold. :-) It was 29 degrees today.

The Stevenson's



Here we are… the Stevenson family after Papa’s funeral. (Larry’s mom was Lydia Stevenson, now Shrodes, so this is that side of our family). In fact, if Savanna would have been a boy the name we were going to give the baby would have been Stevenson Shrodes. But alas, we had our dear Savanna Rose. Anyhoo… here we are. And the family truly is representative of the goodness of Papa and Mama. They are nothing but a pleasure to be with. There is not one person in the family that I think, “uh, do we have to see so and so or deal with this one irritating family member?” (you know how every family normally has at least one person who drives the rest crazy?) They are all just kind, loving people. Savanna had a good time playing with cousins Holly, Olivia and Cooper. Jordan isn’t really into the kiddie scene anymore and he enjoyed just hanging out with the Stevenson men and talking. We all missed Dustin.

The Tabernacle



This is Papa and Mama Stevenson’s church, the Richlands Tabernacle. (and just for the record, in this picture above, that's Kathy Stevenson, our "cousin in law" standing in the center aisle taking a photo herself...) It's a fantastic church with a pastoral family that has gone from generation to generation…the Horton family. The pastors (the Horton brothers) spoke of their growing up years…their mother had 11 children and was often overwhelmed with being a wife, mother and the pastor’s wife of a busy and growing church. The boys (now the pastor and assistant pastor) talked of how Papa and Mama often took the children in for days at a time and took care of them to give Sis. Horton a break. They said they had no greater friend or anyone they respected more than Papa Stevenson. And they spoke of how much he had helped their parents in serving in the church. They tirelessly served the pastors both in whatever their family needed and then in the ministries of the church. They preached a wonderful funeral. The message was, “Carried by Angels.” The pastors and the pastor’s wife sang some southern gospel songs and then they led “I’ll Fly Away” as the benediction. Very fitting. All Papa talked about for months was “going home…home to be with Sadie.” Now he’s finally home.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I don't think I've ever been this cold...



It is so cold here, it's unbelieveable! I don't think I have EVER been this cold. This morning we slept in and then I went to the workout room while Savanna swam and I watched her through the window (in the indoor heated pool, of course!) Looking outside I noticed, it was snowing. The kids were so excited. It has continued to flurry all day. Tonight it's a light blanket of snow, and it's in the 20's.

We went to the viewing tonight. We saw a lot of family we haven't seen for a long time, and we met Papa's pastors here in Richlands. What nice people. Great people. They talked to us for a long time, old stories about Papa, and then just some things about ministry. Everyone has only fantastic memories of Papa...he was such a Godly man, a true Godly man. He never got to the stage of being one of those fussy old people. (You know, the kind that get critical and crochety and give some elderly people a bad rap! Ha ha! And threaten to give their pastor a breakdown...) He was someone who really walked with Jesus even right til the end. Never expected a pass or any special treatment because he was 94. He always had a great attitude. Now that's someone to emulate. His pastors went on and on about him tonight. "We never got anything but support out of the Stevenson's, that's for sure!" I heard it from all three of the pastors that were there tonight. Evidently, Papa was the perfect church member if there ever was one. We should have made a video tape of him before he passed on and let him teach a seminar on church membership. :-) I'm only half kidding. You know, if I knew everything his pastors told me tonight, I probably would have asked him to let us interview him or something like that and put at least an article or something together. Evidently he knew all about armor bearing before Terry Nance ever wrote any of his wonderful books on the subject.!

After the viewing (which was 3 hours) we went to the only place in town that was open (Shoney's) with about 15 family members, mostly cousins. It was really fun. We laughed so much and told so many stories and it was good.

Leaving Shoney's it was snowy and so cold, and I came to realize how much my body is not used to this climate. My chest felt like it was going to burst. I actually really hurt, strangely enough. I am just not used to this bitter cold anymore. It's 14 degree wind chill according to what was just on the news 2 seconds ago...it's 21 degrees, with 14 degree wind chill. Bbbrrrr!

Tomorrow is the funeral and I can't wait to hear what the pastors have to say. I believe it will be a very interesting service.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Blue Ridge Mountains



We got to Richlands at about 7 pm tonight. Left at 6 am this morning...and it took us 12 hours to get here, plus an hour for lunch.

The blue ridge mountains are so beautiful. In the past few weeks I have been in the mountains more than not! And it's been nice. Maybe that goes with God's theme in my life this month of being the mountain moving momma! :-)

We had dinner with Larry's parents tonight at an Italian restaurant. It was nice - the only thing missing was Dustin. But I know he's fine, we talked to him several times today. I got a ton of work done today with being able to have 12 hours uninterrupted on the laptop. Also caught up on some reading. I read Sheila Walsh's "Come As You Are" today. Love it!

Tomorrow is the viewing...Wednesday is the funeral. By the way, it's cold here. Tonight it's going to get down to 15 degrees outside...count 'em, 15. That's what we just heard on the news in our hotel room. I'm glad I'm under a very warm blanket.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The next level


God gave us a very good day in the house. Still holding at our record attendance...same level the past weeks...waiting to break our next attendance barrier. It's just a matter of months. I believe it won't be long. I figured it out the other night, we have grown exactly 66% this past year. God is amazing. I'm am expecting such huge things this coming year.

Larry tore it up this morning preaching...quite a number of people talked to me about how the morning service really ministered to them in a powerful way. 

Tonight we had a phenomenal vision casting. (Check out the women's leadership team above...the most brilliant and fun women in the world.) How blessed I am!!! I am extremely happy with the vision casting results and so excited about what God has in store for this year. What a team we have! I preached tonight on "The next level...more than you can imagine." The message was about Abram and God giving him a fresh perspective of his destiny.

I am just getting home from winding things down at the church and now it's time to finish packing. I'm so tired. Tomorrow will be a day to sleep in the car for a while and then type my heart out on my laptop.

I am really glad even though we have to leave for the funeral, we do not have to miss a Sunday at the church, just a Wednesday. I don't think my heart could take missing a Sunday right now.

The call


Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest: "God did not direct His call to Isaiah— Isaiah overheard God saying, ". . . who will go for Us?" The call of God is not just for a select few but for everyone. Whether I hear God’s call or not depends on the condition of my ears, and exactly what I hear depends upon my spiritual attitude. "Many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14). That is, few prove that they are the chosen ones." 

Just reading Oswald for a few minutes before I go to the church this morning.

You know, it's interesting thinking of the fact that EVERYONE is called. Some get up and say, "with the call of God on my life, I did such and such..." and many are probably tempted to think, "wow, that's evident, they are called...they are somebody different, somebody special..." While each person is certainly different and special in the eyes of God, each person is also called. But some do not put themselves in position to hear God's call and obey it.

By called I do not mean to full time pastoral ministry either, I mean called to something. Everyone has a purpose...a ministry to fulfill. Sometimes FT in the church, sometimes outside.

Some do not hear God's call to do what they are born to do in this life because they simply don't put themselves in position to hear the voice of the Lord. And then sometimes, they are afraid to obey...to step out...to do what is necessary to fulfill that call. 

I never want to step out of intimacy with God so that I can't hear Him in this regard. Do calls change? I'm not sure but what I believe right now is that sometimes they do. While the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable, I do believe that sometimes God calls you to something for a season. Or, I believe He develops your gifts so that your calling expands, or changes. Take me for instance...God has developed me in the regard that writing is now an extremely important aspect of my call. Whereas fifteen years ago, it was just a secret little gift I enjoyed on the side between Him and I, now it's so much more. I know for sure - I am as called to write as I am to pastor.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Two peas in a pod



Brit is spending the night with Savanna. They got up into Larry's chair together to eat Gogurt's and were watching TV. I just had to take their picture. They are two peas in a pod. 

I'm cleaning, packing, and tieing up loose ends for the am, but I just couldn't say no to her spending the night as they've been so looking forward to it...