Saturday, March 31, 2007

Why I won't sign up for a beating - Part I


It's a shame you don't figure some things out until you have lived half your life. Sometimes I find myself saying, 'WHY DIDN'T SOMEBODY TELL ME THAT LONG AGO?" This is one of them. So if you haven't figured this one out, allow me to be the one to set you free from your pain.


One glorious thing I have figured out at this point is that I don't have to sign up for a beating from anyone. That's right, there is no need for us to endure, nor sign up for a physical nor verbal thrashing from anyone. God never asked anybody to do that! Amazing.

The thought occurred to me that none of us really need to endure toxic conversations if we don't want to. Adults can just refuse to go there. Some of you reading this who are not in the ministry might think, 'of course that's true! What is the need for this blog??!" But, would you believe most pastors think they have to sign up for verbal beatings? It's true. Read further and I'll tell you why. I used to be one of those people who signed myself up to be chopped up to smithereens by people and then I discovered not only what a waste it was but an utter tragic way of spending my time.

Over twenty years of ministry I have seen some really strange behavior. This could be the topic of a blog in itself. Pastor Lindsay (one of our associates) and I would like to do a reality series someday on TV just called, "THE CHURCH" but we're afraid many people would not get saved after seeing it. Quite frankly should unbelievers be exposed to what we are exposed to as pastors on a regular basis, they might not want to serve the same Jesus we do. Because unsaved people aren't able to look beyond mean Christian's behavior and see Jesus. Mean Christian should be an oxymoron, but just serve as a pastor for longer than five minutes and you'll see, it's far more common than you think. You see, unbelievers first have to see Jesus in people, because on this planet -- we're his reps. It's just the way it works. But that's another blog in itself, so let me just get back onto the post about verbal beatings here...

Most pastors out there have had their share of mean e-mails, faxes, letters (anonymous ones are always my favorite - they go right into File 13!) Most of us at one point or another have thought we needed to give attention to these in some way, but I've found personally it's much better not to. If it's not "of good report" as God's Word says, I really don't want to focus on it. A few months ago, someone called our office and tried to cuss two of our staff members out. I promptly got on the phone and told them, 'don't ever call this office again.' That was it. No need for anyone on our staff to have to endure that. And if my husband or I have anything to do with it, they won't! One time a person went ballistic on one of our pastor's wives. My husband promptly picked up the phone, called them and said, "don't ever speak to one of our staff wives in that disrespectful way again." And he told the staff wife, "don't ever put up with that again."

I truly believe some people think that to be like Jesus, we need to allow the people to crucify us. I believe Jesus took all that on the cross so we don't have to. He was wounded for my sins, my transgressions, my diseases, and while I believe serving Him includes sacrifice, I don't believe it calls for abuse. Let me say we have an overwhelmingly loving church family. However, there are always things that may happen now and then, like any church, we're not absolutely perfect.

There are many ways in which I see pastors sign themselves up for or allow toxic conversations. However, to zero in on just one type of verbal beating, we on our pastoral staff have noticed the rather bizarre behavior of many people who decide to leave the church. They make that intention clear to people, and then wonder why the pastor or some pastoral staff member has not called them so that they can verbally unload on them and share all the things they don’t like about us. The fact is, although we pastors find this strange - that someone would declare their decision to leave, then want a chase to ensue - the majority of people don't find it strange at all, in fact many consider it a common expectation. They make their displeasure clear, and just wait by the phone for a call from the church office. However let's keep in mind, man's expectations aren't always God's. In fact, no where do I find in scripture where God expects this.

Now of course let me say up front that there are times people have circumstances such as - they are moving, they have been transferred, they have been offered a ministry position elsewhere, etc. These are all good reasons to leave a church, and when somebody meets with their pastor to tell them this in the right spirit, of course that (although sad to have to say goodbye to those folks) is a good thing. You always want to meet with people who have good reason and the right spirit about them. No problem at all there. In this case, you really want to bless those individuals.

But, with those who are ready to give you the verbal beating...some will bring up that pastors need to chase people and find out why they are disgruntled. Many believe this is because in scripture in Luke 15, we see the shepherd leaving the 99 sheep to find the one. Let's be clear that story is about a lost sheep who doesn't know Jesus. That scripture isn't about a disgruntled sheep. A non-Christian sheep? Yes. A depressed sheep? Perhaps. A backsliding sheep? Maybe. But a disgruntled sheep? No, the scripture makes it clear, they were lost, without Christ. Verse 7 makes this clear where it says, "I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." Christians who leave a church are not lost. They know exactly where they are headed. Luke 15 is a text that shows the care that Jesus has for each of us in going to the cross, even if it would just be for one. I get so mentally TIRED of people taking scriptures like that and trying to twist them to support the viewpoint of grumbling sheep. One time somebody in the church gave me Isaiah 1:18 as scriptural backing that I needed to meet an angry person who was leaving and hash the whole thing out. The scripture says, "Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." Obviously it's talking about us personally repenting to the Lord for our sins, not somebody meeting with their pastor to beat them up with their mouth. But people will twist scripture, I've found, to justify just about anything they think.

One thing I found out many years ago in pastoring was that when people make a decision to leave a church, it's usually very final. They have been thinking about it quite some time although they might have only recently formulated an excuse that sounds plausible. First, they don't change their mind to come back 99 percent of the time. And second, even if they would be "coerced" into coming back, is it really good for someone who has such attitudes to stay in the house? Honestly, that would just be a hindrance to both of you. So, once the decision is made, it's made. So, why the expectation of a phone call from you, or an "exit" meeting? Two reasons, I believe.

1) Attention

Dr. Earl Baldwin, a well known pastor in the Northeast, was once speaking at a pastors event my husband and I attended and he said that some people come into the church planning their departure from the moment they arrive. He says they "come to leave." There are some people who love the attention they get from making a "splash" in a congregation by dropping in, becoming an integral part, and then dropping out. They love the thrill of the chase...the chase to get them in the church,the chase to keep them, and then the chase to try to get them to come back. They love to leave, then get begged back, then upon coming back hear the people's accolades of, "YOU'RE BACK!!!!!" When they are feeling like they need a little attention, they pull this again, sometimes just hopping from church to church to get this attention they are so craving.

When pastors don't play the game, these people tend to get really angry. The focus many times changes from the intial reasons they gave for leaving to, "well, the reason I'm leaving is because they didn't even bother to call me! Where is the CARE in this church?!"

My question is, if they have so obviously heard from God and made a decision, why the need for you to contact them and rehash everything? If God Himself has told them to do this, can or should a pastor's phone call or visit change their mind?

The ironic thing is, many people say they have heard from God and they tell you about their decision and you respond, "okay, well God bless you," and they get angry. I wonder why they are angry when the pastor is simply blessing a decision God made for them? I guess it's because they were secretly hoping, perhaps, that the pastor would try and talk them out of it? In my mind, it's a game sort of like when you are buying a car and the salesperson keeps going out to talk to the manager and comes back in. They didn't really mean what they said five minutes ago...it's just a game and they are wanting negotiation. The thing is, I don't see this kind of "game" anywhere in the Bible. Which brings me to my second point...

which I will share in "Part II" tomorrow.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Jordan's 16th Birthday








Jordan's birthday was on March 18, however we didn't have his party that weekend for two reasons:

1) He was at pastor's kids retreat in Orlando til' Sunday night.

2) We had missions convention that weekend and...

3) The Lord must have known I'd be sick, because I was so down with the flu I could have never gone through with a party for him on that weekend.

We planned his party for tonight. We allowed him to invite as many of his friends as he wanted. I had one of the little picture frame things to sign, with him on his skateboard in the picture. This is a little momento for his room. And we got him a drum set. Finally! He's really happy about that as you can imagine. I always wanted him to have his own set but I was dreading the constant banging. We had about 2 hours of constant banging but it hasn't been that bad. 

His friends came over...played music, DDR, got in the hot tub, and just hung out. I made tea for the girls and Jordan...and coffee for Scotto. Bobby was his usual self...a lot of fun. They are good kids. We are blessed in that our kids have always had friends we like.
Here are some pictures of tonight...

Why I don't agree with "Purity Balls"


Why wouldn't I agree with something that encourages young people to wait until marriage for sex? I know the headline of this blog probably caught you by surprise! You're thinking, "oh my gosh, she really IS getting a bit controversial with this "WHY" blog series, and she's A LOT more liberal than we thought!" Okay, calm down. Of course I agree with young people pledging to wait until marriage for sex. Let's make that perfectly clear up front. There is no wavering with me about that. God ordained sex for marriage.

First of all, please don't get these other ministries mixed up with the True Love Waits campaign/ministry. I think True Love Waits is great because the boys and girls take the same pledge. But I'm getting ahead of myself, so let me break it down here...

What I do not agree with about these particular ministres (Passion & Purity/Purity Balls) and some like them are the way they portray the role of boys vs. girls, and in some cases the actual slant of the pledge they encourage these young people to take. In fact, in the case of one, the boys don't even take the pledge. It's the girls who are the entire focus. I was first made aware of this through CBE (Christians for Biblical Equality) which is a ministry I wholeheartedly believe in. To see their article about this, go to their blog by clicking here.

The truth is first of all, that boys and girls should be taking the same pledge of purity. I have never heard of a mother/son event and I just wonder why. And truthfully I think there's something kind of weird about girls pledging their virginity to their fathers, or even boys to their mothers. It's just...strange. Sort of creepy. I thought I was alone in this but then after reading the CBE article and googling the topic, I found a lot of people think the same thing, and not just unbelievers - many Christians feel this way. My initial thought is not so far "out there."

I believe in making this type of pledge to God, but making it to your Dad seems just kind of...icky to me. I asked Larry about it and he agreed. Since he's about the most even keeled person I know, I knew I wasn't so bizarre to think this since my hubby is the least bizarre person I know, I trust his instinct.

Basically the main idea behind the passion & purity ministry and the purity ball ministry are good. Waiting for the wedding night - that's what it's all about. However there is a message presented in these ministries that reinforce a very dangerous line of thinking that has hurt women, marriages, and the church for years. This is the notion that men are the sexual creatures, the dynamos who are hormonally charged up and have to constantly be fought off, and girls as those who wouldn't have to worry about any of this in life if they didn't have to spend all their time fighting off these hormonally crazy, pesky boys! The pledges themself reflect this message. The girls are presented in these presentations as more passive, more responders than initiators, and less interested in sexuality, as simply the "gatekeepers of purity."

This whole mindset reinforces the old mentality that sex is a man's game - that the initiation, the desire, the pleasure - is his, while the woman is simply one who yields, receives or...simply allows. It is the wording of the pledge that concerns me, in that boys and girls are not encouraged to make the same pledge, but a different ones that sort of imply that the boy is the one who has these overwhelming desires, and the girl just needs to worry about guarding herself from the man until the proper time. CBE's article puts it this way: "Another thing that needs to be addressed is that girls and women have sexual drives and needs as well as boys and men. This assumption that men are aggressively sexual and women are to be passive resistors of temptation is a horrible patriarchal myth that needs to end. Both men and women have sex drives, and both men and women have access to the fruit of self-control that the Spirit gives us. We should be teaching our teenagers how to cultivate self-control and set boundaries that will help them keep these pledges they make. It goes without saying that girls should be making their own pledges to take control of their lives and bodies as do the boys."

For anyone who says, "is it really that big of a deal that things are worded a certain way in a pledge these kids are taking? Shouldn't we just be grateful for these ministries that are encouraging kids to stay pure?" Well, to anyone who says that, I say you probably are not a pastor who has counseled countless people in failing marriages because of this flawed teaching. These kids grow up to be...married people in most instances. And many of them have to be re-trained all over again to have a proper view of sexuality within marriage.

The fact of the matter is, normal and healthy married women love sex. And there are a lot of women out there who are not normal, nor healthy! I always preach in my messages on this topic that married women who are whole, healed and walking in their destiny love sex. They initiate it, desire it, and don't just allow it - they ask for it. And the truth is, girls ARE interested in sex, and not just because boys are. I'm convinced, healthy girls are extremely interested in sex but as time goes on they become frigid women many times because of FALSE TEACHING. Girls need to realize that if they get married and don't feel a drive - there's something amiss with that. Something that needs to be fixed. They need to realize, if they are married and don't initiate it at least some of the time - something is wrong. Something serious...something not to be taken lightly or just put up with. They aren't just created to be passive receivers. They are not just "gatekeepers" who simply open the gate on the wedding night and then continue to open it thereafter when their husband asks for it to be open.

I am all for ministries that encourage kids to stay pure and give them whatever resources possible to help them do that. But I'm against giving them any inkling that it's a man thing and that the woman is simply there to allow, or to please him. A woman is to be a equal giver/receiver in God's wonderful gift of sexuality. To teach our young people anything else diminishes God's wonderful plan for this area of their lives.

Truth be told, some of these girls who attend these seminars probably think to themselves..."I think something's wrong with me...he's the one who constantly has to fight me off of him, in trying to stay pure...he's the strong one and I'm the weak one. I'm the one who can't keep my hands off of him. I'm feeling urges that are sometimes so difficult to deal with. Am I abnormal?"

No, she's not abnormal. She's a healthy girl with a healthy sex drive who needs somebody to tell her, "Honey, you're absolutely normal and within the bonds of marriage this drive you feel is going to be an incredible blessing to your husband! God has ordained you to one day pursue him and chase him around the house. But not yet. Not now. So don't chastise yourself for having this drive...it's God's gift to you, however we need to talk about how you can use God's power can help you to stay pure and not act on this drive until you are married."

The days of sex being a man's thing are SO over. As a church we really need to get beyond this. Not just for our sake but for our kids.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

New Blog Series: "Why?"


The next few days... or as long as I feel like it, I am going to do a series of blogs entitled, "Why?" These are going to be about a few random topics that are on my mind, some rather controversial, and why I feel the way I do about those issues.
Just remember as well, this blog is not an official communication of Northside Assembly of God...it's my personal blog.

Keep reading this week if you dare!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Another week?


At least one more. Unfortunately there are not enough rational thinking adults to make up for the teenyboppers who have lost their minds but not their phones.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ada's Myspace


I didn't post all day/night yesterday as you can see. I was working on a special project.

My hairdresser, Ada Alfonso, (pictured above with her husband, Chris) is more than my hairdresser...she's my close friend. We share a very special friendship that to be honest, I'd be lost without in my life.

When I started going to Ada to get my hair done a few years ago, I had no idea she would seriously change not only my hair, but my life. Each time I would leave Continental Hair after getting my hair done, not only did I feel more beautiful on the outside, but I felt enriched as a person on the inside by the conversation that we shared.

There are people who lift you up to a higher level just by being around them. I hope I'm that type of person for people - that's my goal. But I can definitely tell you, Ada is that kind of person. There is so much that we have had to talk about concerning spiritual things, our families, church ministry, and more. The wisdom and love she has extended to me as well as holding my confidences as she does has made her a wonderful friend. Over time, things went beyond my hair just simply looking great to the fact that if she stopped doing hair tomorrow she'd still always be in my life. (Although I really hope she doesn't stop...I'd end up looking like a ragamuffin.) Okay...

Well, Ada doesn't type. Seriously. This is probably her only weakness. :)

She knows how to turn the computer on and off, that's about it. I really want her to learn. I know it will open up a whole new world for her, and if nothing else...she can start answering my e-mails instead of calling me with the answer every time. (She knows how to check her email but not how to write back.) So...I've been wanting to get her a Myspace. She is a youth leader at her church and...every youth leader needs a Myspace. I tell her, this will help her keep in touch with her girls...

So this week I have gone about the task of creating her a Myspace. Last night I was ready to show it to her, as far as just the initial project although I have a lot more to do on it. I wanted to get it "perfect" but since she's so excited to see it, at about midnight I finally said, "okay, let me show you how to get to the page" (just getting her THERE was MAJOR.) When she saw it, she started bawling!!!! (Happy bawling) I think I have her hooked. She called me this morning and said she went to sleep at 3 am and only got 2 hours sleep because she is so excited about it.

You have no idea how happy it made me to hear her this happy! She's always usually a happy person, but last night...she was off the chain happy!!!

To see Ada's Mypace go to www.myspace.com/adaalfonso.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Quote of the day


"Men are taught to apologize for their weaknesses, women for their strengths."
- Lois Wyse

Gosh, that's good.

Happy Sunday


Today was a good day in the house at Northside. It was so good to be back! Sunday, happy Sunday! I haven't gotten the stats on today yet from Tom (our head usher). He always takes the time to extremely carefully go over his count and gives it to me Monday if he has to to make sure he has it exactly right. But suffice it to say I'm sure it's way down, people wise. It was Royal Ranger Pow Wow this weekend, plus Hillsborough County Spring Break. I knew even before I got there this morning that many people would be gone. But, despite that, we had a fantastic day! We honored our staff pastors which was something near and dear to mine and Larry's heart. Words can't describe how awesome it is to be working with those we now work with and do life with. They are absolutely "our family." Having a staff of your choosing and one that is also in unity is not only a huge key to effectiveness in ministry as a senior pastor, but it has a whole lot to do with personal happiness. Suffice it to say...I'm happy! Larry's happy! We're both happy! The staff seems very happy! I can't speak for them...but I believe they are. Yeah!

Now that the appreciation day is over I can blog about what I personally got them. Larry and I got the 16 oz. scrapbook mugs from Starbucks and I made each staff pastor a Starbucks coffee mug with their name and "TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK!" and about 20 pictures or so of them engaged in ministry around the church. They were real cute if I do say so myself. Then we gave them a copy of the DVD that we had Russ produce for today. It was called, "TEAMWORK" with a song by the same name and featured tons of pics and videos of all of them. It was so cute!!! I think they enjoyed it. We had some people who serve under each of them in ministry come up and share something and present a gift and then we took an offering for them today as well. Now if I could, I'd just put all of us on a plane together and we'd take a staff appreciation trip to Hawaii. Some day when I get a huge advance for a contract on a book... :-) Seriously, I would love to do that.

I preached my message this morning on Losing the Weight of Rejection. Just in my own analysis I thought it flowed well, and I felt the response was very good at the altar. I've had a few people approach me in person this morning or e-mail me this afternoon to tell me how it touched them in some way. Larry said his class was very positive today as was mine - and that's usually the case.

Larry and I were kid-less this afternoon as the boys had fine arts practice and Savanna went to Chelsea's. I wish we could say we had time for some romance but that hasn't been the case. Although we need a date...a real date. We had one this past week but it was a double date with Gary and Tammy - we met them in Lakeland. They have been friends of ours for a long time but just began pastoring Evangel A/G in Orlando. And oh how excited we are about that!

Now, Gary and Tammy are WONDERFUL friends. We love them to pieces. I am especially grateful for their friendship because Gary is somebody Larry talks to a lot. In the past they have even talked on a daily basis during certain times in our ministry when they just really needed to bounce things off one another. This means a lot to me because I always wanted Larry to have a good guy friend he could do this with. He has Randy, but he doesn't call him as much as I'd like him to. I just believe for my husband's emotional health he really could use that more. A few years ago, Gary became the answer to my prayers. We knew them for years before that, but in the past few years they have grown exceptionally close. We love them to pieces and it was fantastic getting together with them as we did on our day off this past Fri. We could have talked several hours more we were having such a wonderful time. However, Larry and I don't really count double dates as "dating" because we don't have the time alone thaat we need. So somehow we have to accomplish that in the coming week. It feels like forever since we've done that although it hasn't been "forever" we try to make it once a week. We are both so tired today from many things we had to do this past week. We quickly ate lunch, and I took a nap and then got up and started cleaning and getting things lined up (dishes, etc.) for Newcomer's Night. Speaking of newcomers...

We got a new couple, David and Kelly, at the church this morning that I'm really excited about. They met me right away in the hospitality room and were very excited. They are coming from my good friend, Pastor Tana Miller's church in Cape Cod. They moved here last weekend, to Tampa. She told them upon getting to Tampa, this is the church they need to be a part of. They came in this morning and went on and on about how crazy they were about the service, how much it reminded them of their church in the Cape, and also the fact that the message seemed to be tailor made for them! David said his parents don't go to church and he can't wait to invite them. We're praying that their hearts would be open soon to accept his invitation to come. Anyway, we got a new addition to NS this morning - David and Kelly from Cape Cod, MA. Love it when friends send people our way, and of course we do the same for our friends all over the country. What are friends for?

I guess I passed the first test of at least somewhat measuring up to Pastor Tana. :)

...which is no small feat.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Open up the sky


Well, I'm back. Although still focusing a lot on my private journal I felt it was okay to blog again.

Toinght Dr. Rosemay and I went and spoke at a conference at First Baptist Church of College Hill here in Tampa, and I also sang. She spoke on health from a Biblical perspective and submitting not just your soul and spirit to God, but also your body. I was basically her "object lesson"...her "illustration" and I gave my testimony and sang. Now, if you would have told me even just a few years ago that I would be anyone's illustration on health or weight loss I would have thought you were a martian. This just goes to show, God is still a miracle working God. Who said miracles stopped with the apostles? Nope. I'm a walking miracle, thank you very much.

The people seemed to be very blessed if their response was any indication. What a blessing it was. I was honored to be there with Rosemay and what a precious group of people at that church!

Well, basically in the past weeks, it seems like there has been an open heaven over my life. Unprecedented opportunity. Enlarged territory. Sometimes God just comes along and opens up the sky for you.

With this comes God's miracle working power as well to figure out how to make it all work...you know, all the "details" working out. I've worked so hard to get to each new level I find myself at (not to say that the Holy Spirit is not the reason I'm there, but it does take an incredible amount of blood, sweat and tears as well.) Sometimes I get so intense about how things are going to work out because I've invested so much but then I stop and remember that He who has called me in the first place (and that's Jesus - not anyone else) will work it out.

I try so hard (and most of the time succeed) at not focusing on the difficulties associated with being a woman in ministry. (Specifically things I face because of my gender, not just general ministry things.) Most of my church people would be able to say they have extremely rarely, if ever, heard me even refer to it. I believe the greatest antidote to the problem is success, anyway. My mentor taught me not to focus on it, to just keep plodding forward, steadily ahead, preaching Jesus and that would move me to the next level quicker than focusing on the other. At times though, it gets hard. Recently has been one of those times, but I have to remember - God has called and the Word says that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to COMPLETE it. When I think I have things difficult sometimes, I have to remember how people had it who paved the way for me. 

Just today as I was driving down the road praying, I was taking some more to God about all this and He impressed the most interesting thought upon me. He said, think about how much you have prayed about all that has happened in your life so far..." so I stopped to think about that. And then he said, "if you invest just a bit more in prayer - just take one more step further than you have been...can you just imagine what I'll do? I do know one thing, I'm concentrating in prayer more for all of those around me as far as my open heaven. When God opens up the sky for you, he has to not only prepare you, but everybody surrounding you.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A few quiet days


"Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God." Acts 20:23-25
I think I might be off of the blogosphere for a few days. I just need to privately journal for a while.
I'll miss you, but I'll be back.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I got it


Okay, so I finally got the message God was trying to teach me by the loneliness I felt the past two days, and the fact that my family was several feet away and could have done something about it, namely the person who I sleep with.

I was struggling with the intense feelings I was having about it and getting beyond them and I said, "God what do you want to show me through this? Please teach and get on with it." I waited and finally at about 2 am last night He speaks to me.

Deanna, how do you think I feel when you are so close to me yet so far away? I wait sometimes all day for you and something as insignificant as a TV show keeps you from talking to me. Then you go to bed and forget to connect with me sometimes. After the way I have pledged my love to you, do you realize how that makes me feel? I have laid my very life down for you. I gave my all so that every pain and hurt you have ever experienced (including the one you are experiencing now), can be healed. Yet, insignificant things so easily continue to pull you away from me. When I am not your priority, it hurts me. I could even understand it (although not agree with it) if it was something monumental that attracted your attention. But surfing the net? American Idol? A phone call you really don't have to take? And the sad thing is, when it's over...sometimes you don't come back to me and say, 'now where were we?' You just go on or go to sleep. And I think, 'maybe she'll realize in the morning.' But I'm not always the first thing you think about when you wake up. You spring up to get Savanna ready for school and hop in the shower, and get to work and sometimes although you think you are solving the problems of the free world, you forget I exist until late afternoon when sitting at your desk and finally one quiet moment emerges in your day and your thoughts go toward me...like I'm an afterthought. I don't want to be an afterthought, nor part of your life. I want to BE your life." Okay, I got the message.

8
Now please bring Larry away from the NHL and back to me. Thank you, Jesus.

10 things I learned from being in bed sick for 2 days


1) How much God loves me.

2) How easily I can feel His presence when things are quiet.

3) How messy the kitchen gets when I'm sick.

4) How one of the things I hate worst about being sick is cleaning the house the day I finally get well. Ey-yay-yay! It still makes me mad each time that it becomes such a wreck, even though after 20 years I should be used to it by now, I'm still not. And each time I ask myself, "Am I just not spiritual to feel this way?" 20 years later, I still do not have an answer to that question.

5) How immature some people are who are my age and beyond. I learn this from surfing the net and reading things I haven't had time to read for a long time, like people's myspace's and I go........and these people are.........how old??? (Not talking about people who are fun or enjoy contemporary things...I am talking other stuff - such as - babyfied head games you expect out of your 13 year old...)

6) How much I miss some people.

7) Why I'm so glad I almost never throw up. It has to be the worst sensation in the world. Why some people choose bulimia, I'll never fathom...

8) How God uses such simple circumstances to speak to me.

9) How good ice cold Coca Cola is when you are sick.

10) How great it finally is to be able to keep a Tylenol PM down.

Monday, March 19, 2007

THE CALL


Quote from a sermon I heard this past weekend from one of the 10 or so I watched on TV while sick:
A JOB IS WHAT YOU'RE PAID FOR. YOUR CALL IS WHAT YOU'RE MADE FOR.
That was one nugget of truth worth sitting through all those messages to hear...

A little lonely


I have to admit I am feeling a little lonely these past few days. Here I am (above) where I've been sitting for two days...(except for brief trips to the bathroom). In my bed, with the laptop. (Savanna came in and took this pic of me...)

I know loneliness is "God's call to spend some time with Him..." that's how I've always tried to look at it. I've had plenty of time these past 2 days as I've been in bed recovering from the flu. I love solitude when I choose it. These past few days have been forced solitude.

Forced to miss church.
Forced to miss Missions Convention.
Forced to miss my task force meeting at the district office.
Forced to miss staff meeting.
Forced solitude is just not the same as chosen solitude.

And then when Larry has come home, he hasn't spent much time with me at all. Hockey games are on a lot and he's been doing that the majority of his time when not working . Because I'm not feeling well I can't just do what I normally do when he does that. I normally don't care when he does his thing...I just do mine. But right now I can't just leave and go somewhere else or hit the elliptical machine or walk, or shop or whatever. I have to sit here. I've been reading, writing, watching messages, but very little TV. Normally I would turn on Forensic Files or something but honestly spending all this time with the Lord has me very sensitive and I just don't have an appetite for it right now. I even went on line and read up a bit about disabled people who can't get out of bed, just out of curiosity. One thing's for sure - I'm not meant for this lifestyle at least not for more than two days.

I do crave time with my husband and kids. The boys were at PK retreat, then came home like two aliens because they didn't sleep while they were there. Savanna has taken time to come in and talk to me. Mainly all about earrings. She's all excited about them and has been borrowing mine or asking me endless questions. Jordan - non-existent. He's had a major attitude for a few days. I wanted to wring his neck or thought of cancelling his birthday party. Dustin has come in and talked to me for a while last night. Other than that...here I sit. Writing, reading, and getting to know my bathroom better than I ever have for the several years I have lived here.

It has been kind of hard that Larry has not spent as much time with me (aside from working of course) when he's home the last few days but I guess the Lord is trying to teach me something. I'm asking what. I hope he teaches it to me fast.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

This is where I spent my day


Well, I missed church ALL DAY. Today of all days. The missions convention with Robert Solomon. I can count the number of times I have missed Sunday church (aside from vacation) over the past 20 years on one hand. To my knowledge, as far back as I can remember...I've only missed once Sunday for each of the births of my kids, and then for my gallbladder operation. That was it. It's not just because I'm a pastor/pastor's wife, but as you can tell by my previous posts, I simply love the house of the Lord. Today was a miserable day. Just being honest. Prepare for my Psalm. My imprecatory Psalm...O LORD, HEAR FROM 5036 SPECTACULAR BID DRIVE, AND HEAL THY SERVANT...FOR I AM WEAK, AND EVEN MY STOMACH HURTETH AND THOU KNOWEST THAT MY INWARD PARTS ARE WRETCHED IN PAIN.............. :-)

When my alarm rang this morning I felt dizzy. I went out to the kitchen to turn the coffee pot on, and things started spinning and suddenly I felt "chills." I called to Larry and said, "rebuke this thing now! Something is happening to me!" He did, but moments later I was puking my guts up and pretty much did that until noon. Couldn't keep anything down, and just feeling horrible. We had to call Mark and Jeanne at 6:30 and ask them to take care of my responsibilities which they gladly did.

The biggest thing I was upset about missing today for was not even having to back out of my responsibilities but missing Robert's ministry. Larry got me the CD already of course. But it won't be the same. I get MAD at sickness. It's such a demonic thing. Straight from the devil. And I am not joking about my strong feelings on that. Every good and perfect gift comes from the father. Throwing up? Comes straight from the pit...
We had no Coca Cola in the house and I was craving some like crazy. Dehydrated and nothing else would do. Larry had to take Robert to lunch and then pick the boys up from PK retreat so he called Lisa to stop on her way home from Sunday AM and pick some up and bring it over to the house after church. She did as well as took my fruit tray and dip to put together for the evening. I had already made my casserole yesterday.
I decided if I was totally done throwing up by about 4 pm, and had the chills under control, I was going to go to the banquet tonight, just to hear Robert and then slip out. I am just going crazy not going to church today!!! I miss church, I miss the people, I miss seeing everything I had such a big part in planning but will only see in photos now. (Pastor Lindsay is taking pictures of everything for me - the centerpieces, the food, the place settings, the napkins, the posters, the stage, the speaker, yada yada yada. Still it won't be the same. I have watched the Church Channel, TBN, CTN, and Daystar networks all day and heard about 8 sermons AT LEAST but nothing makes up for this, not even T.D. Jakes or Jentezen Franklin, or even Frank M. Reid III (three of my favorite preachers.) 

I went without throwing up for 2 hours but then it started all over again. Blah!!!!!

So how can I manage to type this right now? Once I throw up and then take some Tylenol suppositories (yeah, totally honest blogging here) it takes away the chills and fever and everything else and I feel better for about an hour...until I get so dehydrated I drink...then, there it all comes again. Right now is a pretty good moment because I threw up, washed off in soap and real hot water and now decided to lay here with my computer and read and write a little bit. I have clorox wipes and everything I touch I'm wiping down. I even made my kids clorox wipe themselves after they came home and greeted me today. I know, I know, I have worse problems than just the flu... ha ha! I get a little crazy about germs. Which is funny, I'm an antibacterial queen and here I sit...SICK.

Okay so I'm sitting here typing on my clorox wiped computer. Yes, I even write when I'm sick. I know, I'm THAT crazy about reading and writing. I even do it when I'm throwing my guts up, with chills, fever, and other gross things. This is part of the reason I know I'm called to write. This is a calling, something I'm meant to give my life to. God made that clearer than clear to me this past year as I re-evaluated my life and considered several avenues to take. And, in addition to pastoring...this is it. I can't stay away from it. Not for a day. Not when I'm sick, not on vacation, not when I'm busy, NEVER. Writing to me is breathing. So here I sit. I'll throw the laptop off to the side if and when I need to head to the bathroom again real quick. :-)
My Bible, my laptop, the three good sermons, and talking to Pastor Linds to get the low-down on the morning service were the highlights of my day. Larry doesn't give me enough details. Lindsay tells me EVERYTHING just like I want it. Who was there...who wasn't. How the worship went, all the details about worship, right down to key changes, how the people respond (or don't respond), the bulletin (lots of people commented on our new bulletins today she says...), the announcements, the special music, the speaker. She just called and gave me the 4-1-1 on everything from her rehearsal today, to a poster that was falling down in the banquet hall. She tried for 15 minutes to put it back up. Finally asked Pastor Aaron. See, I LOVE the details. I believe ADMINISTRATION is a gift of the Holy Ghost. Truly it is if you read scripture like I do. And Linds and I? Well, we pretty much LIVE for administration among other things like...Paris tea, paper, Panera, (uh, lots of P's there...) and GOOD SUNDAYS! (which we have most of the time)

Right now I'm listening to a lady make up a prophetic song at her keyboard while she goes along. She's not real good at this but I don't think anybody has told her that. She's sweating like crazy, screeching her lungs out singing, "I WAS MADE FOR THIS..." and I'm truly wondering, "WHO, PRAY TELL, TOLD YOU THAT?" The pastor who told her that should be flogged. I cant' imagine that Jesus told her that. Nor a spiritual gifts inventory. We need some spiritual Simon Cowells in the church who aren't afraid to say, 'Lady, that was the strangest bloody thing I've ever heard in a church service...." Yikes. The microphone is distorted, she's on it so close and it's so loud. Doesn't anybody with an eye or ear for these things tell these people this? I guess they don't have a Pastor Lindsay...or really any other people like our NS staff would who take care of that in a NEW YORK MINUTE. I'm so glad at our church we are thoroughly PENTECOSTAL, spirit filled, spirit led, and ALIVE, yet not a freak show.

Did I mention, I miss church at Northside today? Did I mention I miss the people? Did I mention I'm sick of my toilet? I hope everybody missed me, just a little bit...although I know things went just awesome without me (they should), I just hope they missed my smiling face and my enthusiasm just a tad...

Peachy's Birthday



Today is Jordan's birthday! My little peach is 16! (I have called him "Peachy" among many other endearing names forever. This particular one since he was just a toddler and had a head that was like peach fuzz. Thus, the name 'Peachy".) He still doesn't mind when I call him that. Even though his head is ANYTHING but like a peach anymore as you can see here.

Can you believe it?

He's 16...has a driver's permit...

Life is absolutely CRAZY right now.

He's still at PK retreat right now but when he gets back, I'll kiss his sweet little face and tell him how much Momma loves him and is proud of him for just being alive this long. (You would have to know our history of how hard it's been to keep him alive and well for 16 years.) We're having a party for him later on this month since he was away at PK retreat on his birthday weekend.

Gimme some breathing room...


Well, what a day. I need to listen to my own CD. Not for encouragement so much, but just REST. Breathing room...

Larry had the wedding today and since I had 3,647 things on my plate, I did not go with him. Well, not quite that many, but more than I want to chronicle here. And you know that's A LOT because I love to chronicle! :-) 

Just getting to blog now and it's after midnight but I'm just winding down.
Although Larry and I stayed up real late last night "fellowshipping" :-) I got up early this morning and started working. So much to do, and so little time. I had a bunch of stuff to do that I'm working on for staff pastor appreciation, leftover odds and ends for church in the morning, stuff to get done for Monday's workday (since I'll be in Lakeland and not here), all the clothes, all the house cleaning, yada yada yada. I was still working on it all when Larry called me to say he was on the way back from Brandon from the wedding. Which...went a little crazy for him but he held it together real well. He's been in ministry long enough now to not totally freak out when "stuff" happens. The wedding was supposed to start at 1:00. He called the bride on her cell at 1:00 thinking she was in the building somewhere. When answering he found out she was 30 min. away! So the wedding started at 1:40 pm. The best man evidently got in an argument with the groom and did not come. Can you imagine? Hello...I can't imagine these people ever speaking to the guy again after he dissed them that way. I would call 1,000 pizzas to his house, or a lot worse. I know, vengeance is the Lords, but sometime...you just have to at least fantasize about revenge. :-) 

You know, I thought it was crazy that at my wedding my shoe came loose when I walked up the church steps and it fell off. Hello, that was NOTHING. Nobody even saw it but my Dad and he ran down the stairs picked it up and stuck it back on my foot. I mean, this wedding today got really crazy for the bride and groom however, everything worked out. They are in love, they are married...officially. Signed, sealed, delivered. Hopefully right now they in their hotel room just having the time of their lives. So, Larry calls me on the way home to update me while I'm cooking stuff for missions banquet. As soon as he got here I needed to hurry and get ready for us to pick up missionary/evangelist Robert Solomon (pictured above) and take him to dinner.

We took him to Carrabbas (my choice of where to take ANYBODY - it's my favorite place), and had such a great time talking. So much to share about everything from missions (obviously), to revival, to pentecost, to...Nike's. (He wanted to stop at Sports Authority on the way back to his hotel, needed to pick up something.) So, anyway we just had a wonderful time and I convinced yet another person to "trust me" when it comes to the Carrabbas menu...he ordered exactly what I do, and LOVED IT! 

This is one of those days where I haven't gotten a chance to sit down much or rest and I'm so tired, but so much accomplished. My two times of sitting today were -

1) Took a hot bath before dinner... and just sat/laid in the tub for a while knowing it was perhaps my only time to breathe all day...and

2) Dinner 

Other than that, I've been flying around getting things done for the weekend and leaving for Lakeland. Decided I am not going to stay overnight tomorrow night. I don't want to feel pressed to leave Tampa Sunday night and would like to stay at the church as long as I need to after the banquet, and...I'd rather not be away from Larry or the kids tomorrow night. So, I'll just get up extra early and go Monday morning in time for my task force meeting. 

I really wanted to spend some time with Sandy Phinazee talking (I'm helping her with her ezine, she's helping me with my "entourage" (more on that later), but I told her I'd be getting in so late to the hotel tomorrow night it wasn't worth it. We both serve on this particular task force. But tomorrow will be all business unless I decide to stay longer and have dinner with her before heading back to Tampa. So we talked a bit on the phone tonight. I was so busy I talked to her while sorting clothes and clorox wiping down my bathroom, but hey....it was still very refreshing to talk to her. What a woman. We are already talking about Inspire '08. She's invited me back. Evidently somebody wants to hear what I have to say again. :-) I have also invited Sandy to speak at our Unstoppable '07 conference here in Tampa.

Well, seeing that it is 12:30 am and I have to get up while it's still dark outside...it's time to sleep. Tomorrow (or today, I should say) is a day of great promise and I can't wait to see what the Lord does in the house at Northside!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Surprising day together


Well...I thought Larry and I would have limited time together on our day off, but we had a big surprise in that we had ALL DAY! Woo hoo!!! My day began by getting Rosie up for school. The boys stayed home, getting ready for PK retreat (they are in Orlando this weekend and loving it!) After getting Savanna Rose off to school and solving several problems for the boys, and giving them hugs goodbye for the weekend, I headed off to tan and work out at the gym. 

Larry called me while I was out. T and Misty were coming at noon to get the boys and take them to Orlando since they were headed there today anyway, they did us this huge favor in taking the kids with them. So, Larry wanted to have a lunch date with me since we wouldn't get to be together this evening due to him having a wedding rehearsal in Brandon, for a couple in our church.

Enjoying the few hours we were going to have to ourselves, we took a shower...(one of the finest aspects of the day), went on our date...got as much out of "fun Friday" as we could before he had to leave for Brandon.

Well after Savanna came home from school, at the last minute he said, "why don't you and Savanna go with me and I'll drop you off at the Brandon Mall? Then after my rehearsal I'll meet you." BRILLIANT! He thought he'd be gone several hours for the rehearsal/dinner. We would just hang out and do girl stuff and then he'd re-join us to cap off the day.

Savanna and I headed right away to Penney's and were checking out jewelry on sale when my cell phone rang. It was Larry. He was coming to the mall to meet us. The groom's car broke down quite a ways away and he had no idea when he'd make it to the church but said at least an hour and a half. So he told Larry to chill out and do whatever he wanted to do. Larry was certainly not going to sit in an empty church parking lot for an hour and a half with the mall 4 miles away. So, he came and met us at the mall and we shopped a little bit and ate. He figured he'd soon get the call on his cell to come on over to the church.

As we were in Brookstone, sitting in massager chairs feeling totally exhiliarated, his cell rings. It's the frantic bride saying that there is no way the groom can come to the rehearsal and it (rehearsal, not wedding) is cancelled. What???!!! So Larry "went over" the ceremony with her over the phone. (Note: he's never done a wedding w/out a rehearsal before...this is a totally new one.) She was crying, he was calming her down. He said he would e-mail her the entire thing start to finish tonight and to just follow whatever he tells them to do. I know it will be alright. He's calm as a cucumber with stuff like this. I do feel very sorry for the bride though. I'd be doing a lot more than crying...

So with the rehearsal cancelled the three of us spent the rest of our evening together in Brandon, then headed to Super Walmart to get the food for the dishes I'm making for missions conference and a few other odds and ends. I found some stuff for "staff pastor appreciation" - also this month, that I'm really excited about. I came upon an idea. Hope everyone else likes it as much as me, but who knows, I'm the person who jumps up and down and screams about paper. This month, we are honoring our staff pastors. It's a very happy time for me because...they all make me so happy! In October the church honors Larry and I as the lead pastors. Then in March we are taking the lead in honoring our staff. With me it's not as much the work they do (which is excellent) but the fact that they have our heart. They share our values. I've blogged about this many times, so I won't here. but just suffice it to say, if I could give these people the absolute world, I would.

While standing in Super Walmart, I reached into my leather coat pocket and felt a folded up paper. It was Dustin's paycheck that he lost and has been upset about for a week now. I suddenly remembered that on the way out of church he handed it to me and said, "here, put this in your pocket" and then we both forgot. I'm a zombie after church, I'm so spent. People could say just about anything to me after church and I'd forget it. I promptly called him on his cell at PK retreat and told him I had the check. He was elated!

This past week he lost his keys (found by Pastor Matt), his paycheck (found by me), and his wallet, permit and small amount of cash are still missing. He is concerned someone (not sure who) took them. He has torn his room apart to no avail. His friends have helped. At one point my new headphones were missing and we were upset about that too, and Dustin put out this APB about it on Myspace, asking his friends to help him find all this stuff, only to get a message back from his friend Bobby, saying, "Whoever stole Momma Shrodes headphones IS GONNA PAY!!! THEY'RE GOIN' DOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" That kid is so funny. We just love him to pieces. He calls me Momma Shrodes and I just adore him. He'll be happy to know the headphones have been returned to their rightful place. Now if we can just find the wallet...this will be the third wallet/permit Dustin has had stolen or lost. (First was stolen, second lost, third not sure about lost or stolen.) Oh the angst.

I have been talking him through the perils of these lost things the past week, as well as other issues, and hopefully he is feeling better now being at PK retreat which is always an incredibly fun weekend where the pastor's kids just get to be ministered to and be themselves with people who understand them. Last night he was depressed so I ended up making him cookies at midnight, talking to him and trying to soothe his dear soul. If kids could only understand...THIS TOO SHALL PASS, with so many things in their lives. I mean, sometimes I have hard time in my life understanding it still... but I remember as a teen...I really didn't understand it at all and thought something painful just might last forever and ever. When you are a teenager you haven't experienced enough seasons yet to know that they are just that...seasons.

In the midst of this eventful day, God has possibly just opened up some MAJOR doors for me that I hesitate to blog about yet just in case it doesn't go through, but...this could be so big it's amazing. I'll just say this, it's something INTERNATIONAL! And it was prophesied over me a few months ago and quite truthfully I received that Word but I put it on the shelf thinking, "that will be a long time from now..." But lo and behold, here it (possibly) is coming now. I'm so excited I could burst. (But that would be really disgusting, so I won't.) I'll be sure to blog about it all as soon as the final details are set. Anybody reading who cares...pray that if it be God's will that every light would be GREEN with this opportunity. This past August, God confirmed to me my direction for the rest of my life. Yes, I said THE REST OF MY LIFE. I made some major decisions about opportunities I would and would not accept. This was a difficult decision, but I know I made the right one. And that's becoming more clear each day. I can't wait to share with the world what God is doing in my life, in addition to being Larry's wife, the mother of three, church mother of several hundred. It's amazing that He gives me more than that, isn't it? Those three things are amazing in themselves but God is so great He's giving me even more. I love Him so much. 

Tomorrow Larry has the wedding to perform. I have to clean the house, (amazing how that has to be done each week...), cook my food dishes for missions, wash clothes, prepare all our family's clothes for Sunday, and prepare to take our speaker, Robert Solomon, to dinner. Get last minute prep done for Sunday AM ...go over my class notes and everything else, and then get my bag packed to head to Lakeland by myself Sunday night. I have a meeting Monday for a task force that I serve on. Lots to get done. This is going to be a really busy few days so I'm really glad we had this time together today. I'm going to miss Larry (and the kids and the staff too) Sunday night/Monday even though it will be a short time. God knew we needed this time today. Even though a bride was really disappointed so we could have it. I feel sorry for her.
Jesus...calm her heart tonight. Make the wedding go PERFECT tomorrow and fulfill all her dreams.

20 personal but not so outrageously personal things about me...


Translation: My husband won't kill me for posting this, but it's something he'd just shake his head at, and go..."but why?" 

Answer: Because it's my day off and I just like laying in bed on my laptop posting mindless things like this. Speaking of that... 

1) I would love to just live from my bed...working in it, playing, talking, have friends come sit with me and have conversations, you name it. I would never get out of it except to come to church if I didn't have to...not because I'm lazy. (hardly!) In fact one day I worked eight hours straight on my laptop from bed. It's just that I am comfy here and work well in solitude. But if I had my druthers... you know someday when I'm really old and might not be able to move around anymore, I could make some money just laying here writing. If anybody still wants to read what I say. (The counter on this blog indicates a lot of people do read this, even every single day or repeated times a day for some reason.)

2) If I could, I'd just live in a fitted t-shirt and my underwear and nothing else. It's how I'm most comfortable and what I wear most times I'm not working. Which is why I hate when someone knocks on my door that I'm not expecting. Oh rats! I have to go put pants on. (This happens frequently as my home is invaded by teen boys most times. Isn't a good idea for me to just be in a t-shirt & panties...no, not a good idea AT ALL.) I do have to admit I sometimes sneak and open my sliding glass doors like that to let my dog Geena out because I just...don't feel like getting fully dressed.

3) I love to take a bath that is so hot you can almost not stand it. I like to start with the steam coming off of it. This is one of the reasons I think those new "bath tea bags" are really cool.

4) I hate wearing my glasses. (Most of you reading this probably don't even know I have glasses...I wear contacts about 16 hours a day) One reason I hate wearing them is, I rarely wear them so they feel sort of "constricting" or "heavy" sorta like they don't belong there. (does that make sense?)

5) I put my preaching notes in larger font if I have to so I don't have to wear reading glasses in front of anybody. Most times I type and print out my scriptures out instead of reading it out of my Bible even though my bible is on the pulpit with me. Reason? Sheer vanity. Don't want to put my reading glasses (yes, I have them too, in addition to the contacts) on in front of the congregation. I'm still just too young for this, really I am. 

6) If you ever IM me (translation: instant message for all you truly old people who may not know what that is...) or have me on your "buddy list" (then again if you are reading this blog you probably know what an IM and a buddy list is...duh!), you'll notice that Start Me Up by the Rolling Stones comes on when I'm on with you.

7) Before I preach for a major outreach or event that's an important day/night for me, I often get dressed while listening to Frank Sinatra's Come Fly With Me. This psyches me up and sometimes I twirl around the room to it, or even something a little more drastic. 

8) Despite my odd habits of things like this, the anointing still flows. And people read things like this and still invite me to speak. This is amazing. 

9) I hate flossing. Why did God ever create us so that we would have to floss. It's terrible. Nobody I know likes it. Everybody I know minds it. If God knew we would have to do this why didn't he just make gaps between EVERYONE'S teeth so we'd think THAT was the normal thing and we would just brush and be done with it?

10) I danced on top of the tables at McDonalds one night after an outreach where I was preaching and 70 women got saved. Just couldn't help it.

11) I would NEVER try out for American Idol even though I can sing fairly decent. But I do think Simon is ALWAYS right. Sometimes I am laughing so hard by what he says, I fall off the couch. My favorite this season: "Happy birthday Mom...in six months. I love puppies." Man, that guy is hysterical. 

12) You could not pay me any amount of money to jump into the deep end of a pool. 

13) I often make chocolate chip cookies for my kids at midnight. 

14) I really hate to admit it but I do like reality shows. Now this is really going to be puzzling to some of you but I used to even watch Being Bobby Brown. Why? I love Whitney Houston and I hated that she was married to that jerk. He took her life into nothing but downward spiral. She used to be a sweet pentecostal girl (when she started out) who could sing the wallpaper off the walls and I don't think anybody could touch her as far as measuring up to her vocal quality except maybe Celine Dion. Then she married that nincompoop drug abusing-wife-abusing man. Who thinks he's all that. He didn't deserve her. I'm so glad she left him. I hope she gets her life back now. Puts out a new CD. Becomes the old yet new Whitney that I am crazy about. I'm serious that over the years I have prayed (seriously prayed) for that woman. Okay, I'll stop rambling down that rabbit trail...

15) I love disco!!! 

16) I don't like to rearrange my furniture. 

17) I wish my mother in law would come make me a grilled cheese right this moment. Since she's in Maryland right now, it's probably not going to happen. 

18) I don't like dirt or mud. 

19) I really don't like trucks. 

2o) I consider myself a generous person, but I'm very private about money.

Okay, it's fun Friday, our day off, and I'm trying to just do mindless things that require no brain power on my part, but if I think of something really spiritual and insightful I'll try to post it later.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Got pads?


I've noticed over the years that those who seem to skyrocket and grow most in the Lord are those who come to all of the weekly worship services of the church. What's this got to do with pads? Stay with me to the end of the blog if you dare and you'll see.
Really, being faithful to the house of God more than just once a week for those who want to grow should be a no brainer. It shouldn't have to be something we go "WOW" to when we think about, but really, when a pastor mentions this some people think it's revolutionary!

One time I heard a person who had been saved quite a while...I dunno, maybe 30 years or more, say, "I learned a long time ago that my spirituality isn't based on whether I attend Wednesday night church or not." Years ago they used to be an all the time attender but they have kind of slacked and only come on Sunday morning. As a leader when I hear something like this from somebody I think: "note to self: don't ever put this person in charge of any of our precious ladies..." God forbid they lead them astray with that kind of gobblydeegook that it's okay to just show up to church once a week. (Unless there's a good reason for it.) And many times it's that type of person who feels they are actually qualified to lead somebody. And I know, I know, there's a popular Christian book right now that's out that tells you that you can get just as much from God by being out on a boat as you can sitting in a church service, but I don't care what's out there on the market, I happen to have the book that's cornered the market and that is...the B-I-B-L-E and it happens to spell out real clearly that the more we gather together in corporate worship, the better.

At the time this supposed super saint said this about not needing to come more than once weekly it really sent a bad zinger in my spirit. But I had to let their comment marinate to figure out why. And then after pondering it for a while I realized that she evidently thought that after sitting in enough Sunday and Wednesday services (plus Sunday School and all that over the many years) she had "arrived" somehow to a certain level of maturity where she didn't need it any more. 

The fact is, none of us have ever "arrived." Until the day we die we will need the house of God, the family of God, and as much of it as we can get.

Is the church perfect? No. No place is. If you find one, PLEASE DON'T GO. You'll ruin it!

Are some services more impactful than others? Sure. But the truth is, the bible says to gather as much as we possibly can...all the more as we see "the day" approaching. (Hebrews 10:25) Does sitting in a church service save you? No. No more that sitting in Burger King makes you a whopper. This thing IS about relationship and not religion. But I'm talking about coming to church for relational reasons, not religious ones.
It's just something that GROWING believers do. There are such a plethora of stagnating believers, it's unreal. They really don't have a passion for God, the things of God, the house of God. Psalms tells us that David had a passion not only for God but for His house. Until you become a pastor you really don't realize the magnitude of this lethargic spirit and the very challenging job of turning that around. As Dr. Lee often tells us, "Getting Jesus from THIS book (the bible) to HERE (a person's heart) is like...REALLY HARD!" No, it's not easy to move people from religion to relationship. It's not easy to bring people into the fullness of God Not at all. And truthfully if you only see them once a week, it's almost...impossible. How much can you really work with someone you see for an hour and a half or two hours a week?

Right now there are people that I see growing by leaps and bounds...

Susan
Becky
MaryAnn
Candy
Jenn
Lourdes
Isa
Ashley

just to name a few! There are more, for sure. So many more. Aida, Sue, Cathy,  yada yada yada, the list goes on with MAGNIFICENT bloomers! It's notable that several people on this list have been Christians for quite a while, even served in ministries of Northside or otherwise for quite a while. But they are...growing deeper and at the same time, blossoming even more. They aren't resting on their laurels because they've been around a while. It's also of note that I see these ladies more than an hour and a half a week. I see them in the ladies class, in Sunday morning worship, Wednesday night worship, many of them I see at life coaching or any extra bible study or activity that we have. And it seems they just keep on flourishing.

Believing this so strongly is one reason why Sunday/Wednesday faithfulness to church and Christian Education class is a requirement for all those in my life coaching group. I simply realize they probably won't grow to the next level without it. I'm seeing great results from all the ladies in there. They are placing themselves in position for the next level whether they have been Christians a year or 20 years or more. So much of growing as a Christian is putting ourselves in position to grow. 

When we think we've "arrived" we are in a terribly dangerous place.

When we think television or a Joyce Meyer book (as great as they are) are enough...we are in a dangerous place.

When fatigue is reason enough for us to stay home, we are in a dangerous place. Do you know how many times I've been fatigued? Like...hello...every day practically. There have been times I have to tell myself, "it doesn't matter how I feel, I'm getting myself to the house of God." Okay, I hear you now...

"You HAVE to be there," you say. "You're the pastor/pastor's wife."

Well, your argument is true only to an extent. Do you know how many people even in ministry aren't faithful to the house of God like they should be? I realize everyone we have on staff at Northside right now is faithful to the 'nth degree. But believe me, everyone we have on staff is exceptional. And I thank God for them EVERY DAY. I know what's out there. There are pastor's wives who should receive a visitor packet at their churches when they come to church because they might as well be one! They need to get re-acquainted with the flock and possibly Jesus Himself! One pastor's wife years ago told me her Sunday School class was Joel Osteen's TV program because it was too much work for her to get up and go to church. Have you heard anything so lame? At one point years ago we had somebody on staff that for "Friends Day" I was going to ask them to be my guest. (My husband wouldn't allow me to, he said that wasn't too nice, even though it was true. But oh how my soul (okay, it was just my flesh) wanted to do it. I thought they could help me win the visitor contest!) But I digress... My point is, anybody can "call out" from church, and it's really not good for you. and ANYBODY can stop growing. That's right, ANYBODY.

I understand that somebody can only be a casual Sunday AM attender if they are providentially hindered, work six or seven days a week as many people do - such as my dear manicurist. If she didn't do that, she couldn't pay the bills, literally. Or Dr. Rosemay, who sees patients until late on Wed. nights. Or others who have businesses that keep them running 6 days a week. Yet they are faithful to Sundays and they are in the Word and prayer on a regular basis at home and find some way to connect with believers during the week to encourage them. There are people who are caregivers for others - aging people, sick children, etc. THAT'S DIFFERENT. 

I'm not talking about being ridiculous or extreme here. I'm talking about when people do not have LEGITIMATE reasons. I speak of when they are just "a little tired and want to sit at home." Or they just are aloof and don't think it's that important. Or they think, "I'm beyond that." Or they think, "it's too much work to get the kids ready to go to church." Question: what are we teaching our kids? If it's too much work to get dressed, we just don't go to church. Hello, I like to sit around in my nightie as much as the next person, but at some point, you just have to get dressed. 

The funny thing is, I know people who don't have demanding jobs, they don't have to work 6 days a week to pay the bills, they aren't running businesses or really have any great responsibilities --- yet they aren't faithful to the house of God like they should be. They are just lazy. Yet most of the people I listed above, like Isa, have to get up at 5 am to be at work, or they have a bunch of toddlers running around, or a little baby like Tina has that wake them up at the crack of dawn, or they are single Moms like Sue, or they work two jobs, or whatever. Yet they are...determined to grow. And they are determined that THEIR KIDS are going to grow! By George, NOTHING IS GOING TO STOP THESE LADIES. And I couldn't be prouder of them. I know Jesus is too.

Jesus is so crazy about people who PRESS THROUGH, like the woman with the "issue of blood" who pressed through to touch the hem of his garment. Last night I was weary of the stuff of life. I didn't want to go to church although it had nothing to do with church! I just was weary, worn, and tired of dealing with a few circumstances. Yet like the woman who pressed through to Jesus, I got up off of my ultra comfy bed with it's pillow top and down comforter and quilt... (ahhh, I'm sitting in it now!!), washed my face, reapplied my make up, brushed my teeth, put on a smile and got to the house of the Lord. I determined to throw myself into worship completely. And God showed up in a mighty way. when you press through, He always does. 

But you know, to press through, you've got to show up. The woman in scripture had an "issue". Do you have "issues"? I sure do. But they don't keep me from the house. Everybody's got issues, I can guarantee you that. And that's part of what church is for. To help you take care of your issues. Because GOD IS IN THE HOUSE and He specializes in issues. 

The woman with the "issue of blood" as the Word of God records, got up, went to where Jesus was, and pressed through. Most women today would have just given up, put a pad on and stayed home! Stayfree would have been the answer, and not Almighty God.

That'll preach. I feel a message coming on. The sermon titles are flowing, pardon the pun.

"Got pads?"

"Living the well padded life..."

"Pressed ...or Padded?"

"The Pad Driven Life"

How's this for a grand finale of the series..."Choosing to have NEW FREEDOM by ALWAYS STAYING FREE of excuses,being a CAREFREE person of POISE on whom God and the pastors can RELY on and DEPEND on to be in the house, thereby bringing SERENITY to your life!"

Are you living a padded life, or are you pressing through?
I always did like tampons more anyway. Sequel series:
"Take the plunge! Come to church!"
Couldn't resist that last one.
* Note: this blog is not an official communication of Northside Assembly of God, nor the officers of the corporation of said institution. But said aforementioned people probably find everything just said here to be not only true, but funny.

Yielding


Last night I was reading in my devotional by Oswald Chambers and he said, "When you yield to something, you will soon realize the tremendous control it has over you. Even though you say, "Oh, I can give up that habit whenever I like," you will know you can’t. You will find that the habit absolutely dominates you because you willingly yielded to it. It is easy to sing, "He will break every fetter," while at the same time living a life of obvious slavery to yourself. But yielding to Jesus will break every kind of slavery in any person’s life." 

It reminds me a lot of what I learned in weight watcher class this week...about the WHY of emotional eating. The longer I'm in this thing the more I realize, it's a spiritual battle, and not at all about food. 

Something our new leader has been talking about a lot is... "PROGRESS - NOT PERFECTION." That is a truth that has REALLY impacted me a lot. You see, I've always been the type of person that if I don't think I can do something well, I don't even usually attempt it. I go after things I know I can succeed at. I want to consistently hit home runs, (obviously figuratively, never literally since I'm not gifted sports wise). If I played baseball and just got to walk to a base versus hitting a home run it would really bother me. After so much of that I'd probably quit the game and move on to another one where I could excel. 

It's like this journey with weight...when I make a mistake, fail, even SIN (let's call it what it is...) my thinking is often, "I've already screwed up, so what difference does it make? I've already eaten one piece of cake...it might as well be three, because NOW IT WILL NEVER BE PERFECT!" 

I realized through our leader's teaching that many times I have gone through bad weeks because if I failed once, I just gave up knowing perfection could not be achieved that week. If my weight tracker had a bad looking day on it, I just didn't think it redeemable at least for that week. I'm learning day by day -- PROGRESS...NOT PERFECTION. 

Honestly, today wasn't the best day for me. Just being completely transparent here... 

It had nothing to do with WW. Class was great! It had to do with many other things. Some I can blab to the world, some I can't for other's sake. (I never care about blabbing to the world for my sake. If I'm quiet about something it's only for the sake of someone else.)

A few disappointments came my way today. To the point where I came home from work, laid on my bed and counted each second until I had to get up and go to church. It was the last thing I wanted to do. It wasn't church I dreaded, it was just that due to having some disappointment in my mind, I didn't want to do anything, go anywhere. I just wanted to...lay on the bed, cover my head and go to sleep...or at least watch Forensic Files and try to pretend like none of the issues exist for 30 minutes. Not possible. Going to the house of the Lord wasn't the issue...it was just that emotionally some things had me spent. 

I went to church dependent on the Holy Spirit so heavily for the ministry that had to be done. God moved in such a mighty way. He always does when it's all of him and none of me. I love it when that happens, but I hate feeling the way I did going in. Honestly, that which has me downcast has not changed, but I know God loves me and I am trying to just yield to His purposes in my life more and more. I yearn for so much more...
I know a lot of people needed that service tonight. When I came into the building I greeted one person and said, "how are you?" and they said, "just hanging in there." The next person I encountered walking down the aisle said, "Hi. I've had a really bad day." It seemed to be the theme of quite a few people's day. We needed a refreshing in God and thankfully we got one. Once there I felt the love of my church family and quite honestly, that plus the love of the Lord that I felt was enough to bring a calm to my soul that was deeply needed.

I just have to keep believing that as I yield to God more and more, He will bring everything together in my life like it needs to be.

It's easy to surrender to His love. Far more difficult to surrender to what He requires sometimes.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Flip Side


Tonight some of my Titus Project girls (my young women's mentoring group that I do at my church for 18-29 year olds) were commenting on how romantically thoughtful my husband is.

They are right. He is. He never forgets the special occasions, nor even the mundane. Each day when we are separated by a meeting, or doctors appointment or even a simple trip to the grocery store, when I call on the cell, first thing he says is, "Hello gorgeous," or "Hello my beautiful bride!" He loves to buy me little treats all the time just to brighten my day. He loves to snuggle with me. He loves to call me names like "Sassy," "My bride," "My beautiful wife," "Darling," and a few others that are really endearing but honestly not appropriate to openly share. 

Every day when we join back up after separate meetings at work, I ask him, "what's happening, Larry?" When I come back from being away on a speaking trip and haven't seen him for a few days, I ask him the same question and I get the same exact answer every time, "YOU'RE happening, baby!" Just to cut to the chase and get the real answer, I changed my question after hearing this so many times to, "What's going on, Larry?" (Sometimes I'm more practical than sentimental. I just want to know whatever business I've missed that we need to touch base on, not get lovey or romantic right away.) But now he's circumvented my re-wording and changed his answer to, "YOU'RE going on, baby!" I shouldn't get frustrated that he says it. I have to remind myself, most women would LOVE to hear this. So I just let him say it day after day and remind myself of how magnificent it is to have a husband who thinks I'M the greatest thing going on in the world.

The other day one of my boys told me they thought their Dad was a bad husband. Imagine!

That shocked me. Angered me. They know their Dad loves me to pieces and if they don't they're going blind and deaf. So I said, "WHAT? Why on earth would you say that?" They said, "he only talks to you every night for about an hour a day. That's not enough. When I get married, I'm going to talk to my wife seven or eight hours a day. She's going to have to tell ME to shut up!!!" I wanted to say, "Well, before YOU were born we did talk for more than an hour a day, in fact we did A LOT MORE THAN THAT for hours a day but then you came along..." (but I didn't...didn't want to be one of those guilt trippy Moms...) The truth is, my son is so naive it's ridiculous. Even AN HOUR A DAY is more than 99% of couples talk face to face uninterrupted, sharing their lives together. (And that doesn't even include the time we spend having sex.) Well, I hope my son with these incredibly high aspirations talks to his wife seven or eight hours a day but something tells me reality will set in pretty quickly and an hour of face to face conversation a night will seem HUGE one day.

My husband cooks, talks to me every single day for at least an hour outside of work time, loves to snuggle in bed, will sit in my big tub with all the candles lit with me and just talk about life, loves to date me, and cares about what's bothering me, exciting me, or pretty much whatever. He has shown me his love by doing everything from working so hard to buy me a house after 17 years of marriage (our first house) to buying me a Mustang Convertible on my 38th birthday. He brings me home flowers and each and every time for the past 22 years signs the card "I love you forever and ever...and then some." But now let's talk about the flip side.

I often admonish girls that to GET the right person you have to BECOME the right person. You can't just WANT this type of guy...you have to ask, "WHAT AM I WILLING TO DO TO GET AND KEEP HIM?" My husband GREW into maturity over 20 years of marriage and 22 years of being together total. He had a good heart to begin with and a romantic streak I would call it, but to be developed into a full flame took time.
Yes, he does a lot of these things, but the flip side to that is, I do a lot of things for him that make him WANT to treat me that way. This isn't to brag upon myself. I'm making the point in this particular blog that you reap what you sow. You BECOME the right person to GET the right person. There is the law of the harvest. I have sown a lot into my husband, far more than most women I meet tell me they would invest in theirs. Some tell me I'm crazy. They say they would never dream of doing what I do or living like I live. But those are usually the same women complaining that their spouse never does enough for them.

I get Larry's clothes ready for him all the time. When he gets up to get ready for church he hasn't the faintest idea what he's wearing. I prepare all of his clothes for ANYTHING he's doing except for lounging around the house, golfing, or just hanging out. If he's speaking in front of a group of people or doing anything remotely significant, I have prepared what he's wearing down to the shoes, socks, even underwear. It's my job to make him look sharp.

I was fully willing to live on the poverty level for over 15 years to follow our dreams. Until we moved to Florida, Larry was paid a pittance, although that wasn't his fault. He grew incredible ministries and churches however many churches don't believe in blessing the man of God. I knew it wasn't Larry's fault. I also knew his day would come. So...that Mustang I got at 38 years of age was my FIRST CAR. (We could never afford two cars before that if I was going to serve as Larry's full time partner as I have been, by his side for 22 years.) He told me that if I would just be willing to sacrifice as long as it took to partner with him full time no matter what, one day he'd buy me a car that would be "worth it all." He did. But that took 38 years. Kids in my church complain that they don't have a car when they are 17 or 18 years old. GIVE ME A BREAK. Until they are 38 without their first car they just need to shut up.

I was willing to do ANYTHING to see him achieve his God-given dreams. And I do mean anything. For 20 years our home has been "grand central station" for ministry hospitality. We have had thousands of people come through our doors. In the beginning, although our home was clean, I was embarrassed by it's "humbleless" for lack of a better phrase, because our apartment when we started out was so small. Then our duplex. Then our little rancher. I always felt our home didn't compare to those we went to church with. Our furniture was used and our home could have never been described as chic or fancy. Now that we have moved to Florida, I have LOVED my home. It's a wonderful place that I am so blessed to have!!! But even back in the humble home years, we still we had tons of people over because it was important to Larry. He is a people person a lot more than I am. I love people but my solitude is a lot more important to me than his is to him. Still when I'd rather have my home to myself, I realize it means everything to him to minister FROM our home, so I've learned everything I can about it and actually become good at it! Hospitality is one of my main gifts now and something I flow in. To be a successful pastor, Larry has needed this from me even when I haven't always felt up to it. 

I stay up late typing things for him until 4 am if that's what it takes, still to this day. Larry's a good writer but he considers me an exceptional one, so I've written everything from his board manuals to his annual business meeting reports. And then changed them all over again if he doesn't like them. And perhaps changed them again even if I think the former way was better. A majority of thing he presents, I've had a great personal investment of helping him to pull off. I did this when he was a youth pastor, senior pastor, at every phase or our life and ministry. There is no "his ministry" "my ministry" - this is a team effort all the way, but make no mistake my first job is to serve him and get him where he needs to be and not really care if I get the credit. (Whoa, that was really hard sometimes...honest admission there...)

I edit everything he does to make sure there are no mistakes. It's my job to make him look good at all times. That's the first item on my job description as a wife and as his co-pastor.

I keep his life ordered. He gets up in the morning and I tell him where his next appointment is, who it's with, what his agenda is. Even with a secretary, no matter -- he's always looked to me to keep him on track. His assistant basically coordinates with me because I'm the one who plans Larry's life so he stays organized. (not to control him, but to help and bless him.) I plan our calendar for the entire year. I can tell Larry right now where he will be on November 24, 2007. For that matter, I can give him some dates for 2008 and beyond!
I get a lot of opportunities and blessings in my personal speaking and writing ministry (outside of our church) but honestly my first ministry after being a daughter of God is to be Larry's wife.   I've had to give my LIFE as a gift to him in order to see my personal life and ministry flourish. The bible says WHAT YOU MAKE HAPPEN FOR OTHERS, GOD MAKES HAPPEN FOR YOU. 

There were times Larry was teaching a training when we started in ministry and I wanted to be the one teaching it. To be honest I was qualified and might even have been able to teach it better. But instead I'd be finding ice to fix everybody sodas, and getting the sandwich trays lined up, or one time I went and unstopped a toilet while he was teaching. Because if he can't do ministry unhindered, he can't succeed. I love to do a lot of things and could have made lot of money over 20 years of time had I not worked at his side, since most of the time I was never paid. There were weeks I worked 90 hours a week at our previous church and was never paid a dime. That's all changed now, thank God. I not only get paid by my church but of course when I speak somewhere I am blessed by their generosity. But leaving Larry on his own and pursuing another career wouldn't have been the right choice for all those other years. For he IS my calling first and foremost. This is what we do TOGETHER. It's not about a paycheck, it's a calling. We're in the ministry. I do like having money...(who doesn't?)...but it's certainly never been about it or we would have quit a long time ago. 

Larry has pastor friends whose wives can't handle anything. They call them to come home from the office because they see a spider and need them to come home and kill it. They are weak little fraidy cats who can't do anything from kill spiders to get their kids to take naps. Over the years, I've done whatever it took to set Larry free to FULFILL HIS CALL AND AND DO IT WELL. Either standing beside him and partnering with him, or taking care of the home front when it was my turn, so he could get it done - either way, it was up to me. We've done a "juggling act" between us in making sure all ministry bases are covered for 22 years. The kids never had daycare, we just passed them between us while we ministered. One moment I was at the piano, the next I was changing a diaper. One moment teaching SS, the next nursing one of the kids (which I did right in the sanctuary with them under a little blanket...I had to be prepared to run back up to play for the altar call! Usually they were done eating by the time he was done preaching.) Over the years I have taught every ministry in the church but Royal Rangers. Larry has needed me at all of them at some point, to go in and "get them going" or "straighten them out". Wherever he put me, he knew things would flourish so he always just put me where his greatest problems were and let me solve them. Other women complained about what their church did or did not have, but I decided rather than complain I'd just do whatever I could to make our church better. Many pastor's wives go into a church and say, "why don't they have this?" or "This isn't up to par...yada yada yada". I always thought if I had a complaint rather than complain, I would just find a way to solve it. It just made a lot more sense to me. And it made Larry a lot happier. He could either have a complaining wife, or one who helped him solve problems. I chose the latter. 

Some days I thought I'd have a nervous breakdown but I don't regret my decision for a moment to be beside him keeping this merry go round of home and ministry going. We've partnered in raising the kids together for the 17 years we've had kids, it's been an equal partnership but when it's been my turn to handle them while he ministers, I do without whining that he needs to come home or call him on the cell phone incessantly.

I direct the job of keeping our home in order.   Without me directing what needs to be done, nobody really has a clue of where to start from the bathroom to the back porch.  Larry has done chores around the house but he still doesn't really know where to start until I say, "here's the list of what we have to do..." Larry is not gifted at all with administration and he fully admits that. He says though, that God has given him a FANTASTIC gift of administration and that is...ME! So yes, I'm the one who administrates him...and the church. We have many other capable people on staff and a wonderful assistant, but he always looks to me first. And he likes, wants and needs it that way. So this, my friends, is my full time job. People who are new to the church or are pastor-friends who have never been here often ask, "So...what do you do in the church?" I just sort of say, "Um, quite a few things, you'd just have to be there, I can't really fully explain it..." 

Larry gets whatever he wants in bed.  One time I asked him, what - besides what the Word of God says and the fact he could lose his job - keeps him from an affair or porn. He said, "when you have a cadillac in the driveway, you don't settle for a beat up volkswagon." I didn't understand what he meant by that because when I walk the aisles of Wal-mart, my rear end is still jiggling in the next aisle once I've already gotten to the next. No kidding, even with all the working out I do. Flab. It's a never ending battle. But Larry said, "It's not about a perfect body, Deanna. It's about the fact that you're PERFECT FOR ME, and you give me what I need, and what you give me I couldn't get from another woman, nor a porn shop." It doesn't matter what it takes to make my husband fufilled - whatever it is, it's what I strive to do and not just do but be the best at it. I think I've read more sex books than perhaps any woman I personally know. If there's a way to please my husband better, I want to know how to.  Incidentally that doesn't mean that I don't prioritize or get what I want in bed..I'm just sayin'...

I get irritated with him like any other wife would a husband about things but all in all I try to be his greatest cheerleader and make him feel like Superman, not just alone, but in front of anyone who will listen. I try to tell everybody within earshot what a great sports player he is, how great a golfer he is, how sexy he looks in a black suit. He might act embarrassed at times but I know deep inside he's still like a little boy who needs those verbal "love pats" and strokes of encouragement. Men are just grown up little boys! They go from saying, "Mommy! Watch me on the swings!" to "Honey! Watch me grow this business!" 

There are times he has failed at things or disappointed me and I have wanted to harbor a bad attitude but I realize more than anything he needs and craves my honor and respect. I've learned as I do that, he pretty much continues to adore me.

For 15 years I never did things my friends all did like buy clothes and shoes all the time, get their nails done, have their own car, go on vacations, etc. It was a sacrifice to fulfill our dreams of ministry. But I never regretted it for one second. Being by my husband's side has been worth it all, no matter what I had to give up, change, or wait for. Now, I do all those things. Our lives are very blessed. I can now buy clothes when I want to, (I practically LIVE at Bealls and Penney's at times!), I fight an addiction to shoes and my nails always look great. Years ago, Larry used to even get emotional almost to the point of tears that he couldn't give me a house, a car, or even "womanly things" like clothes, shoes, etc. that he saw all my friends getting. Sometimes he felt not only hurt but ashamed. One day about 10 years ago he just hung his head in shame one day and said, "I can't give you a house...all your friends have a house. I'm so sorry..." But I never made him feel bad, in fact I told him, those things were not as important to me as being with him and ministry. I knew one day, the blessings would come. They have. Because that's the law of sowing and reaping. Some people are not willing to wait for their harvest. As soon as Larry was blessed in the way he should have been by the church he served, the first person he turned around and blessed was ME. I knew he would. 

Yes, my husband is a romantic machine especially compared to 99.9% of other men out there. But the flip side of it is...I try to be the type of wife he can't wait to please. I want to be the woman he doesn't have to force himself to love, but can't help but adore. The kind of person he can't wait to call on his cell phone any spare moment he has. The kind he can't resist text messaging or IM'ing. (He IM's me without fail EVERY NIGHT and says, "Hey Sassy, whatcha wearin?" Never mind that I'm in the next room 10 feet away on my laptop blogging. He loves the anticipation. And I love to give it to him. I might be sitting here in my Victoria's Secret flannel PJ's but by the time he logs off of his computer, I've usually logged off of mine too and traded the flannels for something else and slipped back under the covers to surprise him.) I want to be the kind of woman that next to God, he worships the ground I walk on. 

Am I perfect? NO. I have so many issues, we won't go there. But my point here is, I have devoted myself to Larry and sown into his life for 22 years. I want Larry's prayer every day to be that he hopes he never has to live without me because his heart, mind, soul and body just couldn't take it. 

Someone once said, "Pastor Larry would be lost without Pastor Deanna." I hope so. If I were gone, I'd want him to miss me.

I'm not there totally yet, but I'm trying to do as good a job as I can. And that's the flip side.

Girls, if you want a romantic husband...start sowing...

Be generous...

Be a giver...

BECOME the right person to GET the right person. 

p.s. It'll take you a lifetime of trying. But I highly recommend it.